Cry Baby is the 2015 debut album of indie singer Melanie Martinez, fresh off the The Voice. The album, an eerie electrop explores dark themes in the life of a sensitive young girl, Cry Baby. It was ranked at #153 on the Billboard 200.
It is the first installment of the Cry Baby Universe. It is followed by the 2019 film K12.
- "Cry Baby"
- "Sippy Cup"
- "Alphabet Boy"
- "Training Wheels"
- "Pity Party"
- "Tag, You're It"
- "Milk And Cookies"
- "Pacify Her"
- "Mrs. Potato Head"
- "Mad Hatter"
"So what if I'm troping? The best people are":
- Abusive Parents: Cry Baby suffers from a more passive case of this. Her mother can't handle her husband's infidelity, so she kills him and drugs Cry Baby so she'll forget she saw anything, and she and her brother's issues are completely ignored.
- Added Alliterative Appeal: The verses of "Alphabet Boy" use alliteration for the letters A, B, C, and D in sequential lines. This is lampshaded in the prechorus, which starts with "I know my ABCs".
- Album Title Drop: The first song is titled "Cry Baby" and drops the title many times.
- The Alcoholic: The mother in "Dollhouse", and the main theme of "Sippy Cup".
- Alice Allusion:
- Cry Baby in the titular music video floods her room with her own tears.
- "Mad Hatter", which isn't just named after the Mad Hatter character but references other elements from Alice in Wonderland.
- All Love Is Unrequited: "Carousel" is about this. When the relationship does happen, it falls apart due to the guy's bragging ("Alphabet Boy").
- All Men Are Perverts: Well, a lot of them are, anyway. Cry Baby's dad is a cheating sleazeball, her crush in "Pacify Her" is easily led back to his strained relationship at the sight of boobs, and the Wolf who kidnaps her has an odd fascination with her beyond the threat of killing her. There's also Mrs. Potato Head's lover, who only likes her based on how attractive he finds her and moves onto a hotter girl when her surgery is botched.
- All of the Other Reindeer: "Cry Baby" tells the story of a sensitive girl (loosely modeled after young Melanie) trying to rise above her bullies.
- Ambiguous Innocence: Cry Baby is a concept album based around the idea of presenting complex adult situations through the lens and metaphor of childhood, so naturally it's chock-full of this.
- Ambiguous Time Period: The music videos suggest little about the story's timeframe, but what technology we do see is outdated.
- Ax-Crazy: In the music video for "Sippy Cup", Cry Baby's mother ties her husband and his mistress to chairs and stabs them to death with a kitchen knife.
- Baby Talk: Used in "Alphabet Boy", with phonetic "A" and "B" sounds being chanted in the interludes, and some simplified sentences in the first verse.
- Bad Humor Truck: Cry Baby gets kidnapped by a wolf, who just so happens to also be an ice cream man.
- Being Tortured Makes You Evil: Cry Baby's personality takes a much darker turn after she gets kidnapped by the Wolf.
- Best Served Cold: "Milk And Cookies" is all about this, directed at a loathed spouse. The revenge in question is poison.
- Big Anime Eyes: In the music videos for "Soap", "Training Wheels", and "Pacify Her", Cry Baby displays unnaturally wet and large eyes when she's interested in a boy. The first two videos have her do it when she's wondering what to do about her relationship with Johnny; and in the latter song, she gives the Blue Boy a wide-eyed stare as she's expecting him to come play with her.
- The Big Bad Wolf: Cry Baby's kidnapper, keeping the stranger-danger context in a more modern situation.
- Big Damn Heroes: The huge, frightening pastel plush animal "friends" of Cry Baby rescuing her from the blow-up mannequins.
- Big, Screwed-Up Family: Cry Baby has one. Her mom is a murderous alcoholic, her dad has a mistress (and is implied to be a Professional Killer), her older brother does drugs, and Cry Baby herself has issues that only get worse later. They also go out of their way to appear normal and happy. "Dollhouse" and "Sippy Cup" are about them.
- Bittersweet Ending: "Mad Hatter," the last song on Cry Baby, shows that the title character has become broken and gone insane by the end of the album. However, she's come to terms with how emotional, unstable, and imperfect she is, and wouldn't have it any other way.
