Marina and the Diamonds (Ft. Electra Heart)

A forum for creative people.
User avatar
Garrett Gilchrist
Site Admin
Posts: 6756
Joined: Tue Feb 12, 2013 1:23 am

Marina and the Diamonds (Ft. Electra Heart)

Post: # 9666Post Garrett Gilchrist
Wed Sep 12, 2018 6:41 pm

Image

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rDI44Xhq7Tk

While I wouldn't say that 2015's Froot, by Marina and the Diamonds, is a better album than her 2010 debut The Family Jewels, it is the album I listen to more frequently, and it's often in my thoughts these days.

It's largely an album about a woman who has struggled with depression and perpetually been undervalued, as an artist and in life, saying she knows her own worth.

She wants to say she's in a happier, more fulfilled place now, even if that knowledge came at great cost. Nestled in the middle of the album, "Gold" and "Solitaire" feel like statements of self-esteem gained after a full nervous breakdown. "Blue" says that outright, even as it pretends to be a simple, brainless pop tune. The result is very moving.

"Family Jewels" had quirky tracks like "Mowgli's Road," which was largely about whether Marina wanted to be a mainstream pop artist or do something more unique and even bizarre. The subtext of the album was about her struggles with depression and her desire to be the biggest pop star in the world. But she never had the career of Lady Gaga or Katy Perry or Taylor Swift. Perhaps because Marina's album was actually as weird as Lady Gaga was pretending to be.

Her 2013 album Electra Heart took that further, as she genuinely tried to sell out by producing blander pop music with mainstream producers, in the character of toxic, doomed, suicidal pop princess Electra Heart. She actually lost creative control at times, and some of the tracks just aren't interesting. But for a sellout piece it's an incredibly dark and moody album at heart, focusing in on what it would really mean to be an enormously successful pop star, if she sold her soul (and gave up her body and life) to do so. For Marina, becoming an iconic pop princess seems to involve becoming a negative stereotype of a woman then killing herself in slow motion, a la Marilyn Monroe. You might rightly infer from this that there are reasons why she never became quite that famous.

"Froot" finds her in a much healthier place, judging from the tracks anyway. It's more mainstream-friendly than Family Jewels was, but it also feels much more personal, like she's not playing a character anymore. There aren't obvious sellout tracks. Compared to the quirky "The Family Jewels," "Froot" tends to eschew subtext and is often childishly blunt, as if she's tired of being misunderstood. She just comes out and says what the songs are about.

"Underneath it all, we're just savages." "I don't want to feel blue anymore." In "Can't Pin Me Down," she spends a song saying outright that she's not going to do what's expected of her as an artist. "Mowgli's Road" made the point a thousand times better by actually doing the unexpected. Her dark and quirky side is now the subtext. The great title track "Froot" is openly about sex. To quote Garth Marenghi, "I know writers you use subtext and they're all cowards." But it's still a uniquely Marina take on sex, pitched very low and also very high, above Marina's natural range, and sounding like a witch's spell, an invocation to something very strange and darkly magical. The Youtube video of "Froot" actually omits the two bridges which make this much clearer, such as:

"I'm your carnal flower, I'm your bloody rose
Pick my petals off and make my heart explode
I'm your deadly nightshade, I'm your cherry tree
You're my one true love, I'm your destiny"

Well, if you're going to write about sex, why not treat sex as sacred? This isn't the plastic world of Katy Perry. It's curious and telling that this gets cut out in the video, as the bridges are like Marina's signature embedded in what could otherwise be mistaken for mainstream pop. Marina always has a unique voice in her work which makes it hard for her to just cash in and sell out. I'd like to hear an album from her which is weirder, but at least 2/3rds of "Froot," as an album, is brilliant and holds up to repeated listens.

User avatar
Garrett Gilchrist
Site Admin
Posts: 6756
Joined: Tue Feb 12, 2013 1:23 am

Re: Recommend one song.

Post: # 9848Post Garrett Gilchrist
Thu Jan 17, 2019 8:52 am

Marina and the Diamonds' Neon Nature (Froot) tour featured artwork and animation by Gabriel Marques.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FkiHb9lxsiY

The Electra Heart era is introduced with her theme song (which isn't on the album but had a music video here :)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mhHrrVlshQ8

After the line "Can we go back, go back to the start," Marina's animated image briefly changes to resemble Britney Spears in the Toxic video, with music to match (!) ... a nod to one of Electra Heart's influences ....

