USA Today: Dido’s “No Angel” On Eminem’s Music

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Dido’s ‘No Angel’ on Eminem’s music

By Elysa Gardner, USA TODAY

NEW YORK — Pop music can make strange bedfellows. Time and again, artists representing different styles, images and audiences have formed endearing odd couples: Bing Crosby and David Bowie, Frank Sinatra and Bono, Elton John and RuPaul.

Still, few could have predicted the creative chemistry that has developed between Eminem, rap’s reigning dark prince, and a soft-spoken, apple-cheeked young Englishwoman who calls herself Dido.

Dido Armstrong, 28, had just released her debut album, No Angel, last year when she got a letter from executives at Eminem’s record company. The suits, and the artist, wanted her permission to use a substantial portion of Thank You, a song from No Angel, on Stan, a track on his current CD, The Marshall Mathers LP.

Dido was surprised, to say the least. The sweetly soulful vocals, pensive lyrics and graceful, ambient arrangements on her album hardly made her a natural partner for a guy whose edgy mock-diatribes have been criticized as sexist and sophomoric.

“I could have hated Eminem,” says Dido, over breakfast in her Manhattan hotel. “But I don’t. I think he’s brilliant.” She says that only reporters have questioned the alliance. “I’m asked how I can reconcile taking part in Lilith Fair (in 1999) with being on an album with such a ‘misogynist’ — that’s their word, not mine. I think he’s a great storyteller and a great entertainer.”

In fact, not only did Dido approve Eminem’s use of the sample, but the two have continued to collaborate. They made a joint appearance on Saturday Night Live in October, and Eminem cast Dido in his video for Stan, now his new single. Dido plays Stan’s girlfriend, who in the controversial song — which Dido praises for its “social conscience” — is killed by her obsessive beau.

She also recently joined Eminem onstage for several dates on the Anger Management Tour, a testosterone-fest also featuring Limp Bizkit and Papa Roach.

“It’s quite funny to go from Lilith Fair to the Anger Management Tour in one year,” Dido says. “But it’s fascinating watching Limp Bizkit. You see all these kids screaming, and it’s a great way to get their aggression out in a controlled environment. It’s like a soccer game in England — you scream and shout, then you go home and be with your family and act normal.”

Dido adds that she and Eminem “get on very well. He’s really lovely, just an incredibly nice guy.”

Lest anyone suspect that the English rose has romantic designs on the newly single rap star, Dido has a longtime beau, a lawyer with whom she shares a home in London.

Not that she has spent a lot of time there lately. No Angel wasn’t even released in Dido’s native country until a few weeks ago. The singer has devoted the past year to promoting the CD in the USA, where it has maintained a slow but steady climb, recently cracking the top 40 of the Billboard album chart. One track, Here With Me, is featured as the theme song for the WB cult drama Roswell.

“I can’t even explain to people in England what’s going on here,” says Dido. “It’s a completely different life. After doing a show and being surrounded by hundreds of people all the time, I go home and I’m just washing up and going to sleep. It takes a little adjustment.”

Dido needn’t get too accustomed to dull domesticity. After a short Christmas break, she’ll tour Europe, Australia and Japan. Then, next spring or early summer, she hopes to begin a new album.

“People tell me that I’m suddenly really successful,” Dido notes, laughing. “But it’s happened relatively slowly — and that’s great. To reach No. 1 with my first album would have been a shock to the system. I’m more prepared for what’s happening now, because I’ve worked hard. And it’s been a really great year.”