Reflecting on MARINA’s “Electra Heart” album ten years later

Finally turning 10 years old, does MARINA’s sophomore album stand on its own?

Official Electra Heart Album Cover | Wikipedia

Official “Electra Heart” Album Cover | Wikipedia

By Sierra Thornton, Collegian Staff

My relationship with  MARINA goes as far back as 2014, when people across the world were reading the newest dystopian novel “The Hunger Games and watching the series finale of “How I Met Your Mother.” While many were listening to Taylor Swift’s latest album “1989,” myself included, I was also listening to another female pop star, MARINA and her album “Electra Heart.” In the years since  the album was released, a lot has changed.

For starters, Marina and the Diamonds  changed her name simply to MARINA.  . After a hiatus post-FROOT promotion and release, MARINA  came out to explain that the name change was needed to advance both her life and musical pursuits. So for her later endeavors, “the effervescent project transformed into something more simple.” However, her previous title is still branded on the official cover art for the album, “Electra Heart” Behind the text, MARINA is front and center with her trademark black heart underneath her left eye, a symbol to define the era.

As of 2022, this album has three definitive versions, excluding the remixes of some tracks. The first is the original studio album “Electra Heart” with 14 tracks. Released the same year, “Electra Heart (Deluxe)” added three more tracks. Those additional songs were  “Living Dead,” “Lonely Hearts Club,” and “Buy the Stars.” Lastly, released this year, is “Electra Heart (Platinum Blonde Edition),” which combines the newer tracks from the Deluxe, in addition to adding two additional tracks, “E.V.O.L.” and “Electra Heart.” For this specific article, , I will be focusing on the original, “Electra Heart.”

Over the years, the album has not lost any traction, instead becoming a phenomenon to a new generation entirely. On TikTok, the album’s hashtag has over 116 million views, with plenty of tracks taking off throughout the app’s lifestyle. Another wave of spotlight was brought to the album once it was discovered, or rather emphasized, that this album is work of satire. For many young teens like myself, the level of self-awareness went right over our heads. With the satire realized for most later on, how do the songs’ meanings change when looking back?

The album starts off strong with both vocals and language in  “Bubblegum B-.” For the mid-2010s, where curse words were strongly limited on the radio,  this felt like listening to a rated-R film. However, this song feels tamer in comparison to other pop songs coming out today, which isn’t a plus or negative to either side. The song is still catchy and publicly acclaimed, obtaining a platinum certification in May 2022.

Another standout success and platinum track is “Primadonna,” a song about embracing your own characteristics that would typically  be seen as annoying or too dramatic. With the electrical elements mixed with quiet strings, it shows the contrast of being seen as a dainty girl while inhibiting a powerful personality. The title “Lies” follows the previous, peppier track with a more somber tone and lyrics  Detailing a lover who does not show her the care or respect she  knows she deserves, this track highlights the frustration that can follow after.

“Homewrecker” would fit right in with a covet-mean girl from the 2010s, like Alison DiLaurentis   from “Pretty Little Liars.” It’s always interesting to hear from the villain’s perspective, but it’s never been this lively before. Causing drama and tears in a relationship, MARINA pulls it off with an attitude that makes it seem like she’s done nothing wrong.

“Starring Role” shows the inner turmoil that can come when someone doesn’t treat you with attention and affection, in a similar vein to “Lies.” With similar aggression, this one deals with someone trying to take the main spot in your own life. By choosing an active stance, MARINA’s says that she’d “rather walk alone (I’d rather walk alone)/ than play a supporting role / if I can’t get the starring role.

One of my forever favorites on the album, “The State of Dreaming” has a very ethereal flow to it similar to a dream itself. Instead of living in reality, she chooses to live in an environment that thrives on others’ perceptions. With allusions to selling out to become more successful, it can ring true for most in that they present a facade in hopes of acceptance and conformity.

“Power & Control” and “Sex Yeah” have similar tones, but different trajectories. In “Power & Control”   MARINA desires  to be the individual in the relationship that has the upper hand. She states that there is an inherit power dynamic and imbalance between women in men, yet despite this, is up for the challenge. The latter song, “Sex Yeah” is about how sex has become so engrained into society that women constantly hear it over and over. The song touches on how society oversexualizes women,  in addition to a celebration of women taking back their own bodies and how they choose to show them off.

Arguably her most popular song from the album “Teen Idle” touches on growing up with constant doubts and regrets. Many girls took these words to heart without knowing the satirical messaging. Despite that, many listeners found some solace and shared experiences in the lyrics. Focusing on not going down the stereotypical route that many girls go through in both media and real life, it resonated with the mindset of girls throughout the world. This was seen through records as the song now sits at a gold ranking and many videos across TikTok’s platform.

One of the most chilling songs on the album is “Valley of the Dolls” The story is easily as dark as the book and film it was based on, all with the same name. All follow the similar tale of women wanting to have their breakthrough moment to shine but instead are met with breakdowns and addiction. Haunting, the song is simultaneously beautiful and eerie with each replay.

“Hypocrates” is a straight-forward title and song, about how a person close to her is being a great-big-hypocrite. The same can be said about “Fear and Loathing”,  reinstating the perception that you don’t have to wallow in doubts and regrets. Finally, “Radioactive” shares how electric and passionate she feels for their love interest.

The platinum record “How to Be a Heartbreaker” is another extremely popular track from “Electra Heart.” Giving a list of rules and instructions, MARINA’s expresses how to get away with using a boy for whatever reason and explanation. By playing up the ‘good-girl’ perception, you can relatively get away with anything your heart desires.

After relistening to the album, I could picture myself back in my adolescent bedroom, back when it was covered in mint-green paint and CW posters. Although it has come to my attention that the album is meant to be viewed with a satirical lens, it did help me with growing up and what it meant to express femininity in a male-dominated world. The lyrics may be satirical at times, but the true intentions behind the album and tracks ring nothing but true for most who listen.

Sierra Thornton can be reached at [email protected]