Non-album Electra Hearts songs also include EVOL, Lonely Hearts Club, Radioactive, and Buy the Stars (which sounds a bit like "Numb"). I feel like there's more I'm missing .... Living Dead, Sex Yeah (Free Sex), and How to be a Heartbreaker are only on some versions also. Gets a bit confusing, possibly due to her loss of creative control during this era.

The Other Foot/Just Desserts also came out of this era.
More mysteriously there was also Superhuman and (If It's) Worth It.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NeDe89NnC9M
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vf8e3OozHlI
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ophnmGWQGsU
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CCELnFwUVXE

Oh, and if they count, the Su-Barbie-A intro (Valley of the Dolls), and The Archetypes (State of Dreaming).
https://youtu.be/Ww8lYVerLo4

Really worth compiling an extended playlist for this era, as the video releases sort of did.

When the album was called "Die Life," the tracks included:
Scab & Plaster
Starring Role
Power & Control
Living Dead (Possibly the title track "Die Life")
Sex Yeah
Miss Y
Jealousy

Family Jewels outtakes include Bad Kidz, The Family Jewels, Dirty Sheets, Space and the Woods, Starlight and Sinful. Also Like the Other Girls (which is similar to Scab & Plaster.)

Froot outtakes include "When You Take Away Control", "I'm Not Hungry Anymore" and "Saviour". (And "True Colors.")


Note:
Some Marina tracks seem to have ended up as bonus tracks because they're basically the same song as another song. Just Desserts is just The Outsider, Buy the Stars is Teen Idle/Numb, Family Jewels is Hermit the Frog etc

User avatar
Garrett Gilchrist
Site Admin
Posts: 6756
Joined: Tue Feb 12, 2013 1:23 am

Re: Recommend one song.

Post: # 9862Post Garrett Gilchrist
Thu Jan 24, 2019 6:07 am

Numb - Marina and the Diamonds (Live Music Video) Feat. Electra Heart

Marina Diamandis performs "Numb" from "The Family Jewels."

Video edit: Garrett Gilchrist

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7xwcNWhtwx8

User avatar
Garrett Gilchrist
Site Admin
Posts: 6756
Joined: Tue Feb 12, 2013 1:23 am

Re: Recommend one song.

Post: # 9969Post Garrett Gilchrist
Thu Apr 11, 2019 10:44 pm

Youtube showing me Marina's "Orange Trees" music video as an ADVERTISEMENT

As if I haven't already seen it

As if I haven't already proposed marriage to this video

Youtube, underestimating me

My exact quote was "Thriller movie where I'm a cop on the edge haunted by memories of my dead wife, except it's just this video by Marina and the Diamonds"

Okay, I've been spamming this thread with Marina a lot.

The tracks so far from Marina's new album haven't won me over yet, but I'm still there for this. And the summer vibes.

https://youtu.be/0H6vdQSXaR4

(New album is "Love and Fear" and she's showing "Love" first. So it's pretty cheerful stuff without the weirdness and edge she had starting out. That's not a surprise after the "Froot" album, which is often about being healthy and not suicidal anymore. But we don't know yet what "Fear" will sound like.)

User avatar
Garrett Gilchrist
Site Admin
Posts: 6756
Joined: Tue Feb 12, 2013 1:23 am

Re: Recommend one song.

Post: # 10002Post Garrett Gilchrist
Wed May 01, 2019 3:30 am

(Apologies in advance for writing yet another "history of Marina and the Diamonds" for this thread but it's necessary here to go back to this well.)

Marina and the Diamonds is just Marina now, for her fourth studio album, the lush and beautiful "Love & Fear." It's an easy listen full to bursting with gorgeous tracks. But it lacks the quirkiness and personal voice of her debut "The Family Jewels," and listeners coming late to Marina's career may find themselves wondering what all the fuss was about, one way or the other.

Marina Diamandis was an adult, old enough to drink, when she took up singing and songwriting. Her rough and personal early sound was cleaned up just enough for her landmark debut, "The Family Jewels." It felt very personal, as she sang openly about depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, suicidal thoughts, and her desire to be famous. The metanarrative was that she'd thrown away the rest of her normal life in an effort to become the biggest pop star in the world. The quirkiest single, "Mowgli's Road," saw her questioning whether to take a more unusual and personal track with her songwriting, or to sell out into the mainstream. She sang about the sort of pop sensation who would become hugely famous, and then flame out in a haze of drugs and depression and die young, as if predicting her own death.

