Essential Listening: Melanie Martinez – Crybaby

Essential Listening - pic

By Karine Moore


Melanie Martinez’s debut album Crybaby had been two years in the making before it was finally released on August 14 2015 and all the hard work definitely pays off in this album. The quirky album design immediately shows this is not your average run-of-the-mill music, oh no. What makes Crybaby a unique album I hear you ask? It comes from both its concept and the execution of that concept. The album utilises childish ideas and themes in order to talk about harrowing adult issues; it’s a dichotomy I just cannot get enough of.

Crybaby makes for essential listening because the album should be heard by a larger audience. Melanie Martinez’s Spotify statistics page indicates that the vast majority of her listeners come from the US, with all top five ‘Where people listen’ spaces occupied by Americans. Honestly, I find that disheartening; her musical talent is concrete and I think we should recognize that here in the UK as well. Martinez’s musical talent is on par with other alternative female vocalists like Halsey, who also released a successful debut album in 2015. Whilst Martinez’s voice is alternative, her music is described as ‘singer/songwriter pop’ and ‘electronic’, so it remains accessible to a wider audience. A baby-themed album which talks about horrible adult concepts will always tend to sound weird the first time you hear it, it certainly did to me, but this accessibility helps to sell the concept.

The songs on the album are as individually sound as they are standing together. Each song is titled after a childish concept and then inverted to allow a much darker theme to creep through. My personal favourites from the album are: “Teddy Bear”, a song about a relationship that soon goes dangerously sour; and “Mrs. Potato Head”, which looks at the nature of plastic surgery and the subconscious acceptance of this by young girls. Then there is of course my personal super-favourite (yes that is a real thing): “Tag, You’re It”, which is a song about rape culture and honestly it still hits me just as hard when I listen to it now. I actually get goosebumps.

These heavy ideas may have put you off listening to the album but I would beg you to hear me out. The beauty of this album is not that just these horrible ideas repeatedly hitting you over the head until you finish listening to it, now thoroughly depressed. Instead, the songs are totally enjoyable in their own right without the listener ever attempting to look for a deeper meaning or trying to understand the concept of the album. However, if you feel so inclined, you can decipher the lyrics and listen to the message Martinez is trying to get out, which for me is half the fun. Overall the album is a unique concept which is well executed, and serves not only as a great alternative electric pop album, but also as a means to start a discussion.


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