Shortly after I almost wore out Madonna's Music, along came Dido's No Angel, which I listened to pretty much nonstop during the first few months of 2001. Her brand of pop music was very appealing and much imitated since. The formula was pretty simple: take the acoustic female singer-songwriter template--at the time championed by the likes of Sarah McLachlan, Paula Cole and Chantal Kreviazuk--and make it hipper with a modern electronic production. Dido got that couresty of her brother Rollo Armstrong, one of the members of the dance act Faithless, with whom Dido sometimes collaborates. She's never sounded better than on the masterful "Here With Me," a beautiful slice of melancholy, scored with modern beats, dreamy synths and gentle acoustic guitar strums. It's one of my all-time favorite songs. She's been unfairly maligned as too laid back, a criticism that doesn't take into account fiery songs like "Don't Think of Me" and "Take My Hand," but laid back shouldn't be a bad word when it sounds as good as it does on "Thank You" or "All You Want." This set, Britain's best-selling album of 2001, was as good a debut as any artist could hope for.
Best: Here With Me, Thank You, Don't Think of Me, Hunter, All You Want, I'm No Angel