Will Marina And The Diamonds Make The American Pop Charts Sparkle Once More?

As far as pop princesses go, Marina Diamandis—stage name, Marina and the Diamonds—dazzles because she turns the archetype on its nose. The title of Marina's latest album, Electra Heart, evokes images of a Cinderella-type character throwing her glass slippers to the wind and crying mascara tears, unable to cope with the possibility of a happily never after. As she flirts with success in the U.S., Marina and the Diamonds seems to be happening upon both a die-hard fanbase. But what exactly makes her stand out from other pop princesses?

Marina and the Diamonds have been stuck into a few different trendlets—a byproduct of the same British pop craze that's turned Calvin Harris, One Direction, and Cher Lloyd into radio favorites; an obvious commodity meant to sate Kate Bush and Tori Amos fans who long ago stopped seeing eye-to-eye with either diva; a pop bombshell groomed in the tradition of Lana Del Rey. But with Electra Heart, she not only ushers in some much-needed verve and dazzle into the American Top 40 landscape, she represents a shift happening across pop music.

Thanks to services like Spotify, genre boundaries are, if not collapsing entirely, at least revealing themselves to be more porous; Beach House fans can guiltlessly indulge their Kylie Minogue whims, and vice versa. In the intersection of all those tastes is an emerging generation of pop stars who seem to be the product of music fans who grew up listening to everything. Nothing sums up Marina and the Diamonds' ambition better than her desire to channel "goth Britney [Spears]."

Enter Electra Heart, a bubblegum pop concept album, an artifact so simultaneously highbrow and lowbrow that most music critics haven't been able to analyze it without drawing ham-fisted comparisons to Del Rey's Born to Die. True, both performers are women performing highly stylized pop songs about relationships, but the comparisons end there. As a concept album, Electra Heart is only as successful as you allow it to be. It's a break-up album; it's about being so destroyed after a relationship that the only way to move forward is to act selfishly; it's about feelings of betrayal and revenge that we experience after a break-up. The album's first single, the Dr. Luke-produced "Primadonna," is an artful introduction.

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