#94 – Did Love

Frankmusik-Between

Artist – Frankmusik
Album – Between
Year – 2013
Genre – Synthpop/Dance Pop

Sorry everyone, I couldn’t find a video for this song, and I can’t upload an mp3 without paying for a WordPress upgrade. 😦 You can find this song on Spotify and Itunes though, and I highly suggest that you give it a listen, even if it’s a snippet.

I can’t sing Frankmusik’s praises enough. He’s the best singer you’ve never heard of, and his whole Between album blew me out of the water. Every song is infectious as the flu. The sense of honesty and passionate emotion that Frankmusik (AKA Vincent Turner) infuses within his dance beats is amazing to hear, and his songwriting is both relatable and very, very singable. “Did Love” is the highlight of this album for sure, and I’ll try to contain myself to explain why.

As I stated, Mr. Turner is a good singer. He’s a very good singer indeed. His voice is almost operatic and he has true talent. That should be clear in about, oh, I should say the first 10 seconds. The next thing that’ll hook you is a beat that swings and a rhythm that makes you want to bounce in your seat. The song has a lot quirky effects that keep it fresh and interesting, and also a bit humorous.

This is also the first point where you’ll really want to pay attention to Turner’s lyrics. Lines like:

“The hardest part is
My bed’s so empty it could be its own republic
But you already took my flag”

and

“In letting go I’m only losing understanding
There was no net to break my fall”

are both full of wit and emotion, but sung in a way that doesn’t seem the least bit melancholic. Powerful and perhaps bitter, but not truly sad.

Then the chorus hits, and it hits like a friggin’ wrecking ball. It’s loud, it’s bombastic, and it’s going to be in your head for a while now that you’ve heard it. Turner sings so effortlessly that it’ll give you shivers, and as he flies up and down the register you’ll get goosebumps at how good he is and how infectious the melody is. The harmony and power in this chorus is so good, if I keep talking about it I’m probably going to lose it! This is a must hear part of the song for sure.

The production and music is what takes this song to the next level of insanity. The jittery piano give the song a really cool Queen like background vibe while the synths and beats are frenetic and make you want to just bust a move out on the dance floor. It’s a bit of the fusion of the old, the swing beat and the piano, and the new elements like the little electronic accents and melodic touches that make the song a winner and one of the strongest of the album.

Absolutely amazing vocals and melody, wonderful production and music, and lyrics that manage to be emotionally open and honest, while keeping humor and wit create “Did Love.” This track will have you singing and dancing your ass off, and more importantly it will hopefully leave you craving more of the unsung musical hero who is Frankmusik. Being a huge Star Wars nerd, I have to quote old Ben Kenobi and say that I hope this song will be “your first step into a larger world.” And that world is one of glittery, poppy, super talented singing, dancey awesomeness.

Thanks for reading, and if you liked this song and review, I’d love it if you could shoot me a like or leave a comment. Sharing and following are also highly encouraged! It’s music, people! It’s meant to be shared 🙂

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#93 – I Am Your Skin

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Artist – The Bravery
Album – Stir the Blood
Year – 2009
Genre – Post Punk/Alternative

It’s always sad to hear that a band you really admire is going away. Yesterday, lead singer of The Bravery Sam Endicott wrote a letter to fans explaining the band had no plans to get back together after an already long absence, and that the members had all moved on to other creative projects, including himself. Although I’m sad the band is effectively gone, they’ve left a legacy on music, and this song is one of their best. I wish them the best of luck in the future. With that said, lets take a look back.

The instrumentation of this song immediately sets the tone. The pulsing synths and Endicott’s low, droning vocals let you that this song is going to be dark. And it really is, but in a sort of sensual, romantic way. The atmosphere isn’t so much doom and gloom as it is broodingly upbeat. The dance drum beat keeps the song going and the guitar during the chorus gives the song a bit of extra rock flavor.

The band is made of some very talented musicians but the synth is what really stands out in this particular song. The background synth is the backdrop for the entire song, and the glistening synth solo after the second chorus is really pleasing and is a wonderful addition to the song. It’s a bit of a light within the darkness.

