The Reasoning Behind the Lyrics- Cry Baby Album

An inside look on what stories Melanie Martinez tells with her first album.

The Cry Baby album is Melanie Martinezs first debut album, launched in 2015. Her songs tell stories of a Character named Cry Baby, who can be seen sitting on the cloud above.

Atlantic Records

The Cry Baby album is Melanie Martinez’s first debut album, launched in 2015. Her songs tell stories of a Character named ‘Cry Baby’, who can be seen sitting on the cloud above.

Makayla Nason, Photo editor and Entertainment Editor

   Cry Baby is an album about a fantasized character/younger version of the artist, Melanie Martinez, from when she was a very young child. This character, otherwise known as ‘Cry Baby’, is described as “a child who experiences adult things”. Martinez has openly spoken about how a lot of the things that have happened to Cry Baby in the songs, are similar to things she has experienced in her own lifetime (though she has said the song “Tag You’re it” is something she didn’t experience.) The album was originally released in August of 2015, but later gained in popularity after the song “Play Date” was picked up by the Tik Tok community in early May of 2020. Martinez’s fans fawn about how much they can relate to some of the songs in this album, which brings us to the topic of this article, what the real meaning behind the lyrics is. The following songs are listed in the order that they appear on the album.


   Cry Baby- Like all of the songs this album consists of, this one uses the analogy of a baby to explain the meaning of the song.In reality, it is about a person opening up about their feelings and getting teased because of it, hence them getting called a “Cry baby”. The verse, “Cry baby, cry baby, so you laugh through your tears,” is a good representation of the main idea that’s being told. It can also be inferred that the song hints at caring for others too much, and as the song explains it, “You take things so far and then you fall apart,” and “Your heart’s too big for your body, that’s why it won’t fit inside”. Many can relate to this song because it is common to be called weak or a “Cry baby” when opening up about something.


   Dollhouse – This is considered to be one of Martinez’s darker songs, as it touches on a serious topic. The song tells a story about a family that looks perfect in a picture and from an outside perspective, but when the cameras and curtains are closed, the family is far from perfect as they show their true selves. The lyrics hint at things such as affairs, drug use, and being controlled. The lines “Everyone thinks that we’re perfect, please don’t let them look through the curtains,” is a perfect representation of what goes on behind the scenes. Most can relate to wanting a picture perfect family, but as most know, there is no such thing. This theme is essentially the main idea of this song.


   Sippy Cup- It was revealed in an interview that this song is a representation of what happens behind the scenes of the song “Dollhouse”. This song sends a message along the lines of “You can’t hide or change what happened.” While this message has never been confirmed as the main idea, you can gather context clues within the lyrics that support this inference, such as, “He’s still dead when you’re done with the bottle” and “Syrup is still syrup in a sippy cup”. It sends a powerful message to young people who are going through similar situations at home, as they can’t hide the fact that what is happening is real.


   Carousel- This song represents a person chasing a love that they cannot seem to reach, hence the metaphor “Carousel”. We can infer that in this song, Cry Baby is being led on by someone, but is only to be disappointed when the person they are after doesn’t actually care or like them in the same way. Martinez has said herself that this is about being on the same ride as someone you love, and not being able to reach them. We see this in the lyric “Will I catch up to love? I can never tell”. This song is relatable when it comes to teen relationships, because oftentimes the same situation occurs between High School couples more often than not. 


   Alphabet Boy- Much like “Dollhouse” and “Sippy Cup”, this song is a continuation of “Carousel”, as it represents Cry Baby breaking things off with the boy she was originally chasing, calling it her “Break-up song”. As mentioned earlier, this song is about a personal experience that the artist Martinez had at college. She stated in an interview that the boy the song  is about, was in college for music, and he was trying to tell her how to write songs and make music. If you take a close look at the lyrics, they actually almost go in alphabetical order.


   Soap- This song is about being afraid to speak up about something. It’s pretty certain that everyone can relate to this song in some way, due to people being afraid of showing how they feel, and often feeling like they shouldn’t have spoken up. As the song says, “God I wish I never spoke, now I gotta wash my mouth out with soap”. It seems that Cry Baby was trying to tell or explain her feelings to a boy she was dating, but was worried that she said the wrong things, and that she had messed everything up.


   Training Wheels- Taking a relationship to the next step is the main theme and idea of this song. “Training Wheels” was actually the first song that Martinez ever wrote, and it is one of her more ‘happy’ songs. The metaphor “Training wheels” is referring to wanting to take their relationship a step higher than they were at. We can see this in the lyrics “I wanna ride my bike with you, fully undressed, no training wheels left for you, I pull them off for you”. Once more, a lot of younger people can relate to this song, as it is a common feeling in real life relationships. 


   Pity Party- “Pity Party” is based around Cry Baby throwing a party where no one shows up, which ends in an emotional breakdown. The main chorus, “it’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to”, actually comes from the 60’s song “It’s My Party” by Lesley Gore. Martinez was inspired by her song, and decided to revamp it. This story is about Cry Baby inviting all of her friends and even her crush to what seems to be her birthday party, but no one ends up showing, leaving her all to herself. Due to social statuses and typical High School  stereotypes, a lot of young adults can relate to no one showing up when they host an event. This song is also the lead debut of the album.


