K-12 (pronounced "K through twelve") is the second studio album by American singer Melanie Martinez. It is her first studio album in four years and was released with an accompanying film of the same name on September 6, 2019, through Atlantic Records.
Background and promotion
Martinez began writing the album in 2015. In a 2017 interview with Billboard, Martinez said that her then-untitled second album was finished and would be accompanied by a film that she was writing and directing. In a February 2019 Instagram post, she wrote that the album "had been done for like 2 years now" and that it would likely be released at the end of summer. A teaser video of Martinez in a pastel classroom was released on May 15, 2019. On May 16, she unveiled the album cover through her social media accounts. Martinez revealed the release date through Instagram on May 29. On June 17, she released a TV spot for the film, which included a snippet of "Nurse's Office". This was followed by weekly promotions, or "assignments" beginning in late June 2019, followed by snippets usually a few hours or a day later. Martinez released snippets along with respective animated videos for every song from the album. On July 23, the official trailer for the K-12 film was released alongside the album track list and pre-order. It reveals some of the plot, while a snippet of "Show & Tell" plays at the end of the trailer. It also reveals that the film would be released in select theaters for one day only on September 5, 2019. Martinez will embark on the K-12 Tour in support of the album from October to December 2019, starting in Washington, D.C.
Music and lyrics
K-12 was mostly produced by Michael Keenan, who had previously collaborated with Martinez on a few tracks on her previous album, Cry Baby. One track, "Drama Club", had been produced by Martinez's frequent collaborators, Kinetics & One Love. Martinez's official website describes K-12's sound as "a vibrant and singular melting pot of low-key hip-hop, soulful pop and indie-leaning electro". AllMusic also notes influences of hip hop and R&B. The tracks' lyrics discuss both Melanie's character, Cry Baby's experiences at K-12 Sleepaway School, as well as more general topics. Noteworthy tracks include "Show & Tell", which talks about, both "Drama Club" and "Strawberry Shortcake", which discuss different forms of sexism and gender-based discrimination, "Lunchbox Friends", in which Martinez talks about fake friends (called "lunchbox friends" in the track) and a longing for real, long-time friendship, "Orange Juice", a track that discusses bulimia and body-related insecurities, "Teacher's Pet", where a student-teacher romance is described and criticized, "The Principal" and "Detention", which explore the topic of a power imbalance between students and staff, alongside greed and unfair treatment of pupils. Other songs on the album revolve around events from the movie.
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