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King Princess in their debut full length pop album, “Cheap Queen” is a queer trifecta that chronicles the pulsing highs of being gay and in love in the breakout hit, “Hit the Back” along with the exploitations of fame as in the album’s title song. King Princess at age 20, is an emerging young pop artist who has reached stardom and appeared on one of television’s biggest shows, Saturday Night Live. Yet in their blissful 30 minute set of songs, they display the wisdom of someone way beyond their years. They have given those in the LGBTQ+ community a symbol of strength with their early songs such as the heart-tugging anthem, “1950.” In times like these where the world for young people who are LGBTQ+ can seem scarier than ever, young people need a role model and a light. King Princess has slowly emerged as a beacon of hope for those in the LGBTQ+ community and even beyond.
The album opens with King Princess’ smokey and smooth song “Tough on Myself.” They sing about their struggles with putting pressure on themselves and worrying that their significant other could do better than them, and being afraid they’ll move on. With lyrics like “My good intentions go bad when hold me” They talk about struggling with insecurities in relationships.
The second song on the album is only one minute and 17 seconds with only a repeating chorus it has a vintage feel, like it should be played in the background of an old coming of age movie. Despite being short, Princess’s melodic voice makes you feel like you’re going back in time. They prove that a little thing can pack a punch.
Luckily in the title song “Cheap Queen,” they pick up right where they left off the first verse coming right from “Useless Phrases,” however “Cheap Queen” has a very different vibe with a slightly sad feeling to the song: like when love goes still, it’s still love but it’s not the exciting passion it was at the beginning. In the lyrics, “I’m a cheap queen I can be what you like,” you can hear the defeat and loss of interest in what’s going on. Despite being somber, halfway through you’ll be bopping along softly singing the lyrics.
“Ain’t Together,” the fourth song of the album talks about the struggles of labels in relationships. And even though they do all the things you do in a relationship there is no official title holding them together. Princess’s sums it up all in one line “ We say I love you, but we ain’t together.” Despite this, they still want their partner and want to be the only one for their partner. The longing is evident throughout the song.
Another shorter song, “Do you wanna see me crying,” coming in at one minute and 48 seconds, it’s the second shortest song. The first minute is spent setting up for the vocals giving off a smoky and flowy vibe that makes you want to be in a smoky club in the city with multi-colored lights bathing you in reds and purples. Even though they only sing a few lines of dialogue its enough to finish off the mood of the song. It’s heartbreak out, but one your slowly moving on from. “Do you wanna see me crying” shows a vulnerable side that I know I’d love to see more of.
“Homegirl” is love that you can’t show off, they sing of how they stare across the room and have to wait till their alone to touch and be with each other. Even though there’s danger in what they are doing it’s too powerful and magnetic to ignore so they find a safe space at home to show each other their affections. The soft background vocals give the song a mystical and enchanted vibe like you’re in a forest waiting to meet up with your secret lover to run away and live in a small cottage and forget the world. Definitely, a favorite of mine. I would highly recommend listening to at midnight in the grass with your lover in your arms.
The song “Prophet” is about obsession and how it fuels our loves and relationships. With lyrics like the chorus, “I can only think about you. And what it’s like to walk around you.” The singer seems to be saying how obsession fuels our romantic feelings when we want to surround ourselves with someone special. The song could also be referring to the artist themselves who at the age of 20 is a bit of a prodigy quickly launching to stardom and having a profitable career. The song also hints to the exploitation with talents or “prodigies” in the music industry with the line “You know what you want. It’s only ‘bout the money and control. Can’t step off it, someone else will cop it like it’s gold, you’re a prophet Someone’s gonna profit.” This line explains how music producers and executives exploit artists for profit these days and are not full of the heart and soul as singers deserve. This track is a powerful statement on obsession in love and exploitation in the music world that is powerfully relevant yet universal to our world.
One of the most poignant songs on the album is “Isabel’s Moment” where King Princess collaborates with canadian singer, Tobias Jesso Jr. to sing a haunting track of the complications between what is a friend and what is a lover. When King Princess sings “You can’t choose your love like a phone number. And I’m still trying to draw all the lines through my friends and my lovers.” They are looking back at their life and analyzing who really cared for them. They are wise beyond their years; quality adds greatly to their appeal as an artist. This is also true in the song, “Watch My Phone” as she thinks and reflects on her past relationship with actress, Amandla Stenberg. King Princess proves themself in these two tracks as an artist who is stunningly poetic.
One of King Princesses breakout singles is “Hit the Back” with an infectious pulsing base melody and an instantly danceable chorus, this song about embracing your body is an absolute delights and is easily one of the breakout songs on the album. “Cheap Queen” ends with the quieter yet introspective, “If you think it’s love.” This song is about a love that had gone wrong and is now tired. In the line, “If this is love I want my money back. ‘Cause I could use the check to spend it on a better heart.” the singer is looking for a relationship more meaningful in fulfilling. This song ends the album on a note that is serious as the listener sees the artist looking for a more fulfilling relationship, but also hopeful as the artist is looking for love and ultimately fulfillment in love. King Princess with this album establishes themself as the new queer queen of music. With instantly danceable tracks such as “Hit the Back” and introspective thought provoking pieces such as “Isabel’s Moment,” “Cheap Queen” is a work for an emerging artist who establishes themself as a new treasure in the LGBTQ+ music world and by being proudly themself gives visibility for queer people to be normalized in pop culture.