Single Review: Marina And The Diamonds – ‘Radioactive’

“A small moment of pure visual/audio fascination, followed by nothing particularly interesting and completely vanishing before anyone can really enjoy it”

3 STARS

Digital Release: September 30, 2011

Physical Release: October 3, 2011

“Pop” is easy enough to spell and even easier to say, but perfecting a pop song requires much more than a knowledge of what it needs to sound like. Pop songs aren’t something that should be subjected to reductionist scopes that carefully disassemble the whole product into it’s individual contents, they should be something with direction, form and purpose. They’re not meant to be merely viewed as three minutes and thirty seconds of space-filling noise with two verses, a middle-eight and three choruses either. Some artists get this; others don’t. And the few that do – and some who don’t -realise this are often too tempted into straying onto grounds that have been before trodden expansively by acts from decades gone by, and the increasing pressure even little-known labels are forcing onto their artists to get those all-important #1s can make the prospect of simply re-treading said ground with cost/time-effective, grab-bag precision, then vacuum-wrapping it, coating it in a shiny veneer and re-selling it back to chart music suckers as something entirely new is nigh-on impossible to resist, especially if they’ll buy into it. 

Marina Diamandis has always been outspoken about her approach to pop music. Holistic, she wants it to be a representation of her. One of her most loyal assets during her first album – and probably the only entity capable of enduring a whole album of her – was her uncannily self-aware ability to ‘cleverly’ sound like her songs were commenting on themselves lyrically, if not commenting on themselves musically. 

But Marina is tired of being Marina now, which is probably a good thing. Now it seems she fancies herself as a modern-day Nick Carraway and is commenting on an alter-ego, Electra Heart (but she refrains from calling it an alter-ego because they’re all the rage and “clichéd” nowadays, and she’d be right), who “is the antithesis of everything for which I stand for”. 

That’s a peculiar thought: that Marina – that any artist – would suddenly want to release material in the style of someone she has no desire to be like. The fact the song has an alien (to her) radio-ready production giving off all the signals of a healthy slice of dance-pop fodder for the Top 40 tells those more astute that there’s also a wry snigger being muffled behind Marina’s hand as she successfully makes a mockery of chart music buyers and American culture, it’s just a shame the execution of it feels far too much like two opposing worlds (Marina’s and everyone else’s) colliding and imploding on impact – a small moment of pure visual/audio fascination, followed by nothing particularly interesting and completely vanishing before anyone can really enjoy it. It seems she’s yet to perfect her own brand of pop, but was arguably closer to success during her first album than she is now.

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