Melanie Martinez Celebrates 'Cry Baby' Chart Success, Looks Ahead To Elaborate Album/Film Project
“The whole experience of putting out this record has been really magical," Martinez says of her debut album.
On this week’s Billboard 200 albums chart, Melanie Martinez’s debut LP Cry Baby comes in at No. 153. More notably, the album celebrates its 104th straight week on the chart, a two-year run without ever slipping off the tally. The fact that the album -- which has not produced a Billboard Hot 100-charting song -- has persisted on the albums chart following its August 2015 release is a testament to the connection Martinez has developed with her listeners.
“I can’t believe it’s been two years -- it’s really surreal,” Martinez tells Billboard. “The whole experience of putting out this record has been really magical, and the people that I’ve met are really special."
The 22-year-old also recognizes how rare it is to release a debut pop album with no radio hits and still sell an impressive amount of copies. Instead of relying on hooks designed for Top 40, Martinez has found an audience by combining dark alt-pop, vulnerable storytelling and a penchant for striking audio-visual ideas (each song on the album has received a video treatment). Her committed aesthetic has helped Cry Baby, a concept album about the perils of growing up, grow from 40,000 equivalent album units in its first week of release -- good enough for a No. 6 debut on the Billboard 200 -- to 1 million units to date, according to Nielsen Music, with 388,000 in traditional album sales.
“My whole mission in general, ever since I was fourteen, was to write music that would help people heal,” Martinez explains. “Music is like therapy for me, so I wanted to do that for other people or be that for other people. I’m just grateful that it’s resonating with that many people. I could not be more grateful, really.”
Martinez also isn’t finished with Cry Baby just yet: a video for the album’s final song, “Mad Hatter,” was put together three weeks ago, and Martinez describes it as “the finale” of her debut album. “It’s a lot of CGI animation stuff,” she says, “so right now they’re working on the effects and hopefully I’ll be able to put that out by end of September.”
Meanwhile, Martinez is deep into her sophomore album, saying that her standard track list is being mastered and that she’s finishing up the bonus tracks now. But the music is only one part of Martinez’s next audio-visual experience: instead of releasing a new video every few months (as she did with Cry Baby), Martinez will release a feature film to accompany her second project, a musical that weaves all of her new songs into a storyline.
“It’s all of the videos together of the next record, all thirteen, with dialogue and whatnot in between connecting all of them together. and I’m directing it and writing it and styling it and doing the makeup,” Martinez explains. “The film is really a huge priority of mine, because it’s really important to me that people can truly understand the sentiment and the story when they hear the record for the first time, and I really want people to be able to follow along properly. … I have such a clear vision in my head, but it’s always about the execution. I’m a perfectionist, and even if something comes out great, it’s still not perfect, you know?”
While Martinez can’t share any details of the movie, the album and the story that connects the two, she does confirm that the concept will be reflected in her live show as well. “It’s basically going to be similar to the way a ballet is set up, with an intermission and stuff,” she says. “There’s going to be a lot of choreography. For the first time I’m doing choreography, which is also something I have to work on -- you know, exercising and eating right, all that stuff. I have to stop eating so much grilled cheese and chocolate chip cookies* and start really working on everything!”
Because she’s been so busy wrapping up her first album cycle and poring over her second one, Martinez says that she hasn’t had the time or energy for social media; in fact, she doesn’t have Twitter or Instagram on her phone anymore. “I don’t think I’ve posted in like three months,” she says with a laugh. And because she’s so focused, Martinez didn’t realize the two-year anniversary of Cry Baby was approaching until her manager reminded her.
“It’s just been an insane journey so far,” she says, “and [I’m] just working on growing every day and really finishing up this next record, so that I can go back out on the road and do it all over again.”
*Correction: This article originally quoted Melanie Martinez saying "sausage and cookies," which was incorrect.