Well, none of that happened. "The Family Jewels" was a modest success but many dismissed her as a novelty act. She didn't take over the pop music conversation in the way that, say, Lady Gaga or Taylor Swift did.

For her second album, she turned her intrusive thoughts into the character of Electra Heart, a mainstream pop singer who's unlucky in love and happy to play negative stereotypes of women, and who dies young. Despite the theatrical presentation she made a genuine attempt to "sell out" here with her sound, losing creative control to mainstream pop producers. It's actually hard to tell which songs were intended to be on the final album, including the title track.

Her third album "Froot" showed her in a happier, healthier place, with a newfound maturity. She presented her mental health struggles as something she had worked to overcome, and that she's made her peace with not getting everything she wanted when she was starting out. It was less quirky, and any social commentary was presented as on-the-nose without subtext, as with "Savages."

Marina has gotten less quirky and perhaps less personal with each album, but with this comes increasing devotion to musicality as a craft. She is less open about her mental health struggles, wanting us to know she's all right now, really. It's hard to imagine any previous Marina album tackling "No More Suckers," which is a very confident middle finger pointed in the direction of those who've wasted her time and affections.

Tracks like "No More Suckers," "Karma" and "You" are pointed enough commentary about unnamed men she's known that they feel more specific than the rest of the album, without actually being a return to form.

It's rumored that many of these tracks were written over existing instrumentals, which explains why they work as music but lack the feeling of emotions and thoughts spilling out on the page that Marina's early work had. There's few surprises here, few truly strange choices. One track, "Emotional Machine," will remind listeners of "I Am Not a Robot," but without any of that track's emotion and personal qualities.

There's a recurring theme that Marina has been traveling a lot, and seeing the world. "To Be Human" is a highlight of the album, in which she sings about traveling, and a desire for people all over the world to recognize that unites us rather than divides us. But the lyrics are bland and take no risks, even compared to the very straightforward "Savages" from Froot. They end up feeling like a mushy centrism, or a journal about her last couple of vacations, even if it's intended as a rebuke to racism and Trumpism.

There is a sense throughout much of the album, as with Froot, that a more mature Marina is sharing what she's learned. The album's closer "Soft to Be Strong" is an obvious example. But the lyrics throughout are so vague that they don't add up to much. The intention, as with a lot of music, is to be universal enough that people can interpret the songs in their own way, and maybe that's enough.

"Life Is Strange" appears to be about nothing at all, and stands out as a missed opportunity which drags down the second side of the album. It's the most disposable track here, and it didn't have to be. It is, at least, a compliment to the album that the other tracks don't stand out as equally disposable.

What we do get are some lovely tracks aboul love and fear.

One highlight is "Orange Trees," a summery Love track about vacationing in Greece which finds a very appealing way to pronounce "Orange."
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0H6vdQSXaR4

It seems she's still writing through depression at times but working to present an idealized vibe rather than wallow in that. "Enjoy your problems," she sings in "Enjoy Your Life."

The "love" songs aren't always positive, and the "fear" songs aren't always negative. The likes of "End of the Earth" and "Believe In Love" mingle the two, hinting at complex emotions.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w1j3PuwCekg

There's also "Baby," a collaboration with Clean Bandit and Luis Fonsi which already appeared on Clean Bandit's last album, and which outshines most of this one.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hlznpxNGFGQ

Elle magazine notes that the album was "Inspired in part by her psychology studies at the University of London and her love of Swedish psychologist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, whose ideology states that there are only two primary emotions, love and fear."
https://www.elle.com/culture/music/a272 ... interview/

It's a beautiful album and an easy listen, though it won't stop you in your tracks with quirkiness and darkly specific lyrics. Marina's early work was weird because she felt she was weird and unusual, and it seems she's come to realize she's normal really. Marina says in the above interview "I think I'm more at peace with the fact that we are all messy and chaotic."

User avatar
Garrett Gilchrist
Site Admin
Posts: 6756
Joined: Tue Feb 12, 2013 1:23 am

Re: Recommend one song.

