How Complex Artists “Gotta Escape that Void”

How Complex Artists “Gotta Escape that Void”


Cover songs often help me better hear the lyrics of the originally performed song. Just like how sometimes in relationship therapy you hear your loved-one better when a someone else reflects their words.

These words are deep with questioning and regret. They also communicate an earnest desire to get out of the state they are in. They seem to understand that the journey out starts from within.

 If you’ve been following my past two blogs about Melanie Martinez’s new album Portals, and its lead single “Death,” and then my whole report and exploration of how she is growing as an artist, we are now at the part where I comment as carefully as I can on the controversy that’s surrounded her over the past years.

In high contrast to Martinez’s beginning artistic persona as a baby and often the victim of others’ manipulation throughout her music and videos, 2017 brought allegations against Martinez as a predator who harmed someone close to her at the time. I’m not including links, or my own opinion of what really happened here. That search and exploration is your own rabbit hole to go down if you choose.

I’ll just say what we all see regularly: that artists who bring brilliance and complexity to their work are complex people – sometimes showing a hurtful side of themselves behind artistic expression that is inspiring and healing. So, should we separate the personality from the artistic work? If an artist creates something and offers it to the world, perhaps it now belongs to the world? Perhaps we don’t have to acknowledge the artist so much as we get to acknowledge ourselves through whatever they created? With this line of thinking, I would love to see tons of covers of favorite songs previously written and performed by people who let us down.

With that line of thinking, we might be able to enjoy the music without a moral conundrum. But if we take that stance, nosey people like me may lose out on the drama of watching the full journey of a troubled person working out their stuff.

It’s clear from the lyrics in Martinez’s new song “Void” that she knows she has a lot to figure out about herself. In this song, her words echo those of many distressed clients as they begin to work through some heavy stuff. How they are thinking and feeling before we get to the heart of what’s going on and before they discover their best coping strategies.

Most of the lyrics are deeply troubled, but the hook adds some optimism that gives more hope for a recovery. The notion “gotta escape that void, there is no other choice.” There is no choice but to figure it out, to find the vision and clarity to become a better person.

As I reviewed in my previous post, I think the Portals album is more about what leads (or led) Martinez to conclude with “Death,” as the musical answer. The narrative of Portals begins with the end, and spends the rest of the album explaining how we got to this conclusion.

As the second song on the album, “Void,” expresses the need to escape. We have an idea of who she’s become as she breaks away and that she does escape. Looks like we might get to know who has escaped from the void and how they are doing in the next album.

Spencer Northey

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