Life for Rent

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For the song, see Life for Rent (song).
Life for Rent
Dido - Life for Rent.png
Studio album by Dido
Released 29 September 2003 (2003-09-29)
Recorded The Ark, The Church, Cubejam and Wessex Studios
Length 54:02
Label Cheeky, Arista
Producer Dido Armstrong, Rollo Armstrong, Rick Nowels
Dido chronology
No Angel
Life for Rent
Safe Trip Home
Singles from Life For Rent
  1. "White Flag"
    Released: 1 September 2003
  2. "Life for Rent"
    Released: 1 December 2003
  3. "Don't Leave Home"
    Released: 12 April 2004
  4. "Sand in My Shoes"
    Released: 13 September 2004

Life for Rent is the second studio album by the British singer-songwriter Dido, released by Arista Records on 29 September 2003. The album was produced by Rollo Armstrong and American songwriter Rick Nowels. Work on the album began in mid-2002.[1] It was certified 7× Platinum by the BPI;[2] and sold over 12 million copies worldwide, making it the fourth best-selling album worldwide of 2003. The album became the seventh best-selling album of the 2000s on UK, making Dido the only singer to have two albums in the Top 10 list.


Life for Rent's first track and lead single "White Flag" begins with a lone synth-chord reminiscent of Sinéad O'Connor's "Nothing Compares 2 U".[3] In the song, the protagonist is unwilling to give up, even if they know it’s over.[4] It features "multi-layered" sound, delicate piano outro, and strings.[4] In battle, a white flag signals surrender. By stating there will be "No white flag," she indicates she will not give up on the relationship. The second track "Stoned" has a dance vibe, bringing to mind David Bowie circa Outside (1995).[5] The title track, "Life for Rent", has emotional gravity and graceful melody.[3] The song opens with an acoustic guitar, keeping the guitar in and giving the tune a hip-hop beat. "Nothing I have is truly mine" she repeats at the conclusion.[5] “Mary’s in India” is a reflective song about a friend who moves abroad, as the title suggests, and the void her departure creates in those she leaves behind.[5] The fifth track "See You When You're 40" is a somber and melodic ballad with a touch of symphonic air, featuring "quasi" trip hop beat.[5] 'And I've seen, tonight, what I'd been warned about / I'm gonna leave, tonight, before I change my mind,' she sings.[5]

The sixth track "Don't Leave Home" sounds like she's picking herself up again although she speaks of shutting the blinds and closing the door.[5] but she revealed that it's about drug addiction. But the "narrator" of the song is the drug. Like a controlling lover, the drug takes over the user's life until he doesn't even want to leave home. "Who Makes You Feel" is a trip-pop, soulful and tender track.[5] "Sand in My Shoes" talks about not having time, while the bridge get a bit dance-house.[5] "Do You Have a Little Time" features lush strings and hip-hop back-beats.[3] "This Land of Mine" is a reflective piece that according to PopMatters, "could have Travis or Coldplay recording it with big grins on their faces. Simplistic and sparse, the song sounds just a bit like Olivia Newton-John in the early seventies, according to them.[5] "See the Sun" sees Dido swoops in as savior for a broken heart, classified as a "mini-anthem that has all the right items in their proper places."[3][5]


"White Flag", was released as the lead single from the album. The song was well received by critics who reviewed the album. It became a major worldwide hit, reaching number one in Australia and Europe.[6] It peaked at number two in the United Kingdom, being held off the top spot by The Black Eyed Peas' "Where Is the Love?", and became her highest-charting single to date there.[7] At year-end UK charts, the song peaked at number 12.[8] It peaked at number 18 on the Billboard Hot 100 and became her second Top 20 on the chart.[9] It reached number two on the U.S Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks, and stayed on the chart for 66 weeks.[9] The song references a past relationship with Bob Page. In an interview with British newspaper The Sun, Dido said "the song is an apology to Page for breaking his heart. 'It was a big decision not to get married...'".[10] The video featured the TV actor David Boreanaz. The song ranked on Blender's list "The 500 Greatest Songs Since You Were Born" at number 317.[11] "Life for Rent" was released as the second single from the album. It peaked within the top ten in the UK Singles Chart and the Irish Singles Chart.[12][13][14] The music video featured Dido singing in several rooms, and was directed by Sophie Muller.[15]

"Don't Leave Home", was released as the third single, and was a track written by Dido and her brother. The main theme of the song is the use of drugs, where the drugs "sing" to the consumer: "When I've been here for just one day / You'll already miss me if I go away / So close the blinds and shut the door / You won't need other friends anymore".[16] The song debuted and peaked at number 25 in the UK.[17] The track "Stoned" was remixed and issued as the B-side to the single, but soon became a club hit and peaked at number one on the Billboard Hot Dance/Club Songs.[18] "Sand in My Shoes" was released as the fourth and last single from the album. It became an American club hit reaching number one on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play chart.[18] It debuted and peaked at number 29 in the UK.[19]

Critical response[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4/5 stars [20]
BBC (mixed) [21]
Blender 4/5 stars [22]
Robert Christgau (choice cut) [23] 3/5 stars [24]
Entertainment Weekly (B) [25]
The Guardian 3/5 stars [26]
PopMatters (positive) [5]
Rolling Stone 3/5 stars [27]
Slant Magazine 3/5 stars [3]

