Credit: Pitchfork

King Princess- as bold as ever in her new album “Cheap Queen”

6 mins read

Mikaela Mullaney Straus, known as King Princess, entered the music scene at just the right time and is fearlessly and unapologetically herself.

In recent years pop has been cast aside as mainstream, but King princess uses pop, indie pop, funk pop and pop rock to shed light on the fact “queer music” belongs with all music.

King Princess shot up into the world of fame after being recognised by Harry Styles, among other celebrities, in 2018. Her song 1950, inspired by Patricia Highsmith’s novel on lesbian love, introduced the genderqueer lesbian artist to the world with a statement.

In October 2019, King Princess released her 13-track album “Cheap Queen”. She told Exclaim! earlier in 2019 that the album is best listened to “stoned and sad” and described the album as a “sad heartbreak record.”

Just after her album release, she told the Rolling Stone “we’re bored of heteronormative narrative… now is the time for people to be out and gay and make music.”

Her new music bursts with sexual confidence and personality. The album is filled with anti-climactic self-discovery that gives the world an insight into her life and her right to take power of her own sexualisation. Straus isn’t afraid to tackle bigger issues. She is Jewish herself and uses her music to protest the prejudice against homosexuals in religion and recently spoke out as an abortion rights supporter.

King Princess turned down the offer to work for her Dad’s studio at the young age of 11, claiming that she couldn’t be happy recording so young and she needed to find her voice first. In 2017, she was the first artist signed by Mark Ronson’s Zelig Records label and is still currently with them at 20 years old.

Her music developed from a childhood of listening to mainstream music, such as Beyoncé and Drake, alongside 80s rock, such as Led Zeppelin. She has transformed her sound into a widely influenced sound that has a place both inside and outside our mainstream charts. She titled a song “P*ssy is God” and named her tour after it, and is currently touring America with her new album “Cheap Queen.”

Her album starts in a self-evaluative song “Tough on Myself” with a dreamy sound. It then picks up with a short song “Unless Phrases” with a long instrumental and only four ambiguous lines appearing at the end of the track.

“Cheap Queen” is your usual post breakup song with a twist. It’s female empowerment from start to finish, but she is also using the pop song to advocate her support of the drag community. She describes it as “an ode to my friends.”

“Ain’t together” is a cathartic and easy listening track about her recent breakup, that could be perfect for the soundtrack of just about any moment in any movie ever. Behind the chilled out track is is a personal and real story.

“Do you wanna see me crying?” is a production focused short track where she yet again bursts with pure and honest truth, with a self-aware sadness to it. It introduces the eerie, elegant and timeless track “Homegirl” that mixes perfectly with her quirky and vulnerable tone. The melting pot for relationship sadness, reflection and nostalgia allows for her openly sexual and personal references in shameless way.

“Prophet” lightens the mood in a groovy sound of love and obsession. Her mixed influences allow her rustic voice and smooth words to intercept with the electronics around it. She identifies this as one of her favourite songs she has ever written.

Her next track “Isabel’s Moment” ft Tobias Jesso Jr. is the only collaboration on the album. The raw connection and harmony between the two artists exists as the main element in the carefully written beacon of hope that is track number eight.

“Trust Nobody” is a romantic, rustic and funky song. It’s followed by the heart-breaking ballad “watching my phone” which exposes her hurt and loneliness that let her write about getting her “heart smashed”. The artist shows off her vocals as listeners enter a sad trance of repeating lines and sounds.

“You destroyed my heart” pulls together everything sad, happy and important for her fans to vibe to. She speaks of pride and understanding yourself as a gay individual, with brutal closure towards the ended relationship in an contrasting upbeat manner.

“Hit the back” starts as a sensual track with lyrics as its centre. This track opens full of vulnerability, before slipping in and out of a party-like sound. She called the song “the anthem for bottoms everywhere”.

“If you think its love” rounds up the album on a cynical, yet hopeful tone oozing with post breakup air. It has an enchanted sound with powerful vocals and soulful and sorrowful repetition.

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