I am convinced that Baldwin, NY’s Melanie Martinez is a 20 year-old version of me only with the voice of a champion and the courage to dye her hair in ways I’d never be able to pull off. You might remember her from season three of The Voice as she clearly made her mark in the music industry as someone who was going to go off and do her own, better thing regardless of the outcome. Turns out, she did. After the release of her game-changing EP, Dollhouse, last year, Martinez is now ready to unleash her baby into the world. Appropriately titled, Melanie’s whimsical debut, Cry Baby, is the epitome of everything you’ve had building up inside of you since childhood.
Martinez recently stated that she was always teased as a kid for being too emotional so this album was a way to put a somewhat complimentary spin on what it means to be a cry baby. Now she has a platform to express herself as deeply as she pleases. Criticizers beware! As was clearly stated in lead single, “Pity Party,” it’s her damn party and she’ll cry if she wants to. No apologies here.
Martinez is changing the game of pop being that there is literally nobody (that I can recall) doing what she’s doing right now. Coining the term, “carnival pop,” Martinez has a way with words that are displayed as toyish sounds that take you through an eye-opening ride of things that are often kept hush-hush and forbidden while uncovering the darkness in a world of lies. It’s almost reminiscent of Pretty Little Liars meets a Tim Burton version of Toy Story but with more harrowing truths being uncovered. Basically, the album’s disclaimer should read: Ladies and gentlemen – please keep your hands and feet in the ride at all times. If something upsets you, cry it out. If it offends you, sucks for you.
Starting off with title track, “Cry Baby,” we’re given an introductory glimpse into the world of the Cry Baby character, seeing things she sees, and ultimately, feels them. Once “Dollhouse” kicks in, the main notion of the entire album is sung in the chorus, “I see things that nobody else sees,” lifting the veil on all of the lies society and the people around us hide to get by. “Sippy Cup” dives further into that notion, displaying the truth about vices and how your problems will still be there to haunt you once you drain that sippy cup – a thoughtful reminder to start taking control of your life.
EP favorite, “Carousel,” reminds me of my love life, or lack thereof, with lyrics like, “Will I catch up to love? I can never tell,” and “Chasing after you is like a fairy tale but I feel like I’m glued on tight to this carousel.” There’s always that push-pull reaction to wanting someone yet no matter how far we reach, it never seems to come together. “Soap” drowns the ridiculousness of the abiding rules of modern love into a rather rub-a-dub-dubtastic anthem for all of those straight shooters out there who refuse to play everyone’s sick games. Crooning, “I’m sick of all the games I have to play,” Martinez delivers a cleverly blunt commentary on how stupid we are for following society’s dating rules. It seems that if we say what we’re thinking or feeling to someone, we should be ashamed, therefore, let’s erase every honest word we’ve ever said by washing our mouths out with soap. Game over, world. “Alphabet Boy,” however gives a badass sucker punch to everyone who ever said you couldn’t do something because of a lack of knowledge or credentials. I never thought I’d see the day when I’d hear, “Fuck your degree,” in a song before but boy is it sweet!
“Pacify Her” is another bittersweet reminder of an unrequited love I recently had, having to watch him love some of the most repulsive, annoying girls on the planet. “Pacify her. She’s getting on my nerves.” Indeed, Melanie. Indeed.
Ending the ride with “Mad Hatter,” one can’t help but imagine the quirky world of Alice In Wonderland. Stating that she doesn’t care if she’s crazy and that some of the best people are, Martinez finishes off her sass party with a statement of empowerment for those who feel as if they don’t belong.
Cry Baby, in a nutshell, is a whimsical night at the carnival you’ll never forget. It’s a time for self-discovery and throwing yourself that overdue pity party others forbade you from. So eerie, it’s delicious, Cry Baby offers you cotton candy while you watch everyone else evade their feelings. What a freak show. It almost makes you wonder if maybe you’re the normal one after all.
Cry Baby is available now.