The Evolution of Marina (and the Diamonds)

You’ve probably heard of her, if not her music. The half-Greek, half-Welsh singer/songwriter has given the world a multitude of ‘bops,’ as the kids say these days since she hit the music scene with her band in 2009. They’re not wrong, though. Sure, Miss Marina Diamandis only really came to fruition as an alt-pop star with her band Marina and the Diamonds in 2012 (at least in the states), but that still has given you almost seven years to discover her music and fall madly in love with it.

    If you’re just discovering her now or even if you’ve been a fan for awhile, let’s quickly recap her career and go down a fan’s version of Marina memory lane (because Wikipedia can just be too much sometimes) to get all of you up to speed on what the talented singer has been up to.

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The Family Jewels Era (2009-2011)

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    This was a year for Marina and the Diamonds to really grow from being a small UK act with an EP under her belt and “uncommercial sound” to releasing one of her best songs to date: “Hollywood.”

    The lyric “I’m obsessed with the mess that’s America,” shows the intelligence that Miss Diamandis clearly has, because she knew that America was a mess long before this social and political climate of today.

    Not too long after that came a string of singles to help promote her first full-length album and the coinciding tours for it. Marina and the Diamonds opened up for the pop princess of the early 2000s, Katy Perry, the summer after The Family Jewels. but also had her own, smaller headlining tour to showcase to the US that a 13 track record that explores art, sensuality, society, life, and death can be as fun and beloved as “Teenage Dream” was. (No shade to the soon-to-be Mrs. Bloom.)

    You’d think with those themes that maybe she was “uncommercial” as critics then called her. Wrong! Marina and the Diamonds’ fourth single off that record is her hit “Oh No!” which is not only an 11/10 music video with a cartoon-esque color theme and some of the most relatable lyrics (“I feel like I’m the worst, so I always act like I’m the best,” ...anyone?) but it also secured her spot on Just Dance 4.

    Yes, that’s right. Miss “uncommercial” was not only opening up for Katy Perry in 2011 but was featured on one of the best selling video games of 2012. You may remember the Just Dance dance that went along with the hit song. It was as colorful and whimsical as the music video, just without a beautiful, pink-lipped Marina Diamandis singing at you.

 

The Electra Heart Era (2012-2013)

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    If you remember seeing people painting little eyeliner heart on the tops of their cheeks when you were in middle school, it’s because of a little song called “How to Be Heartbreaker” by the then increasingly successful Marina and the Diamonds.

    As Marina secured her spot as one of the edgier, but also more elegant pop musicians at the time, she was crafting her second record: Electra Heart. This concept album had less of an indie pop feel and more dance-pop undertones and was based on a character, aptly named Electra Heart, who was over being heartbroken and dealing with awful people that were as lovely as she was.

    Electra, as the “How to be a Heartbreaker” lyrics state, wore her heart on her cheek. Thus, so did Marina as she brought her character to life on stage. She donned the heart in photo shoots, live performances, on the album cover, and more. It encompassed this stage in Marina and the Diamonds’ career and Marina’s life herself.

    Although, it wasn’t the first song to be released off this record. The first single, and arguably the most successful, for this album was “Primadonna,” a self-absorbed hit that had Marina singing about how all she wanted was the world, which is understandable.

    “Primadonna” had every girl wanting to put ribbons in her hair and heart on her cheek just to dance in front of a mirror with her friends, putting extra emphasis on the facial expressions and really enunciating the words with the most Marina-esque Welsh accent. Trust me, I know from experience.

 

The Froot Era (2014-2016)

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    The thing with Froot was that it wasn’t a concept record, but the aesthetic it had was so centralized and so prominent that it became a new version of Marina and the Diamonds’ career. That’s what Marina does, she crafts an art, a style, and a sound for every new piece of music she puts out and runs with it; similarly to that of David Bowie and Lady Gaga.

    The title track, “Froot,” was released as the first single toward the latter end of 2014 and it started off this new journey with fruits, feelings, and memories all encapsulates in a 12 song album. There are immense highs and immense lows tracked on this record, but each song tells that story – albeit not in a character-driven/concept album way that I think a lot of fans expected her to do; especially fresh off Electra Heart’s storyline.

    Marina went a little more all over the place here, but it still fell in her signature alt-pop category, now touching upon elements of dream pop that sparkled even more so within her vocal range.

The song “Blue,” pulls on that dream pop style, but also sounds quite like the 2.0 version of “Oh, No!” The video, while much better cinematically, is colorful and features yet another pink lipped Marina, except this one is more mature and has honed her style (or at least, the style found in this era of hers).

 

The MARINA Era (2018-present)

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    As soon as all the social media names changed, that’s when fans and media outlets know that the “and the Diamonds” era was officially over. While it may come as sad for many fans, including myself, Marina explained that it felt like the natural thing to do. The organic course of events for her music and her career. Less gimmicky, more herself, and the calmest she has felt in her life in years. It’s post an almost three-year hiatus of travel and fun and reflection, so it’s lovely to see her come into her own as both the Marina we know and love, and the MARINA that is going to showcase to the world again she is always evolving.

    So far we have been granted with three songs post “and the Diamonds,” and two were collaborations, so those are not going to be on her upcoming April release Love + Fear. Although, her latest collaboration with Clean Bandit and Luis Fonsi for the track “Baby” features classic Marina twists and high notes, and is overall a stellar song to kick off the new year with. The video for it has racked up over 136 million views on Youtube – something wildly new for Miss Diamandis, even though her decade long pop career has been outstanding from start to finish.

    The first single off this fourth LP of hers is “Handmade Heaven,” a somber, complex piece that is reminiscent of older themes, but she sings them in a way and through words that show her maturity and put on full display that this record won’t be as happy-go-lucky, in my feelings, one dimensional as her others may have been (at least, what it may have seemed like on the surface to more casual listeners).

    In an Instagram live stream question and answer session, Marina talked about this MARINA era she has embarked on and how that plays into this new album. Love + Fear is not a one size fits all pop album. It’s two sets of music that are pieced together in a category, those being – you guessed it! – love and fear. She explained that she noticed while listening to her new songs that some of the songs fit together in a way that depicted a more emotional, upbeat feeling and some that fell into one of nerves and trepidation.

 

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    If you’re interested in delving into – or back into – Marina (and the Diamonds) and the music she has made over the last ten years prior to her new album’s release on April 26, I would not only recommend the singles off these albums that were mentioned, but I would watch these two videos specifically to really feel her out. Her headlining act in Brazil at Lollapalooza in 2016, which was phenomenal, and her Electra Heart showcase in Germany in 2012, which is equally as phenomenal.

She’s a powerhouse vocalist, an underrated lyricist, and one of the greatest live performers of the 2010s, no doubt. This concert footage showcases that and more and will give you enough insight into who she was and who she has the capability of being now that she is, simply put: MARINA.