   Tag You’re It- “Tag You’re It” is probably Martinez’s darkest song, as the story it tells is quite sad and at the same time, talks about a real life problem, but not from her personal experience. The song covers the topic of sexual assault, while using the childhood game “Tag” to portray it. Cry Baby gets kidnapped by the Big Bad wolf, and this track tells the story of how he did it. “Running through the parking lot he chased me and he wouldn’t stop, tag you’re it, tag tag you’re it,” is the main chorus of the song, entailing that the wolf took her while she was alone and was shopping. While this song doesn’t have an exact target audience, it talks about a serious situation that isn’t often heard about in popular songs.


   Milk and Cookies- The sequel to the song “Tag You’re it” is about how Cry Baby escapes the Big Bad wolf. As previously stated, Cry Baby was kidnapped and taken while she was in what seemed to be a store. In this track, Cry Baby makes poisonous cookies, which she then feeds to Big Bad wolf, resulting in his death and her escape. This is kind of the turning point for Cry Baby, as she becomes what some would say, a little insane from all the experiences she’s had. While she’s becoming more insane, she is also learning to be more comfortable with her emotions, and who she is becoming because of said emotions. Much like “Tag You’re it”, this song isn’t exactly targeted at a certain audience, but a way to tell Cry Baby’s story.


   Pacify Her- As mentioned, this is where Cry Baby starts to lose her sanity as she becomes a “homewrecker”. At this point with all she has been through, she doesn’t think that love even exists anymore, therefore not caring. Cry Baby is trying to get a boy single again, though she doesn’t even like the guy. Cry Baby uses the phrase “pacify her” as a way to get the boy’s girlfriend to shut up and go away. She knows that the boy has feelings for her and not his girlfriend, which is why she insists that they breakup. 


   Mrs. Potato Head- “Mrs. Potato Head” is about plastic surgery and the fact that it isn’t worth becoming someone that you’re not. The phrase “pain is beauty” can be heard throughout the song, and the main idea is based around that saying. This is a very powerful message to young people who are trying to look their best by becoming someone or something that they aren’t. Cry Baby is starting to form her own opinions in this song as she begins to grow more comfortable in her own skin, thus the reasoning for the song. 


   Mad Hatter- Cry Baby is accepting who she is and she is not planning on changing anytime soon for any reason. She is embracing the fact that she is crazy, and how she is perfectly fine with that. Martinez has stated that the stuffed animals seen in this music video, represents her closest friends helping her in situations. The message behind this song is to accept yourself for who you are and to embrace your weirdness without any shame. This can be applied to teens and young adults who are easily influenced and persuaded by others around them into becoming something they aren’t. 


   Play Date- The song that made listeners demand for more, is actually not a part of Cry Baby’s story (though it is on the album.) “Play Date” is about Cry Baby feeling like she’s just a friend and nothing more to someone that cares very little about her, though they visit each other frequently. Cry Baby wants to not care about the person and move on, thus the line “I dont give a f*ck about you anyways, whoever said I give a sh*t about you”. She hates how the person never communicates to her and how she has to chase him down to get his attention. While she tries to push away her feelings, we hear at the end of the song that she does in fact care about the person, “don’t wanna leave this playdate with you”. This sense of emotion can be seen throughout the album, and throughout young adults lives, which is why it gained in popularity in May 2020.


   Teddy Bear- The same situation with “Play Date” happens here, as it is not apart of Cry Baby’s story. Though it tells a tale about a Teddy Bear trying to kill her. It could also be about an abusive relationship because of the adult references, but that hasn’t been confirmed. It is speculated that this is the bear the Cry Baby ripped apart in “Mad Hatter”, even though this song was released after “Mad Hatter”. Like said song, this isn’t a part of Cry Baby’s story, but Martinez did get a tattoo of a Teddy Bear since this song was released.


   Cake- “Cake” is also not a part of Cry Baby’s story. This track is a song that uses sweets as metaphors, as seen throughout her albums with songs like “Gingerbread man” and “Strawberry Shortcake”. The story that this song is telling, is about Cry Baby standing up to a toxic relationship that lacks the key ingredient, love. “I’m not a piece of cake, for you to just discard” is the main chorus and theme of this, saying that she won’t be used for her body and that she needs to be appreciated. The very upbeat song sends an amazing message to never be used for someone’s own benefits and that you are worth more than just your body.


   Gingerbread Man-  The final song on the Cry Baby album once more, does not take part in Cry Baby’s story. “Gingerbread man” is a sarcastic story about wanting only the guys who use girls for their bodys. The lyrics “Can’t you see? I only want the ones who never see me” support the sarcastic tone of the song. Cry Baby is looking for a man in this track, but cannot find one that will suit her needs like she is searching for. You could say that the tables have turned when it comes to the theme of this song, because instead of being used for her body, she uses other people. 


   As you can see, by using the character Cry Baby, Martinez has been able to write about serious topics within her songs, while reaching a young adult audience. Martinez’s songs have grown a great majority in the past year after the Tik Tok boom, allowing her to put out new songs that follow the same theme of social awareness. Martinez has released two studio albums, four extended plays, ten singles, two promoted singles, and 26 music videos so far in her career. She also made “K-12 The Movie”, which features all the songs from her album, K-12 that was released September 9th, 2019. Martinez has no plans to stop making music in the future as far as we currently know. This is personally one of my favorite albums of all time, and I definetly reccomend it for others. You can listen to all of the songs listed on Spotify, YouTube, and other music platforms.