- Body Horror: Alluded to in "Mrs. Potato Head" to illustrate the negative side of plastic surgery.Does a new face come with a warranty?Do you swear you'll stay forever, even when her face don't stay together?
- Book Ends: "Cry Baby" and "Mad Hatter" have the same beat and song structure, and both have their own self-acceptance themes pertaining to Cry Baby's life. Also, "Cry Baby" uses Alice Allusion in the video, and "Mad Hatter" is full of those in the lyrics.
- Break the Cutie: By the time the album ends, Cry Baby's gone from a sad but quiet girl to one who has severe body image issues, took pills either to get thinner or to balance her mental health, can't hold onto a romantic relationship for long, and got kidnapped.
- Breather Episode: "Alphabet Boy" and "Training Wheels" are considerably lighter than the rest of the songs on the album.
- Call-Back: "Milk and Cookies" references "Dollhouse".Dollhouse: Please don't let them look through the curtains.Milk and Cookies: The shit behind the curtain that I'm sick of sugarcoating...
- Call-Forward: Cry Baby's tears come out of a dollhouse in the music video for "Cry Baby" (released in 2016). "Dollhouse" (MV in 2014) is the next song.
- Chekhov's Gun: The cashier in "Tag, You're It" gives Cry Baby a bottle of poison, which she uses to kill the Wolf in the next song/video.
- Cheshire Cat Grin: Cry Baby's mother gives a terrifying one just before murdering her husband and his mistress.
- Cigarette of Anxiety: After Cry Baby throws a tantrum over no one showing up to her birthday party, she sits in the trashed and burnt remains smoking a cigarette for the (chronological) first time in the music videos. She is also shown smoking in the beginning of "Mad Hatter".
- Concept Album: Cry Baby tells a story of the titular heroine: growing up in a Big, Screwed-Up Family and being bullied, having unhappy relationships and lonely life, being kidnapped and escaping the kidnapper, losing her sanity.
- The Conscience: The singer of "Sippy Cup", explaining Cry Baby's mother's flaws to her and disdaining her course of action, which is strengthened by shots of Cry Baby as an angel.
- Continuity Nod: The beginning of the video for "Tag, You're It" shows Cry Baby throwing out what appears to be party decorations, referencing the previous song "Pity Party".
- Crapsaccharine World: Cry Baby's world has a genuinely pleasing aesthetic of pastels, retro accents, and is reminiscent of a quaint dollhouse. However, almost everyone in it beyond Cry Baby herself (at least until the very end) ranges from ambiguously creepy (the Rabbit Doctor, the masked carnival people, the Nurse and Cashier) to selfish ad abusive (Cry Baby's parents) to outright evil (the Wolf) with no therapists or police or anyone to help poor Cry Baby with her issues.
- Creepy Circus Music: Unsurprisingly featured in "Carousel".
- Creepy Doll: Naturally a part of the "Dollhouse" video, with Melanie dressed as a more traditional doll (and some shots of her as a fashion doll in its packaging) and the idealized family moving and acting like dolls. The dolls in "Mad Hatter" also give off this vibe but especially the little girl doll winding the music box at the beginning, who has a fixed, plastic doll face on top of a body that looks and moves like a normal human's.
- Creepy Dollhouse: As the name of "Dollhouse" implies, this is the case with the music video and most of the songs, although it's actually used to represent a Stepford Smiler family.
- Creepy Good:
- The Bunny Doctor, who appears in the videos for "Cry Baby," "Mrs. Potato Head," and "Mad Hatter," is, well, a doctor wearing a creepy bunny mask. Other than a surreal sequence symbolizing Cry Baby's birth (where he uses her mother's pregnant stomach as a pinata), and botching Mrs. Potato Head's surgery, he seems like a normal doctor doing his job otherwise.
- The Nurse in "Cry Baby" and the Cashier in "Tag, You're It" for some reason have Black Eyes of Evil. However, both are helpful characters; the Nurse seems sympathetic to the life Cry Baby is clearly about to live, and the Cashier is the one to give her the melatonin. Both characters reappear in "Mad Hatter," and Cry Baby gets the same eyes at the end. It's unclear what exactly it means.