Post: # 10064Post Garrett Gilchrist
Sun Aug 18, 2019 5:43 pm

Everyone rise for the national anthem

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n1VTcJfL7RE

User avatar
Garrett Gilchrist
Site Admin
Posts: 6756
Joined: Tue Feb 12, 2013 1:23 am

Marina and the Diamonds (Ft. Electra Heart)

Post: # 10120Post Garrett Gilchrist
Thu Aug 22, 2019 8:18 pm

I've said this in this thread before but I was cheering myself up talking about Marina and the Diamonds last night, so here:

Arguably, live performances of the Electra Heart stuff are key to understanding it.

The "Electra Heart" theme is not on the album but suggests a flashback structure for it, at the time of her death probably. Visually, animation depicts Marina transforming into a Britney Spears-like character, who performs Bubblegum Bitch, a song which has "okay, fuck you, I'll be that kind of pop star for awhile" vibes. There's an excitement to the character which suits her downhill slide into often-negative female archetypes and darker material about her death later in the album.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=onntsbEzxKU

Famously, Britney Spears herself struggled with fame, shaving her head at one point in frustration and wanting to reclaim her image. (Marina cuts her hair in the Fear and Loathing video.) Unfortunately this video misses the animation of Electra literally becoming Britney in "Toxic" but ah well.

User avatar
Garrett Gilchrist
Site Admin
Posts: 6756
Joined: Tue Feb 12, 2013 1:23 am

Re: Recommend one song.

Post: # 10144Post Garrett Gilchrist
Tue Aug 27, 2019 1:51 am

"Miss Y" is from a Marina and the Diamonds album which didn't happen. I believe it never leaked in full. A mostly-complete demo leaked, and a minute of the "final version" which I haven't heard.

Marina wanted to split her second album in two. "Die Life" was partly about depression and suicide and toxic relationships. In "Electra Heart" she would become a fictional, self-destructive pop star.

The label said no, so the "Die Life" tracks folded into "Electra Heart," an album whose true, preferred running order is hard to figure out to this day, because she worked with top music producers and gave up some creative control.

There are a lot of tracks which are 2/3rds of the way good, but which need more ideas in them, and feel interchangeable as a result. (Look at "Forget" from FROOT, which comes up with a new idea halfway through to fill the runtime - represented in the video by having a third Marina join the first two.)

As a song, "Miss Y" had to go first, because it's not about the fictional "Electra Heart." It's about Marina, who seems to be having trouble networking, and feels invisible in social situations. This is the first song where she admits her career is stalling out and not going anywhere, and that she's already running out of time to be successful by music industry standards. It's probably a song about how disappointing Los Angeles actually is for a creative. And it's about 2/3rds good.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8TLn9lpZVow

Then again, the Marina of the first two albums is suicidal and self destructive. There's a subtext that her desire to be the biggest pop star in the world will cause her to burn out young.

Most of "FROOT" and "Love & Fear" (where she finally got to do the split-in-half album idea) are about reassuring her listeners that she's in a healthier place now mentally, even though she's less famous than she expected to be.

This deleted FROOT track, "Not Hungry Anymore," actually says that outright. FROOT isn't big on subtext.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yhN8dBN5K5I

While I'm at it, here's "Please Don't Call Me," a deleted track from the "Fear" album, about another relationship gone wrong.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i4X1SpiHkX0

User avatar
Garrett Gilchrist
Site Admin
Posts: 6756
Joined: Tue Feb 12, 2013 1:23 am

Re: Recommend one song.

Post: # 10154Post Garrett Gilchrist
Fri Aug 30, 2019 3:21 am

The Confusing Track Listing of Electra Heart

If we go by Marina's Youtube uploads from the Electra Heart era, she released videos for the intended last track of the album first (Fear and Loathing), and for the intended (and cut) first track last (Electra Heart), and four (!) of the tracks that got music videos aren't officially part of the album depending on what version you get (Electra Heart, EVOL, Radioactive and two for How to Be a Heartbreaker). She also did a bunch of acoustic sets which completely changes the vibe.

Electra Heart and How to Be a Heartbreaker were definitely intended as part of the album, as was Lonely Hearts Club, which was the name of her live tour.

