Marina and the Diamonds Finds Truth on ‘Froot’

Marina and the Diamonds, Music

Main image via Atlantic Records; photos in post by Katie Chow

Few people inspire as much devotion as Marina Diamand is, who makes heartfelt pop music under the name Marina and the Diamonds. As we meet at the headquarters of her label Atlantic Records, there are murmurs about fans camped outside, hoping to meet their queen. Over the past five years, the Welsh-born artist has become one of pop culture’s most charismatic critics and creators, and she’s not about to stop.

On her 2010 debut LP The Family Jewels, she established herself as an outsider’s icon, casting a sharp eye at modern life on early hits like “Oh No!” and “Hollywood.” With her 2012 follow-up
Electra Heart, Marina inhabited the titular character, a timeless bleached-blonde heroine making her way through life and love. While this album cemented her pop princess status around the world, the grueling touring schedule that followed led to her reinvention on Froot, out last week. Entirely self-written and co-produced with David Kosten, it’s Marina’s most personal album yet, a pared-down and organic tribute to love both ripe and rotten. Read on for Marina’s insights on the making of Froot, finding herself, and living an amazing life.

How did your songwriting style change with this record?

After Electra Heart, which was co-written with quite a lot of people, I completely changed the way that I wrote. I used to just write on keyboard and compose lyrics and melody the same time as the chords, but post-Electra, I just started to make instrumentals, so I would build a crude version of the tracks and then put melody and lyrics on top of it. So that really opened up a whole new way of writing for me.

How did working with just one producer change how you made this album?

I was about to say it’s more cohesive, but I don’t know if it is, because the sonics really jump around quite a lot. But I think that’s just how I write, so I feel like it was cohesive in that it was pretty much a live album, like 70% live and 30% electronic stuff, which was good. We used the same band for the whole thing, we had Jason Cooper, who’s the drummer in the Cure, and a guitarist from the British band Everything Everything.

So you had more time to create a little family around the album.

Kind of, yeah. It’s quite tough, recording, not one of my favorite things to do (laughs). The biggest difference was recording it in a three month period, whereas usually, I’d do a track a week as I was traveling. That’s how the other albums were created, so it was really nice.

Now that you’ve been making longer songs as well, do you think that was a result of being able to take your time with things?

Not really, the structure’s very loose, in that I want to have more of a narrative or storytelling-based objective. I think I just wasn’t concerned anymore about the radio, or being pop or being not. After Electra Heart, the second album, I got that out of my system and it was just really enjoyable to write again. For example, with “Froot,” it’s very long, but it was meant to be long.

Conventional radio matters much less now, anyhow.

I’m lucky enough to have a strong fan base, and I think that also made me worry less. I get the feeling that they’re with me for a journey, as opposed to buying singles. The way that I follow artists that I love, I’m with them for the long run because I’m interested in them as a person and what they have to say, as opposed to like, “This is a massive club smash.”

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Would you say that the new album feels more spiritual?

Yeah, I think that’s a fair observation. I think I’m just at the point in my life where I was reassessing things and reassessing my priorities and even who I was friends with, who I socialized with, just every corner of my life was put under a magnifying glass after
Electra Heart. To put it truthfully, I was just really depressed, it was a depressing campaign for a few different reasons. You need those moments to reassess everything to get back on the right path. I feel different from how I used to feel.

Are you familiar with the concept of Saturn returns?

No. Is this a 27-year-old thing?

Yeah, it’s about the number of Earth years that Saturn takes to go around the sun causing a disruption in your life, and it kicks in around 27-29. Do you feel like that was true for you?

I mean, who knows, but 27 was the turning
point for me.

It sounds like that change has also allowed you to get more vulnerable as well.

Yeah, and also be truthful with yourself. Also, once you do that, you start to attract other things that weren’t coming to you before. How you feel about determines your whole life, and I never realized that before.

When you’re living in a way when you spend most of your time surrounded by others, it takes a while to start looking at yourself.

