Melanie Adele Martinez (born April 28, 1995) is an American singer and songwriter. Born in Astoria, Queens, and raised in Baldwin, New York, she subsequently rose to prominence in 2012 after appearing on the American television vocal talent show The Voice. Following the show, she released her debut single titled "Dollhouse". Signing to Atlantic Records, she released her debut EP, also named Dollhouse (2014). Martinez later released her debut studio album, Cry Baby (2015).
The album went on to be certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) in February 2017. Martinez's songs "Sippy Cup", "Mad Hatter", "Mrs. Potato Head", "Cry Baby", "Pacify Her" and "Soap" all songs featured on Cry Baby, were all certified gold in the U.S by RIAA, and her songs "Dollhouse" and "Pity Party" received platinum certification from RIAA.
2012: MSG Varsity Talent Show and The Voice
In 2012, during her junior year of high school, Martinez participated in the MSG Varsity Talent Show, a televised talent competition. She sang The Beatles' rendition of "Money (That's What I Want)" by Barrett Strong and "Shake Me, Wake Me (When It's Over)" by The Four Tops. She was eliminated in the second round.
Later in 2012, Martinez auditioned for the third season of The Voice. She had not watched the show herself prior to the audition. The initial, untelevised audition was an open call, held at Javits Center. She recalls that while she and her mother were driving to the audition, her mother's car broke down before they reached the Midtown Tunnel, and the two were forced to "hitchhike" a taxicab in order to get there. Several months after the initial audition, while at Roosevelt Field Mall, Martinez received word that she had advanced to the "second round". She then received multiple callbacks until she was finally selected to audition on the show itself.
Martinez auditioned singing Britney Spears's "Toxic". Three of the four judges, Adam Levine, Cee Lo Green and Blake Shelton, hit the "I Want You" button for her. Martinez chose Adam Levine to be her coach.
In the Battle Round, Martinez competed against Caitlin Michele. They performed a duet of the Ellie Goulding song "Lights". Martinez won and moved on to the Knockout Round. Michele was stolen by Cee Lo Green and also moved on. In the Knockout Round, Martinez was paired with Sam James. She chose to sing La Roux's "Bulletproof". Levine eliminated James, and Martinez moved on to the Live Rounds as one of the five remaining members of Team Adam. In week one of the Live Rounds, Martinez sang "Hit the Road Jack". Public vote saved Team Adam members Amanda Brown and Bryan Keith.
Levine then chose Martinez over Loren Allred and Joselyn Rivera to remain in the competition. In week three, Martinez's performance of "Seven Nation Army" finished the voting period at #10 on the iTunes Top 200 Single Chart, causing her iTunes votes to be multiplied by ten. This occurred again in week four, when "Too Close" ended the voting period at #6. Martinez was eliminated by audience vote in week five, along with the fellow Team Adam member Amanda Brown, leaving Levine with no artists. In response, Martinez said, "I never expected to get this far and this is beyond what I've ever dreamed of. I'm just so glad I got to express who I am as an artist and really touch people's hearts because that was the ultimate goal."
2013–2014: Dollhouse EP
After the show, Martinez began working independently on original material, and claims to have spent the majority of 2013 writing said material. She released her debut single, "Dollhouse", on February 9, 2014.
She later compared the song's story to Edward Scissorhands, saying "[It's] the perfect home with the perfect lawn and they all look the same. But behind each house there's a screwed up group of people who are hiding behind wealth and perfection." Martinez also released a music video for the track, which was fan-funded by an Indiegogo page created by Martinez, and hair, makeup, and shooting were all done by friends of hers. The video's set was based on a dollhouse that Martinez designed and furnished herself, which was also used in the video itself. The song was produced and cowritten by NYC songwriting duo Kinetics & One Love.
On April 7, 2014, Martinez signed to Atlantic Records and announced she would tour. She released her debut EP, Dollhouse, on May 19, 2014. The album, she said, was inspired by toy sounds. Martinez's single from the EP, "Carousel", was also certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), and featured in a preview for FX's miniseries American Horror Story: Freak Show. Martinez wrote the song before having heard about the theme of the fourth season of the show, and when informed, had her manager pitch the track to the show's producers a year before the promo aired. She was informed they would feature the song in a promo for the show two days before its release. The song reached number nine on the Alternative Digital Songs chart. A video for the track was also released.
2015–Present: Cry Baby
On June 1, 2015, Martinez released the single "Pity Party", which was certified gold by the RIAA, and the chorus of which samples Lesley Gore's "It's My Party". On July 10, 2015, Martinez released the album's second single "Soap". The official music video has over thirty million views on YouTube. It reached number twelve on the Alternative Digital Songs chart, and number sixteen on the Pop Digital Songs chart. "Sippy Cup" followed on July 31, followed by the album fourteen days later. Cry Baby was released on August 14, 2015, to critical acclaim.
The album debuted at number 6 on the Billboard 200. Martinez released a Christmas-themed single, "Gingerbread Man", in December 2015. She initially released the song on SoundCloud on December 21, 2015 as a "gift for her fans", but later released the track on iTunes on January 29, 2016 as a single. The music video of her song "Cry Baby" was released on March 14, 2016. It was inspired by the 1988 film Alice. The karaoke-style music video for "Alphabet Boy", which Martinez directed, was released on June 2, 2016. Martinez has released double feature videos for "Soap" and "Training Wheels" together, as well as "Tag, You're It" and "Milk and Cookies."
Martinez has finished recording her second album, describing it as the stories of characters living in Cry Baby's neighborhood. In October 2016, she released a commercial for her fragrance called Cry Baby Perfume Milk, adding that the "idea for this perfume has been cultivating in my brain since the moment I finished writing my album." It will be directly distributed by Martinez's record label, Atlantic, making them the first record label to distribute a fragrance. In November 2016, Martinez released her second EP, Cry Baby's Extra Clutter, a physical vinyl release of the bonus tracks from Cry Baby as well as Martinez's single, "Gingerbread Man". She released the music video for her song "Pacify Her" followed in December 2016 by a video for "Mrs. Potato Head". The video for "Mad Hatter" was released September 23, 2017.
Martinez has cited the Beatles, Neutral Milk Hotel, Feist, Kimbra, Zooey Deschanel, Regina Spektor, and CocoRosie as influences of hers. Specific albums which have influenced her music include The Idler Wheel... by Fiona Apple and Ariana Grande's albums Yours Truly and My Everything.
She attributes the "heavy hip-hop influence" in her music to her father playing hip-hop music in the family's house often during her childhood. Martinez cites Mark Ryden, Aleksandra Waliszewska and Nicoletta Ceccoli as her favorite visual artists, saying that they've influenced the visuals in her music videos.
She named Tim Burton as a large influence of hers, and has said that to make a movie with him would be her "one dream".