Endicott also contributes a lot to what this song is at its core. His voice is low and crooning during the verse and high and passionate during the chorus. The melody of the song perfectly utilizes both of these aspects, and though his voice sounds strained at times, this is an excellent quality for the song. The lyrics of the song are darkly romantic and deal with intimacy and connection on both an emotional and physical level. The way Endicott sings just reflects the nature of the lyrics. In the verses, his low melodies are catchy and reflect the subtle sensuality of the words, and in the height of the chorus it sounds as if he’s in the throes of passion.

The Bravery had a talent for crafting songs that utilized different aspects of musicality to encompass a theme or human feeling within them. “I Am Your Skin” is a great song not just because of its parts, but because of the way it encapsulates feelings of sexuality and connection, albeit in a slightly foreboding and dark way. They may never put out another album, but at least the music they left behind is damn good, and that’s what counts.

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#92 – Hero

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Artist – Family of the Year
Album – Loma Vista
Year – 2012
Genre – Indie Rock/Folk Rock

This is a bit of a special post. I literally just heard this song in the past hour and a half, and it’s already moved me to the point where I have to review it now. When I listen to music, I usually am moved by it the more I listen and draw out elements and words to apply to my own life or situation. However, a song that moves me on first listen has only occurred twice that I can think of, with the first being Lazarus by Porcupine Tree (see review #1) and this song just now. I have very few words for how absolutely breathtakingly beautiful this song is, but I’ll see if I can squeeze them out.

Let’s start with the instruments first. This is a song that flawlessly executes the notion of adding layers for building emotional effect. The simple finger picked guitar at the beginning is beautiful, but as drums, electric guitar, and finally synths and bass are added, the song only becomes more powerful and resonant. It still keeps that sense of simple honesty within its musicality, which is so, so important to the overall feel of this song, but the layers add so much to how much you are immersed in the sound.

Singer Joseph Keefe’s vocals will touch you right to your emotional core. His voice is so clear and pleasing to the ear, and his pure passion and honesty while singing is so palpable you can hold it in your hand. The melody in this song repeats on every verse, but this one…I don’t know. It’s the particular sequence of notes that Keefe sings that just gets me. It was just gorgeous, and the way the harmony and melody blended and combined perfectly created an experience that rarely happens on a first listen, but one I never get tired of having.

Part of that reaction I had comes from the stunning lyrics in this song. The lyrics speak so close to my own heart, and I feel to a lot of other men and women my age. The words talk of how we are often afraid to grow up, and afraid to face the flood of responsibility and uncertainty that life can and often does give us as we get older. We sometimes feel like we just want to stay in the lives that we are content with right now, and just hold the ones we love closer than ever. When we think about our futures, we often get frightened, because we’re only human and we have fears about the future of our loved ones and ourselves. But the world has so much beauty, and so much to offer us. Once we show the world who we are, maybe we can find the life we’ve always dreamed of.

In that regard, the “Let Me Go” is doubly resonant. It’s both a fear, and a desire to face the world. This is our life, as we find ourselves constantly pulled between too much and too little freedom. But in the end, I suppose the song is right when Keefe sings:

“Everyone deserves a chance to walk with everyone else.”

By the time this song was over, I was very emotional and a bit choked up. It’s so, so rare that a song does this, but it earns a special place in my heart once it does. This song is so simple in its construction, but unbelievably effective in its ability to stir the heart. I urge each and every one of you out there to hear this song. Listen to the message, what does it mean to you? Listen to the melody. Do you find it beautiful? Does the music move you? I hope it does, because this song deserves to be heard by everyone. Like I said before, I can only say so much about a song in words, but then again, that’s what the music is for.

Thanks for reading, and below this I’ve attached the video where i first heard the song 2 hours ago. In the context of the trailer, the song gains even more power, and I hope you all get a chance to see this film when it comes out.

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#91 – Lethean Tears

Solution_.45_-_For_Aeons_Past

Artist – Solution .45
Album – For Aeons Past
Year – 2010
Genre – Melodic Death Metal

If you’re a person who immediately turns the other way when you see the words “death metal” because you don’t like screaming in music…you’re in luck! This song is perfect for you! There’s not a lick of screaming in this song (which doesn’t bother me one way or the other) and instead, this song is a showcase for all other forms of musical talent. Hopefully you all out there will take a leap of faith for me on this one, because it’s totally worth the ride.