- "Mad Hatter" gives us a group of four gigantic animal dolls (specifically, antique Rushtons), who act jerkily enough that they're sometimes compared to the animatronics from Five Nights at Freddy's. They are also shown stabbing a group of mannequin people to death. However, they are meant to represent Melanie's closest friends who have accepted her for who she is. In fact, the stabbing scene is them saving Cry Baby.
- Crying at Your Birthday Party: "Pity Party", which interpolates Lesley Gore's "It's My Party," is about Cry Baby having a One-Person Birthday Party despite her best efforts to invite many guests. She doesn't take it well at all.I'll cry until the candles burn down this placeI'll cry until my pity party's in flames
- Domestic Abuse: "Teddy Bear", where the narrator's boyfriend tries to kill her (and persists after they break up).
- Double Feature: The videos for "Soap" and "Training Wheels", and "Tag, You're It" and "Milk and Cookies" were released as double features, since they encompass mini-plotlines in the overarching story.
- Downer Ending: The in-universe story of Mrs. Potato Head ends with the titular character learning her lover immediately moved onto another woman once he learns her surgery was a dud. She's left with a ruined face, alone in her house, left to wonder why she even allowed the whole surgery to happen. Cry Baby is only a little better, learning not to change herself like Mrs. Potato Head did and throwing away her wig and bra-filling tissues.
- Drowning My Sorrows: Cry Baby's mother gets drunk to cope with her husband's infidelity and, later, with murdering him and his mistress.
- "Dollhouse".When you turn your back she pulls out a flask
And forgets his infidelity
- The topic of "Sippy Cup".He's still dead when you're done with the bottle
- Early-Installment Weirdness: "Cry Baby", the first song of the album, starts in second person, then switches to first person near the end, and the rest of the album's songs (as well as K12) are sung from Cry Baby's perspective.
- Easter Egg: The breakdown section of "Teddy Bear" is the earlier line "I didn't outgrow you" repeated in reverse.
- Fashion Hurts: "Mrs. Potato Head" is about people who are addicted to plastic surgery; the song graphically describes the effects it can have on them: "They stick pins in you like a vegetable," "pain is beauty," "Baby soft skin turns into leather," "Do you swear you'll stay forever? / Even if her face don't stay together," "little girls are learning how to cut and paste / And pucker up their lips until they suffocate..."
- Friendless Background: "Cry Baby" ("You're all on your own / And you lost all your friends") and "Pity Party," where no one comes to her birthday party.
- Follow the Bouncing Ball: Done in accordance with the word-and-letters motif in the video for "Alphabet Boy".
- In "Dollhouse", Cry Baby warns about "what goes down in the kitchen". "Sippy Cup" reveals that it's the murder of her father and his mistress.
- "Training Wheels" has a couple:
- Johnny's relationship with Cry Baby is seen as him learning how to ride a bike. In one major scene, him falling off the bike and getting hurt is compared to him dealing with Cry Baby's tantrums, and not liking it. Come the end of the video, and he's well and truly gone once he learns how to properly ride.
- At the end of the video, the most optimistic song of the album, Cry Baby's boyfriend disappears just before she can kiss him. The next song is his passive breakup with her by not attending her birthday celebration.
- Fun with Palindromes: A musical variant in "Carousel". The main riff of the song is the same forwards and reversed to emphasize the cyclical nature of the situation.
- Happy Ending: The only one in the Cry Baby saga is at the end of the "Mrs. Potato Head" video, where Cry Baby realizes how wrong advertised beauty standards are.
- I Ate WHAT?!: This imminent reaction is invoked in "Milk and Cookies".Do you like my cookies?They're made just for youA little bit of sugarWith lots of poison, too
- The "I Love You" Stigma: "Soap"."Soap" was written about my current boyfriend when we were first talking. I felt too scared to say how I felt about him and thought if I told him it would be like throwing a toaster in his bath. So I washed my mouth out with soap. I think anyone really can relate to this song. I'm sure there was a time in everyone's life where they felt too scared to say how they felt so they 'washed their mouth out with soap'.
- I Am What I Am: "Mad Hatter" is a dark example: things that Cry Baby embraces about herself include her emotional instability and insanity.
- I Have Boobs, You Must Obey!: The girlfriend in "Pacify Her", once she realizes she could lose her boyfriend to Cry Baby for real, steps in between them and undoes her top for the Blue Boy. He immediately stops coming to Cry Baby, and the fractured pair leave Cry Baby's crib arm-in-arm.
