King Princess’ debut album “Cheap Queen” is filled with love, heartbreak and sexual confidence

Vulnerable lyrics, open expression of sexuality and crude confidence led to attaining “Queen” status within a short time.


(Jeanlouisfinch / Wikimedia Commons)

Singer, songwriter born as Mikaela Straus, but probably more familiar to the world by her stage name, King Princess, has seemed to float around the music industry for several years now. However, in reality it has only been a meager amount of time, and before this album  she only had a few singles in her back pocket. She released the five-song EP “Make my bed” in 2018 which featured popular tracks like “1950,” “Talia” and “P**** is God,” which was released in the same year.

Her emotionally-vulnerable lyrics, often about love and lust, float through the atmosphere with a velvet-like softness. Often slow and dreamy, her vocals frequently accompany a somewhat upbeat background tempo while still allowing for gentle, slow-burner type jams. “1950” seems like a fitting song title because most of her work encapsulates the feeling and romance of an old-fashioned love with a vintage twist. But, the song’s meaning has a little more depth to it than what you can gather at surface level. In the YouTube video by Genius, where she explains the lyrics and meaning, Straus explains the lyrics I love it when we play 1950/ It’s so cold that your stare’s ’bout to kill me/ I’m surprised when you kiss me.” 

– “It’s  an analogy, it’s a metaphor. The way that queer people had to hide their love in history, throughout our history- being a parallel to unrequited love, right, so feeling like somebody’s being cold to you in a public space and how that looks very similar to the way that people once couldn’t be, just couldn’t be gay in public. I wanted to pay tribute to that point in history.” 

Her lyrics aren’t just filler words plucked from her vocabulary to create pretty verses that will sell. They are rooted in meaning, and the words she chooses are placed with purpose in order to send messages to the listeners. “I love to play with religious imagery because it’s traditional, I think being gay and being religious have been you know, oil and water,” she explained during the Genius session. We see that in “1950,” with the lyrics, “So tell me why my gods look like you/ And tell me why it’s wrong/So I’ll wait for you, I’ll pray.” 

We also see religious references in the song “P**** is God,” with the title and lyrics like “You know that it’s God, baby, when you’re around her/ I’ve been praying for hours/ You know that it’s God,/ baby, when you’re around her/ She’s God and I’ve found her, oh.” 

Talking about sex and religion, while it may seem controversial, is a common theme in music and Straus isn’t afraid to approach it. She is open about her love life and homosexuality in her art. She takes subtle, angsty approaches of outdated ways of thinking by comparing two socially contrasting topics. 

She gives off an aura of confidence and sexual vivacity, while also exuding a warm incandescent energy in her voice that makes you feel the love she is singing about. She is singing about classic love stories from the view of a young queer woman and is influencing the pop genre by doing so. While I think the music industry has always been an outlet for social “misfits,” we are in an exciting era where diversity is embraced and encouraged, and experimentation with art is applauded.

Apart from her lyrics, I think King Princess also likes to experiment and pack meaning into her music videos. In the video for the first song she released from “Cheap Queen,” titled “Prophet,” we see a slew of scenes presenting her playing different masculine roles, with a lover always watching, and it ends with her body being served as a cake while everyone takes pieces of her, “It’s the price of the prodigy you wanna be,” she sings. 

Pre- release, this gave us little slice of what her type of content her upcoming album would include. Now that it is out we see that it does. In “Homegirl,” she also alludes to giving herself away, and sacrificing her feelings since she is so in love. 

Her new album seems to describe how fame has influenced her personal life and her personal relationships. Infatuation with a lover, the heartbreak of being left behind and people taking what they want from her are all topics that are touched on. Whether it’s her body, her talent, her fame or her heart, she sings about how people have treated her and what lengths she’ll go to please the people she loves.

The majority of the new tracks share similarities with her past work, slow jams with gentle vocals. She also keeps up her notoriously sharp contrasts of being desperately sad,  raw and vulnerable to then being unbothered, confident and ready to move on. “You destroyed my heart/Now I want somebody good/’Cause you lost the part/Now I want somebody good,” she sings in “You Destroyed My Heart.”

In “Do You Wanna See Me Crying?,” she keeps up the same theme. Being hurt, but venting through her career. “I’m working through the stress now/I wanna put a million songs out/(Do you wanna see me cry for you?)/I keep/my money in my hands now/And I feel better with my heart out/(Do you wanna see me cry for you?)/And you’re probably just a fan now/Took a minute, but I found out.” Throughout the whole album she seems to be speaking to the anxiety and stress of falling for someone, and the dynamics of her different relationships. In some of the songs there is this painful yearning, and in others she seems like she has moved on for the better

She also throws in some gay vernacular and has some fun lines about her true friends, having fun and trying to be a normal young person despite her fame.

While sometimes being self-deprecating she simultaneously hypes herself up. She knows who she is, and what she has to offer. Straus has the most laid-back self-assurance. The quirky cheap queen has the potential for a long and versatile career. 

The album  is available on streaming services Apple Music, Spotify and Youtube and she began her North American tour on Oct. 5.

Email Katherine at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @katkelley26.

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