Sunday, January 03, 2021

King Princess - Pain - Single Review

Riding off the success of her acclaimed debut album Cheap Queen, King Princess is back to reassure us all that we are not the only ones who just can’t help messing up our relationships, with her new single PAIN. 

The song reflects the pressure that members of the LGBTQ community are often under to have a perfect relationship, as if non-hetero people must be perfect at all times and cannot be allowed to mess up in love for fear of being labelled ‘corruptive’. King Princess blasts this out of the water as she tells us “People are realizing that we're bored of heteronormative narrative." 

A descendant of first-class victims of the Titanic, King Princess is so starkly different from that era of stiff-upper-lip politeness that a song about romantic self-destruction was inevitable. The atonal feel of the single PAIN emphasises that everyone regardless of where they fall in terms of sexuality can become addicted to love and even deliberately screw it up, but that that’s what it means to be human: we mess up.  

The music video gives a feel of history repeating itself (representing the addictive nature of love), as King Princess makes her way through an entourage of lovers who each injure her in some way and drag her into the next relationship. Each smash of pain is orchestrated with blood reds and deep blues clashing in clothes and bare backgrounds, with the white shock of the word “PAIN” appearing on screen every time it is mentioned. Although this visual technique can appear slightly amateurish, King Princess revels in it wearing a white crop top blazoned with the words “I heart PAIN”. She drives home the message that sometimes regardless of how loving a relationship is, a person’s self-sabotage streak will always rear its head as she likes “to be trapped in the feelingI feel it nowPain”.  

This indecisiveness could also be a nod to her gender identity, as she told W magazine, “it changes day to day. It’s just not in me to decide.” As she is not bound by what society expects her to be (as her ancestors on the doomed ocean liner would have been), she informs us all that this uncertainty is just part of who she is, which has spilled over into her relationships.  

This remarkable single is ultimately a reminder of what it means to be human: we all feel Pain.  

Jennifer Walne


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