Hailing from Brooklyn, King Princess (Mikaela Straus) debuts her first album “Cheap Queen.”
Cheap Queen is heavily inspired by her own love of drag queens especially those who are seen as “Cheap Queens.” Cheap Queens have to work with what they’ve got and learn to be resourceful.
She identifies with the same sentiment in her song with the same title, “I’m a cheap queen // I can be what you like //And I can be bad sometimes// I’m a real queen.”
“Drag for me is just such an extension of my queerness because it was how I learned to become comfortable with myself,” she says. “I feel so grateful to drag because…RuPaul and everything that has made drag mainstreamed it in a way where a girl from Brooklyn, who didn’t feel like a girl, saw drag, and learned how to become a woman.”King Princess on her interview with Entertainment Weekly (EW).
Cheap Queen is a balanced mixture of the past and present. It has splatters of alternative r&b, disco, the warmth of 1960’s pop, hints of jazz, soulfully moody yet soothing vocals, electronica, the occasional heavy guitar cord, and ballads, lots of ballads.
Straus describes her sound to EW as, “signature style of lesbian sad bops, ones that mask a well of sadness but are impossible not to dance to” and that’s fairly accurate. Most of Cheap Queen can be placed under cool ballads with a slight electronica feel. It’s definitely something you can easily vibe to.
“Hit the Back,” a powerful ballad that effortlessly transitions into a song you can dance to – her very definition of the album is summarized in this one song. “If You Think It’s Love” was reminiscent of a mixture of Lorde and Tove Lo with its angsty vulnerable lyrics and electronica, so no complaints there. “Useless Phases” is the definition of bubblegum pop. The length of the song might be a playful dig at the genre as it sticks out as the sole “bubblegum pop song” and it is the shortest song on the album. “Useless Phases” basically fades it and out then transitions to the rest of the album.
“Trust Nobody,” “You Destroyed My Heart,” “Cheap Queen,” Tough on Myself,” and “Homegirl” were strong songs as well.
Cheap Queens is quite diverse and it demonstrates the full control King Princess has over her sound and aesthetic. She’s able to combine several genres without losing her sense of rhythm. Every song blends well with one another despite its shifts between varying genres. Princess King knows exactly what this album is and how its supposed to convey to her audience. Its an album that is meant to both make its listener feel those raw emotions while making them also want to dance. Cheap Queens is a strong album overall and an enjoyable listen.