Marina and the Diamonds can’t seem to get enough of America this past year. In support of her sophomore album Electra Heart she’s currently on a second leg of her Lonely Hearts Club Tour stateside. She serenaded 3,000 “diamonds” at her sold-out show at Terminal 5 in Manhattan on Thursday and also stopped by The Paramount in Huntington on Long Island the next night. PopBytes attended the latter. The Paramount is a preferable venue because it holds half the people that Terminal 5 can, which means it will be a more intimate show. Let’s not forget to mention the sound is better and there is a choice to either purchase floor tickets or a seat in the balcony.
This time around the Swedish electropop duo Icona Pop opened up for Marina. We’ve been following these two ladies around for some time. Ever since their breakout single “I Love It” (written by Charli XCX) graced the internet, we knew there was no stopping them from dominating headphones and speakers everywhere. They soundtracked last summer and seem to be continuing to soundtrack the rest of the year. They officially released their Iconic EP in August and just dropped their debut album in Sweden last month. Their hooky anthemic single “I Love It” is also Snooki and JWoww’s theme song. It was awesome to hear them play such a large venue; their snyth beats were aching to fill larger venues. I caught them play at Glasslands, a sweaty Brooklyn venue and at the claustrophobic Santos in downtown Manhattan. Both shows were sweaty dance fests with glow-in-the-dark necklaces and bracelets thrown in the crowd.
Minus the glow sticks, Icona Pop brought the same energy to The Paramount. Standing between a table of drum pads, effects pedals and other various buttons and knobs, Aino Jawo and Caroline Hjelt manipulated beats and sounds. Once they got a hook in place they rush to the microphone to sing their hearts out, hands raised up high. They sound like an electro Tegan & Sara. The crowd is so receptive to everything they do and it seems Icona Pop feeds off that energy. Humble, sexy and adorable. They seem genuinely happy to be Marina’s supporting act as they compliment the electropop sound of Electra Heart.
Marina is “obsessed with the mess that’s America” was hinted at on her first album The Family Jewels and she runs with this sentiment/thesis on Electra Heart. In a much referred to interview on Popjustice she claims Electra Heart is the “antithesis of everything [she] stands for. […] She stands for the corrupt side of the American ideology, and basically that’s the corruption of yourself.” It only makes sense that she would have a teenage girl’s bedroom as a prop on stage complete with nightgowns, stuffed animals and beauty pageant sashes. With lots of pink and glitter, Marina opens her set with “Homewrecker” complete with the opening monologue about love and heartbreak. The chorus kicks in and glitter shoots into the crowd (I’m still confused where the glitter came from) and Marina sings her thesis on love and American pop culture to her fans in the crowd.
Speaking of the crowd, it must have been an all-ages show because there were a lot of teenagers running amuck around the venue, complete with their apathetic moms leaning against the bar. It was strange to hear all of these teenage girls sing along to every lyric. During the first leg of her Lonely Hearts Club tour, Marina played NYC’s Webster Hall and it was The Gay Social Event of The Season, bringing all of the twittergays out of the woodwork. Here, in “Su-Barbie-A” it was awkward teenage girls destined for a “Starring Role” as a fag hag to their favorite “Primadonna.” At one point Marina confessed to the audience that she didn’t think she had any fans in Huntington, Long Island and thanked them for showing up. I was surprised as well. When did Marina make the transition to actual pop stardom?
Though, there were many costume changes, it didn’t matter what Marina was wearing, she looked gorgeous in every one. The only constant was her exposed midriff. Coy yet cheeky, she is completely aware of how good she looks, posing for all the cameras and phones in the crowd that were just aching for a decent shot.
You can always tell that “Bubblegum Bitch” is Marina’s favorite song off Electra Heart because her enthusiasm on stage jumps ten notches on the energy scale. It has a very punk guitar riff, possibly the only “rock” song on the album. In punk fashion, the song only lasts two and half minutes. With the exception of “Sex Yeah” and “Hypocrates” she played all of Electra Heart. Add some classic Marina like “I Am Not a Robot,” “Obsessions,” “Oh No!” and “Mowgli’s Road” and that was her complete setlist. Everyone who attended the show definitely got their money’s worth.
Marina always gives her all on stage. A favorite moment was when she sat down at her keyboard and played an acoustic version of “Teen Idle.” “I want blood, guts, and angel cake. I’m gonna puke it anyway,” she sings and then chants “super, super, super suicidal!” There’s something so dark about this song, which is cleverly disguised by such a catchy melody. It’s also a reminder that Marina is an honest musician, who can play the piano and sing her heart out, without the need for a supporting band, costume changes and famous producers.
At her core, Marina is an artist who is borrowing the algorithms and tenets of pop music. Like Lady Gaga‘s dissertation on fame and celebrity on her record The Fame and Lana Del Rey evoking the true (dark) nature of Americana on Born to Die, Marina is manipulating the pop model to not only gain fans but to critique popular culture as well. She closes the show with the infectious “How to Be a Heartbreaker,” listing the vacuous rules to become one. The crowd is going wild. The song is very tongue-in-cheek and I realize something that Marina already figured out a long time ago, that sometimes it feels good when your tongue is firmly placed there.