Melanie Martinez has carefully written a song that a dead person might sing to their loved ones when they transform, and it’s turned listeners into cry babies. Perhaps a bit darker than the songs on her 2015 album Cry Baby and more introspective than the ones on her second studio album K-12, it really hit a soft spot for most fans. Martinez is truly past cakes and playdates, if you know what I mean.
Teased with a 12-second clip that immediately got conversations rolling, and pictures of Martinez looking alienish, her upcoming album Portals screams transformation.
The lead single “Death” opens with a childlike voice telling us that “Death is life is death is life is death is life is” – a phrase she previously used to describe her upcoming third studio album Portals.
“They’re carvin’ my name in the grave again / The flowers are fresh and their faces wet / My body has died, but I’m still alive” – the song starts by weaving a story of pain, and one that’s painful to the living that lost a loved one and the dead. “Look over your shoulder, I’m back from the dead,” the lyrics continue, as if the ghostly singer is trying to get mourners to stop being sad that their body won’t move again.
Our singing ghost gets a little touchy at being described as “gone this time” and wants them to “take ’em back,” as she adds, “And meet me here across the plane / The other side, I’m not far.”
The pre-chorus sees the dead sing about missing their loved one, “You’re always on my mind, I cannot help it,” but promises that they’ll be meeting the person every time even though death had come and kissed them on the cheek.
This track, more than the movie K-12 ever did, shows Martinez’s powers as an imaginative songwriter, as she weaves a tale of what the dead may want to say if there wasn’t a barrier that separated them from the living. “We’re screamin’ and pleadin’ this separation ends” – the line from the second verse goes hinting at the dead person’s wish to reunite with the living. The outro presents a ray of hope, for the dead at least, as she sings, “we all die one day.”
Produced by Martinez and CJ Baran, the multi-platinum artist’s gentle voice carries us on a journey to a world we can only glimpse when we’re, well, dead.
Even though it’s not accompanied by a music video, the visual released with the audio does a great job of capturing the feeling inspired by the song.
“Death” is a strong start to Martinez’s Portals era and hopefully, it’ll be a crescendo from here on out for the rest of the songs on the 13-track album.