ARTICLE BY DEANNA MILLER, JOURNALISM STUDENT
Alternative singer and songwriter Melanie Martinez is most commonly known for her debut album, Cry Baby, which came out in 2015. Her half-and-half dyed hair and retro-styled clothing compliment her colorful indie music that portrays the life of a character named Cry Baby. After four years, she returned with a new album and movie in 2019; K-12, which can be found on YouTube.
The movie is from the perspective of Cry Baby who is attending a sleepaway school. But, this is no ordinary school. We follow Cry Baby through her day at K-12 and along the way meet new characters and are introduced to real-world problems through symbolism in her songs. This school is set on reforming the children, and harshly punishing them if they disobey. The song, “Drama Club,” entails the student body being brain-washed through the play. This song expresses how the students are no longer their own person and have masked their own identity and feelings with a script written by a higher authority. Each song is suited to the characters’ trauma and conflicts, which many adolescent girls find themselves relating to.
Melanie Martinez wrote the song, “Show & Tell” to express her feelings and share her experiences being a popular artist. She describes how she is “on display” and a “product of society.” In the chorus she sings, “I’m just like you, you’re like me; imperfect and human are we.” This song symbolizes her career and the expectations people have, how fans want more and more when she cannot always provide. It’s about the fact that at the end of the day, celebrities are still human and can only give so much. At the end of the song, the lyrics are drowned out and faded in the instrumental as she sings, “Why can’t you ... hear me?” In this line, she communicates how her concerns and opinions are never taken into account.
“Orange Juice” has another heavy topic; eating disorders. In this scene in the movie, Cry Baby has a friend with bulimia. “You turn oranges to orange juice” refers to solid food turning into liquid by throwing it up. Eating disorders affect many teens and are fatally harmful to their health. This song shines light on the many people suffering from this and sends a very important message through the lyrics, “Your body is imperfectly perfect, everyone wants what the other one’s working; no more orange juice.” Melanie’s music allows for thousands to feel seen and heard, and that they are not alone.
Lyrical genius Melanie Martinez uses imagery and catchy beats to paint an honest picture of the real-world. The smooth flow of the lyrics convey meaningful messages throughout every song as she touches the hearts of millions of fans worldwide. K-12 is both informative and entertaining, and overall definitely worth checking out.