Mystery Music March which was in April and is now briefly in May

Thank You -- Dido

Finally then, as promised, Dido. I thought most of the criticism which greeted Dido's first album No Angel was a bit unwarranted. It wasn’t too far away from the jibes James Blunt received a few years later, but whereas in his case he deserved it (not least for spoiling the memory of watching Bill Bixby in The Incredible Hulk by borrowing the theme tune), Dido’s doubters seemed to simply dislike the woman because her music sudden popularity was surely going to herald the return of the light ballad, the soulful music for the soulless once epitomized by Sade and Beverley Craven. And so it was as Dido was followed by the Norah Joneses and Madeleine Peyrouxes to the supermarket shelves – a slightly bluesier sound clearly but still hitting the same aural comfort zone.

If Dido’s second album, Life For Rent descended into maudlin territory, to these ears, No Angel is a treat from top to bottom with Thank You the highlight. This isn’t challenging music, but it doesn’t want to be; it’s an attempt to capture honest feelings without anger, a musical Bridget Jones’ Diary without some American stealing the part played in my head whilst reading the book by Sally Philips. The singer describes a typically shitty day in Dido-land – having to go to work on a rainy day with a hangover, missing the bus, late for work but throughout she encounters her lover, in photographs and in person and to quote another lyricist it's all ok. In her subsequently much copied naturalistic singing voice she tells him or her that they’re the best thing about her day, no matter what’s happening.

Of course, never having been in a relationship, these are emotions I can’t really tap into, and so I’ll admit there’s a certain wish fulfillment involved in my attachment to the song. Blokes and other spouses should love this song though because it suggests that just by being there they can turn their girlfriends and partner’s life around. Lyrically it isn’t exactly economic, or as impressive as Regina Spector or Kate Nash, but it’s still a lucid daydream, the listener romantically projecting themselves inside. It’s clever too, somehow managing to use the word ‘imply’, something I’ve not heard in a song before or since. The production is deceptively simple – the bongo drums, echoing choral bits double banking some of the lyrics (shades of Nelly Furtado when she was good) and rather looser to these ears the first time it appeared in public with other Music From The Motion Picture Sliding Doors.

I can absolutely understand why some of you hate its breeziness, and I’ll never convince you. There are just some people who hate music which fails to challenge the ear, which is passable background fare sometimes, but emotionally useful otherwise. Predictably, I loved Dido as I love all this music, from Diana Krall through Natalie Imbruglia to Stacey Kent, drawing the line only at Katie Melua who at no point has or does sound authentic or as though she has much at all to do with the music. I bought The Closest Thing To Crazy the day it came out, and regretted it ever since, sounding as it does like a mechanized attempt at recreating Norah Jones in much the same way as Avril Lavigne stole Alanis’s thunder. Oh and Natasha Beddingfield, who is just scary. I suppose it takes a fan to see the difference between all of this stuff.

We know that only a fraction of the music that made the playlist of Michael Parkinson's Radio Two show was any good.

1 comment:

Matthew Rudd said...

"The implication I mistook, told on whose side you took; and now with paper in my hand, I'm beginning to understand."

'Implication', rather than 'imply' - the nearest I can come up with. Any notion as to the song?

I have never disliked Dido.