King Princess Impresses on Debut Album


Jake Miller, Copy Editor

Mikaela Straus, better known by her stage name, King Princess, burst onto the music scene in 2018 with her viral hit “1950.” The song referenced an era in which same-sex couples could not express affection openly, which Straus used to describe her feelings regarding an unrequited love. A similar sentiment is echoed in one of the standout tracks on her new album, “Cheap Queen.” “We say I love you, but we ain’t together,” she sings on “Ain’t Together,” a song that plays a bit like a “The Beatles” track, if they sung about the perils of a closeted relationship. Though Straus’s album is consistently unapologetically queer, she touches on a multitude of complex subjects, including the greed of the music industry and a recent breakup. Throughout “Cheap Queen,” she flaunts her songwriting talent while nodding to inspirations from 1970s rock and alternative music.

Perhaps the best track on the album, “Prophet” laments feeling in debt to a romantic partner and a record label, likening the two to each other. Straus, like many other young female artists, felt intense pressure to produce more crowd-pleasing anthems after the unprecedented success of her first single. She engages in a bit of wordplay, calling herself a “prophet” due to her musical talents but recognizes that what she does is also for someone else’s “profit.” That simple, yet effective writing technique, combined with an incredibly catchy guitar solo is what makes the song, and so much of the album, likeable. Straus makes a rare misstep in the album’s title track, where she sings about the simple pleasure of spending time with her friends. Her overall cheeky and facetious attitude falls short of making a relatable song, which instead becomes lacking in both lyrical and instrumental depth.

Overall, “Cheap Queen” is an incredibly impressive debut album from King Princess. She showcases a wide range of talent, tapping into different genres and themes, hopping from a confident and easygoing persona to one that is continually questioning what people think of her and who truly has her best interests at heart. “Homegirl” sounds like a hybrid of Kacey Musgraves and “The Beach Boys”, as Straus croons about a love interest over a slow guitar strum. “Watching My Phone” is straight out of the 1980s, with reverberating synths and a vocoder coating Straus’s voice, while “Hit the Back” is an upbeat alternative anthem for someone she is head over heels for. King Princess perfectly combines old inspirations with new ideas throughout “Cheap Queen,” an album she performed, wrote, and co-produced. Her playful attitude and ability to sing sincerely about heartbreak, paired with brilliant instrumentals make the album a promising debut for the Brooklyn-based musician.