- Informed Attribute: Done deliberately with the video for "Pacify Her", where none of Cry Baby's complaints about her ex's new girlfriend are true, as she is in denial about her relationship status.
- Innocence Lost: The shots of Cry Baby as an angel in "Sippy Cup" are supposed to represent the death of her innocence after seeing the dead bodies of her father and his mistress, then being drugged so that she thinks it's a bad dream.
- Intercourse with You: "Training Wheels" has some more overt sexual tones in its videos and lyrics.
- Internalized Categorism: "Cry Baby" has this vibe: she tries and fails to hold back her Tender Tears, gets ostracized and bullied, tries to convince herself that she doesn't care, but keeps crying because of her loneliness and makes herself laugh through her tears.
- Ironic Echo: Done visually in the video for "Alphabet Boy". Toward the beginning of the song, Cry Baby is seen under a towering refrigerator, but by the end, she's seen sitting on a tiny fridge.
- Ironic Nursery Tune:
- "Milk and Cookies" has Melanie counting before verses, with the following verse rhyming with the numbers ("1,2/Melatonin's coming for you"), like a twisted version of "I, 2, Buckle My Shoe." The first verse also uses the phrase "Hush litle baby". The same song also has an allusion to "Ring Around the Rosie," a nursery rhyme that in and of itself is dark. ("Ashes, Ashes, time to go down...")
- "Tag, You're It" twists "Eenie Meenie Minie Mo" to refer to capturing women.
- Killer Teddy Bear: While it's clear that the song is talking about a person, "Teddy Bear" presents the murderous once-boyfriend in this way.
- Lipstick Mark: There is one on the father's neck in the "Dollhouse" video, marking his infidelity.
- Letting the Air out of the Band: Done for tragic effect at the end of "Tag, You're It", where the BGM breaks down and falls apart.
- Literal Metaphor: In "Milk and Cookies", the line "Next time you're alone, think fast when you grab the phone". In the context of a marriage, it's a warning against cheating, but in the "canon" kidnapping context, it's shown that the Wolf's phone call distracts him from the surveillance TV, and causes him to miss the poisoning of his cookies.
- Lyrical Dissonance: Another recurring theme in her music. Melanie has a talent for mixing catchy tunes with chilling lyrics. Special mention goes to "Dollhouse", a bright, music-box song about a broken home.
- Lyrics/Video Mismatch: The video for "Tag, You're It" contains none of the pursuit and violence in the lyrics; instead it shows Cry Baby at the grocery store while the Wolf waits for her and gives her drugged ice cream to capture her.
- Lysistrata Gambit: "Cake" mentions this as a solution to the singer's objectification.I'm not a piece of cakeFor you to just discardWhile you walk awayWith the frosting of my heartSo I'm taking backWhat's mine, you'll missThe slice of heaven that I gave to you last night
- The Mad Hatter: "Mad Hatter", the album's Bittersweet Ending. Cry Baby's gone crazy, but she's come to terms with how emotional, unstable, and imperfect she is and enjoys her insanity.Tell you a secret, I'm not alarmed
So what if I'm crazy? The best people are
- Madness Mantra: The chorus of "Pity Party", and the breakdown:I'm laughin', I'm cryin', it feels like I'm dyin'...
- Murder Ballad: "Milk And Cookies" is about killing Cry Baby's kidnapper in the context of her story, and killing an unfaithful/abusive spouse in its own context.
- Ode to Family: "Dollhouse" is about a family of Stepford Smilers where the parents are trying to keep up a Happy Marriage Charade. By the Sequel Song "Sippy Cup", the mother has killed her husband and his mistress.
- Ominous Music Box Tune: The beginning of "Mad Hatter" and "Pacify Her", and used in "Dollhouse".
- One-Person Birthday Party: "Pity Party" takes this trope on, using it to depict a deceptively sweet and youthful girl left alone on her birthday. Her attempts to ignore her own loneliness throughout the song show her slipping into a dark psychosis. In the context of the story, Cry Baby's boyfriend essentially dumps her by not attending, and she soon finds him with another girl in "Pacify Her".
