With Valentine's Day looming later this week, musician Mikaela Straus explores the flip side of romance
On her debut album, Cheap Queen, Mikaela Straus, aka King Princess, lingers on relationships that are either damaged beyond repair or at least well on the way to being so, which isn’t surprising coming from a singer who previously expressed a want to “write about getting my heart smashed.”
Bruised opener “Tough on Myself” sets the tone, Straus picking at the scab of a broken romance, while the electro-tinged “Do You Want to See Me Crying?” appears to answer softly in the affirmative. Even in those moments when the musician attempts to hold tight — “I can’t let this fall apart,” she sings amid the long-distance affair of “Ain’t Together” — things have a way of eventually coming unraveled. But even as the hurts pile up in a string of moving, mid-tempo keyboard ballads, Straus never considers throwing in the towel, ending the album with faith in her heart unbowed. “So if you think it’s love, it is,” she sings.
Audiences have responded to the pop singer in kind. The musician’s debut single, “1950,” an ode to queer empowerment that sounds like it could have emerged from the Brill Building in the 1960s, was a viral hit, and she’s already collaborated with the likes of Mark Ronson, who contributed production to Cheap Queen, and Fiona Apple, dueting on a jaw-dropping cover of Apple’s “I Know.”
This rise continues in Columbus, where King Princess’ concert, which takes place tonight (Monday, Feb. 10), was moved from the Newport to Express Live in order to accommodate demand.