As I said before in my last “Breaking The Mold” piece on Shawn Mendes, I love when artists can surprise me and mesmerize me beyond my expectations and Melanie Martinez is undoubtedly one of those artists. I remembered seeing her on The Voice and thinking that she had the makings of….something. She had a gimmick (her two colored hair) that didn’t take away from her performances and the talent (her soft indie-like voice). The most memorable of her performances in my opinion was a creatively different take on Britney Spears’s “Toxic”, which I thought was so different and new and inventive. That was just the tip of iceberg when it came to her creativity.
Despite not winning the show, Melanie went on to sign a deal and crafted one of the most creative (debut) albums I’ve ever delved into. The album is called Crybaby, pictured above, and it’s… well it’s not something that can truly be described with words, but I’ll do my best.
Melanie takes sounds and elements normally associated with childhood and gives them a twist, adding some adult themes and meaning to them that completely take the listener on a different journey than anyone could have expected. It completely shatters any perception or preconceived notion you might have gotten from her time on the singing competition show. Fans of American Horror Story will recognize her song “Carousel” from the Freakshow trailers and see what I mean. Everything sounds all bright and cheery, but has such a dark undertone that it’s nothing but fascinating to listen to, and even better, has completely captivating visuals to accompany them. And every music video she’s released has been spearheaded by her. Every idea that pops into her head to tell the story of this alter ego, Crybaby, that she’s created has been executed through her visuals that she’s created herself.
Now, when it comes down to it, the creative aspect and the voice is all well and good. But the real question is the music: is it good? Is it as creative as she is? How is the execution? Well, it’s as mesmerizing as Martinez herself is. She’s the alt-pop architect we didn’t know we needed. If you refer to her as either solely, you’d be incredibly wrong. Her pop influences are very much used to demonstrate irony in her music of the childish feel of each song and the alt influences show off the adult themes within each track, like the Leslie Gore sampled track “Pity Party” and “Tag, You’re It”, where a simple game of tag is truly described as a kidnapping. And one of the major themes in her songs that have garnered her such a cult following is that, not unlike twenty one pilots, there is an essence of honesty about her music. Her lyrics, though dark at times and that also use a free flow of profanity, are relatable. With pop music, it’s nice to have some songs strictly about going out, getting drunk and having an awesome party you might not remember the next day. But Melanie understands that that market of music is so saturated with those songs that she’d rather tell a freaking story, which she does eloquently with each song, but is so furthered by the enticing visuals she’s presented.
If there’s one thing you learn from diving into this album, it’s that Melanie is unique and independent. She’s done this herself. She’s created this character, writes her music, creates her own visuals and tells a story with brutal honesty and with a twist on a sound that is completely her own. She’s a true genre-breaker in that sense, because as I said, you can’t place her anywhere, which once again, sounds a lot like twenty one pilots. And to think that Crybaby is her debut album…needless to say, she’s a got a very bright future for her in this industry, if she continues the way she’s operating. If she goes the route of Meghan Trainor, (refer to my post on that), she will find herself beginning to represent everything she set out against when she released this record.