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Marina Lambrini Diamandis (Greek: Μαρίνα-Λαμπρινή Διαμαντή; born 10 October 1985), known professionally as Marina and the Diamonds (sometimes stylized as Marina & the Diamonds), is a Welsh singer-songwriter. Diamandis has described herself as an "indie artist with pop goals" and often analyses components of human behavior in her music.

Born in Brynmawr and raised in nearby Pandy, she moved to London as a teenager to become a professional singer, despite having little formal musical experience. In 2009, Diamandis came to prominence upon placing second in the BBC's Sound of 2010. Her debut studio album, The Family Jewels (2010), incorporates indie pop and new wave musical styles. It entered the UK Albums Chart at number five and was certified gold by the British Phonographic Industry. The album's second song, "Hollywood", peaked at number 12 on the UK Singles Chart.

Her follow-up record Electra Heart (2012) is a concept album about a character of the same name. It became her first number-one project in the UK Albums Chart, where it was also certified gold, and its lead single "Primadonna" is her highest-charting track in the UK Singles Chart, reaching number 11. Diamandis's third studio album Froot (2015) became her third top-ten album in the UK Albums Chart, and her first top-ten entry on the US Billboard 200, where it charted at number 8. Produced entirely by Diamandis and David Kosten, it was praised for its cohesive sound and introspective lyrical content.

The Desired Effect (2016), her fourth studio album, made Marina rose to worldwide stardom with the release of the smash hit "I Can Change", which peaked atop the charts of several markets including the US Billboard Hot 100 and the UK Singles Chart. The album was additionally nominated for Album of the Year at the 60th Grammy Awards. Marina and fellow singer-songwriter Charli XCX also released a joint album under duo name Jewels & Diamonds. The synth pop-infused A Silent Thunderstorm (2017) was released to critical acclaim and became her second album to top the US Billboard 200 following The Desired Effect.

Early life[]

Marina Lambrini Diamandis was born on 10 October 1985 in Brynmawr, and grew up in the nearby village of Pandy. She has one older sister, Lafina. Her Welsh mother and Greek father met at Newcastle University and divorced when Diamandis was four. Following the divorce, her father returned to Greece but would occasionally visit, while Diamandis remained in a bungalow in Wales with her mother, where she shared a bedroom with her sister; she described her childhood as "simple and idyllic" and "peaceful, very normal, poor".

In her childhood, Diamandis attended Haberdashers' Monmouth School for Girls, reflecting, "I sort of found my talent there... I was the one who always skived off choir, but I had an incredible music teacher who managed to convince me I could do anything." However, she felt that she "stuck out" by being from a lower-income family than the other girls at the school. At the age of 16, she moved to Greece with her father "to connect with my heritage and learn to speak the language", and sang Greek folk songs with her grandmother. Having earned an International Baccalaureate at St. Catherine's British Embassy School in Athens, she returned to Wales two years later. She and her mother then moved to Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire. Obsessed with becoming a singer, "almost as if it was a disease", she worked at a petrol station for two months in order to earn money to move to London.

Despite not having a musical background, Diamandis was able to create lyrics due to her childhood love of writing. She first began writing music when she was 18 years old; she moved to London to attend dance school, but quit two months later. She studied music at the University of East London and transferred to a classic composition course in Middlesex University the following year, but after two months she dropped out.

Knowing that the Spice Girls were formed by an advertisement in The Stage, Diamandis applied for auditions listed in that newspaper. She travelled for several unsuccessful auditions, including opportunities with the musical for The Lion King and a boy band organised by Virgin Records, during which she managed to leave her CV to an A&R Representative, but was unable to audition at the time of the appointment as she felt sick. In 2005, she created the stage name "Marina and the Diamonds"; after coming to prominence, "the Diamonds" was established as a reference to her fans, instead of her backing band.

Inspired by the example of Daniel Johnston, Diamandis decided to compose her own music and stop going to auditions; she taught herself how to play the piano and recorded music on a keyboard. She self-composed and produced her earlier demos with GarageBand, and independently released her debut extended play Mermaid vs. Sailor through Myspace in 2007. She held discussions with fourteen music labels, rejecting all but one as she believed it was the only one which would not dictate her image. She came to the attention of Neon Gold Records' Derek Davies in 2008, which managed her for six months, and was hired as the supporting act for Australian recording artist Gotye. Davies reflected "She just had something that really resonated with me. Even with the quite limited production of her early bedroom demos, she had this powerful yet vulnerable vocal and writing style that didn't sound like anyone else at the time". In October, Diamandis finalised a recording contract with 679 Recordings (eventually renamed 679 Artists), a subdivision of Warner Music Group.

