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King Princess: Tiny Desk Concert

There is a sly, casual sense of humor that permeates the music of Mikaela Mullaney Straus, who writes and performs as King Princess. Her songs mix the emotions of crushing love and lust with playful asides of self-deprecation, all of which make for a unique, self-assured style. And that self-assuredness is on full display in the indie pop singer's Tiny Desk concert, featuring King Princess performing three songs from her most recent album, Hold On Baby.

Lyrics like, "You look the same. Did you stop smoking weed? Or trying to please your dad?" from the opening "Cursed" — an ode to the difficulties of encountering an old, toxic friend — burn a little brighter in the naked, largely acoustic sound of King Princess' set. Partway through the next song, the loving "Winter is Hopeful," explicitly inspired by the artist's girlfriend, she takes a beat to laugh at a set of bar chimes being rung to perfection. "I love that," she says, before returning to sing, her voice vibrating with a soulful urgency.

"If you're feeling saucy today, you can join in with the band," King Princess says before her finale, "Let Us Die," a punchy, fuzzed-out pop-rock song on the record that transforms here into a guitar-strummed jam session. "If the only way to love you is to let us die," she sings, her lyrics pulling together images of a break-up that's like a car driven off a cliff, poison-drinking and fingers stuck in sockets, "I will if I have to." Is this girl for real? If the gut-punching confidence with which King Princess sings here is any indication, yes, she is.

SET LIST

  • "Cursed"
  • "Winter is Hopeful"
  • "Let Us Die"
  • MUSICIANS

  • King Princess: vocals, acoustic guitar
  • Antoine Fadavi: drums 
  • Kaela Sinclair: keyboards, vocals
  • Logan McQuade: bass 
  • Zack Page: guitar
  • Asaf Rodeh: guitar, vocals
  • DJ Balint-Dickson: percussion
  • TINY DESK TEAM

  • Producer: Bob Boilen
  • Director/Editor: Maia Stern
  • Audio Engineer: Josh Rogosin
  • Series Producer: Bobby Carter
  • Videographers: Maia Stern, Joshua Bryant, Michael Zamora, Elizabeth Gillis
  • Audio Assistant: Natasha Branch
  • Production Assistant: Jill Britton
  • Tiny Desk Team: Suraya Mohamed, Marissa Lorusso, Hazel Cills, Kara Frame, Ashley Pointer
  • VP, Visuals and Music: Keith Jenkins
  • Senior VP, Programming: Anya Grundmann
  • Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

    Hazel Cills
    Hazel Cills is an editor at NPR Music, where she edits breaking music news, reviews, essays and interviews. Before coming to NPR in 2021, Hazel was a culture reporter at Jezebel, where she wrote about music and popular culture. She was also a writer for MTV News and a founding staff writer for the teen publication Rookie magazine.