There are days when it feels like we never left 1950.
We might see on the news that a business refused to serve a same-sex couple. Perhaps we will be reading the newspaper and photos of racial protests will be on the front page. Often, we see that some lawmaker yearns to overturn equal rights given to a minority group.
King Princess wants the world to know that despite these injustices, queer love in particular has existed and fought to subvert oppression for centuries.
In her debut single “1950,” she gently croons about unrequited love, and how seeds of doubt can grow in the person who is vocal about their feelings. Additionally, when looking at queer relationships, pressure is added to that doubt since queer love was once forced to be hidden.
In a statement to The Line of Best Fit, an independent music website in the U.K., following the release, she said, “Queer love was only able to exist privately for a long time, expressed in society through coded art forms. I wrote this song as a story of unrequited love in my own life, doing my best to acknowledge and pay homage to that part of history.”
Born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, the up-and-coming artist begins the song by painting a picture of a burgeoning relationship. In the first verse, the lyrics, “I love it when we play 1950 / It's so cold that your stare's 'bout to kill me / I'm surprised when you kiss me” express hesitancy, with one person unsure of how to express intimacy, or warmth, with another.
The song then turns wistful, with the pre-chorus, “So tell me why my gods look like you / And tell me why it's wrong” questioning why people cannot accept love in certain eras, and perhaps wondering when that will improve.
As she enters the chorus, she commands attention. Her tone is defiant as she promises to wait for the one she wants to be with, and that she prays will one day reciprocate her love.
By the second verse, she returns to softer, angelic tones, where she revisits the doubtfulness of whether or not her love interest shares her affection. She sings, “Did you mean it when you said I was pretty? / That you didn't wanna live in a city / Where the people are shitty?” and wonders what the future might hold for them, or if there will in fact be any future.
Perhaps my favorite lyrics in the song, though, are when she pauses after the aforementioned questions and then explodes with an anthemic declaration of love, singing: “I like it when we play 1950 / So bold, make them know that you're with me / Stone cold, will you miss me?”
The lyrics are easily the ones sung with the most confidence, without regard for whether or not her love will be returned, or how people will perceive the love if it is displayed to the world.
As the pre-chorus and chorus repeat, she eventually leads the listener into the bridge, singing, “I hope that you're happy with me in your life / I hope that you won't slip away in the night.” Despite the bridge reiterating her overwhelming desire to know where she and her love interest stand, it remains unresolved, not unlike circumstances that we see today.
King Princess’ decision to end “1950” by relishing in her nonconformity provides an answer to the timid young woman who starts the song unsure of her ability to overcome the obstacles placed in her path. She reveals that the love is bigger than herself and the one that she is waiting for, and that the wait is worth it.
Moreover, “1950” offers a refreshingly hopeful tone that is otherwise absent in the established despondency of contemporary pop music.