Melanie Martinez Mixes Music, Movies and the Macabre With 'K-12'
Singer directs her first feature-length film, detailing the education of her fictional alter ego, Crybaby
Music and movies — beautifully strange movies — have always gone hand-in-hand for Melanie Martinez, whose feature directorial debut, “K-12,” will have a one-day-only theatrical engagement on Wednesday ahead of its worldwide streaming launch Friday.
Martinez was 16 when she debuted in 2012 on NBC’s “The Voice” with a downbeat acoustic cover of Britney Spears’ “Toxic.” The next year she launched an Indiegogo campaign to film her first music video, for her first single, “Dollhouse.”
The next year, she signed to Atlantic Records, which released her debut EP, “Dollhouse,” from which the song “Carousel” was used for an “American Horror Story” Season 4 promo. This was followed in 2016 by her debut LP “Crybaby.” Through it all, she kept pitching ideas for videos, and her label trusted her to direct them.
That led to 13 videos in total chronicling the life of Crybaby, a young, childlike character who is an alternately cute and macabre mirror image of Martinez, who plays the character. Crybaby is also the star of her new feature film and album of the same name, “K-12,” which chronicles Crybaby’s school years at a pastel pink boarding school in the clouds, where she stumbles through a series of childhood and adolescent disasters.
“I think it’s really hard for any major label to trust an artist who says ‘I wanna direct’ …and they really trusted me,” Martinez told TheWrap. “They could tell that I was really passionate, so they were super supportive.”
Not that it was easy for Martinez, now 24. “Shooting the film was so stressful for me… my call time was like three a.m. I was getting out of bed at like two-thirty, trying to make it there by three, just to get hair and makeup and I had to get my full arms just airbrushed.”
She made a point of airbrushing her many tattoos, which are cartoonish, childlike and comically morbid, because Crybaby is meant to be more innocent than she is.
“I really wanted to show the difference between me as a person and Crybaby as a character. I wanted to keep that very separate,” she said.
What was the hardest part?
“Stepping into my own confidence, and stepping into that role of being a director, and not letting people step on my toes, and sticking up for myself on set… those are huge things for me,” Martinez says.
“Now I’m finally able to release a feature film into the world, which is so crazy to me, I can’t even believe that it’s real.”
Watch the full exclusive video above.
“K-12” will have a one-day theatrical release Wednesday. The album is out Friday.
11 Best 'American Idol' Performances of All Time (Videos)
- Arguably the most successful “Idol” alum, Carrie Underwood has come a long way since winning Season 4, and her performance of Heart’s “Alone” was an early look at the power and confidence that would define her career in the years to come.
- Candice Glover stunned the “Idol” judges and audience with her rendition of The Cure’s “Lovesong” on Season 12. Showcasing vocals more headline-worthy than the season’s Nicki Minaj-Mariah Carey feud, Glover sealed her fate as the eventual winner.
- Adam Lambert’s impressive cover of Tears for Fears’ “Mad World” cemented his status as Season 8’s obvious frontrunner, making it all the more shocking when Kris Allen walked away victorious.
- The natural star power that helped Kelly Clarkson’s career skyrocket after winning Season 1 was never more apparent than when she killed her performance of Aretha Franklin’s “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman.”
- Though she was eventually bested by Phillip Phillips, Jessica Sanchez ruled the “Idol” stage with a voice beyond her young years. Never was that more true than in her commanding Season 11 performance of the “Dreamgirls” torch song, “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going.”
- By the penultimate episode of Season 8, Kris Allen seemed like a long-shot to make it to the finale. But by putting his own spin on Kanye West’s “Heartless,” Allen won over fans and came out on top, besting frontrunner Lambert.
- Though no one could have predicted that Jennifer Hudson would go on to win an Oscar, when the Season 3 contestant easily nailed Elton John’s “Circle of Life,” it was apparent that she was destined for greater than her eventual seventh-place finish.
- Former back-up singer Melinda Doolittle didn’t win Season 6, but her early performances, including a stellar rendition of Ella Fitzgerald’s “My Funny Valentine,” proved she had the refined talent of a seasoned pro.
- Fantasia Barrino’s performance of “Summertime” is such an iconic moment in “Idol’s” 15-season run that the show brought the Season 3 winner back to perform the Ella Fitzgerald song on its farewell season.
- Pint-sized powerhouse Haley Reinhart delivered a couple amazing performances during her run on Season 10, but her flawless cover of The Animal’s “House of the Rising Sun” cover is what best cements the third-place finisher’s status as the season’s obvious standout.
- In the Final 2 episode of Season 11, Phillip Phillips debuted his soon-to-be ubiquitous (thanks to the 2012 Summer Olympics) single “Home.” The stirring performance won Phillips the crown and made him a household name.
From Kelly Clarkson’s Aretha Franklin cover to Adam Lambert’s take on Tears for Fears, we look back at highlights from the show’s 15 seasons on Fox ahead of its ABC reboot
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