For sure. I think just having a break from touring probably helped a bit, I was on the road for like five years.

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The last time I saw you was in the summer of 2012, and I loved the production value of the show and the retro theme. What’s the aesthetic going to be like for your upcoming shows?

I’m really excited, that’s when the vision comes to life for me. The theme is neon nature, so a very hyperreal stylized world that the fan walks into. I just want it to feel like another planet, basically, filled with tropical electric flowers, glowing grapevines, I can’t wait. I want it to be surreal, basically.

I liked how in the past you had the Americana theme, which is also hyperrealistic in its own way.

I think I touched on it with the first album, then with Electra Heart,
it really managed to encapsulate that and how that was being represented in our generation at the time. I was obsessed with zeitgeist, so I was always looking for what teenagers on Tumblr and photography sites [were featuring], I was really obsessed with what was coming up and why it was coming up. That very much inspired Electra Heart and then the live show, that kind of sassy, girly, sickly thing really worked. It was interesting to see that come up, then like, two years later…

Do you find that you’re still very concerned with what other people are doing right now?

No, not anymore. I don’t care, I just want to live an amazing life and experience being happy and looking after the people who are around me. That’s all there is to it, that’s the point.

What does living an amazing life mean to you?

Living an amazing life is doing things that inspire you and stimulate you, not imposing any limits on yourself. I think to feel like that, you have to be around the right people. Again, it relates back to being truthful with yourself and asking yourself “Who am I?” or “What do I believe?” rather than “What am I feeling pressured to believe or feeling pressured to be?” That’s a happy life.

Would you say this is your most personal record?

That’s a good question. I definitely think it’s the most transparent, but Electra Heart was personal in its own ways.

In a way that creating a character becomes an outlet?

I think there were character moments on “Primadonna Girl,” “Bubblegum Bitch” that are very playful and they represent one part of your character or part of female identity. But then there were other ones like “Starring Role” and “Lies” that were personal songs about a relationship, but you’re right, actually, this record is definitely the most personal.

Since it’s the most personal, what do you hope other people get out of it?

I don’t know, maybe to feel some kind of relief or solace if there are things that they’re dealing with, things that we all deal with. Very human things. It’s up to them, really, whatever they feel.

I feel with this record, I didn’t write it to write a record or put an album out because I have a contract with a label, it was more that I have something that I want to say and whether anyone hears it or not isn’t of any concern to me. It’s like, I need to write this.

Can you go back to what you were saying about exploring female identity? Do you find yourself still doing that?

No, not really. I think it’s also part of just being a bit younger and you’re still trying to figure out who you are. Maybe that took me a bit longer than other people, or maybe everyone feels the same. I think I’ve found it very satisfying to represent those kinds of archetypes in Electra and the record, to kind of play with them. But that is no more.

With the rise of things like Tumblr, it’s easier for everyone to define themselves by these surface aesthetic things, but obviously that’s not everything a person is.

Sometimes you need to do that because you can’t express it in another way. Maybe that’s what I was doing. (laughs)

So you’ve found that with time, it’s easier to express other things about who you are?

Yeah, and once I’d done Electra Heart, there were many things that I was doing that didn’t feel right. Who wants to play a character? It’s really hard, it’s not like you’re in a play or in a theater and you get to go home at night. You have to look like something else all the time. Even though it was fun on one level, it was kind of a trap in another way. Once I’d done that, I knew what I didn’t want anymore in another sense. It kind of clarifies everything, in terms of how you feel.

Synth-Pop Singer-Songwriter Charli XCX Talks True Romance, Tasting Sweat, & Lena Dunham

Charli XCX is no newbie to the music scene, though her age might indicate otherwise to those not in the know. The 20-year-old Brit, born Charlotte Aitchison but recognized by her hotly debated stage name, has been making people move since she was an adolescent.

