Melanie Martinez is a 24-year-old singer who made her first public appearance on The Voice in 2012. Her debut album “Cry Baby” came out in 2015 to positive reviews and a dedicated fan following. Her album went platinum in 2017, and 11 out of the 13 songs went certified gold or platinum from RIAA. Her songs appeared in promos for Pretty Little Liars and American Horror Story: Freak Show.
K-12 is a visual concept album that continues the childlike themes from the previous album. Rather than focusing solely on the Cry Baby character, the album focuses on her environment. As Martinez described it, “You’re not learning about her, you’re learning about the place that she’s in and her perspective.”
Paired with the album is a film of the same name. K-12 is a surreal dark comedy musical which follows Cry Baby as she enters, as she puts it, “the worst years of [her] life.” Faced with bullies, cruel teachers and patriarchal mind control, Cry Baby fights the system with her good friends and an angelic spirit guide by her side.
The music production is more polished than her Cry Baby album. The composition is intricate, and Melanie utilizes sound effects to best emphasize the theme of each song. The lyrics are not subtle in their storytelling. Despite the lyrics being on-the-nose, Melanie has no qualms tack-ling heavy subjects like sexual assault and eating disorders. Some standouts on the album are “Wheels On The Bus,” “The Principal,” “Nurse’s Office,” and “Orange Juice.”
Watch the “K-12” film below.
The production value of the film is astounding. The choreography and cinematography are amazing. The set and costumes are meticulously designed. Each scene is lush with details which complement the story.
The acting is pretty good for this type of film. It is nothing spectacular, but it is fitting for the script this film was given. There are some line deliveries that were bad, but those moments are few and far between.
K-12 is not a film in the traditional sense. It is essentially 90 minutes of music videos with segments interspersed between each musical sequence. As a result, the film lacks cohesion in its
story. The plot does not flow like a conventional film. While that is a good thing in some areas, it is very lacking in the storytelling.
The film was originally meant to be three hours long, but it was cut down to an hour and a half due to budget constraints. This explains why there is a lack of weight to the character’s actions. Things happen in succession without consequence, and it feels very jumbled in its execution.
K-12 does not have the same caliber of Purple Rain or The Wall, but it succeeds in the same vein as a visual concept album and film. The album is a well-structured story that tells of a dysfunctional school system, and the film is a gorgeous testament to Melanie Martinez’s vision. Melanie states she has her next two album and corresponding movies planned out, and I will greatly anticipate each of her projects in the coming years.
Listen to Melanie Martinez’ “K-12” below.