They're not the best tracks on the album, but then neither are Bubblegum Bitch, Homewrecker, Living Dead, or Sex Yeah, and you sort of need some mediocre tracks to establish what Electra Heart is. The combo of Electra Heart/Bubblegum Bitch does this very well in concert. If we're establishing Electra Heart as a sellout pop star, I would never have picked Homewrecker/Sex Yeah over Heartbreaker/EVOL.

Buy the Stars is basically retreading old ground as a Teen Idle / Numb combo, but as a "personal song" it goes well with Miss Y (cut) and Hypocrates (not cut!)

Marina and company also bothered to make two soundscape videos, "The Archetypes" and "Su-Barbie-A," which set the mood and may have been part of the album at some point.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SYnE7Y7daYQ

Her manager at the time didn't even want "Teen Idle" on "Electra Heart," good lord. That's a load-bearing song for the album's conceit, and arguably for the metanarrative of her career.
https://youtu.be/7TPFbRuSSLA?t=893

"You fuckin sellout!"

https://youtu.be/7TPFbRuSSLA?t=782

She notes that she doesn't cut a lot of songs from albums - that only two got cut from Froot (notably I'm Not Hungry Anymore). Which makes all the weirdness with Electra Heart stand out even more. Half the album isn't on the album there.

She also notes at the end that - as she's said in songs - she's happier to have a mid-level or cult level success - that being mainstream probably wouldn't have been right for her, and that she can be herself on these albums.

https://twitter.com/MarinaDiamandis/sta ... 0370613248

Her manager is now a woman who really gets her, not some 57-year old man who didn't get Teen Idle. And she's been in a happy relationship for like 4.5 years.

User avatar
Garrett Gilchrist
Site Admin
Posts: 6756
Joined: Tue Feb 12, 2013 1:23 am

Re: Recommend one song.

Post: # 10162Post Garrett Gilchrist
Fri Aug 30, 2019 11:00 pm

https://imgur.com/gallery/dMFn1MC

Image

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mhHrrVl ... jR57eE7JpI

Marina and the Diamonds: Electra Heart (Complete Era)

Yes, I actually went and did it.

Here is a Youtube playlist containing pretty much everything from Marina's "Electra Heart" period.

I've talked about this a thousand times, but let's try again:

When she became the stone-hearted, self-destructive fictional pop star Electra Heart on her second album, Marina Diamandis genuinely lost some creative control over the record.

Many tracks were cut from the album, whose track listing varies between releases. (Marina had intended a double album, the other part called "Die Life.")

The video for "How to Be a Heartbreaker" was delayed because the label considered her too "ugly." Her manager wanted to cut the premise-explaining track "Teen Idle", and four songs which received music videos aren't on the album, depending on what release you get.

While seen as her "sell out album" at the time it's also her darkest album, and allowed her to exorcise a lot of demons before appearing as a healthier person on her third and fourth albums.

I've wondered what a complete Electra Heart tracklisting would be, and in what order it should be.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mhHrrVl ... jR57eE7JpI

Electra Heart
Bubblegum Bitch
Primadonna
Sex Yeah
Lonely Hearts Club
Lies
Starring Role
How to Be a Heartbreaker
Power & Control
Homewrecker
EVOL
Teen Idle
Living Dead
Radioactive
The State of Dreaming
Valley of the Dolls
Hypocrates
Fear and Loathing
The Archetypes
Primadonna (Acoustic Live)
Homewrecker (Acoustic Live)
Lies (Acoustic Live)
Radioactive (Acoustic Demo)
Starring Role (Acoustic Live)
Su-Barbie-a
Buy the Stars
Just Desserts (w/ Charli XCX)
Scab & Plaster
Miss Y


(I'm still not sure whether Buy the Stars and Living Dead should be in the main album. Buy the Stars is similar to Numb and Teen Idle, and Just Desserts is similar to The Outsider. Miss Y has never been released in full and in high quality, but can be last so that it precedes the album upon a re-listen. Scab & Plaster was unreleased. Together these form a mini-album here of non-Electra Heart songs. I've also included an acoustic mini-album. EVOL was only released partially on Youtube by Marina but seems to be complete elsewhere. There are different mixes of the first track, Electra Heart - including the concert version which samples Britney Spears' Toxic - but I'm specifying the Youtube music video version here, which provides a good trailer for the project generally, giving you a hint of what you're in for.)


"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."

- Marina Diamandis

Post Reply