An early-'80s jazz-pop-R&B synthesis as durable and pleasing as any other, Straight from the Heart was Patrice Rushen's most successful album, at least from a sales standpoint: it peaked at number 14 on the pop chart, 25 slots higher than 1980's Pizzazz. Still working with a core group of associates — including Freddie Washington, Charles Mims, Paul M. Jackson, and Marlo Henderson (along with a still young Gerald Albright) — that went back to her earlier Elektra albums, the material here is as slick as ever, but not at the expense of lighter rhythms or less memorable melodies. Much of the album's popularity can be attributed to the club hit "Forget Me Nots," Rushen's most-known single — a breezy, buoyant mixture of handclaps, fingersnaps, twisting bass, and Rushen's typically blissful (and not overplayed) electric piano, not to mention the incorporation of a bad bass-and-percussion breakdown.
The second studio album from Marina Lambrini Diamandis finds the mercurial Welsh singer/songwriter assuming the role of diva in waiting, trading in the ballsy, quirky retro-pop of her 2010 debut, Family Jewels, for the glitzy (and still relatively ballsy) electro-thump pomp of Ke$ha and Lady Gaga. Produced by Dr. Luke (Katy Perry), Liam Howe (Sneaker Pimps), Greg Kurstin (Lily Allen), and Rick Nowels (Madonna), Electra Heart is a brooding, sexy, desperate, overwrought, and infectious record that's both aware and unashamed of its contrivance. In short, Diamandis is trying to expose the artifice of big-box pop music by using its own voice, and despite the obvious trappings of the concept, she does a fairly respectable job. Her resonant operatic voice is expressive enough to make a lyric like "Candy bear, sweetie pie, I wanna be adored/I'm the girl you'd die for," from the capricious opener "Bubblegum Bitch," feel less like a floozy come-on and more like a malicious schoolyard taunt.