Cheap Queen

King Princess

Cheap Queen

More than a year after her breakout hit “1950,” King Princess delivers Cheap Queen, her soulful and reflective debut album. Balancing husky, vintage-sounding vocals with subtle flourishes (a vibraphone here, a chiming synth there), the project loosely traces a young relationship’s hopeful beginning and wounded end. Throughout, we get to see the emerging queer-pop icon, a 20-year-old Brooklyn native named Mikaela Straus, evolve: Meandering mind games (“Useless Phrases”) and self-deprecations (“Cheap Queen”) become earnest observations ("Watching My Phone") and confident tell-offs (“You Destroyed My Heart”). The final number—a breathtaking, pensive ballad that unfolds delicately—feels fragile and guarded: “And it might take a sec/My world’s become a mess/I’m second-guessing all the things I used to want to be,” she sings, a bit more measured than she was at the start. But she’s stronger, too, armed with the self-assurance of someone who has had their heart ripped apart and, to their own surprise, survived.

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