At 14, XCX was already on the radar, albeit far from mainstream, discovered on MySpace and invited to play raves at the weekend. An only child, her parents would drive her to and from performances—sometimes staying, watching on like ever-adoring chaperones—then take her to school come Monday. What might have remained a fond memory or a passing phase, however, evolved into a career, with a capital “c,” her warehouse party past giving rise to a girl who knew her pop hooks and dance beats.

The past half-decade has seen her morph from girl to woman, as well as release several solid songs, among them one of her best, “Nuclear Seasons.” At 16 she signed a record deal, catapulting the former club kid from promising act to legitimate artist with a single signature. For the past four years she’s worked towards today, which sees her major label release of True Romance. Her lyrical prowess and knack for catchiness continue to impress with this sweeping and anthemic debut, a 13-track album featuring favorites like “Lock You Up,” “What I Like” and “Cloud Aura.”

XCX, who also co-wrote Icona Pop’s “I Love It,” (which, if you’ll recall, was a huge hit following a particularly entertaining episode of HBO’s Girls) is currently touring Europe and the U.K. with Ellie Goulding, and will touch down in the States come May. New Yorkers can catch her supporting Marina and the Diamonds at Rumsey Playfield on May 29 and alongside Little Daylight on May 31 at Glasslands Gallery.

In the meantime, hear from the hard-hitting goth-pop princess herself. She’s got plenty to say, from her outlook on love (which she’s in, with Ryan Andrews) to her fantasies surrounding calling all the concert shots (think outlandish creative direction as it pertains to set design, à la Girls dreamboat douchebag Booth Jonathan).

You titled the album True Romance. Is this record the embodiment of “true romance,” to you? It’s such a bold statement to make. To say, like, Here it is. This is the definition.
This record is, for me, what true romance is. I’ve been writing the record for the past two to three years, but one song I wrote when I was 16. So, I feel like I’ve been writing this album as I’ve been growing up. Your views on love and life change over time. You experience different relationships, that kind of thing, and I think the record is kind of about that. It’s about love from different angles. Different periods of your life. There’s a bratty breakup song, when you went out with a bad boy. Then there’s a song about falling in epic, amazing, real, true love. And I feel like that’s what happened to me during the process of writing this album. I feel like I’ve fallen in love, massively. I feel like the record looks at how you can be on this love trip, in this dream state, but at the same time you can feel lonely and isolated. I think it’s interesting how schizophrenic love is. And that’s what the record is to me. It’s schizophrenic. It sounds that way. It sounds like love.

Did the title come at the end?
The title came last, actually. It was kind of, like, a reflection. I never wanted to make a concept album and come up with the title track and write songs around the title. I wanted to write the songs as naturally as possible and as naturally as they came to me. It just so happened they were about love. Once I started writing them, I supposed that was an appropriate title.

Makes sense. Can you tell me a bit about being so young coming up in the music scene?  
It was kind of crazy. At the beginning, I was very, very excited about everything. I was 15, signing a record deal. I was so elated by it. So, whenever there were highs and lows—which there definitely were, and still are—I took them really personally. It was a quite traumatic experience making this album, especially when I was younger. It can be emotional making an album, putting all your thoughts and feelings on a CD. I found the industry very difficult. There were so many expectations I thought I had to live up to. I was unsure who I was. I wrote the song “Stay Away” then. I began to find myself and what kind of music I wanted to make. I feel like I’ve changed a lot. I realized I don’t have any criteria I need to meet. I’m just doing my thing. I’m not feeling like I have to please anyone.

Even with the tumult, it had to have been a blast.
It was really fun. When I was younger, I’d go to raves, and that was crazy. Then, I’d go to school on Monday, and that was weird. But, it was cool. I kind of feel like I got sucked into that. I’m glad I left that scene and started making real music on my own.

