“I hate it when dudes try to chase me, but I love it when you try to save me.”
These are the opening lyrics of “1950,” the song whose timeless sound and sweet sincerity helped it reach a huge international audience just one year ago. Since then, it’s become so popular that nearly everyone I’ve talked to about the artist said basically the same thing—I don’t know her, but I know that song.
Although I deem it a great injustice, I’m not surprised that King Princess lacks the same level of name-recognition as other artists whose songs have over 220 million listens on Spotify. Released just last year, “1950” was the 20-year-old artist’s breakout single. Something of a musical prodigy, King Princess was offered her first record deal at age eleven. She provides the soulful lead vocals and plays all the instruments on the recording, which was quickly followed by her debut EP, Make My Bed.
While King Princess is not (yet) a household name, she’s far from a one-hit wonder. Already, the artist has garnered a significant following of die-hard fans on social media. From her Twitter and Instagram posts to her music videos, it’s clear that her appeal goes beyond music. She is refreshingly down-to-earth and maddeningly cool, and she has a sense of humor that makes you wish you could add her on Snapchat.
Her nearly overnight rise to fame hasn’t seemed to shake her one bit, nor has the added pressure of being a voice for an entire community as a gay and genderqueer musician. King Princess celebrates queer love in all her music, from the sexy, sweet, synth-pop confession that is “Pussy is God” to the bittersweet power ballad “Talia.” In the past, songs such as Rihanna’s “Sex With Me” and Beyonce’s “Partition” have drawn some criticism for their daring expressions of women’s sexuality, but an acceptance of queer love as inspiration for pop songs has been historically unheard-of. Artists like Hayley Kiyoko, Kehlani, and King Princess are changing that, and their growing popularity is proof that pop music is evolving.
Not only do her lyrics stand out from mainstream pop, but King Princess’s presentation is also unabashedly authentic; as genderqueer, she does not conform to the strict gender binary so pervasive in our society, and this is expressed in her style both on and off the stage. She frequently rocks vintage suits over her iconic white muscle tank, often with 80’s-inspired pops of color like a sequined jacket in the music video for “Upper West Side” or red eyeshadow in an interview with Rolling Stones.
She told the magazine, “There’s so much shit you have to deal with in finding yourself and learning how to present yourself in this world, because everyone’s judging you.” Despite this pressure, King Princess presents herself with a confidence and authenticity that makes her not only a talented artist worth listening to, but also a role model for young fans struggling with their own identities.
King Princess may have a small discography, but each and every track is saturated with emotion and a unique mix of indie synth-pop that will make you fall in love—if you haven’t yet already—and crave more. Luckily, her next album is rumored to be released later this year.