Musical career[]

2009–11: The Family Jewels[]

Marina and the Diamonds' debut single "Obsessions" was released on 14 February 2009 through Neon Gold Records, while her first extended play The Crown Jewels followed on 1 June. That summer, she performed at BBC Radio 1's Big Weekend, the Glastonbury Festival, and the Reading and Leeds Festivals. She also performed at iTunes Live, releasing a second EP in July 2009 of performances from that festival.

In December 2009, Diamandis was ranked in second place on the Sound of 2010 poll organised by BBC, behind singer-songwriter Ellie Goulding; she was one of three nominees for the Critics' Choice Award at the 2010 BRIT Awards, which also went to Goulding. "Mowgli's Road" was released on 13 November 2009, with Diamandis describing it as "uncommercial", but it received attention after its video was shared by bloggers including Perez Hilton and Kanye West. It was followed by "Hollywood" on 1 February, which reached number 12 on the UK Singles Chart, and was eventually certified silver by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI).

Diamandis's debut studio album The Family Jewels was released on 15 February 2010; it debuted at number five on the UK Albums Chart with first-week sales of 27,618 copies, and was eventually certified gold by the BPI. Atlantic Records signed Diamandis to Chop Shop Records in the United States in March 2010. Through the label, she released her third extended play The American Jewels on 23 March, and later released The Family Jewels in the United States on 25 May. The latter project debuted at number 138 on the US Billboard 200. On Billboard's Top Heatseekers and Top Rock Albums charts, it peaked at numbers 2 and 49 respectively.

"I Am Not a Robot" was serviced as the third single from The Family Jewels on 26 April, and peaked at number 26 on the UK Singles Chart. "Oh No!" followed as the fourth single from the record in July, and reached number 38 in the United Kingdom. The fifth and final single "Shampain" peaked at number 141 on the UK Singles Chart, consequently underperforming by comparison with its preceding singles. To further promote The Family Jewels, Diamandis embarked on The Family Jewels Tour, which visited Europe, North America and Australia throughout 2010 and 2011. In January 2011, in an Australian radio interview, she expressed disappointment at her career, particularly in her failure to attract an American audience. She put this down to inaction by her label and American listeners' contemporary taste for "pumping beats" by artists such as Lady Gaga.

2011–13: Electra Heart[]

In summer 2011, Diamandis and Swedish recording artist Robyn performed as the opening acts for American recording artist Katy Perry's California Dreams Tour. On 30 September, Diamandis released the track "Radioactive" through the iTunes Store as the then intended lead single from her upcomingalbum; it peaked at number 25 on the UK Singles Chart. Her second studio album was preceded by its lead single "Primadonna" in April 2012; the song is notable for being Diamandis's highest-charting track on the UK Singles Chart, where it reached number 11. It is certified gold by RIAA in the United States and platinum by the respective authorities in Australia, Denmark and New Zealand.

The final product Electra Heart is a concept album lyrically united by the ideas of "female identity" and "a recent breakup." Diamandis created the titular character "Electra Heart" as a protagonist for the project; she portrays the personas "Teen Idle," "Primadonna," "Homewrecker," and "Housewife," which represent several female archetypes of stereotypical American culture. The project was released on 27 April 2012, and debuted at number one on the UK Albums Chart with first-week sales of 21,358 copies. It became Diamandis's first chart-topping album in the United Kingdom. The album was certified gold by the British Phonographic Industry for exceeding shipments of 100,000 units, and gold by the Irish Recorded Music Association for surpassing 7,500 sales.

"Power & Control" was released as the second single from Electra Heart on 20 July. Later that month, it was announced that "How to Be a Heartbreaker" would be released as the second single in the United States and the third single in the United Kingdom. Diamandis commented that she had written the track while Electra Heart was being pressed in the United Kingdom, and consequently missed the cut-off for initial inclusion on the record; however, it was featured in the revised track listing for the American version. It peaked at number 88 in the latter country. Throughout 2012, Diamandis travelled for The Lonely Hearts Club Tour, her second headlining concert tour, and Mylo Xyloto Tour headlined by Coldplay, for which she served as an opening act. On 8 August 2013, Diamandis released a music video for the previously unreleased title track "Electra Heart"; it depicted the death of the character, and symbolically ended the promotional campaign for Electra Heart.

2013–16: Froot[]

After spending one month in New York City, Diamandis announced in February 2013 that she had begun writing material for an upcoming third studio album. The single "Froot" was released on 10 October 2014, her 29th birthday, and announced as the title track.

