By Laura Lipcsei
Peculiar, otherworldly, captivating; all words used to describe Melanie Martinez’s new album, PORTALS. Her album uses a variety of quirky sounds, all working together to create a masterpiece despite each song’s differentiation. I will be ranking them from my favorite to least favorite, and describing each song’s meaning as well as my personal interpretation of them.
1st: “BATTLE OF THE LARYNX”
With intense instrumental and powerful vocals, “BATTLE OF THE LARYNX” exudes the chaos of an argument and the battle of voices that comes with one. The song illustrates Melanie’s dislike of people who “bark while they’re shaking” or “talk without thinking;” superficial people who lack substance. According to Melanie, the song was written about different conflict styles; a person who yells loudly with no meaning behind their words, and a person who calmly and succinctly uses their smarts to dispute the other person’s argument. My personal interpretation of this song is that it represents the infuriating feeling of having someone ignore my side of an argument even if I calmly explain. I feel the chaotic instrumental supports this, as it reminds me of repressing my anger during arguments. “BATTLE OF THE LARYNX”s powerful vocals and intense instrumental seized my attention after the first listen and captivated me for the rest of the day. The song is so powerful yet calming to me, and I am constantly listening to it even half a year after the album was released.
Soft guitar, haunting vocals, and addicting melodies; Melanie Martinez’s “LEECHES” hooked me from the first listen. Its eerie undertone emanates the slimy feeling of toxic and fake people, complementing Melanies’ meaning of the song. According to Melanie, the song is about toxic people who use others for their own gain, sucking the life out of others by constantly manipulating and draining them. To me, the song evokes the feelings of despair and betrayal that comes with toxic relationships, especially due to the sad, yet passionate vocals the song exhibits. “LEECHES” is such a beautiful and captivating song; even now I still listen to it.
With steady drums and gentle vocals, “VOID” exhibits the melancholy feeling that follows self reflection. To me, its consistent instrumental provides contrast with the actual meaning of the song, as reflecting on emotions is often a tumultuous event. According to Melanie, the song is about processing emotions, thoughts, and actions from your past life. Furthermore, the song can be interpreted as a metaphor for escaping anxiety and depression, as well as how society pushes unrealistic expectations onto everybody. “VOID” is a must listen, and it is almost always one of my top songs.
4th: “SPIDER WEB”
With creepy, spider-like instrumental, and fluid, silky vocals, Melanie Martinez’s “SPIDER WEB” embodies the creepy crawly feeling of spiders. According to Melanie, the song is about the chokehold the internet has on society, and how the internet has promoted obsession with drama and creators’ downfalls. To me the peculiar instrumental helps create a feeling of being trapped, and makes me believe the song is also about the way people get stuck on the internet, “watching the cycle they’re in”. This lyric could also be a reference to the way that people always go back on the internet, even if they don’t use it regularly, therefore stuck in a cycle of being on and off the internet. “SPIDER WEB” is one of my favorite songs, and it’s constantly stuck in my head.
5th: “THE CONTORTIONIST”
Crunching sounds, overlapping voices, and hypnotizing vocals; Melanie Martinez’s song “THE CONTORTIONIST” exudes the suffocating feeling of trying to please everyone. According to Melanie the song is about bending over backwards for someone who doesn’t accept you for who you are. To me, her song is about being stuck in a toxic relationship. Her lyrics “twisted all my limbs for you” as well as “pushed myself into a box, while you held out a gun” and “stretching my self worth just like you usually do” illustrate how being in these toxic relationships feels, and how suffocating it is. “SPIDER WEB” hooked me as soon as I listened to it; the otherworldly vocals and instrumental bringing me back to it over and over again.
With ethereal instrumental and a calm beginning that gets more intense as the song progresses, Melanie Martinez’s “NYMPHOLOGY” emanates the aggravating feeling expectations placed on women produce. To me, the song’s instrumental that gets progressively intense represents Melanie’s increasing anger towards the expectations that she and other women experience everyday. According to Melanie, the song is about the repression of femininity, and how we as a society need to change how we accept feminine people. To add on to that, the lyrics “I’m not crazy, I’m not wild, you’re just stupid, little child” demonstrate her anger toward people who expect women to always be soft and gentle, never expressing anger or sadness. “NYMPHOLOGY” is a very angry yet calm song, and its ethereal vocals and instrumental captivated me as soon as I listened to it.
