We kind of think she’s OK. At least we think we do.
Britt Alderfer: I love Marina Diamandis but it always has to be with reservations. This Electra Heart concept she’s been running with for the past year or so is really half-baked, almost disingenious. Look, she has a blonde wig and a heart painted on her face! Now she’s manufactured or something, but it’s not the real Marina so it’s okay, the real Marina can still be above it all. Never mind that she looks to be having a blast participating in what she’s trying to portray as big empty shiny diva pop fame. You love it, Marina, you really love it. And that’s okay. Make big dance-y pop music if that’s what turns you on. And then you don’t have to sum up the messy machinations of pop culture and fame and love and being female in the public eye by recycling silly platitudes. I’m not even saying HTBAH’s a total loss, however. The “I lo-lo-lo-love you” lyric is a hell of a hook and I especially enjoy the little “at least I think I do!” she giggle-whispers after.
Jonathan Bogart: For a little while now I’ve resented what I understand to be Marina’s condescending attitude towards modern dance-centric pop music — that she’s performing it with a wink and a nod, assuring her indie listeners that she never really means it, it’s all a character, a “commentary” on silly, stupid, slutty pop. All of which is meaningless in the age of Carly Rae, whose music tumbles headlong into the silliness of pop and comes out both giddily blissful and guilelessly direct about its emotional content, while Marina preens archly on its edges and never achieves more than the creaky roleplay of camp. Which may be all she ever wanted to do, and all her audience wanted from her. But recall that this is also the age of Nicki Minaj, Lady Gaga, Ke$ha, and Cher Lloyd: if she wants to make pop camp she’s going to have to work a lot harder than this.
Anthony Easton: The chorus is smart, the list format is amusing, and how she sings “I love you (at least I think I do)” has that ironic Cole Porter reversal. In fact, the whisper of that line could be a really effective sample played both as high camp and serious statement of intent.
Patrick St. Michel: Marina makes the goofy listicle-in-waiting lyrics works by setting them against the guitar riff from The Strokes’ “Reptilia.” You stop dwelling on where that guitar comes from when the song veers into the chorus, which is hard to resist even before Marina sings about how she la-la-la-loves you.
Edward Okulicz: A failure as social commentary, but a minor success as a push for Stateside success, as this sounds the part and then some. I hope Marina isn’t going for the latter because she seriously thinks she has something worth saying to a mass audience, but she beats Jessie J hands down anyway.
Brad Shoup: The awfully sincere bridge rips this from the realm of pisstake and into the land of bad list songs. I’m fine with the strummed hook; I wish even more producers would nick it for micro variations.
Alfred Soto: A coy Rihanna imitation – what aspirational pop sounds like.
Will Adams: Too winking for its own good, “How to Be a Heartbreaker” beats its irony into you harder than the grinding e-Luke-tro track beats its US radio aspirations into you. I used to think “Primadonna”‘s vacillation between satire and humorlessness was a weakness. Now it’s looking like a strength.
Katherine St Asaph: More having and eating cake from the Electra Heart cycle. The idea here’s repurposing The Rules for players, not husband-hunters — except ironically and muddled. (“Gotta be looking pure” then “boys they like the look of danger”? C’mon, Marina, even Sandy Olsson picked one.) The music does likewise, repurposing top 40 formula (match the hooks here to the ones in “You Make Me Feel…”) for skeptical outsiders, except ironically and just as muddled. I’m not sure why Marina’s iteration of this bugs me when, say, Melissa Lefton’s didn’t. Maybe it’s just because I’m sick of Dr. Luke.