4 Important Issues Melanie Martinez’s ‘K-12’ Covers

Following a four-year gap from her debut album, Melanie Martinez burst back onto the scene this September with K-12, an album chronicling her fictional character (Crybaby)’s journey through school. A film of the same name, directed by Melanie herself, incorporating all of the songs from the album accompanied its release and was free to view on YouTube until Oct. 3. Similar to Crybaby, the first album, Melanie didn’t shy away from covering issues that aren’t only important to her, but to most of her audience as well—as difficult to address or as taboo as they may be.

  1. 1. Bullying

    “Wheels on the Bus”: I'm just looking out the window and it's cold outside / There are two boys yelling behind me and I'm terrified / Counting trees as they pass me by

    The album opens with a scenario most listeners can probably reminisce about: sitting on the bus during the first day of school and worrying about everyone around you. Some kids poke fun at you while others act downright wild, so you try everything in your power to ignore them. Luckily for Melanie, she plays a character who possesses demon-like powers and she’s able to stand up to the bullies on the bus by causing bumps on the road and, perhaps more disturbingly, making their hands inflate like balloons.

  2. 2. Eating Disorders

    “Orange Juice”: Shoving clementines and orange bacteria / Down your throat a dozen times or near‚ yeah / Fooling those around of your bulimia

    In K-12, Melanie comforts a classmate who has rushed to the bathroom in the middle of lunch to vomit her lunch into the toilet. As the song and movie go on, Melanie assures her classmate that her “body is only temporary.” Keeping in line with the somewhat gory nature of Melanie’s visuals, she even picks her own eyes out of her sockets and switches them with the classmate’s so that she can see how beautiful she is; this is Melanie’s own way of letting her listeners know that no matter what they may believe, each and every one of them is beautiful in their own way.

  3. 3. Objectification

    “Strawberry Shortcake”: Gotta make sure that my legs are shiny / Hot wax melting, burn my skin / People all around me are watching closely / 'Cause it's how I look and not what I think

    Personally, this was the song that hit home the most. Though I’ve been fortunate enough to have not experienced much of what Melanie is conveying through this song, there’s no question that there are too many other women who have— including people I know. Though so many advances have been made for women in the past century, it seems as though we may never escape objectification of any kind. Quite frankly, this song is Melanie’s middle finger to that notion.

  4. 4. Sexual Predation 

    “Teacher’s Pet”: Caught the teacher giving his eyes to a student / Pouty, pretty cute, and she bit her lip back to him / Chewing on her nails and her pens while she's dreaming of him

    Rather than having an entire song that details an inappropriate relationship between a student and a teacher, Melanie turns matters around; as the song progresses, the girl in the said relationship realizes the advantageous ways of the teacher and lashes out at him. In the movie this sequence ends with Angelita, the girl in this particular scenario, serving self-righteous justice by slaughtering the teacher who nearly defiled her.

With already stated plans to produce another two films, there is no doubt that Melanie Martinez will continue to push the envelope with her directorial and musical visions. And as much as we’re sometimes afraid to admit it, in this modern age, we need that push.

Images: 1, 2, 3, 4