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Spotlight On – Dido on Screen

November 21, 2023

Today is National TV Day, a celebration of the small screen, while next week the tender reflections of Dido’s hit single Life For Rent will celebrate its twentieth anniversary. Over the past two decades, Dido’s music has been used in countless scenes across film and TV, soundtracking unforgettable moments, opening and closing the curtain on striking stories.

Who can forget the moment when Andrew Lincoln’s character runs into the street to the sound of Here With Me in Love Actually? As today also marks the twentieth anniversary of Richard Curtis’ Christmas classic, we’re turning our spotlight on some of the most notable moments that Dido graced the small and silver screen.

Here with Me

Dido’s debut single, released in May of 1999, is a gold-certified classic. The first single from her debut album No Angel, which followed less than a month later, it’s a pining cut of direct and soaring contemporary pop.

The track was picked as the theme song for young adult sci-fi series Roswell, which premiered in the autumn of 1999. Coincidentally, the show starred Grey’s Anatomy OG Katherine Heigl as Isabel Evans (in Grey’s, she plays Izzie Stevens!). With its ominous opening chords, dissipating drums and ethereal vocals, it was the perfect introduction to the series’ otherworldly storylines.

Of course, the most notable use of this Dido gem has to be the angst-ridden scene in Love Actually where Andrew Lincoln’s character, Mark, steeped in quiet and unrequited love, dashes out of his flat after his emotions are exposed to his best friend’s wife and object of his affections, Kiera Knightly’s character, Juliet. Released twenty-years ago today, it’s a Christmas classic; warm, funny, touching, and tender. Both the song and movie are utterly timeless.

Life for Rent  

The title track from Dido’s smash second record, this imagery-heavy conversational masterpiece was originally released on December 1st 2003. Co-produced with her brother Rollo Armstrong, it was one of the first tracks she wrote for the record, penned in the US whilst she was evading the British press. The track was a top ten hit in the UK where it’s been certified silver, while its namesake full-length was the seventh best-selling album of the 2000s.

The song was used in a pivotal scene in the ‘00s teen drama Smallville, a Superman origin story centred around the trials of a young Clark Kent. In the middle of season four, Life for Rent is played in its entirety as Clark and his troubled love interest Alicia discuss running away. As the scene changes and Alicia’s behaviour turns, the song continues, forming a part of the narrative. It’s a felicitous use and a striking moment.

White Flag

The lead single from Life For Rent, White Flag is a glistening meditation on losing love. Released in 2003 at the end of summer, the music video starred actor David Boreanaz. At the time he was at the height of his fame as Buffy The Vampire Slayer character Angel, fronting his own spin-off series in the titular role.

The song was included on the soundtrack for 2019 film Bad Education, starring Hugh Jackman and Allison Janney. Based on a true story, it’s a subtle and darkly comedic story, White Flag cleverly positioned at the film’s conclusion as real life updates are revealed and the end credits kick in.

Even more recently, White Flag was used in the first episode of the critically acclaimed HBO series The Last of Us. A precursor to the show’s impending apocalyptic storyline, it plays on the radio like a foreboding prophecy over lead character Joel, played by Pedro Pascal, and his daughter Sarah’s everyday breakfast conversation.

Thank You

Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition, and it’s unlikely that Dido foresaw the evolution of Thank You. Originally appearing on the end credits to 1998’s hit rom-com Sliding Doors, the song plays as Gwyneth Paltrow and John Hannah’s main characters realise they may have been kissed by fate.

The track was later included on Dido’s debut album No Angel, released in the summer of 1999, but it took another year for the song to truly explode. Interpolated by Eminem for his 2000 hit Stan, he took the melody and chorus, creating the infamous horrorcore cautionary tale and shooting Dido’s original to international notoriety. In turn, Thank You was finally released as a single in September 2000, peaking at number three on the Billboard Hot 100 the following spring.

After starring in the music video for Stan alongside Canadian actor Devon Sawa, Dido appeared with Eminem on the long-running agenda-setting US TV series SNL in 2000 to perform the track. Twenty-years later, the song was revisited on the show in a sketch with Pete Davidson playing the Stan character, Kate McKinnon as Dido, and Eminem making a surprise video appearance.

Quiet Times

Currently preparing for its twentieth season and with an ensemble cast that starred the likes of Sandra Oh and Patrick Dempsey, Grey’s Anatomy is a TV institution. Created by Shonda Rhimes, the show is renowned for its prominent use of contemporary and rising artists from the likes of Tegan and Sara to The Fray and Foy Vance.

Season five highlighted several tracks from Dido’s third album, Safe Trip Home. Released in 2008, and listing the likes of Brian Eno and Mick Fleetwood among its collaborators, the record was certified gold in the UK and nominated for a Grammy in the US.

Quiet Times was the third single from the album, released in February of 2009. Its use in a mid-season episode of series five of Grey’s Anatomy soundtracks one of the show’s greatest love stories, albeit with a certain twist. Izzie and Denny are entwined together, a situation which both viewer and characters know can’t be true. It’s full of emotion, longing and an underlying sense of doom, Dido’s delicate lullaby the perfect bed for this complex moment.

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