The album was announced to be released on 3 April 2015 with a new track from the album being announced each month. However, due to an Internet leak, the release was brought forward. Entirely produced by Diamandis and David Kosten, the album was praised for its cohesive sound. Froot debuted at number 8 on the Billboard 200 chart, and was then her highest charting album in the United States. Froot peaked at 10 in the UK.

In early 2015, it was announced that Diamandis would perform at Lollapalooza Brazil, Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival and the Boston Calling Music Festival in March, April and May 2015 respectively. From October 2015 to the following October she embarked on the Neon Nature Tour across Europe and the Americas; each performance was split into three acts, one for each of her albums, with most songs coming from Froot. Her 4 November performance at the House of Blues in Boston was broadcast live by Yahoo. During a question-and-answer video, Diamandis said that subsequent tours would be different, as her usual tours had been "a hard lifestyle." In April 2016, she said she would take a break from music after her tour. However, she would keep on recording music and eventually launch a deal with Universal Music Group branch-label Island Records, changing her mind about taking a break.

2016–2017: The Desired Effect, Jewels and Diamonds and Cherry Tree[]

In June 2016, Diamandis told Fuse that she had begun writing new material for upcoming songs, and a month later she wrote on Twitter that she was in the studio working on her new material. In August, it was announced that Marina was signed to Island Records, a subdivision from Universal Music Group. In October, Marina would release her biggest hit to date, the house-infused "I Can Change", which would become her first single to top the charts in the UK Singles Chart and the first to actually chart in the Billboard Hot 100, eventually landing at number one by the end of November. It was the second best-selling song of the year, with more than ten million pure copies sold worldwide in less than three months.

Her fourth studio album, the primarily synth pop The Desired Effect, was released on 12 December 2016. It would debut atop the Billboard Hot 100 with more than 600,000 sales-plus-streaming copies sold, also crowning at number one in the UK Albums Charts. The album would also issue two more singles: the title-track and "Love Is The Loneliest Place", the former becoming yet another top ten hit single for the singer-songwriter. The Desired Effect got nominated for Album of the Year and Best Pop Vocal Album at the 59th Annual Grammy Awards, whilst "I Can Change" gained nominations for Record of the Year and Best Pop Solo Performance and the title track landed an indication for Best Pop Solo Performance a year later.

Fresh off the start of The Desired Effect album cycle, Marina and fellow contemporary artist Charli XCX would release a joint album titled A Silent Thunderstorm in early 2018 under the duo moniker Jewels and Diamonds. Executively produced by Dev Hynes, the nine-track record features the number one smash hit "Entertainment", which received critical acclaim and was met with widespread commercial success. The girls also headlined Coachella, becoming one of the first alternative pop acts to do so.

From February to September 2017, Marina embarked on a fully sold-out arena tour titled after The Desired Effect. It became one of the most successful female tours of the year, with an income of almost $60,000,000.

In late 2017, Marina revealed she had set up her own independent recording label, Cherry Tree, signing her fellow contemporaries Charli XCX and Tove Lo. Tove's album Blue Lips, the first full-length release on the label, reached number one on the US Billboard 200.

2018–2019: Westworld, Room 101 and collaborations[]

In early 2018, it was announced that Marina landed her first big acting hole in the HBO series Westworld. She played the recurring character Emily during the second season, which premiered on 22 April 2018. Marina also announced her upcoming fifth studio album Room 101 and released three warm-up singles from it: "Human" in January, "Flipside" in March and "Radio" in May. During the Valentine's Day that same year, Jewels and Diamonds unleashed a surprise song called "It's You", recorded as a gift to their fans.

Marina collaborated with Emily Hayne and Romy from the xx for "Uncover Me" and Gesaffelstein for "So Bad", songs that were released through the beginning of 2019. In February of the same year, she covered the TIME Magazine.

Discography[]

Main articles: Marina and the Diamonds discography

As Jewels and Diamonds:

Tours[]

Headlining[]

  • The Family Jewels Tour (2010–11)
  • The Lonely Hearts Club Tour (2012–13)
  • Neon Nature Tour (2015–16)
  • The Desired Effect Tour (2017)

Supporting[]

  • Katy Perry – California Dreams Tour (2011)
  • Coldplay – Mylo Xyloto Tour (2011–12)

Filmography[]

Television[]

Year Title Role Note
2017 Grey's Anatomy Mandy Marano Episode: "Love is the Loneliest Place"
2018 Westworld Emily Season 2
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