Why We Need to Be Talking about Melanie Martinez
Why We Need to Be Talking About Melanie Martinez
by Kat Chapman
Melanie Martinez was scheduled to play The Marquee Theatre on Sunday, February 28; unfortunately, she has a kidney infection and has to reschedule not only this date but several others. I was really looking forward to seeing her because, first off, I haven’t been to a concert in months, which is way too long. But also because her music is actually really important—not just to me as ordinary music is—but the themes she writes about are really important.
Her debut album Cry Baby peaked at #6 on the Billboard 200 and topped Billboard’s alternative albums chart; it received rave reviews from critics and fans alike. Cry Baby is a character, and the album tells her story. Martinez writes her lyrics in such perfect metaphor and pairs it with electronic and often eerie music. The following songs have some of the strongest themes and I think we need to be talking about them.
Dollhouse & Sippy Cup
These two go together in that they both address having a messed up family life. The former talks about how crazy her family is but they hide it within the walls of their home. The latter talks about how her mother can’t hide or erase the crazy things she’s done to try and make her messed up family better. These almost open the door for conversation about not having a perfect family. Standout lyrics from each include, respectfully, “Everyone thinks that we’re perfect // Please don’t let them look through the curtains” and “All the makeup in the world, won’t make you less insecure”
This is about throwing caution to the wind when it comes to relationships and removing the training wheels but not being afraid to fall. A lot of pop songs talk about love but not really in this way. I think it’s a cool way of being more realistic when it comes to love: you can’t wait around for the perfect time. You just have to try and try until it works, even if that means getting hurt. Standout lyrics include “Wanna ride my bike with you // Fully undressed, no training wheels left for you”
Tag, You’re It
This song is one of the darker songs on the album and the entire album is pretty dark already. This one is basically a story of sexual assault. I don’t think I need to elaborate any further on the matter; however, Martinez perfectly manipulates her own voice to imitate that of her abuser. Standout lyrics include “He chased me and he wouldn’t stop // Tag, you’re it, tag, tag, you’re it // Grabbed my hand and pushed me down”
Mrs. Potato Head
This one addresses plastic surgery. She approaches it from a couple different angles, most notably questioning if Mr. Potato Head would still be with her even if she’s no longer beautiful. She also brings up how easy it has become for people to drastically change their appearance in order to be liked or to fit in. Standout lyrics include “Don’t be dramatic it’s only some plastic // No one will love you if you’re unattractive”
Similar to “Tag, You’re It,” this song is also pretty dark. It tells the story of domestic abuse. Again, I don’t think that needs elaboration. Standout lyrics include “Teddy bear, you were my teddy bear // You were comforting and quiet // How did love become so violent?”