No matter what kind of music you enjoy, if you strip back the layers of this song, you have to admire the musical talent of this group. The reason I’m hoping this song will appeal to maybe some of those who don’t ordinarily like metal is vocalist Christian Alvestam. Swedish singers in metal bands are just so good, at least the ones I’ve heard, and Alvestam stands above them all.

Throughout this entire song, he is just phenomenal. He’s simply amazing, and the melodies he crafts and weaves throughout the song are so pleasing to the ear, and certainly just as much as any pop song. No matter the genre, talented vocals appeal to just about every listener of music. From verse to chorus to bridge, I literally cannot find a part of this song vocally that is not appealing to me and that doesn’t sound absolutely fantastic. Alvestam’s voice cuts through the whole song and his voice just accentuates every melody and makes the song soar.

Musically, the band is right on his heels. There has to be a huge degree of technical skill to play metal, but in a slower song like this, that’s not always going on. Don’t get me wrong, this song has absolutely wicked solos, and the ending is something spectacular from all parties involved, but the real power of this song comes in its dynamics and sense of atmosphere. The slow, doom like pace and mood at the beginning is actually very nice to hear as opposed to flying guitars and punishing drums.

However, the quiet parts are only as good as their opposites, and during the chorus the band shows it’s other dynamic side. The guitars crash and drums smash, but the melody is not lost, and if anything it gets even better. This is a song where you can appreciate the soft with the hard, and the loud with the quiet. Everything meshes exactly as it should.

The lyrics are a bit of a mystery to me, though. They’re very romantic in a fantasy type way (certainly not atypical for metal) but I feel with more listens I can really bring something out of them. Until then, let me know if they resonate with you and why.

Life is sometimes about taking a risk. If some of you out there are only accustomed to pop and modern rock, but appreciate a great song with loads of talent, I urge you to take a risk on this song. Sure it has metal elements, but if you look past it, you will hear the amazing singing, and talented playing that make this song so catchy and so good. You don’t have to like metal all together, but a good song? That’s something to appreciate.

Thanks for reading, and if you liked this post and song, be sure to leave a comment and like the post. Also, I would love it if you shared this post and hit that follow button at the top of the screen! Thanks again!

#90 – Video Killed The Radio Star

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Artist – The Buggles
Album – The Age of Plastic
Year – 1980
Genre – New Wave

Ah yes, the infamous first video ever played on MTV. Does MTV even play music videos anymore? I guess it should be “Reality Show Killed the Video Star” now, but I digress. I read another review of this particular gem that said even in the world of modern pop songs, this song still sounds fresh and holds up. I completely agree. Why do I think that? I’m glad you asked.

The first reason is the instruments and production on this song. Former frontman of the Buggles and also Yes for a bit, Trevor Horn, is a production master and knows how to get a record to sound good. If you listen to every piece of this song, even beyond all the pianos and synths, you can hear a crisp, rumbling bass line and a guitar that really wails, especially at the end.

Back to that piano and synth. This is New Wave, so those are the instruments that are front and center, and they just blow me away every time. Geoff Downes, the keyboard player, is an amazing talent and he mixes piano and synth effortlessly. He plays exactly the right melody or right riff at exactly the right time in this song, and manages to keep it fresh and exciting. That’s something a lot of modern day musicians struggle to do. It’s those little riffs on the synth and piano that keep the instruments just as catchy as the vocals.

Ah yes, the vocals. Trevor Horn’s electrically altered voice is perfect for the message and tone of the song. It’s…the FUTURE! The whole song from beginning to end is just as catchy and hooky as any modern pop song, and perhaps even more so. I have to give a shout out to those unknown female vocalists who actually sing the chorus and the background vocals throughout the entire song. Horn does a great job, but it’s these ladies that have the iconic pieces of the song.

Ugh, the lead in to the chorus of this song is just too good. It’s the catchiest damn thing, and then the chorus hits and you’re hooked. You’re just done. Whoever wrote this melody deserves a medal for earworm of the century. As if that wasn’t enough, the background vocals at the end are so catchy, you know the “You aaaaaaareeee the radiooo staaaarrrr” part. All I can say is, SING IT GIRL! Because I’m singing right along with you at the top my lungs.