Oh, yes. You’re talented, your debut’s a gem and, on top of that, you’ve traveled the world touring in support of Coldplay, Santigold, Ellie Goulding. Was it difficult to adjust to the limelight? MySpace and late-night raves are one thing, but stadiums are another thing all together. That’s rock star status.
For me, I can’t think about going on stage as the “limelight.” I think about it as playing my songs for people and losing my mind. When I’m on stage, I feel completely free. I feel completely inspired. I’m not thinking about anything else. I’m getting lost in the moment. It’s like one big trip.

Speaking of trip, do you have a favorite place to play?
I love America. I love L.A. and I love New York. And I haven’t been there yet, but I know I’m going to love Tokyo so much when I go. It sounds so magical.

It does. So, which one: New York or L.A.?
I don’t know. People compare them, but they’re so different. It’s so difficult to compare the two. I feel like L.A., maybe, for me, just because it’s so different from London. Whereas New York is so similar.

Aww, shucks. So, do you have any down time when you tour?
Never. It’s constant. But, that’s fine. It feels good to play shows and have people come listen to my music. That’s really nice. I mean, it’s weird doing promo every day. You have to talk about yourself all the time, and I don’t really like doing that. It’s just strange. I’m starting to get used to it. It’s all right.

You’re adjusting. How’s tour going so far with Ellie?
It’s fun. The crowds are big. She’s cool. I think I managed to convert her into a platform shoe-lover. She tried on my Buffalo platforms and was like, Oh my god, these are amazing!

How would you compare the experience of performing at big venues versus small?
Playing big venues is always less personal. Like, when I was doing the Coldplay tour, there were, like, seven screens. Only the front, like, five rows can see you up close. But, in a club it’s wild. You can taste everyone’s sweat, which I really like. I feel so much more alive. You can really get in touch with the crowd and make it, like, an apocalyptic, end of the world party. So, I really like that. Obviously, it’s a dream to play in front of as many people as possible, so big stages are good. But, when I have my own massive shows, I want the walls and ceilings and floors to be made of screens. So you’re in a screen box. And it’s, like, my favorite videos and mash-ups of my favorite movies playing. It’d be a mindfuck.

Do you watch Girls?
Yeah! Like that artist [Booth Jonathan]’s thing. Exactly like that, except on a massive scale.

That’s also, as you know, the episode featuring the song you wrote, performed by Icona Pop.
That was really cool. I’m a big Lena Dunham fan. I feel like she’s this sexy, hilarious, fierce super-girl. So, it was really cool seeing her singing that song. It was quite funny.

Is Hannah your favorite character on the show?
I don’t know. I also really like Adam. And I really like Shoshanna. And I love to hate Jessa, because I know so many people like that and they’re so frustrating.

Do you have a lot of super-fans?
I do, actually. They’re all sweet, but they’re crazy. It’s cute, though. They’re all young. They message me all the time. Like, everyday. It freaks me out that my music can mean that much to someone. I didn’t have that. Even if I did, I wouldn’t have had the power to tell them, because I didn’t have Twitter. Now, everyday, you can build up this false relationship in your mind. It’s scary. It’s mad.

I’d agree with that. After all this, the journey so far, what do your parents think?
They’re proud. Whenever I’m in London they’ll come to my show. They’re really supportive. They took me to the raves when I was younger, came with me and were really cool. I’m really thankful for that, actually.

That’s awesome. I imagine a lot of parents wouldn’t be as nurturing when it comes to their young daughter rocking the sometimes seedy rave scene. You also dress pretty provocatively. From where does your aesthetic sensibility derive?
I’m really inspired by movies. The Craft. Clueless. Empire Records. I just love that nineties aesthetic. I like basics, grungy stuff. I’m a big fan of the Spice Girls. Some of their music videos are my favorites. Like, “Say You’ll Be There.” I feel like I came through the third wave of the club kids in London. I was watching Party Monster, finding out who Michael Alig was. Part of me will always be interested in that world. DIY, but high fashion at the same time.

So, do you have a dream collaboration?
I’d love to work with Bjork. She’s incredible. I admire everything she does. Her voice is like butter. So angry but so sweet and beautiful at the same time. I think she’s wonderful.  