A hypnotizing, calm beginning, otherworldly instrumental, and heavenly vocals; Melanie Martinez’s “DEATH” embodies the peaceful feeling of passing on, as well as the chaotic feeling of rebirth. According to Melanie the song revolves around the idea that the spirit lives on, even after their physical body dies. The lyrics “my body has died but I’m still alive” supports this idea of life after death. To me, the calm beginning of the song, which gets progressively more chaotic, represents the tumultuous feeling of being reborn after dying, both metaphorically and physically. “DEATH” hypnotized me as soon as I listened to it, and I haven’t been able to stop streaming it since.
8th: “TUNNEL VISION”
With sensual, heavily autotuned vocals, and uncanny instrumental, Melanie Martinez’s “TUNNEL VISION” radiates the confident feeling that comes with self empowerment. According to Melanie, the song is about a refusal to be objectified by somebody else or reduced to a sexual object. To me, the song is about the self assurance that comes with accepting yourself for who you are, as well as the sexualization that many women experience throughout their lives. The addictive vocals and instrumental of “TUNNEL VISION” has made it one of my top songs, and I would highly recommend listening to it.
Chaotic, intense instrumentals, and angry vocals; Melanie Martinez’s “EVIL” exudes the anger that toxic relationships create, as well as the self empowerment that comes with breaking one off. According to Melanie the song is about standing up for oneself in toxic situations and ending the abusive relationship. The lyrics “if you bite my hand again, I will never feed you” illustrates Melanie’s refusal to willingly experience the pain that abusive relationships have caused her. The chaotic instrumental also supports this, as it gives off an angry feeling, one that I would associate with toxic situations. “EVIL” creates feelings of self empowerment in me and I love listening to it whenever I am nervous, as it makes me feel a lot more confident than I did before.
10th: “FAERIE SOIREE”
With ethereal vocals, upbeat instrumental, and a heavenly ending consisting of only Melanie’s singing, “FAERIE SOIREE” gives off feelings of escapism and otherworldliness. According to Melanie, the song is about escaping reality and entering a mystical world. To me, the song represents an addiction to daydreaming and sleeping in order to escape reality. I feel that the lyrics “Tease your mind and trick you, you really want to stay?” supports this, as they could represent how trippy dreams are, and how we know we can’t stay in them but we want to. “FAERIE SOIREE” is a mind-bending yet ethereal song, and I love falling asleep listening to it (although my dreams get a bit more trippy than usual when I do).
11th: “LIGHT SHOWER”
Soft guitar, smooth vocals; “LIGHT SHOWER” exhibits the gentle feelings of love. According to Melanie, the song is about finding love and how it changes your worldview. To me, the song represents the first feelings of love, specifically young love. The lyrics “you are the light I’ve been searching for forever” supports this, as experiencing love for the first time could be like experiencing light, it illuminates your world. I will admit, this song is not really my cup of tea. I still listen to it, but it gets boring to me fairly quickly. Despite this, “LIGHT SHOWER” is still a song that I would recommend listening to, especially while studying, as its calming vibes help me work.
With funky guitar, velvety vocals, and subtle drums, Melanie Martinez’s “WOMB” embodies the feelings of excitement and nerves that come with a new life and new beginning. According to Melanie, the song is about “the perspective of entering a new lifetime”, and how you must forget everything about yourself in order to “let your human experience on earth move your progression forward”. To me, the song represents the excitement that comes with new experiences, such as meeting new people or moving. Personally, I find this song a little dry, so I don’t listen to it very often. However, I would still advise people to listen to it, as while it may not be my favorite, it could be yours.
13th; “MOON CYCLE”
Warm guitar, simple instrumental, and silly vocals; Melanie Martinez’s “MOON CYCLE” represents the feelings of experiencing womanhood. According to Melanie, she likes to include at least one song in each of her albums about a “taboo topic”, and “MOON CYCLE” is the song for PORTALS. The song is specifically about periods, and the way they are often seen as something disgusting when they should be seen as something natural and beautiful. Although this song has an amazing meaning, I find the song itself extremely boring with simple instrumentation and silly lyrics. It reminds me of a song a child would write, and I find it dry. Despite me not liking it, I would still recommend listening to it, as it could be your new favorite song.
From haunting melodies to angry vocals, Melanie Marinez’s PORTALS demonstrates a variety of music that many albums lack; a multitude of different sounds. Every song takes you on a journey, and each one works perfectly with the next. The unique songs work together to create a masterpiece that I will never stop listening to.