You might think the song ends here, but make sure you listen to the version I posted above, because there’s actually a really beautiful instrumental ending that plays the melody of the song in a quiet way that just gives me shivers. After that, well, the rest is history as they say.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why this song can stand with the best of what we have today. And who knows, maybe it’ll inspire some modern artists to build on what The Buggles started ;). Oh, look, I see we have some takers already!

Thanks for reading, and if you like this song or post, be sure to like and leave a comment. Also, I would love it if you shared it with your friends and passed the music around, and also if you could hit that follow button at the top of the screen!

#89 – Cry

the-used-imaginary-enemy

Artist – The Used
Album – Imaginary Enemy
Year – 2014
Genre – Post-Hardcore/Hard Rock

Hard Rock and Post-Hardcore are probably the hardest genre’s to truly succeed at. You don’t have the luxury of the niche market of true hardcore and metalcore scenes, and you have to achieve a perfect balance of ferocity and melody to hook both those who are only accustomed to both sides, both harder and lighter. Truth be told, I have rarely seen a post-hardcore record grab me like The Used’s Imaginary Enemy. Every song has something special to bring to the table of straight up hard rock, but Cry is something else.

What it is is a raging storm of a song. From the very cool echoing guitar line that opens and repeats throughout the song (thankfully), I could feel this was going to be a wild ride. I have to say first and foremost that the production on this song is absolutely spectacular! Every instrument is powerful and sounds phenomenal, and that’s a good start when picking apart a song.

Frontman Bert McCracken’s voice is outstanding in this song. It’s sinister and insidiously melodic during the verses, and explosive and crazed during the chorus, all while keeping a melody that’s one of their catchiest in years. By the time the song is coming to a close, he finally lets loose and shows the darker side of the track, by screaming like a madman while the guitar comes crashing in like thunder. It’s this delicate balance between light and dark that makes the song appeal to both ends of the table, as I said before.

The instrumental experimentation in this song make it stand out as well. The band has experimented with electronic manipulation before, but in Cry it takes full effect during the bridge and ending, which is a trait that makes this particular band unique from many of their peers.

Lyric wise, I didn’t expect too much coming in, but the song really surprised me with how well it was written. Aggressive and angry lyrics about heartbreak aside (which are good in their own right; that is the context of the song) the second verse really captured the sense of struggle with finding love for yourself after losing it, and that desperate search to not be alone:

“Now your life is broken, revolves around love.
Not love of yourself but the love you have lost.
We said desperation is lonely despair.
You don’t love yourself, you’ve got no love to share.”

I was just blown away at how honest and true these lyrics resonated with my own past experiences, and I’m sure that it will have the same effect for many other listeners. Ferocity, melody, instrumentation, and resonant words? Now that’s a REAL delicate balance, but it appears to be no problem for a song of this caliber.

Cry is one of those damn near perfect modern rock songs that grabs you by the throat and refuses to let go. As not appealing as that sounds, trust me, it’s a good thing when it comes to music. Don’t believe me? Listen for yourself, and hopefully you can feel the passion from every ounce of this song.

Thanks for reading, and if you liked this song and post, be sure to like and comment on it. Most importantly, don’t forget to share it and hit that follow button right at the top of the page!

#88 – There She Goes

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Artist – The La’s
Album – The La’s
Year – 1988
Genre – Alternative

Theeeeeeerrrrrrrre Sheeeeeeeeeeeeeeee Gooooooesss! Oops, did you just catch me singing? Well it’s no surprise, considering how infectious this song is! A lot of you out there have probably heard this song covered by Sixpence None the Richer, but as you can see it’s from a lot earlier. That said, it still hasn’t lost its luster after all this time, and it’s still just as catchy and awesome as ever.

The jangly guitar intro is a perfect intro to the style of the song, which is basically like a British R.E.M. track. Frontman Lee Mavers voice immediately starts the melody that doesn’t only repeat throughout the whole song, but throughout your whole day, week, hell maybe month. You will hear this melody when you sleep and when you wake up, and every point in between.