Whose music are you really into right now?
Jai Paul. I’ve always been a big fan of his. Kitty Pryde. I think she’s really cute. I love her lyrics. I always listen to the same stuff on repeat. Like, Uffie, Kate Bush, The Cure. Robert Smith is, like, my hero.

Last but not least, what would you be doing if not this?
I’d be crying probably. 

Marina and The Diamonds’ Melodramatic ‘State of Dreaming’

Do you like that part of The Wizard of Oz when everything gets colorized, but wish it happened more gradually? Good, because I think that’s the most expensive effect in this video. Followed by confetti. I’m pretty sure the cleavage featured was free, but who knows.

Spare as it is, this initially black-and-white chapter of Marina and The Diamonds’ Electra Heart, which in visual form is apparently a serialized “cinematic 70s Americana-type film,” is probably one of the best, song-wise. Does it make me want to go back and watch the first eight parts? Let me get back to you.  

Oh, and here’s where Marina and The Diamonds are playing this spring on their ‘Lonely Hearts Club’ tour—always with Charli XCX, except in the Las Vegas.

5/2 – Seattle, WA – The Showbox at the Market
5/3 – Vancouver, BC – Commodore Ballroom
5/4 – Portland, OR – Wonder Ballroom
5/6 – San Francisco, CA – The Warfield
5/7 – Santa Ana, CA – Observatory
5/9 – Las Vegas, NV – The Pool @ Blvd Social Club
5/10 – San Diego, CA – House of Blues
5/11 – Los Angeles, CA – Nokia Theatre LA Live
5/13 – Salt Lake City, UT – Club Sound
5/14 – Denver, CO – The Gothic Theatre
5/16 – Kansas City, MO – Granada
5/17 – St Louis, MO – The Pageant
5/19 – Minneapolis, MN – The Varsity
5/20 – Chicago, IL – Vic Theatre
5/22 – Detroit, MI – Saint Andrew’s Hall
5/23 – Toronto, ON – Sound Academy
5/24 – Montreal, QC – Corona Theatre
5/28 – Pittsburgh, PA – Mr. Smalls
5/29 – New York, NY – Central Park SummerStage @ Rumsey Playfield

Follow Miles Klee on Twitter.

Personal Faves: Crushing With Kitty Pryde

Instead of ending the year with a slew of Best Of lists, BlackBook asked our contributors to share the most important moments in art, music, film, television, and fashion that took place in 2012. Here, Samantha Young shares the teenage dream of Kitty Pryde.

The first time I saw Kitty Pryde was on the first night of a three-day bender commemorating my expulsion from graduate school. The 19-year-old rapper released her haha, i’m sorry EP on the same day that I got the email saying, “We regret to inform you that you are flunking out.” The weekend after that was the Northside Music Festival, featuring Kitty’s New York debut at the Knitting Factory in Brooklyn. It was mid-June, and she had already gotten notable press from the New York Times, Complex, and the FADER. Her mere existence seemed like blog bait. Here was a teenage white female rapper/Claire’s employee from Florida with a song called “Okay Cupid,” well aware that people weren’t going to take her that seriously and seemingly fine with it. I had what was probably an average amount of curiosity for a music writer, finding the semi-viral track reasonably catchy but nothing that particularly jumped out at me. I wasn’t totally hooked, but I knew that attending Kitty Pryde’s show would capture something—I wasn’t sure what—about that specific point in time in the music blogging environment.

I was fascinated by her sudden internet fame but not enough to analyze it totally sober, which I told an acquaintance at the festival’s open bar before her Friday night set. Waiting for her to go on, I also found myself standing a few feet away from noted author/drug user Tao Lin who naturally exudes a disconcerting aura that compounded with my whiskey-and-beer haze. This was how I watched Kitty take the stage in a frilly party dress, accompanied by her BFF Annie and brother George. I didn’t have any major breakthroughs about the nature of internet culture, but what I did take away was that she was probably more self-aware and having more fun than I was when I was 19—even though she was obviously awkward and unused to performing.

