Melanie Martinez’s New Film Climbs To Number One On YouTube

Melanie Martinez Releases Second Album With Feature Film

Melanie Martinezs newest album and feature film K-12 was released on September 6th. (Photo courtesy of Atlantic Records)

Jimmy Fontaine

Melanie Martinez’s newest album and feature film “K-12” was released on September 6th. (Photo courtesy of Atlantic Records)

Joshua Piper, Staff Writer

After a two year break, Melanie Martinez announced a musical feature film containing her newest album “K-12”. What resulted was a sinister pop musical describing the twisted and sometimes upsetting side of education. Crybaby (played by Martinez) and her best friend Angelita (played by Emma Harvey) are taken to a private school, named K-12, where they plan to stop the injustice at the school with the help of their bewitching abilities.

The track itself is a highlight of the album and quickly appeared on my playlist due to it’s childish and light backing track. It opens the album well and sets the scene for a pretty good movie.  

— Joshua Piper


While the acting isn’t always compelling, the music and beauty of the film is. The first track “Wheels on the Bus” brings the listener back to any rambunctious high school bus drive. However, Martinez portrays this ride from the view of the innocent teen, Crybaby, just trying to survive the ride. Crybaby describes the many inappropriate activities going on, the bus driver’s sick enjoyment, and his refusal to stop the situation. While Crybaby criticizes this, she understands her hypocrisy as she doesn’t act on the situation either. The track itself is a highlight of the album and quickly appeared on my playlist due to it’s childish and light backing track. It opens the album well and sets the scene for a pretty good movie.  

Movie aside, “Class Fight” follows. As the second track it is somewhat forgettable when going back to the album, yet has become a favorite of mine. Still, the picture painted by the song and shown in the movie illustrate the classic schoolyard fight. “The Principal” is an attempt to capitalize on the mean principal stereotype, but instead conveys the artist’s idea that there is a huge power imbalance from student to principal. The stereotype doesn’t stand well either as Martinez attempts to use it as a metaphor for political issues today. While the film does help carry the narrative of this song, I found this to be the weakest track.

“Show and Tell” is a marionette themed song that Martinez uses to explain her dedication to her fans who control her life in many ways. She describes the idolization of celebrities with a weak metaphor connecting it to the classic childhood activity. Although the metaphor isn’t compelling, the song itself sets itself apart from the others as one of the most catchy songs on the album. “Nurse’s Office” follows and could remind listeners of Billie Eilish’s use of random objects for sound effects. Martiniez tries to use sound in a satirical way. The technique works for some of the song, but many sounds are destined to make the listener cringe.

The next song “Drama Club” I found to be one of the best tracks in the film. It makes the most contextual sense, and out of context Martinez’s emphasizes her rebellion against being a shallow artist. She uses the song to push her listeners to delve into her songs past her childish persona.“Strawberry Shortcake” describes the annoyance she has with the concept of dress codes and other issues related to wearing anything remotely revealing. She describes the ridiculousness of rules, social or dress codes, as it places blame on women for wearing something they enjoy wearing rather than placing it on men who choose to be disrespectful. Message aside the song doesn’t seem well executed and became one I would tend to skip. Again, just like “The Principal” the film carries the song’s message a bit better.

“Lunchbox Friends” was my favorite off the album other than “Wheels On the Bus” as both felt the most separate from her previous works. The song discusses the implications of having fake friends who use the relationship for their own convenience, and how real friends are not manipulative toward each other. Overall, a simple yet cute message, but well handled when put in the context of school. Most people who have experienced these kinds of friends will understand the feeling Martinez expresses with its distorted pop chorus and simple storytelling lyrics. The next track “Orange Juice” handles the message of body dysmorphia in an interesting way that reminds the listener everyone has flaws and wanting to look like someone else will only result in unhappiness. The same distorted pop chorus shows up again, but in a more unsettling key. The movie pushes this notion further and ends with a scene of kindness in the wild cruelty of the school, K-12. 

The track just sounds cruel in a way, and that is what makes it so captivating.

— Joshua Piper

The next song “Detention” begins with a weird beat that is uncomfortable, yet intriguing to listen to. While it isn’t my favorite in the film, it is enjoyable to listen to on the album for the interesting beat. The message in the context of the film is about the teachers who seem to not care about their students. In the film, Crybaby tries to express the unfairness of putting work into one’s education for a teacher to not care. She conveys her annoyance with the system as she believes students are rendered powerless to their educators. The scene soon takes a turn as “Teacher’s Pet” describes a romantic relationship between a student and teacher. The song starts with this peculiar buzzing noise until the beat starts up and the listener is thrown into this story. The film captures this song perfectly, and leaves that image in the listener’s head when they listen to this twisted love story gone wrong. Crybaby explains that the student knows what they are doing and deep down know the consequences, but displays the teacher as a manipulative, cruel person. The track just sounds cruel in a way, and that is what makes it so captivating. It achieves the same feat “Drama Club” does as it works in and out of context of the film. Still, the full experience of watching it is truly outstanding.

“High School Sweethearts” starts off slow, but this change in the pace doesn’t exactly make the beginning redeemable. However, when the song picks up it is on of the best on the album as Martinez states she knows how difficult she is in a relationship. She discusses the idea that she is not going to waste time on people who aren’t her type when she says,”High school sweethearts, line up. Not trying to waste my time. High school sweethearts, shut up if you’re not my type”. Overall, the song is clever and truly worth a listen if one can get past the beginning. “Recess” is the last track on the album. This song is slower and emphasizes Martinez’s message of sometimes people need to take a break and rest. The song recognizes that people, especially in the music industry, are replaceable.Yet even the most hard working artists need to take a break sometimes. In terms of the music, I found this song’s slow, soft feel to be better executed than the dragging beginning of “High School Sweethearts”. 

“K-12” the film is very well executed a majority of the time and will keep you watching until the very end. Even though the acting isn’t always amazing the overall spectacle of the film itself has plenty of the charm you would expect from one of Martinez’s music videos. As an album “K-12” has many songs that illustrate the growth in her sound. While some songs don’t always strike the right chord, the album is very enjoyable to listen to. I do think watching the film will cause the listener to have a deeper appreciation for the album. I think high school students will find some songs like “Wheels On The Bus” and “Lunchbox Friends” somewhat relatable. Overall, “K-12” is interesting as, in my opinion, it is better than “Crybaby”. By creating a film to accompany the album, Martinez is able to define her sound in a unique way, both visually and audibly.


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