It’s the way that Mavers floats the falsetto that gets you. It just makes you tingle with how good those high notes are. By the time the chorus is over, you want it again, and guess what? You get it! It’s like a never ending Christmas! Well, more like a 2 and a half minute Christmas, but you can always put it on repeat.

The lyrics are really quite charming for this song, but there’s been some contention that “she” is a metaphor for heroin, and when she “pulses through my veins”… yeah you get the picture. Let’s set the record straight. This is a song about a girl who you really like that you see everywhere that gives you butterflies. That’s it people. Not that that’s insignificant, and I know people can interpret songs how they wish, but let’s not turn a simple love song into a song about destructive habits. It’s a very relatable and very pretty song if you look at it from a loving point of view, which is mainly why I really enjoy the lyrics in this track.

You’re really going to want to listen to this song for the melody. It’s the best part, but it is a damn good melody. Just like my theater design professor said, K.I.S.S. Keep it simple, stupid. Well, this band certainly isn’t stupid, but they know how to keep it simple and keep you coming back for more. That’s good enough for me.

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#87 – Sugar We’re Goin Down

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Artist – Fall Out Boy
Album – From Under the Cork Tree
Year – 2005
Genre – Pop-Punk

Childhood memories for the win! If you’re in my age range, than this song and really the whole pop-punk explosion of the late 90’s-early 2000’s was the soundtrack to your youth (along with Backstreet Boys, Britney, and ‘nSync of course!) Fall Out Boy remains one of the most influential Pop-Punk bands of all time, and this song is a huge reason why.

I’m just going to get this through at the beginning: Fall Out Boy are a very talented group. Each member of the band really brings it to this song, and each instrument sounds just right. Joe Trohman (and Pat Stump’s) guitars have that crunch that gives the song a harder edge than a lot of other bands in the genre, and Andy Hurley’s drums…well when you hear that opening drum fill you know what’s coming. Pete Wentz keeps up on his bass and thunders right along with the rest of the band but of course Fall Out Boy separates itself from others with two X factors.

First we have to talk Pat Stumps voice. It is, bar none, one of the best voices in Pop-Punk, and really beyond it. In this song, he really gets to show his talent. From verse to chorus, he’s up and down and hits every note perfectly. Not only that, the chorus, which is probably the catchiest you’ll EVER hear in a pop punk track, is where he shines. His vocal runs give you goosebumps, as does the skill with which he ends each phrase. Forget the slurring, because he’s throwing his emotion into this one with all he’s got. When you mix emotion with a song whose entire melody is like ear candy, then you’ve really got the audience.

Pete Wentz’s lyrics are incredibly witty, clever, and biting as usual. This is the song that put his songwriting on the radar for the world, though, so this one stands out. From the beginning with

Am I more than you bargained for yet
I’ve been dying to tell you anything you want to hear
Cause that’s just who I am this week

you know this is a winner for Wentz. However, without the support of the band, each individual piece of the song only makes up part of the equation for what makes this song absolutely killer.

The layering in this song, especially towards the end is really something. As the chorus is sung, you can hear Stump’s voice singing a separate

Take aim at myself
Take back what you said

underneath. This is but one example of the craftsmanship that went into this track. The harmonies and the way the whole song flows together just really pleases the ear. The song has that aspect of complexity, but the way it can be related to on a simple, everyday level is where it finds its greatest success. The sadness and pain in Stump’s voice and Wentz lyrics of the trials and tribulations of young love is a recipe for popularity and mass appeal. It’s how we twist these pieces into the fabric of our own experiences and lives that makes this song so good.

I’ve literally not heard a catchier pop-punk song as long as I’ve lived. Nor have I heard one with this much wit and talent and emotion. Fall Out Boy has a lasting legacy for a reason. This song is it. That said, if you haven’t heard it, you should probably look into that. And good luck getting that melody out of your head.

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#86 – Story of My Life

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Artist – One Direction
Album – Midnight Memories
Year – 2013
Genre – Pop

I will say this now. I like some One Direction songs. I think some of their songs have really good qualities. I think this is a good song. I think it has great musical quality. And that’s OK. Anyone offended? No? Good, let’s move on then.

