Melanie Adele Martinez (born April 28, 1995) is a former contestant on The Voice and a current singer/songwriter specializing in disturbing electropop. Come spring of 2014, she announced that she had signed with Atlantic Records and would be touring soon.
Her popular single "Pity Party" was praised as "mixing the bright and bubbly with the dark and twisted", a review that turned out to be accurate to her debut album as a whole. Appropriately, another of her songs was featured in a promo for American Horror Story: Freak Show after she contacted FX herself.
- Dollhouse EP (2014)
- Cry Baby (2015)
- K-12 (2019)
"Hey, girl, open the walls, play with your tropes":
- 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".
- 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.
- And, of course, there's "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 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- Ambiguous Time Period: The music videos suggest little about the story's timeframe, but what technology we do see is outdated.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 her kidnapping and possible rape at the hands of the Wolf.
- Best Served Cold: "Milk And Cookies" is all about this, directed at a loathed spouse. The revenge in question is poison.
- Be Yourself: "Mad Hatter" is a dark example: things that Cry Baby embraces about herself include her emotional instability and insanity.
- The Big Bad Wolf: Cry Baby's kidnapper, keeping the stranger-danger context in a more modern situation.
- 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. "Dollhouse" is about them.
- Bittersweet Ending: "Mad Hatter," the last song on Cry Baby, confirms that the title character has become broken 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.
- 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...
- Cry Baby's tears come out of a dollhouse in "Cry Baby"'s music video. "Dollhouse" is the next song.
- 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.
- Cannot Spit It Out: The narrator in "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'.
- 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.
- Christmas Episode: While it doesn't really count, it's invoked with "Gingerbread Man", which was released as a Christmas gift to her fans and superficially ties in to the holiday.
- 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".
- 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.
- 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.
- Domestic Abuse:
- Implied about the subject of "Milk And Cookies":The shit behind the curtains that I'm sick of sugarcoatingNext time you're alone, think twice when you grab the phone.
- There's also "Teddy Bear", where the narrator's boyfriend tries to kill her (and persists after they break up).
- Implied about the subject of "Milk And Cookies":
- 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: While Cry Baby's entire story is a downer, the album ends with her insane and unwilling to improve.
- Drowning My Sorrows: Cry Baby's mother.
- "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
- 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 and the effects it can have on them.
- Follow the Bouncing Ball: Done in accordance with the word-and-letters motif in the video for "Alphabet Boy".
- Foreshadowing: At the end of the video for "Training Wheels", 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.
- Fragile Flower: Cry Baby, as her name indicates.
- 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.
- Hotter and Sexier: "Training Wheels" has some more overt sexual tones in its videos and lyrics.
- The "I Love You" Stigma: The topic of "Soap".Should've never said the word "love"
Threw a toaster in the bathtub
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Knife Nut: Cry Baby and her mother both favor knives when dealing violently with their spoiled romance.
- 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: This happens sometimes in the videos. One example is in "Milk and Cookies", with 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. Similarly to Marina Diamandis, she 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 Bittersweet Ending of Cry Baby. She'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:Cry Baby: I'm laughin', I'm cryin', it feels like I'm dyin'...
- Mohs Scale of Lyrical Hardness: Averages somewhere around a 6 thanks to her love for shockingly placed words and angsty, disillusioned lyrics.
- Multicolored Hair: Melanie always has this, with the colors being divided down the middle, with the colors reflecting her music's juxtaposition of the dark and innocent. It's always been like this- the first time she dyed her hair, she went half-and-half because she liked the way Cruella de Vil wore it.
- 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.
- Odango Hair: Melanie sports it on the cover of the "Cry Baby" album, and as a fashion doll in "Dollhouse"'s video.
- Older Than They Look: Despite the fact that Martinez is an adult woman, she can easily pass for a preadolescent, or someone in their early teens.
- 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".
- Professional Killer: It's implied Cry Baby's father might be one in "Sippy Cup".
- Blood money, blood moneyHow did you afford this ring that I love, honey?He doesn't think I'm that fuckin' dumb, does he?
- 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".
- Shout-Out: "Mad Hatter" relies heavily on some quotes from the Tim Burton Alice movie.
- Silly Love Songs: Melanie admits that "Training Wheels" is the only true love song on her debut album.
- Soap Punishment: "Soap" is about this, but used for different purposes. 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 differently. Prince is essentially second place to queen, which Cry Baby would be calling herself.
- 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).
- Subverted Innocence: The whole concept of "Cry Baby", which presents dark adult situations through childish visuals and music.
- "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" refers to denial, with the titular line referring to alcohol.
- "Carousel" is used to describe a relationship that isn't moving forward, but going around and 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 more of the same, 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 objectification in the aforementioned encounters, with the singer denying her boyfriend's apparent view of her as "a piece of cake [for you] 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.
- Subverted Kids Show: Her music is pretty much Subverted Kids Music. The tunes are childish, lullaby-eque pop songs, but the lyrics cover dark subjects and sometimes contain harsh language.
- 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. (The deluxe-album songs are not part of Cry Baby's story, per Word of God.)
- 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
- Troubling Unchildlike Behavior: Due to her neglectful and unhappy childhood, Cry Baby shows a proficiency in spelling profanities with her "alphabet toys".
- Tsundere: Cry Baby in "Play Date" shows shades of this towards her lover:
- Whoever said I give a shit 'bout you?You never share your toys or communicateGuess I'm just a playdate to you.
- She reveals by the end that she does have some hope in the relationship after all.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: The narrator of "Carousel" bemoans being stuck not quite with someone she loves.
- This horse is too slowWe're always this closeAlmost, almost
- 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..."
- Who Names Their Kid "Dude"?: Subverted or justified in this case, as it was Cry Baby's brother who wrote her name on the birth certificate (in response to his mother's complaining about the noise), not her mother.
- Yandere: 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.
Gave you lovePut my heart inside youOh, what could I do?
- "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.
- Your Cheating Heart:
- In "Dollhouse" Cry Baby's dad is having an affair. Her mother is aware of it, which drives her to drink.
- "Pacify Her" is presented as the POV of a woman dating a cheating man, but it could be about a Clingy Jealous Girl refusing to let go of a relationship that's fallen apart and moved on. This is supported by the video, where the new girlfriend has done nothing wrong, and Cry Baby is portrayed as an awkward and psychotic third wheel.
- This is invoked as a consequence of plastic surgery- the man urges the woman to undergo surgery to improve her appearance, but when it predictably reduces her beauty, he goes with another woman.