King Princess’ Pop Reign Continues With the Deluxe Edition of "Cheap Queen"

Born Mikaela Straus, King Princess established herself in the pop music scene in early 2018 with her hit single “1950,” which showcased her articulate songwriting skills and musicality. Straus has not only proven herself to be a rising pop star, but an LGBTQ+ icon as well, identifying herself as genderqueer and gay. In June of 2018, she released her EP Make My Bed, which included “1950” and other songs that detail queer relationships and heartbreak, such as “Talia” and “Holy”.

King Princess initially released her debut album, Cheap Queen, on Oct. 25, but released the deluxe edition on Feb. 14, which features five new tracks.     

In her debut album, King Princess continues to sing about romance with an emphasis on forbidden love. She writes about desire and wanting to be passionate with her lover. Her opening track, “Tough On Myself,” brings to light her inner thoughts on wanting to be with someone because she thinks they will bring the best out of her, singing, “Sitting alone, making fun of myself / And is it so wrong to just want someone else?” On “Ain’t Together,” Straus discusses how she has a deep connection with someone, but the couple does not have an official label on their relationship. She questions whether or not it matters that they do not have a title, and if having one will make the relationship better. In “Homegirl,” King Princess details a gay relationship where the lovers have to hide their sexuality from the public in fear that they will garner negative reactions.

Many of the songs, such as “Do You Wanna See Me Crying?” and “You Destroyed My Heart” have the singer able to move on and reflect from the relationship, but her ex-partner wants them back. On the flip side, there are tracks where Straus is in the position of wanting the lover back such as in “Isabel’s Moment” and “Watching My Phone.” These tracks highlight the fulfillment Straus felt in her relationships because she was able to experience love and, in some cases, was able to accept the breakup. But in her final track, “If You Think It’s Love,” Straus regrets ever taking part in the relationship, singing, “If this is love / I want my money back.” King Princess discloses how badly the relationship affected her thought process and how she deals with her emotions, revealing that she is “second-guessing” everything.

Inspired by The Beatles and Dolly Parton, many tracks on the album accentuate a retro feeling to them. Songs like “Prophet” emphasize this nostalgic sensation by having the electric guitar, drums, and keyboard be accompanied by Straus’ soulful, raspy voice. At the bridge of the track, only the keyboard remains alongside a chorus of layered voices, and at the end, the drums start to kick back in and the electric guitar makes its presence known.

However, the track “Hit the Back” does not follow the retro aesthetic. Instead, it takes on a more modern pop feeling, which starts with a piano playing but progresses to using electronic beats, creating a dance track. Through Twitter, Straus comments that the song is supposed to be “an anthem for bottoms everywhere,” highlighting that the track is meant to have a “bop” feeling.

The five new tracks Straus released continue to have a vintage vibe, containing a loud rock ‘n’ roll and sensual R&B sound. Songs like “All Dressed In White” and “Best Friend” embody The Temptations’ “My Girl,” with “Forget About It (feat. Banoffee)” having a Daft Punk-esque quality in the track and “Ohio” exuding The Beatles’ “Helter Skelter” with its usage of angry guitar riffs, distorted voices and fast pace. In “Back of a Cab,” Straus incorporates an old 50s recording with a lo-fi, jazzy sound.

The new tracks continue to talk about heartbreak and post-breakups, with lyrics like “You said you’d hope you see me this fall / But I don’t wanna see you at all,” in “Best Friend” and “And if you call me, it’s a no from me/ You think you want me? It’s a no from me,” in “Forget About It.” 

What makes the album unique from other pop albums is its representation of the LGBTQ+ community. All of the songs deal with same-sex relationships and involve situations where one wants to be open about their romance and showcase their love to the world without being disrespected. Straus does not hold back in her references and in “You Destroyed My Heart,” she uses the f slur as a form of empowerment, singing that she is, “a better f**, and you’re an amateur.” The title of the album itself is a term used by drag queens and, according to Straus, “cheap queen” means someone who is resourceful, making something out of nothing. The album art has Straus wearing drag makeup, paying homage to the drag community.

Cheap Queen establishes King Princess’ presence in the pop community, and it marks the beginning of what is to come. Whether Straus chooses to continue providing retro-sounding songs or shift to more electronic dance-type music, there is no doubt that she can produce a great record. Time will tell whether she will cement her overnight success and continue to wear her crown.