Marina and The Diamonds
I must confess, I am often guilty of quite shocking stereotypifying and blanket statements, especially when it comes to the realm of Pop. It's over-produced, style obsessed, monotonous, shallow, and almost entirely devoid of creativity. Why change a formula that works? Why indeed, Mssrs. Mass-Producing Recording Artists, but personally I like a bit more variation in my music. I know I don't speak for large portions of the populace, but that's just my taste.
I remember the first time I saw This plastered on the side of a Bus:
Not a name that instantly inspires intrigue in my mind. Not a name that I expected to produce anything but the same old bland drivel. Imagine my surprise, then, when I (finally, years later) deigned to listen to one of her songs, only to find myself... actually enjoying it.
Now, there is no two ways about it. This is Pop. You can call it "new wave" "Alt Pop", put on whatever spin makes you happy, but it's Pop. And it's fantastic. There's something sliiightly quirky about her music, something a little different. I'm sure if I were to compare it note for note with other songs I would find it to be nowhere near as original as it sounds, but her delivery makes it stand out from the swamps from whence it rose.
So what Is her music like, I hear you ask? It's bouncy, it's full of fun, it has relatively obvious influences (over a fairly wide range, though, from what I can tell). But I think the part of it that strikes me the most is the fact that she actually sounds like she's singing something she believes in. One of the things that I despise about much Pop is the bland, total shallowness and absence of thought. They sing because it makes money. It might sound fun, but you look one centimetre beneath the surface and there's just no emotion there. These days when I listen to something categorised as Pop, It seems to be about getting drunk, most of the time, or about material possessions. Take this song, for example:
I know exactly what I want and who I want to be
Yep, material possessions and fame again. Honestly, Pop is all about the same-
I know exactly why I walk and talk like a machine
...Well, yes, I know pop musicians are all churned out of some X-Factory, but you don't have to revel in it-
I'm now becoming my own self-fulfilled prophecy
Oh, oh no, oh no, oh no
...Huh. What else do you have to say, then?
If you are not very careful
Your possessions will possess you
TV taught me how to feel
Now real life has no appeal
It has no appeal
It's actually kinda creepy the way she sings that while smiling. This is a song that wallows in the materialism of Pop and performs an exemplary satire of the whole shebang, while at the same time being just as fun as anything I've heard in the last ten years. I don't know about you, but I can't help bouncing along to that, it's just so... fun. It's quirky fun, and it has meaning at the same time. What more could I possibly ask for? Some variation? You got it! While all of her stuff is undoubtedly her, she still ranges quite nicely over moods and tempos. From what I can tell, this is no One-Trick Pony. The entire Album (The Family Jewels) is at the very least solid, and it's always nice to see good, thoughtful songs like "I am Not a Robot" receiving popular praise.
Unfortunately, the singles released from her upcoming album seem somewhat more... mainstream. The newest single "Radioactive" didn't do it for me really, but I'm hardly going to complain about an artist experimenting, so long as they don't get in a "this is making me money" rut! I live in hope that the good stuff will return. Until then, I will Enjoy this pleasant surprise of an album, and hope that there is more to come in the future.