Sounds Like: Twisted lullabies about love, danger and madness.
For Fans of: "Coin-Operated Boy"-era Dresden Dolls, Lana Del Rey, Fisher Price xylophones
Why You Should Pay Attention: Martinez arrived on the national stage as a contestant on the third season of The Voice — a member of Team Adam, she came in sixth. In 2014, she released the glittering tale of domestic strife "Dollhouse," her first collaboration with Kinetics and One Love, the songwriting duo who co-wrote B.o.B.'s Number Two smash "Airplanes." "It was like a magic moment — I've never connected with anyone as far as co-writing. I was used to writing in my bathroom by myself in Long Island," Martinez says. Martinez's debut Cry Baby, which came out in August, is one of the year's most fully realized pop albums, with eerie hooks and beats that nod to her father's hip-hop fandom. The liner notes are a storybook, with each song vividly illustrated by artist Chloe Tersigni. Martinez's candy-coated aesthetic, which is on full display in her eye-popping music videos and extends to her heavy use of toy instruments, makes her breathy, metaphor-rich singing about toxic relationships and loneliness more arresting.
She Says: "I wanted to use things that reminded me of my childhood [for the songs'] themes, but use stuff I was going through as an adult for the stories behind the songs. Eventually, I realized that the album was going to be called Cry Baby. I was called 'crybaby' for my entire life, and was made fun of for taking things too personally and being very emotional. This album was a way to really embrace a term that I thought was an insult for so long. I've embraced it and taken on this character — the album is about half stuff that happened to me, and half whimsical fairytale."
Hear for Yourself: The bass-heavy "Soap" turns the old punishment for swearing into a rumination on feeling awkward in front of a new crush. Maura Johnston