- Parenting the Husband: In "Milk and Cookies", the singer sarcastically compares her despised boyfriend/husband to a crying baby, telling him to "drink his spoiled milk" and threatens to "sing him a lullaby where he dies at the end".
- Professional Killer: It's implied Cry Baby's father might be one in "Sippy Cup".Blood money, blood money
How did you afford this ring that I love, honey?
"Just another shift at the drug company"
He doesn't think I'm that fuckin' dumb, does he?
- Prone to Tears: She is called Cry Baby for crying often.
- Protagonist Title: Cry Baby is the heroine's name. It is her actual name.
- Protest Song: "Mrs. Potato Head" tears into plastic surgery and advertised beauty standards in general.
- Sampling: "Pity Party" samples Lesley Gore's hit, "It's My Party", which also discusses a birthday gone wrong.
- Sanity Slippage Song:
- Heavily implied in "Pity Party".It's my party, and I'll cry if I want to, cry if I want to, cry, cry, cryI'll cry until the candles burn down this place,I'll cry until my pity party's in flames.
- Cry Baby as a whole is a sanity slippage album. The protagonist starts as a depressed Stepford Smiler, goes through breakups, kidnapping and torture and ends up becoming The Mad Hatter.
- Heavily implied in "Pity Party".
- Silly Love Songs: Melanie admits that "Training Wheels" is the only true love song on her debut album.
- Soap Punishment: "Guess I better wash my mouth out with soap." Cry Baby gives herself this punishment because she keeps saying she loves a guy, but she's not sure if their relationship is actually getting anywhere.
- Spelling Song: "Dollhouse".D-O-L-L-H-O-U-S-E
I see things that nobody else sees
- Stalker with a Crush: The narrator's love interest in "Teddy Bear" may be this, but perhaps not for long. Cry Baby herself is like this in "Pacify Her", trying to wedge herself into a relationship that's run its course. It's implied the Wolf might be this, or at least has an inappropriate interest in Cry Baby; "Tag, You're It" mentions that he'd been watching her for a while, and that he's captivated by the sound of her breathing. Melanie also made it a point to mention that since she was single at that point in the album "wolves are now on the prowl."
- Stealth Insult: In "Alphabet Boy", Cry Baby calls the subject "the prince of the playground". While it initially sounds sarcastic, the constantly demeaning tone of the song implies that Cry Baby views herself as a "queen" and the love interest as someone with a lower rank.
- Stepford Smiler:
- Cry Baby's entire family, as seen in "Dollhouse". The video shows that anyone who gets a glimpse of the truth is forced to play along with the lie.
- The next song, "Sippy Cup", continues on the theme, with guilt and denial playing a part in the act after the father's murder.
- Stepford Suburbia: Cry Baby is implied to live in one, especially given the suburb-like town depicted on the cover of the Cry Baby album (that Melanie is flooding with her tears).
- Subdued Section: Inverted in "Tag, You're It". Most of it is sung in dissonantly calm manner, and only in the second to last chorus, she sounds as frenzied as the lyric would imply.
- Subverted Kids' Show: The whole concept of "Cry Baby", which presents dark adult situations through childish visuals and music. The tunes are childish, lullaby-esque pop songs, but the lyrics cover dark subjects and sometimes contain harsh language.
- "Cry Baby" is about a troubled girl compared to an infant.
- "Dollhouse" is about a screwed-up family putting on a front of perfection.
- "Sippy Cup" is about denial, and the "cup" contains alcohol.
- "Carousel" is about a relationship that is going around in circles.
- "Alphabet Boy" is about a love interest whose academic ego led to friction.
- "Soap" uses the soap punishment to relate to feelings of anxiety and regret about moving a relationship forward.
- "Training Wheels" is about taking off the training wheels and going all-in on a relationship.
- "Pity Party" is about loneliness and instability on a larger scale than a forgotten birthday.
- "Tag, You're It" compares a kidnapping to a game of tag.
- The titular "Milk and Cookies" are poisonous.
- "Pacify Her" compares a pacifier to kind words that may be false.
- "Mrs. Potato Head" references the mentality of plastic-surgery addicts, who want to do anything to their bodies.
- "Mad Hatter" twists Wonderland to relate to real insanity.
