Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Hidden Gems of Marina & the Diamonds

We. Love. Marina.  Marina Diamandis is a POP star unlike any other.  She uses glorious visuals, including fantastic shoulder padded designs by talents like Hannah Marshall and Ashish, glow-in-the-dark pink and orange lip stains, lollipop hearts that light up, and felt hamburgers! She can take POP methods, twist them, contort them, flavor them with personality & emerge with a musical style that is completely her own. She has an honesty quite like Lily Allen, which is not very common in POP, and she muses on a multitude of issues in addition to love, including ambition, depression, and feminism. In anticipation of Electra Heart we compiled a list of our favorite, lesser-known tracks by Marina and the Diamonds in the hope that they can hold us over until the big release day!  

Let us begin with Minna's Unlocked Hidden Gems

1. This is L.A.– Released in 2007 off of her first EP, Mermaid and Sailor, This is L.A. is very rock n’ roll - more rock n' roll than we are used to from modern Marina ( I nearly envision her jumping onstage with a mullet & flannel shirt, rocking a grungy guitar solo to Smells Like Teen Spirit gone glam!]  A rock-pop prelude to her electropop ballad Hollywood, This is L.A. finds Marina trapped in a world of false values: “Come, come flash your clean, clean cash / gleaming on the outside but your teaming with decay / please don't make me stay, don't make me stay,” she begs.  Marina is consistent.  Even in the formative years of her career she was inspired by America, pop culture, vapidity, and superficiality.  This is L.A. is less polished than her later work, but it demonstrates Marina’s versatility, raw talent, and her genius at story-telling. 

2. Jealousy  - Marina is so damn good at expressing the universal emotions that overtake us, whether they are insecurity, greed, or, in this case, Jealousy.  "I never say a word / unless I come off needy," Marina confesses, "what's this taking over me? Jealousy / Bubbling inside of me? It's jealousy."  We’ve all been there.  Jealousy irrationally bubbles up from deep down inside of us, releasing our demons which, for a moment, overtake us and become us.  Marina's powerful vocals, chantable chorus and insightful, emotive lyrics make Jealousy a song of POP-perfection.

3. Hermit the Frog - Obsessions is probably Marina’s most famous keyboard ballad, but Hermit the Frog does NOT lag behind in its POP quality.  Although the lyrics are rather ambiguous, the subject matter is definitely inspired by Marina's fascination with loners.  "My heart just burst like a glass balloon / We let them fly too high and they shatter too soon / I was the wrong damn girl in the wrong damn room / I broke my glass balloon," she gently coos.  When once asked why she felt she could write music, Marina responded that she had always been a confident poet.  It shows.  The grace of Marina's songwriting is a gift.  Every song is as unique as a fingerprint, and Hermit the Frog is a perfect example.

Gregory's Unlocked Hidden Gems:

4. Sinful - This is one of Marina's first collaborations with French producer Pascal Gabriel, who worked with her on Shampain, a song that made it onto her previous album, The Family Jewels. Marina's second record, Electra Heart, is rumored to be far more electronic, but she dipped her feet into the synthesized pond with Pascal the last time around. This track is not on her debut, but it definitely has the same shimmer possessed by all of her others. It's energetic and sparkly, yet has an underlying sadness to it, particularly when she sings, "I lost my spine inside the center of a star / And every day I wonder where the bad bones are / You die an ugly day if you hit and miss, I know my own grand daddy worked so hard for this." As Minna stated earlier in reference to Hermit the Frog, it's sometimes difficult to know what the indie princess alludes to, but regardless, her emotion is evident in her tragic nursery rhyme-like lyrics.

5. Living Dead - Marina has said that this track will be on Electra Heart. Someone (presumably her or an exec from her label) has leaked it to help build hype, get feedback, etc. In it, she makes reference to the same black balloon mentioned in Hermit the Frog. This song is exactly the kind of music Marina said she would make. It's more electronic than her previous material, but her sound, composed of insightful lyrics and creative melodies, is still very much the same if you scrape away the beautiful production and beats. Furthermore, the electronic element doesn't take away from her strong, emotive voice. It only adds to it, creating a sparkly sound filled with dark hues of green, purple, blue, and black, thereby enhancing the sense of numbness she sings about.

The following two songs may be on Electra Heart, although no confirmation has been provided: 

6. Sex, Yeah - Here, Marina expresses her feminist sensibility, singing "If women were religiously / recognized sexually / we wouldn't have to feel the need / to show our a$$es to feel free." Take that, society! Girlfriend speaks the truth.

7. Scab & Plaster - This song is '80s synth-licious. I LOVE the chorus - "I've lost, I've lost my innocence / I've found my self-belief / And in a cup of loneliness / I've found instant relief" and then she cheers "You hold me down, you hold me up / Oh Daddy, are we out of luck? / You brought me up to bring me down / You shut me in, You shut me up." She just makes you want to chant right along with her in an effort to empower us all. 

With songs like these, Electra Heart has the foundation  of a successful album. As I've said before, the rest depends on how well her label promotes her globally, especially in America, and on whether radio executives and DJs will spin her tunes. Marina's rumored to have worked with some great producers on this record like Liam Howe, Diplo, Greg Kurstin, Dr. Luke, Stargate, and Swedish House Mafia - such an eclectic mix of indie, pop, and dance. In her interview with Popjustice, she said that "Electra Heart is the antithesis of everything that I stand for. And the point of introducing her and building a whole concept around her is that she stands for the corrupt side of American ideology, and basically that’s the corruption of yourself. My worst fear - that’s anyone’s worst fear - is losing myself and becoming a vacuous person. And that happens a lot when you’re very ambitious." She's putting together a photography exhibition entitled The : Archetypes in London for the album release in February. Some pics can be seen on Marina's Electra Heart Tumbr. She's also going to accompany the songs on the album with corresponding videos that, all together, will tell the story of corruption by the hands of American ideologies. View the first two, Fear & Loathing and Radioactive here

We love you Marina!


Gregory & Minna


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