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Marina & The Diamonds - 'Hollywood'

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Fraser McAlpine | 11:42 UK time, Monday, 25 January 2010

Marina and the Diamonds

I tell you what, Glee could do an AMAZING version of this. As a singer, Marina doesn't so much deliver her lines in one idiosyncratic style as lurch entertainingly from one vocal persona to another, an approach which would lend itself well to a cast of actors.

You'd need one to recreate the glassy moan of the choruses, another for the "up yours, grandad!" Lily Allen voice, then there's the impossibly deep Florence moo of the first verse, and the fiery, shouty, witch-warble of the second - peppered with squeaks, as if she's being tickled. Four voices, one throat.

Rather than making Marina come across as scatty, unable to make her mind up as to what accent, vocal register or tone of voice to sing in, this vocal mucking about serves to prove how important personality is in a pop star's vocal arsenal, even if it's multiple-personality.

(Here's the video. Party on, patriots!)

Personality helps to sell the song, which in this case is a good thing. On the one hand, the level of insight displayed about America, culturally and politically, is on a par with the Razorlight song about America (the name of which temporarily escapes me). Marina, for all that she's spotted that Hollywood is something of an upsettingly fake place, with scope for quite exciting things to happen, seems to get as much enjoyment out of just singing the word as she does from puncturing its ego.

There again, "your mind is just like mine, all filled up with things benign" is pretty hard to beat as lyrics go, especially as it follows the scene in verse two during which Marina gets chatted up by a fat security guard.

Ultimately, as is so often the case, it's all about the chorus. Pop scientists can witter on until the end of time about how many hooks per half-minute squared a good pop song needs in order to be a success, but that's obsessing over formula, and worse, misses the bigger picture. What a properly amazing pop song needs is a bit which turns the tummy over. One is fine. Two is fine. Three is fine. And four is...well you get the point.

This has three: the melty bit just before the chorus, the bit where she swoops up to sing "puking American dreams" in the chorus, and the repeated bit at the end of the chorus where she sings "I'm obsessed by the mess that's Americaaaa". And those are just MY three. You might have EVEN MORE.

Feel free to list them below, we can compile a definitive list and send it to Ivor Novello's house, or something...

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(Fraser McAlpine)



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