- "Play Date" refers to casual sexual encounters that the bitter singer wishes would turn into a meaningful relationship.
- "Cake" is about being objectified in a relationship i.e. being treated as "a piece of cake [for the lover] to just discard".
- "Teddy Bear" refers to a relationship that was built up and put together with a lot of effort, which has turned sour by her boyfriend's Yandere tendencies.
- Take That!: "Mrs. Potato Head" to plastic surgery and those who feel it is necessary for beauty.Sexual, hey girl if you wanna feel sexual
You can always call up a professional, they stick pins in you, like a vegetable.
- Tearful Smile: "Cry Baby".I laugh through my tears
- Tender Tears: Cry Baby is a very sensitive girl.You seem to replace your brain with your heart
You take things so hard and then you fall apart
You try to explain but before you can start
Those cry baby tears come out of the dark
- 13 Is Unlucky: "Cry Baby" is a tragic story, and there are thirteen songs (Though the deluxe-album songs are not part of Cry Baby's story, per Word Of God).
- Til Murder Do Us Part: In the music video for "Sippy Cup", Cry Baby's mother stabs her father and his mistress to death after catching them cheating, then drugs Cry Baby so she won't remember witnessing it.
- Tranquil Fury: "Milk and Cookies", thanks to Lyrical Dissonance, gives off this vibe. She calmly sings:Ashes, ashes, time to go down
Ooh-ooh, honey, do you want me now?
Can't take it anymore, need to put you to bed
Sing you a lullaby where you die at the end
- Trauma Conga Line: Cry Baby's story. She grows up in a broken home, gets bullied, witnesses her mother murdering her father and his mistress, goes through bad relationships, suffers from constant loneliness, and finally gets kidnapped. Little wonder she loses her sanity in the end.
- Tricked to Death: In "Milk and Cookies", Cry Baby feeds the titular cookies that contain "a little bit of sugar with lots of poison" to the wolf.
- Troubling Unchildlike Behavior: Due to her neglectful and unhappy childhood, Cry Baby shows a proficiency in spelling profanities with her "alphabet toys".
- Tsundere: The narrator of "Play Date." First, she denies her lover means anything to her. Then, she reveals she cares after all and has some hope their relationship will work.
- Tsun:Whoever said I give a shit 'bout you?You never share your toys or communicateGuess I'm just a playdate to you.
- Dere:You know I give a fuck about you every dayI guess it's time I tell you the truthIf I share my toys, will you let me stay?Don't wanna leave this play date with you
- Unresolved Sexual Tension: In "Carousel," Cry Baby bemoans being stuck not quite with someone she loves.This horse is too slow
We're always this close
- Vague Age: Cry Baby. In the music videos, she's played by Melanie herself (who's an adult), but illustrations of the character gives her the appearance of a child. There's no indication of her age in the songs themselves (especially given their subject matter), and the music videos have Melanie (and her love interest in "Training Wheels") dressing like kids. Then again, that could be the whole point.
- Wicked Heart Symbol: Hearts and broken hearts are a prominent motif in the Cry Baby interactive storybook, possibly representing her romantic entanglements and futile search for love. Notably, "Carousel" contains the lines:Why'd you steal my cotton candy heart?
You threw it in this damn coin slot
And now I'm riding, riding, riding...
- Widow's Weeds: Suggested in "Milk and Cookies" as to what the singer will do after her despised husband is dead.9, 10, never want to see you again
11, 12, I pull off black so well
The shit behind the curtain that I'm sick of sugarcoatin'
Next time when you're alone, think fast when you grab the phone
- Who Names Their Kid "Dude"?: Cry Baby is the heroine's actual name, written on her birth certificate, as shown in one of the videos. Her brother wrote it in response to their mother's complaining about her newborn child being a, well, crybaby.
- Cry Baby in "Pacify Her". While it's suggested that they never officially broke up, her boyfriend has moved on to someone else in Cry Baby's absence, and she can't accept it, claiming that he doesn't love her and is just lying with his compliments.
- "Teddy Bear" is about how the narrator's boyfriend tries to kill her. What's more, he starts stalking her after she breaks up with him, implying that he really wants her dead. However, the song suggests that at some point he's a Stalker Without A Crush, returning no love to the singer.Gave you love
Put my heart inside you
Oh, what could I do?