I am young enough that my teenage years are still somewhat within reach, but old enough that I was surprised that I could relate so much to someone who was born that deep into the ’90s. When I was 19, I was locked into the most powerful infatuation of my life, the kind where I was so invested that knowing this boy was dating someone else was almost physically painful. If only I’d started rapping instead of sitting in my dorm room watching Ghost World and feeling sorry for myself. “Okay Cupid” is the kind of crush song that could only come from a teenage girl, which relegates it to guilty pleasure status by default for some people, but fuck it, I’ve been there and I can’t deny its truths.

Two days after the Knitting Factory show, as the festival and the constant flow of free Jameson came to an end, I reunited with the man that I would soon start associating with “Okay Cupid.” Our connection was tentative and based on misguided ideas about what we could do for each other’s careers, but I ended that night feeling optimistic, like I could bounce back easily. His number was safe in my phone, and it felt like something was going to happen.

Not much actually did happen. We went on what I thought was a cute date until he ended it with a hug instead of a kiss. I knew he probably thought I was too young for him, and we kept hanging out on his terms instead of mine. I let him call the shots because my love life was otherwise a complete dead zone and his cheekbones provided a distraction from the abrupt end to my academic life. I passed the time with songs about longing, and “Okay Cupid” was at the top of the list, full of lines I could easily apply to my embarrassing situation.

“The more you taunt me, the more I think I’m wanting you.” Check. “Lordy, shorty you’re a 10.” Check. “I don’t care how long it takes to get you after me/I wrote our names on my binder and everybody laughed at me.” Check. “My flattery makes me look like a fool again.” Check.

By the second time I saw Kitty Pryde in August at Santos Party House, I was firmly a member of the Kitty Committee. Now that there was some sort of fledgling intrigue in my life, she was someone I related to and felt a stronger connection with. It also helped that this time around, the crowd was there because they wanted to be there, not just out of morbid curiosity. Her stage presence was more confident and relaxed, and when she threw glitter into the crowd, it felt like a blessing from the internet in 2012. I was sober and it was the most fun I’d had in a long time. It was what I needed after freaking out over the school year beginning, even though I had mostly come to terms with my former program not being a good fit for me in the first place. Kitty also had a new song that featured the line “I’m just a little girl and you’re a grown-ass man” and a tougher, more serious flow than any of her previous work. I was immediately sold. She was still going through the same stuff I was going through, at least on the crush front.

A few days later, “You were a tool again, but you’re the one that I’ve chosen” ended up being the line from “Okay Cupid” that was the most relevant to me. I had a misunderstanding with the object of my affection and didn’t see him for a couple of months. During this span, I saw Kitty Pryde two more times and was self-conscious about being one of the more enthusiastic people in the audience. I shouldn’t have been, because she’s the kind of performer who’s just plain likeable, even if she’s not the most technically gifted rapper on the internet. She’s grounded in the real world, and she affirms that it’s okay to have feelings, even the weird ones that I kept dwelling on.

When Kitty remixed Marina and the Diamonds’ “How To Be A Heartbreaker,” she delivered some real talk about playing hard to get that I needed to hear, even if it wasn’t advice that I was taking. “Rule number three is don’t assume it was meant to be,” she said, younger but wiser than me. “Disregard your heart and never ever wear it on your sleeve.”

These weren’t words I was thinking of when I finally saw my crush again, pulling him into a stairwell at a party and vaguely mumbling, “It was because I like you,” hoping enough cheap bourbon was involved on both our parts to cloud over what was or wasn’t happening between us. The answer was still nothing, but “Okay Cupid” was there for me when I was sitting alone in my room at 3am, already rehashing the night.

