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  • Karlee Skipper

Review: "DEATH" - Melanie Martinez

Melanie Martinez is not only an immensely talented singer, but also a creative storyteller that uses her art to express a range of different emotions and narratives. She is known for her spooky aesthetics and gloomy lyrics, so it comes as no surprise that her latest single is entitled, “DEATH”. In the track, Martinez explores the delicate intricacies of life and the inevitable end to it. The song follows a “spirit who has returned from the dead and is struggling to connect with the living.” This spirit is meant to represent her alter-ego, Crybaby, who has been found throughout her previous projects. She even posted a cryptic photo in early February 2023 of a mushroom stem with the words “RIP CRYBABY” carved into it, which was later featured in the corresponding music video. The song kicks off with Martinez speaking with a spine-chilling voice effect: “Death is life, is death, is life, is death, is life, is.” This is meant to symbolize that death is a constant loop that no one can escape—we are all born and we are all destined to die. From here, Martinez starts the first verse with the lyrics. “They’re carvin’ my name in the grave again// The flowers are fresh and their faces wet// My body has died, but I’m alive// Look over your shoulder, I’m back from the dead.” These lyrics allude to her alter-ego’s death, while her fans continue to mourn the loss of the Crybaby era. In the chorus, she continually repeats the statement: “I’m back from the dead.” She is telling her fans that, after her three-year hiatus, she is now reborn but as this new persona. Then in the pre-chorus, she sings the clever lines: “Immortal by design//I’ll be meetin’ you here every time.” With these lyrics, she is reassuring her loyal fans that regardless of the many years that pass and the different characters she adopts, she will always come back for them. Throughout the track, she uses hauntingly poetic lyrics to depict this unique metaphor that describes her new era of music. “DEATH” is a brilliantly written track that is the perfect introduction to her upcoming album and any subsequent projects.

“DEATH” upholds Martinez’s characteristic, mysterious, aesthetic, utilizing morbid themes and otherworldly imagery. The song begins with an eerie background track that consists of subtle wind and nature sounds, with Martinez talking while using a voice effect. The voice mimics the sound of a young girl, relating back to her former persona, Crybaby. The song then transitions into a heartbeat, that speeds up and then goes out of sync, signifying the end of a life. Once Martinez begins singing the verse, the production transitions into the guitar that guides the listener through the dark lyrics. There is a slow modulating synth sound in the background, making the production hit the listener in waves. This effect is used regularly throughout the track. When the pre-chorus hits, the production introduces the violin and cello, providing an additional component to the track. Furthermore, the tempo begins to pick up and the emotion behind the vocals intensifies. When the chorus hits, the listener is blown away by the sudden change in the track. The beat drops, providing a catchy synth production that contradicts the soothing verse. Before the second verse, there is an intense synth solo that utilizes unique vocal sound effects that provide an agonizing element to the emotions. This further enhances the powerful meaning behind the song, and showcases Martinez’s unmistakable ability to stand out amongst her peers. When the second verse appears, the guitar is gone and replaced by the bass and drum beat. Additionally, there is a very subtle synth heard in the background. In the second pre-chorus, the production provides a unique dynamic to the track. It is based in layered vocals with significant sound effects. At first, the music is muted, drawing focus on the vocals before switching to the electric guitar and bass that strengthens the anticipation of the beat drop. The synth production is reintroduced with the violin and cello, before the track explodes into the drum powered chorus. When the bridge hits, the chorus is still playing in the background, providing a unique layer to the production. The song ends with the haunting vocals whispering “I’m back,” and the background of the track providing ominous sounds of Martinez, perhaps even Crybaby, running away while out of breath. With “DEATH”, Martinez fully encapsulates her message of rebranding her beloved persona into a new character that fans will adore even more.

The ethereal imagery utilized throughout “DEATH” is exemplified immaculately within the corresponding music video. The visual begins with the camera slowly rising from the grave, showing five animalistic characters overlooking it. Once the eerie intro finishes and the heartbeat begins, the video switches to the five characters placing flowers around the grave, as the camera focuses on the mushroom stem that has “RIP CRYBABY” engraved in it. This sets the unsettling atmosphere that remains constant throughout the video. When Martinez begins singing, she is shown as her Crybaby persona, buried six-feet under in the dirt. As the camera pans out, the audience notices she is wearing a dress worn multiple times throughout her previous eras. Furthermore, there is a gaping hole in her chest where her heart should be. This indicates that Crybaby is dead, and her heart is no longer with her. After a couple shots, Martinez’s new character, found on the album art, is seen slowly emerging from this hole. The two personas are seen attached to each other with an umbilical cord. This imagery continues periodically throughout the video, representing the rebirth from one persona to another. Toward the end of the video, the “cord” that is tying the two characters together finally rips apart, allowing the new persona to entirely break free and be its own person. As the video continues, her new character is shown surrounded by the five animal characters that were mourning her. This perhaps represents the fans that miss Crybaby, but are now fully supporting Martinez’s new persona. Later in the video, the new character is seen standing over Crybaby’s body with several swords pierced into her chest, implying that she is the one who killed Crybaby and is now taking over her role. At the end, the grave is shown to be completely filled, finally completing Crybaby’s burial. The new character erupts from the dirt, signifying that Crybaby is now laid to rest, but Martinez is free from the grave—she is “back from the dead.” The music video is filled with an abundance of easter eggs and meticulous details that require audiences to watch it multiple times to fully process everything in it. “DEATH” is a complex track between the lyrics, production, and visuals, further showcasing Martinez’s unmistakable creative talent.

Melanie Martinez is an American singer-songwriter from Queens. Her music career kicked off in 2012 when she competed on the third season of the singing competition, The Voice. After the show ended, Martinez began focusing on her independent music career. In February 2013, she released her debut single, “Dollhouse”. Later that year, she signed with Atlantic Records and released her debut EP, Dollhouse. Over the years, her following grew steadily as more listeners became intrigued by her eerie aesthetics and mesmerizing vocals. In 2015, she released her debut full album, Cry Baby. The album became an instant fan favorite and later garnered massive attention from the general public in 2020. The album re-entered the Billboard 200 after the track, “Play Date”, blew up on TikTok and earned a 2x RIAA Platinum certification. The album has over 3.5 billion streams worldwide and every track earned a Gold certification or higher. In 2019, she released her sophomore album, K-12, which debuted at #3 on the Billboard 200 Chart, #1 on the Billboard Alternative Album Chart, #1 on the Billboard Soundtrack Chart, and a nomination for “Top Soundtrack” at the 2020 Billboard Music Awards. Along with the album, Martinez wrote, directed, and co-wardrobe designed a 90-minute movie that encompasses the album’s themes. On the day of release, it was the sixth highest grossing film in the United States. In fall 2020, she released her EP, After School. Her third full length album, Portals, is set for release on March 31, 2023. Martinez has shared teasers on all social media platforms that now have 115 Million views, proving the loyalty and patience of her millions of fans.

Written By Karlee Skipper



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