Melanie Martinez and the Pervasive Boredom of Pop Music

Melanie Martinez
Screengrab from Melanie Martinez’s “Dollhouse” music video.

I’m listening to someone named Melanie Martinez and a stream of her debut album Cry Baby because Vice sounded very enthusiastic about it this morning. With its music box keyboards and toddler themes evident in song names like “Sippy Cup”, “Training Wheels” and “Dollhouse”, it’s like a record a pedophile would get off on which is a bit unnerving as a 36-year old gay man.

You know that Ms. Martinez is edgy because she has a filthy mouth (“They call you cry baby, cry baby/But you don’t fucking care”. “Fuck all your ABCs/I’ll fuck that boy.”) along with her breathy vocal stylings. She has the look that Tina Root knocked down pat in the mid-90s with Switchblade Symphony. The music is a more diluted version of Bjork at the turn of the century.

I guess as pop music goes it’s just fine, but is this inoffensive sanitized mediocrity really what the kids are listening to now? Is this what counts as “youth rebellion”?

I always assumed that as generations progress, music gets more and more offensive. Elvis Presley and his hips were the devil. The Rolling Stones and the Beatles were filth personified. Bob Dylan was a commie. Madonna was (and amazingly enough still is) a slut and a whore. The stuff I grew up on — Nirvana, Nine Inch Nails, Skinny Puppy, PJ Harvey — was noise and garbage. So I was waiting for the day when I could say that the music the kids listen to was garbage and a bunch of noise.

I’m still waiting. Music is dull as shit, and the only way to seem edgy and dangerous is to sell sex. Take all the sheen away from this album, away from Rihanna’s “Bitch Better Have My Money”, you have music that could cure insomnia.

I guess for a 20-year old who became famous for being on a television talent show called “The Voice” a few years ago, this is fine. But as a culture, shouldn’t we expect more? Much like presidents, I guess we get the art we deserve.