Streamed in four time zones, servers flooded in with fans from all around the world for multi-platinum pop phenomenon, Melanie Martinez. On Thursday, November 17th, she put on a global streaming concert event titled “Can’t Wait Till I’m Out Of K-12” to conclude the era of her second full length album and first self-directed and produced film, K-12.
The event streamed worldwide in four time zones on December 17th and 18th, all to conclude an era that never had the chance to live out a proper life on tour thanks to the worldwide pandemic. The internationally acclaimed album paired with a full-length film had just gone on tour starting in late 2019 with a full band, dancers, and all of the one-of-a-kind theatricality fans have come to expect from Melanie Martinez; and nearly a whole year has passed since the biggest world tour of her career was cancelled. Even though the era of K-12 was short lived, Melanie’s streaming event, “Can’t Wait Till I’m Out Of K-12,” showcases her full length album’s live performance with a twist to transition out of the old, and giving it a new spin in addition to performing tracks from her latest EP, After School.
Each stream featured The Trevor Project, allowing fans to donate directly to the nonprofit that focuses on suicide prevention efforts among LGBTQ youth. Melanie has supported The Trevor Project throughout her K-12 cycle, donating a portion of proceeds from tour tickets and select merchandise items as well. While supporting this cause, “Can’t Wait Till I’m Outta K-12” marks the last opportunity for fans everywhere to experience an extraordinary K-12 concert production.
“Although Martinez has used her ambition to define her career, her raw song craft should not be overlooked or underestimated: at its core, K-12 is an unapologetic discussion of the awkward, euphoric and terrifying experience of growing up.”
The performance unveiled a full stage of artistic and creative productions; each song containing its own scenery and themed costume changes. When Melanie has stated that as she writes out the songs, she creates the visuals for music videos and performances, she well meant it. Every item onstage was carefully planned out and choreographed. All while replicating the feeling of the live musical from her short time performing the album on tour, the set list was beautifully curated to conclude the era and transition into something anew; outside of the world of the character of Crybaby and into something equally beautiful and eclectic, yet still fully Melanie Martinez.
The production began with Melanie holding a pastel pink alarm clock; panning out slowly, we see a background of a starry sky as she began to sing “Play Date” under a spotlight. As she performed, the scenery transitioned, as did her costume; a wire hoop skirt and frilly umbrella. She twirled it onstage with the microphone in her other hand as her voice echoed in the ears and hit you in the gut as if you were right there with her. Fans typed in the lyrics in the chat to sing along with her; and from that moment forward, I was sucked into her world.
The show faded to black and transitioned us into the next scene; where Melanie performed “Show and Tell.” Raw and real, the track calls out the behavior of fans using experiences from her own past.
Melanie has an ability to spread hope and healing and it speaks to a lot of people. However, mob mentality and putting her on a pedestal, as a public figure, fans and critics have treated her as if she was not human at all. “If I cut myself I would bleed,” she sings, performance yearning to spread the message that she is human, just like everyone else. She has been open on her profiles about how she wants to be treated, yet there have been traumatizing situations for her that happened by fans.
While this song particularly hits home for many, it exposes corruptions of Hollywood, as well as the way that the system promotes putting people on a pedestal. And as soon as she bleeds and needs help, people abandon her that she thought she could trust. It’s in hard times where we find who really matters to us.
The music transformed into the intro for “Strawberry Shortcake,” where Melanie stood proudly in a cake and sang about sexism and harassment head on with visceral visuals; then dancers fought over her. The performance was emotional and beautifully constructed.
The next track, “Orange Juice,” transitioned into a world straight out of a Renaissance painting. Grassy landscapes and angelic dancers paraded around her as she sang about body positivity dressed in angel wings. The pastoral visuals brought things into an otherworldly plane of existence and led the audience into a story of loving yourself for who you are, no matter what the world says or holds against you. We are not our bodies. We have to learn how to love ourselves despite the pressure of others who make you feel not good enough.
After the last two songs hit hard with their strong messages, Melanie continues on her roll with “Highschool Sweethearts,” telling her fans to not settle for someone who can’t love them for who they are. The kind of relationships that doesn’t delve beyond the surface is likely not worth your time. Relationships take work on both parties. Melanie Martinez danced onstage with others as they fought over possession of heart-shaped candies throughout the performance.
Things started to take a turn during the next track. Melanie was taken onto a gurney as she performed “Nurse’s Office,” where unlike her K-12 tour, all of her backup dancers were wearing masks. During the bridge, the track began to dive further into a world of post-apocalyptica. Melanie was drugged by a doctor and in the background, the charter school burned to the ground onscreen. This symbolized the death of K-12, a proper farewell considering the tour’s premature end. And it was then that things took an even stranger turn, where K-12 meets the After School EP.
After the background transformed into something more sinister, the environment changed again to pastels and bright colors. Melanie creeps her head in through windows of a doll house and sings “Test Me” with pearls as her eyeliner. And the bridge takes a dark turn again after a bottle is hit over her head and she is knocked out.
Making things emotional again, Melanie’s performance of “Brain and Heart” as dancers dressed representing the brain and the heart compete for control over her. The track is vulnerable, shattered feelings; ripped open and broken and held out on a platter for all to do nothing but face their own deepest, hidden emotions and balance it with just a little practicality.
In her next track, “Glued,” Melanie wears a clown costume and is pinned to the ground with kitchen knives as she is spun around the room.
In the performance, of “Field Trip,” she is the self-expression of her personality, where she delves into her roots, astrology, name origins; and how no matter what people try to do to box her in, she will always find a way to free herself from it, and blow people’s minds in the process. “I’m never going to be what you had envisioned,” she sings, then adds in every box she’s broken through so far. The track also breaks the boundaries of her signature genre; seductive, confident, and breaking down into her own version of hip hop. Then as she danced with her halo of hair curled into finger waves she hopped into a hot air balloon and floated away into the sky.
The next track, “Numbers,” we see her in a doll box with accessories as she gets real about the American work system not treating people like human beings. The bridge was performed beautifully, showcasing the absolutely unique cascading vocals. Dancers circled around her; then she broke the glass in front of her and emerges and belts the rest of the track out proudly.
Concluding the performance, Melanie Martinez’s last song, “The Bakery,” opens a lot like the music video with a backdrop of a pastel colored bakery. While she sang about a personal experience of getting fired doing a job she wasn’t passionate about, a harp played in the background as dancers threw pies and surrounded her in a heart shaped pool.
Before the credits rolled, Melanie said in a sweet voice as she looked into the camera just above her head, “Goodbye now.”
Melanie Martinez has always created content worthy of awards and appreciation. She is a talented producer, songwriter, director, and dancer, breaking the boundaries of what it means to be an artist. “Can’t Wait Till I’m Out Of K-12” created a beautiful conclusion to the era of K-12, all while warming fans up for a new year and a new chapter of music for the talented artist. I am looking forward to witnessing what she has to offer next.
Stream Melanie Martinez’s music below: