King Princess (aka Mikaela Straus) has a public stamp of approval from Harry Styles and a contract with Mark Ronson’s record label, but as her most popular single “1950”—a melancholic ballad of queer longing, inspired by a Patricia Highsmith novel—might indicate, she aims to be a different kind of pop star.
The songs on her debut full-length album, Cheap Queen, wouldn’t sound out of place alongside anything on the Hot 100, but each does require more attention than the average earworm. Most of the tracks are mid-tempo meditations on sitting alone at home, doing things like smoking joints (“Tough On Myself”) and waiting for your crush to text (“Watching My Phone”). Even the more upbeat, traditional pop songs have a touch of the weird. The slinky “Prophet” sounds like something Fiona Apple could have made circa 1999, while “Hit the Back” brings to mind Carly Rae Jepsen crossed with Christine and the Queens. The plaintive queer love song “Homegirl” and the buoyant title track are two of Cheap Queen’s many highlights, showcasing Straus’ gift for crafting both lilting melodies and instantly addictive hooks. If this is the future of pop, then I welcome our moody Gen Z overlords. (5/5)
By Eliza Thompson
Cheap Queen was released October 25, 2019. This article originally appeared in the Winter 2020 print edition of BUST Magazine. Subscribe today!
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