Welsh singer-songwriter, Marina Lambrini Diamandis, known mononymously as Marina (often stylized in all caps) and previously by the stage name Marina and the Diamonds, clock 36 today.
Born on 10 October 1985, in Brynmawr, and grew up near Abergavenny, Diamandis has a musical style consisting of indie pop, art pop, electropop, synth-pop, experimental pop, bubblegum pop, and disco-pop. She is known for her mezzo-soprano vocal abilities.
As a child, she would take inspiration from the differing musical tastes of her parents – Dolly Parton, Enya and George Michael from her mother, and Haris Alexiou from her father – while also admiring pop acts of the era including the Spice Girls, Britney Spears and S Club 7.
Diamandis has said that “Madonna was the reason I wanted to be a pop star from the age of 15”; however she also stated that she did not listen to music “properly” until the age of 19, when she took influence from acts including PJ Harvey, Fiona Apple and The Distillers. She began smoking two years later in an attempt to sound like The Distillers’ frontwoman Brody Dalle, “but it never worked, and now I’m just stuck with a bad habit.”
At the start of her career, Diamandis was compared to other British female singer-songwriters, with Paul Lester from The Guardian writing that she had a “zeitgeist-y female essence”, although she took exception at such comparisons and said that all she shared with Kate Nash was “a vagina and a keyboard”.
During the Electra Heart era, she called comparisons to Lady Gaga, Katy Perry and Lana Del Rey “really annoying”, preferring to be classed as herself.
Diamandis’ vocals have been compared to those of Karen O, Regina Spektor, Kate Bush, Florence Welch, Britney Spears, and Siouxsie Sioux, with an androgynous timbre akin to those of Annie Lennox and Heather Small. When reviewing The Family Jewels, Joe Copplestone from PopMatters noted that Diamandis’s vocal delivery occasionally overpowers the “inventive” melodies showcased in her songs.
Diamandis has one elder sister. Her Welsh mother and Greek father met at Newcastle University and separated when Diamandis was four years old. Following the separation, her father returned to Greece but would occasionally visit, while she remained in a bungalow in Wales with her mother; she described her childhood as “simple and idyllic” and “peaceful, very normal, poor”. Diamandis admitted to being a “tomboy” as a child, playing football every day and spending more time with the opposite sex.
In honor of Marina Diamandis’ 36th birthday, tell us your favorite song by the star!