According to review aggregator Metacritic, the album has received generally positive reviews, scoring 69 out of 100 points based on 12 reviews.[28] Jason MacNeil, from PopMatters, gave a very positive review, finishing with: "this record seems to outweigh the previous album in terms of quality and depth".[5] Alexis Petridis wrote "It would be nice to report that Dido's second album is strong enough to reveal her detractors as snobs, who hate the notion that her music appeals to 'ordinary' people ... Sadly, it proves a little more complicated than that".[26] MSN Music critic Robert Christgau gave a "Choice-cut symbol", which represents "a good song on an album that isn't worth your time or money",[29] selecting "Mary's in India" as the only "good song" on the album.[23]

Barry Walters, of Rolling Stone, declared "Like No Angel ... isn't groundbreaking, but it has its own kind of integrity.[27] "Life for Rent doesn't offer anything that drastically different from Dido's debut album [No Angel], ... she's unassuming and gentle, but her songs are so melodic and atmospheric they easily work their way into the subconscious" was the review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine, from Allmusic.[20] Andrew Lynch, from noted: "Life For Rent is no masterpiece, but it has the same kind of sweet, unassuming, girl-next-door charm that made its predecessor such a smash hit".[24] Derryck Strachan, BBC Music reviewer wrote " ... she treads a fine line between credibility and popularity ... But, she hasn't put a foot wrong with this album. On the positive side that means more well-crafted folk-pop tunes, on the negative side she hasn't moved forward", also said "Although Dido played a significant part in older brother Rollo's band, ... Faithless, it would be misleading to say that the groups success brought her fame".[21]

Commercial performance[edit]

Life for Rent is the fastest selling album by a female artist, passing five million sales mark in just two weeks. It sold 102,500 on the first day, and 400,351 in the first week.[30] According to the IFPI, it was the fourth best-selling album worldwide of 2003.[31] Also, according to the BPI, Life for Rent was the best-selling album of 2003 in United Kingdom;[8] and the seventh best-selling album between 2000 and 2009 in the country.[32] The album spent ten weeks at the top of the UK albums chart.[33] It remained on the chart for 54 weeks.[34][35] Also, spent 18 non-consecutive weeks at number one on the European Top 100 Albums chart.[36] In the United States, Life for Rent debuted and peaked at number four. By October 2003, the album had sold over a million and half copies.[36] In Australia the album debuted at number one on the ARIA albums chart, being certified platinum (70,000) copies in its first week. It was one of the biggest selling albums of 2003 and went on to be certified six times platinum for sales of over 420,000.[37] With this, Dido matched the huge success of her previous effort, No Angel. Dido's "Life for Rent Tour" was taken around the world in 2004.[36] The album was nominated for "Best British Album" at the 2004 BRIT Awards along with Daniel Bedingfield's Gotta Get Thru This, Blur's Think Tank and The Coral's Magic and Medicine, but they were all beaten by The Darkness's Permission to Land. "White Flag" was awarded the 2004 Ivor Novello Award in the category "International Hit of the Year". Also, in same year, Life for Rent earned Dido's first Grammy nomination, at the 46th Grammy Awards, in the category "Best Female Pop Vocal Performance" for the song "White Flag".

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "White Flag"   Dido Armstrong, Rollo Armstrong, Rick Nowels 4:00
2. "Stoned"   D. Armstrong, R. Armstrong, Lester Mendez 5:55
3. "Life for Rent"   D. Armstrong, R. Armstrong 3:41
4. "Mary's in India"   D. Armstrong, R. Armstrong 3:41
5. "See You When You're 40"   D. Armstrong, R. Armstrong, Aubrey Nunn 5:20
6. "Don't Leave Home"   D. Armstrong, R. Armstrong 3:46
7. "Who Makes You Feel"   D. Armstrong, R. Armstrong, Master Pnut 4:20
8. "Sand in My Shoes"   D. Armstrong, R. Nowels 4:59
9. "Do You Have a Little Time"   D. Armstrong, Mark Bates, R. Nowels 3:55
10. "This Land Is Mine"   D. Armstrong, R. Armstrong, R. Nowels 3:46
11. "See the Sun"   D. Armstrong 5:05
12. "Closer[38]" (hidden track) D. Armstrong, R. Armstrong, R. Nowels 3:29

Album credits[edit]



  • Producers - D. Armstrong, Rollo Armstrong, R. Nowels
  • Programmers - D. Armstrong, Sister Bliss, DJ Pnut, Steve Sidelynk



Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Argentina 3× Platinum[84] 120,000+
Australia (ARIA) 6× Platinum[37] 420,000+
Austria (IFPI) Platinum[85] 30,000+
Belgium (IFPI) 2× Platinum[86] 100,000+
Brazil (ABPD) Gold[87] 50,000+
Canada (Music Canada) 3× Platinum[88] 300,000+
Denmark Platinum[89] 30,000+
Finland Gold[90] 10,000+
France 2× Platinum[43] 645,000+
Germany 3× Platinum[91] 600,000+
Greece (IFPI Greece) Gold[45] 10,000+
Hungary Gold[92] 15,000+
Italy Platinum[93] 100,000+
Mexico Gold[94] 75,000+
Netherlands Platinum[95] 80,000+
New Zealand (RMNZ) 4× Platinum[96] 60,000+
Norway 2× Platinum[97] 80,000+
Poland Gold[98] 35,000+
Russia Platinum[99] 20,000+
Sweden Platinum[100] 60,000+
Switzerland (IFPI) 3× Platinum[101] 120,000+
United Kingdom (BPI) 9× Platinum[2] 2,866,350[102]
United States (RIAA) 2× Platinum[103] 2,100,000+[104]
Europe 5× Platinum[105] 5,000,000+[106]

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone

See also[edit]


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External links[edit]

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Laundry Service by Shakira
NRJ Music Award for International Album of the Year
Succeeded by
Elephunk by The Black Eyed Peas