First off, as is noted by many music critics, most of the songs on this album are actually quite a departure from older One Direction material. This song is not an exception. It starts with a really quick paced and nice acoustic guitar riff. Musically, the song is at its most interesting when it’s at its most powerful, so we’ll get back to that.

Let’s face it, we came here for the voices. And the boys don’t disappoint in this one. The verses and prechorus are a great buildup to what’s coming. You expect a big, insanely catchy, in your face chorus, and you get one. Their voices, though they may or not be modified, sound great. Your brain naturally wants to hear certain chord progressions, melodies, and harmonies. I’m strong believer in not fighting that, no matter what genre the music is. This chorus literally pleases every part of my brain. The melody is well crafted, and it sticks in your brain for hours. Trust me, and almost every teenage girl out there, it does.

The harmonies are wonderful, as per usual with this group. But back to those instruments. The powerful synths and effects behind the group, as well as the pulsing drum really works to great effect. It had me pounding right along, which is a good sign. The chorus really is the highlight of the song in all aspects, and that’s quite evident by all the elements coming together to form a potent and incredibly hooky combination.

But there is something that surprised me about this particular song. The lyrics may not be top ten lyrical triumphs of all time, but they do hit the romantic core in me, and I suppose most everyone who likes the song. The imagery is what really works, as when they sing:

I take her home
I drive all night to keep her warm
And time is frozen
The story of my life
I give her hope
I spend her love
Until she’s broke
Inside

I can picture exactly what they are singing about. Driving someone to keep them warm is a true sign that you really care, and I think many can relate to the feelings of love, caring, and loss expressed in the song. That’s partly why it sticks with us and is so memorable. Those moments of true compassion and love seem to last forever in our minds because we cared so much about those we loved. It’s quite a palpable thing, and you can really feel it and picture it when you hear the lyrics.

There is absolutely no shame in listening to this kind of music. Like I said, I am a firm believer in looking past the bullshit of what seems “cool” to listen to, and just accepting what your brain wants to hear. Sometimes that takes a little bit of picking apart to figure out, and I know not everyone likes the same things and that’s ok, but what is NOT ok is to be afraid of liking something or not listening to something because you worry about what others think of it. It’s ok to like whatever you want to like, and I hope that you like this song, because I sure do!

#noshame

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#85 – I Am Not A Robot

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Artist – Marina and the Diamonds
Album – The Family Jewels
Year – 2010
Genre – Indie Pop

Marina and the Diamonds (aka Marina Diamandis) is an artist that has completely captivated me as of late. Her vocal talent is completely on par with or even better than any female pop star out there today. Her wit and lyrical talent matches her voice, and she is honestly one of the most refreshing acts and sounds I’ve heard in a long, long time.

The first thing that should be addressed in this song is the lyrics and what they mean, or at least what I think they mean. The song touches on the fact that we are all human beings, and as such we shouldn’t make every attempt to hide or cover up how we actually feel and how we actually are. Society has specific expectations about how people should act and sets certain standards in media, but we have to realize we are not robots. We have emotions and it’s OK to express them! After all:

Better to be hated than loved, loved, loved for what you’re not

You’re vulnerable, you’re vulnerable
You are not a robot

This is a great message, and a rather unique one for a pop song of sorts.

Now to the musicianship, starting with her voice. Marina’s voice is stunning. She floats up high with absolute ease and sings low like it’s completely natural. The vocal melody during the chorus is catchy and just plain awesome to listen to, and on every chorus she gets more and more powerful in her singing. Even during the verses she jumps all over the register and it sounds unlike anything I’ve heard, in a good way of course. The real treat comes after the bridge, when she pours all her conviction into the chorus, as well as does some really cool vocal tricks and runs.

The instruments fit the quirky nature of the song, with cool overlaps of piano, xylophone, and strings. The drums are electric, but that fits the poppy nature of the song perfectly. But again, I cannot stress the ending of this song enough. The vocals are just incredible, and the instruments just add to her voice so much. The combined effect is truly something to be heard.

Picking my first Marina and the Diamonds song was hard, but I can tell you this: watch the charts ladies and gentlemen. Come her next album, I can guarantee you she will be on them. Also, always remember…

YOU ARE NOT A ROBOT!!!

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