Baby blue and pastel pink, pencil cases and schoolyard fights—Melanie Martinez continues her alter-ego Cry Baby's story in her sophomore album "K-12.” The title character moves away from sippy cups and into school with the big kids.
Martinez continues to pull upon themes of youth to portray mature problems. “Cry Baby,” her first studio album, was a huge success for its intriguing aesthetics and contradictory messages. That album was released four years ago. Martinez has finally returned to the music scene in full force. She went above and beyond, releasing a feature length film as a visual accompaniment.
The film, dubbed the same name as the album, hovers somewhere in the genre between musical and horror.
The sets are absolutely stunning. Cry Baby attends K-12 Sleepaway School, a co-ed institution in a pastel mansion-esque estate. It is trimmed extravagantly in swirling gold accents with high ceilings and vintage decor. With a budget of over $5 million, much of that was allocated to creating stunning displays of wealth and ostentatious design.
Equally stunning are the costumes. “Ah, yes,” Martinez says in her wistful intro, “Off to a world in which girls are to only wear pink dresses and boys blue pants.” And that they do. The costumes are frilly and artistic; Entirely too impractical for real school but perfect for an eccentric visual of Martinez’s music. Interestingly, one can also notice the inclusion of fashions inspired of the 18th and 19th centuries placed within the scenes, like in “The Principal” and “Drama Club,” just to name a couple.
The album also carries an undercurrent of political charge and Martinez chooses to highlight issues such as discrimination and the abuse of power by authorities. Staff within K-12 Sleepaway School are often drug-fueled and influence their students to be much the same by pushing pills and injections onto them. Martinez also shares the perspective of someone with an eating disorder, highlighted in her track “Orange Juice.”
“We all have to learn to love ourselves without the approval of others,” She says. “Everyone is deserving of love. Everyone.”
Cry Baby is emotional, yet strong and shows an admirable amount of empathy for others. She’s softer than those around her but still makes moves to secure her own freedom. It is important to note that the film depicts some images that may be disturbing to some, like drug use and mild gore. Though girly and pastel, K-12 is a powerful look into the complicated feelings that linger between adolescence and adulthood.
Martinez has also confirmed she has more film-type productions in the works that will be companions to future albums at an unknown date.