White Flag (song)

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"White Flag"
White Flag Dido.jpg
Single by Dido
from the album Life for Rent
B-side "Paris"
Released 1 September 2003 (2003-09-01)
Format CD single
Genre Pop
Length 4:01 (album version)
3:40 (radio edit)
Label Arista
  • Rollo Armstrong
  • Dido Armstrong
Dido singles chronology
"Feels Like Fire"
"White Flag"
"Life for Rent"
"Feels Like Fire"
"White Flag"
"Life for Rent"

"White Flag" is a song by English singer-songwriter Dido, released as the lead single from her second studio album Life for Rent on 1 September 2003. The song is considered one of her signature songs, and helped Life for Rent sell over ten million copies worldwide. The song was nominated for the Best Female Pop Vocal Performance at the 46th Grammy Awards, but lost to Christina Aguilera's "Beautiful". It won the Best British Single at the 2004 Brit Awards.

The song ranked on Blender's list "The 500 Greatest Songs Since You Were Born" at number 317.[1] The single fared very well on the charts around the world, peaking at number one in Australia, Austria, Germany, Italy, and Norway; number two on the Irish Singles Chart, and number 18 on the US Billboard Hot 100. The song reached number two in the UK being kept off the top spot by the UK top selling single of the year, "Where Is the Love?". The music video, directed by Joseph Kahn features actor David Boreanaz as Dido's love interest.

The song has been used in several TV series, Smallville, The Inbetweeners, Medium, The Sopranos, Tru Calling, Cold Case, Winners & Losers, and films Perfect Stranger and Mommy. Carly Rae Jepsen performed a cover version of the song on Canadian Idol.

Background and composition[edit]

"White Flag" was written and produced by Dido, Rollo Armstrong and Rick Nowels.[2] In the song, the protagonist is unwilling to give up, even if they know his or her relationship is over.[3] Regarding the lyric "I will go down with the ship," it is a well-known fact that, if a ship was sinking, the captain of the ship would stay on the ship and sink with it. In a battle, a white flag signals surrender. With regard to the lyric "there will be no white flag above my door," in the 17th century, if a captain of a ship wanted to surrender, he would hang a white flag outside the captain's cabin, above the cabin's door - this white flag would signal to the victors that the captain has surrendered and is waiting peaceably inside his cabin to be captured. By stating there will be "no white flag," she indicates that she will not deny her feelings of love or pretend that they are gone. Dido wrote the song about a past relationship, but later said that she initially regretted writing it because it caused more problems with the person involved. However, she has said that she now likes to perform the song.[4]

"White Flag" begins with a lone synth-chord reminiscent of Sinéad O'Connor's "Nothing Compares 2 U".[5] It features "multi-layered" sound, delicate piano outro, and strings.[3] According to the sheet music published at Musicnotes.com, it is written in the key of D minor with a tempo of 90 beats per minute, and Dido's vocals range from the low note of A3 to the high note of C5.[6]

Critical reception[edit]

David Jeffries from AllMusic wrote a largely positive review, praising "Dido's sweet delivery" and stating that "It’s all very beautiful, the perfect soundtrack for weeping, and the definition of "wistful" in a song."[3] Derryck Strachan wrote for BBC Music that the song is "engaging to the extent that you could easily be humming along without it registering in your brain. There's something unconscious, pleasantly innocuous about it. It's comfort food for the ears" and it could be easily on a Tom Hanks-Meg Ryan romantic comedy.[7] Alexis Petridis from The Guardian wrote that the song "is a superb, confidently written pop song, possessed of a chorus that is impossible to dislodge from your memory without the aid of hypnotherapy."[8]

Awards and success[edit]

The song was nominated for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance at the 2004 Grammy Awards, but lost to Christina Aguilera's "Beautiful".[4] The song won the award for "Best Single" at the 2004 BRIT Awards.[9] It helped her album sell one million copies in five days on its way to total sales of over 5 million, making it the fastest selling album by a female artist.[4]

Music video[edit]

The music video, directed by Joseph Kahn, features actor David Boreanaz as Dido's love interest.[9] The video tells a story about a relationship that is over, but both still in love with each other, meeting everywhere that they go and trying to not see each other. At the end of the video, they return to their apartments and Dido's room is filled with David's photos and David's room is filled with Dido's photos.[10]

Track listings[edit]

UK CD single
  1. "White Flag" – 3:40
  2. "Paris" – 3:24
  3. "White Flag" (Johnny Toobad mix) – 6:17
USA CD single
  1. "White Flag" (radio edit) – 3:36
  2. "Stoned" (Deep Dish radio edit) – 4:02
  3. "Paris" – 3:24
  4. "White Flag" (video) – 3:40
USA DVD single
  1. "White Flag" (video) – 3:40
  2. "Life For Rent" (video) – 3:41
French CD single
  1. "White Flag" – 3:58
  2. "Paris" – 3:24

Charts and certifications[edit]

Chart successions[edit]

Preceded by
"You Weren't There" by Lene Marlin
Italian FIMI number one single
18 September 2003
Succeeded by
"Never Leave You (Uh Oooh, Uh Oooh)" by Lumidee
Preceded by
"Where Is the Love?" by The Black Eyed Peas
Australian ARIA Singles Chart number-one single
28 September 2003 – 5 October 2003
Succeeded by
"Not Me, Not I" by Delta Goodrem
Preceded by
"Unrockbar" by Die Ärzte
German number-one single
3 October 2003
Succeeded by
"Where Is the Love?" by The Black Eyed Peas
Preceded by
"Maria (I Like It Loud)" by Scooter
Ö3 Austria Top 40 number-one single
5 October 2003 – 19 October 2003
Succeeded by
"Where Is the Love?" by The Black Eyed Peas

Release history[edit]

Region Date Format Label
Brazil 28 August 2003 Digital download Sony Music Entertainment


  1. ^ The 500 Greatest Songs Since You Were Born: 301 - 350
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  5. ^ Cinquemani, Sal (27 September 2003). "Dido: Life for Rent". Retrieved 2012-02-21. 
  6. ^ "Dido - White Flag Digital Sheet Music". Music Notes. Retrieved 21 February 2012. 
  7. ^ Strachan, Derryck (20 June 2003). "Review of Dido - Life for Rent". BBC. BBC. Retrieved 2012-02-21. 
  8. ^ Petridis, Alexis (26 September 2003). "Dido "Life For Rent"". The Guardian. Retrieved 2012-02-21. 
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  27. ^ "Top40-charts.com". Retrieved November 24, 2015. 
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External links[edit]