Although she only recently dropped her debut album “Cheap Queen,” King Princess is no stranger to fame. Gaining attention from a Harry Styles tweet last year, her first single “1950” is still beloved by the queer community it was written for. After releasing a handful of singles and an EP, she finally released her long-awaited full-length album on Oct. 25, and it has left fans begging for more.
Only 20 years old, Mikaela Straus donned the stage name “King Princess” not to separate her private life from her music career, but to unite the two. Regarded as a queer icon, Straus has been making waves not only for her pride in her identity, but also as a hot, up-and-coming artist to watch.
“People are trying to understand [queer music] as though it’s a subgenre within the music community, like people are setting out to make queer art. It’s like, ‘No, honey,’” Straus told NPR. “When something is your identity, if you’re writing in a way that is authentic, then that identity is embedded within the music. There is no choice. There is no separation … you can’t remove that part of yourself.”
“Cheap Queen” takes its place as the ultimate break-up album, boasting tracks like “Do You Wanna See Me Crying?,” “Trust Nobody” and “You Destroyed My Heart.” Although Straus is still young, her mature and raspy voice is brought out by the emotion behind it. Clashing heartbreak with hope, Straus also includes promising love songs, with “Homegirl” and “Hit the Back.”
The opening track, “Tough on Myself,” kicks off the album with a slower, layered beat. While it’s not the most complex tune, Straus chooses to let her sorrowful lyrics and even tone to set the mood. During the powerful choruses, Straus demonstrates the control she has over her voice as she increases the intensity behind her soulful croon.
The titular track “Cheap Queen,” prefaced by a minute-long remix of the minecraft theme under the title of “Useless Phrases,” proves itself worthy of its name. Featuring the same layered vocals that appear throughout the album, this track shows the maturity Straus has gained since the release of her EP “Making My Bed” last year.
What ultimately sets this album apart from anything else Straus has released is the pure honesty of it. Unique and unrefined, Miss King gives listeners a raw, unadulterated view into her mind. In her previous work, Straus took on a more pop rock style, letting her other talents on guitar and piano shine through. While she has always had a raspy tone, in this album, her voice has gained a darker, deeper quality that takes the forefront.
While her love for her other instruments hasn’t left her in creating this new album, Straus features more exposed tracks where her voice is the main focus. Songs like “Isabel’s Moment,” “Trust Nobody” and “Watching my Phone” — which is up there as one of the best songs on the album — all showcase the growth and power Straus has gained since her early work.
It was hard to pick the best song on this album, but I have to give it up to “Prophet” for its funky beat and clever lyrics. Demonstrating her range and talent, Straus no doubt impresses her listeners by providing variety to the heartbreaking record.
Closing with “If You Think It’s Love,” Mr. Queen ends with a bittersweet tune that encapsulates the feel of the album as a whole. Featuring the same exposed style, she chooses to let the emotion behind her voice to take the forefront, abandoning complex background sounds that may distract in favor of simplicity. Even if you’ve never had your heart broken, King Princess will sing you into sadness with “Cheap Queen.”