K-12
Melanie Martinez is coming back strong in “K-12” with Crybaby, just four years after the release of her first album. (Illustration by Rachel Glucksman, Rhode Island School of Design)

Melanie Martinez is a singer and songwriter who got her start on the popular show, “The Voice,” and since then has made a name for herself with her original music. Her first album, “Crybaby,” which she released in 2015, saw huge success as it climbed to No. 6 on the Billboard 200. Martinez, now 24 and having garnered millions of fans, is about to release her second album alongside a film that explains the narrative behind each song. The new album and film are both called “K-12,” and they’re set to come out September 6.

Martinez has dropped multiple teasers and song clips, so here is what to expect from her upcoming album and film.

The Album

In May, Martinez posted the “K-12” album cover on her Instagram and started answering fans’ questions about it on her Instagram story. So far, we know that “K-12” will have 13 songs, there will be a tour to support it and the sound and themes are even darker than they were in her first album.

 

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💘K-12 ALBUM COVER💘

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“K-12” will revolve around the character of Crybaby, just like her first album did. While Martinez’s first album focused more on Crybaby’s home life and the difficulties she faced as a young child, “K-12” seems to follow Crybaby while she attends high school and grows into a teenager, and how she deals with the struggles she’ll inevitably encounter.

Martinez has released multiple snippets of songs from “K-12”, including part of a song called “Lunchbox Friends” and a song that plays over a teaser for her film. The lyrics for the latter are, “Take me home, give me that pink slip of permission. This is awful, I’m tired of wishing I was ditching.”

The Film

Martinez posted the first teaser for her film to Instagram on May 15, and the caption reads, “When the bell rings, you must be in your assigned seat.” This phrase got fans really excited because Martinez had been hinting at a film since 2017, but hadn’t yet given an exact release date. Shortly after releasing this teaser, Martinez on May 29 finally posted the date the film and album would be out: September 6. Someone asked on her Instagram story why that date specifically, and Martinez answered “back to school!”

The teasers show different situations that Crybaby experiences while in school. One has Crybaby with her friend smoking a cigarette outside of school and talking about who they were to each other in past lives. In another teaser, Crybaby is walking with her friends and realizes one of them has just gotten her period. The clothing and scenery, as Martinez has said, is set in the Victorian era. She designed all the clothes herself and came up with each character’s astrological sign to help with characterization.

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📚✏️📓🍎

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Martinez also dropped a big teaser on the MTV Movie and TV Awards for “K-12”. A lot happens in it, from a pastel classroom where Crybaby is tied to a desk to a pink bus crashing and sinking deep underwater. Martinez confirmed she wrote and directed the entire movie along with the album, and she “can’t wait till you all see/hear what I’ve been workin’ real hard on the past three years!” 

Apparently the film will be a musical, which makes sense, with choreographed dancing. All 13 songs on the album will also be in the film. The only dancing spotted in the teasers are what appears to be a school dance, and Martinez told a fan who asked if there would be dancing that there definitely would be. The film is essentially like a long music video. It will be an hour and a half long and released all at once, not in separate parts.

Changing Sound 

The songs on “Crybaby” are dark, cynical reflections of growing up, masked by childlike, lullaby sounds. Martinez writes her lyrics like beautiful poetry, and by no means uses only childlike language in her songs. Her songs off “Crybaby,” like “Dollhouse”, “Sippy Cup” and “Soap,” all have words children may use, but the writing and story contain adult content. Martinez contrasts childish themes with the darker, much more adult situations many children must go through.

“K-12” seems to be a departure from “Crybaby” in that it will be a more grown and polished sound, and Martinez said the songs all fit together more thematically. The horror and surreal aspect that “Crybaby” had is definitely coming back full force with “K-12,” and probably even more so. Judging from the teasers of the film and snippets of songs Martinez has released so far, “K-12” will certainly not disappoint fans who want to see more of Crybaby and the many trials she faces at school.

For example, the snippet of the song “Lunchbox Friends” features doll-like people milling around in a lunchbox, and one of them is repeatedly hitting her head on the table in a puddle of what could be blood or ketchup. Martinez is not afraid to lay on the terrifying surrealism and stark commentary regarding reality as we know it. If “K-12” is even darker than “Crybaby” like Martinez has hinted, fans can rest assured they’ll have their dose of epic, horror-tinged secondary school.

 

Martinez’s fans, also known as Crybabies, have eagerly been awaiting her return since her first album in 2015. She’s been hinting at a new album and movie sporadically on her social media since 2017, so everyone is beyond ready. Because she’s worked very hard on the film and album, it’s hard to imagine fans being disappointed. The teasers and snippets of Martinez’s work have been impressive so far, and millions of Crybabies, including myself, can’t wait to see and listen to the finished product.

 

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