Kitty Pryde is what resonates when you’re into an older guy who you know is kind of shady, but who’s good-looking and personable enough to keep your interest anyway. Kitty Pryde is what resonates when you can’t help it and revert to your teenage self. Kitty Pryde is what resonates when you want to ignore your real problems and daydream about your dumb crush instead.

BlackBook Tracks #23: Teenage Kicks

This week’s playlist is dedicated to being a teenager, which is something that people seem to be universally nostalgic for despite the fact that we can all agree that a lot of those years sucked. Does it have something to do with missing when you didn’t have any real responsibilities? Whatever. Shout out to anyone who knew me in high school who’s still friends with me now, because all the awkward stuff that happens to me currently doesn’t even compare to how bad it was back then.

Veronica Falls – “Teenage”

This track inspired this week’s theme. It’s the first single from the London band’s forthcoming album Waiting For Something To Happen, promising more wistful lo-fi guitar pop.

Broken Social Scene – “Anthems For A Seventeen-Year-Old Girl”

This is never going to get old, right? No, no it’s not.

The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart – “A Teenager In Love”

Most of the Pains Of Being Pure At Heart’s songs sound sort of inherently nostalgic, but “A Teenager In Love” really nails it. If only more bands had been mixing twee and shoegaze when I was in high school, it would have made lying facedown on my bedroom floor way more special.

College – “Teenage Color”

This track from French electronic producer David Grellier may be carried by a carefree synth hook, but there’s still the constant reminder that one day, you must grow up.

Marina and the Diamonds – “Teen Idle”

This ballad from the Welsh chanteuse is a look back on the bygone years that nails all those conflicting feelings. Feelings! Those sucked, didn’t they?

The Virgins – “Teen Lovers”

Remember when fashionably sleazy Gossip Girl/Nylon magazine rock was sort of its own micro-genre? It was pretty alright while it lasted, though.

TEEN – “Sleep Is Noise”

The lo-fi synth-pop outfit delivers reverb-laden vocals over a rattling beat. It’s comfortably fuzzy while staying firmly grounded.

T.Rex – “Teenage Dream”

Marc Bolan’s glam rock sprawl recalls the idealism of adolescence. We’ve all been there.

Girls Aloud – “Teenage Dirtbag”

A Wheatus cover done by British pop stars is a thing that happened a while ago. I don’t care if you care that it exists.

The Undertones – “Teenage Kicks”

I think it’s some sort of law in the English-speaking music world that if this punk classic doesn’t do anything for you, you’re a worthless shell of a human being.

Follow Katie Chow on Twitter.

Marina and the Diamonds Sparkle at Webster Hall

"It’s Saturday night, and you know what that means: trouble," announced Marina Diamandis from the stage at Webster Hall on August 18. The Welsh singer, aka Marina and the Diamonds, then showed just what kind of party was getting started by taking a shot of vodka from a flask with a picture of her own face on it. That’s the kind of thing to be expected from the DIY diva, who’s been endearing herself to alterna-pop audiences since her 2010 debut album The Family Jewels.

On the closing night of Marina’s North American tour for the recently-released follow-up Electra Heart, it was easy to see how she earned the hopelessly devoted, sold-out crowd. She’s an effortlessly charismatic performer who can belt outsider anthems like “I Am Not A Robot” and “Starring Role” like nobody’s business, someone who can feed off of her audience’s energy and amplify it. Her retro-kitsch stage design reflects her fixation on bubblegum Americana, as illustrated in “Hollywood,” which she announced by holding a plush cheeseburger and a cheerleader’s pom-pom aloft. This diamond shone brightly throughout a set spanning highlights from The Family Jewels and Electra Heart, from “Oh No!” to “Bubblegum Bitch.”

Marina was accompanied by Brooklyn up-and-comers MS MR. Though marketed as “mysterious” early on, the duo is obviously the spotlight now that they’ve show their faces on their first-ever tour. Armed with dark synth-pop jams like “Hurricane” and “Bones,” they’re sure to catch on quickly with listeners drawn to all things haunting and glamorous.