The Soundscapes and Psychedelia of Diā’s Dreamy “Valentine”

by guest contributor Dana Silverman

When Phil Spector first created his Wall of Sound in the 1960s, he couldn’t have predicted how far its echoes would resonate throughout pop music. The drum intro to The Ronettes’ “Be My Baby” alone has been co-opted by everyone from Billy Joel to The Jesus and Mary Chain to Lana Del Rey, with varying degrees of success.

“Valentine,” the new single by indie pop artist and composer Diā, is the latest inheritor of the technique. The song’s moody, mysterious vibe and 1960s influences are felt almost immediately and highlighted by the accompanying video (a dreamy homage to low-budget sci-fi films of the period).  

Diā–real name Danielle Birritella–has a voice reminiscent of Dum Dum Girls’ Dee Dee or Alvvays’ Molly Rankin. Her honeyed vocals carry listeners throughout the first verse of the song listlessly before shedding typical pop-rock apathy for a former flame with a range she honed as a classically trained opera singer.

Her dreamlike singing doesn’t overpower the music, but perfectly integrates with the droning guitar and “Be My Baby” drum pattern, and the seconds of space between lyrics leave room to appreciate nuances – seductive harmonies, sparkling keyboards, the loping guitar lick in the break – that distinguish themselves without wearing out their welcome.

“Valentine” as a whole possesses a shimmering, otherworldly quality built on nostalgic pop foundations. With her extensive musical and performance training, Diā’s voice and personality could easily dominate whatever material she releases. However, “Valentine” proves she knows how to apply her formidable talents in the service of the music, and can easily adapt to more commercial genres.

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