Kings & Queens (Ava Max song)

"Kings & Queens" is a song by American singer Ava Max, released on March 12, 2020, through Atlantic Records as the fifth single from her debut studio album, Heaven & Hell (2020). The song was written by Max, Brett McLaughlin, Desmond Child, Hillary Bernstein, Jakke Erixon, Madison Love, Mimoza Blinsson, and producers Cirkut and RedOne. It consists of an electric guitar ans synthesizers, and contains an interpolation of Bonnie Tyler's 1986 song "If You Were a Woman (And I Was a Man)", which was additionally used in Bon Jovi's 1986 song "You Give Love a Bad Name". The lyrics express the message of women's empowerment.

"Kings & Queens"
Max is sitting on a throne in front of a cloudy background while holding a metallic sword pointed on the ground. The song's title is positioned above her.
Single by Ava Max
from the album Heaven & Hell
ReleasedMarch 12, 2020 (2020-03-12)
Recorded2018 – August–September 2019
Length2:42
LabelAtlantic
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)
Ava Max singles chronology
"Alone, Pt. II"
(2019)
"Kings & Queens"
(2020)
"Who's Laughing Now"
(2020)
Music video
"Kings & Queens" on YouTube

"Kings & Queens" received generally favorable reviews from music critics, many of whom praised the production, guitar solo, and lyrics. The single peaked at number one in Israel, Poland, and Slovenia, while also charting on the US Billboard Hot 100 at number 13, and on the UK Singles Chart at number 19. It is certified platinum in nine countries, including the United States and United Kingdom. An accompanying music video was directed by Isaac Rentz and released on March 27, 2020, which depicts a Khaleesi-inspired Max dancing in a heaven-themed throne room alongside a group of dancers while feasting at a banquet. A second version of the song titled "Kings & Queens, Pt. 2" was released on August 6, 2020, which featured American singer Lauv and rapper Saweetie.

Background and developmentEdit

"Kings & Queens" began development in 2018, where Max recorded the song in five separate studios located in Europe, Germany, and Los Angeles.[1] The song went through ten different iterations which included different melodies and production, before the final version was completed around August to September 2019.[2] Max wrote the verse and the pre-chorus alongside American songwriter Madison Love, before being given the chorus by Moroccan-Swedish record producer RedOne. The chorus originally just contained the melody, but was reworked in the studio with Leland, Love and Cirkut, where it interpolated the chorus melody of Bonnie Tyler's 1986 song "If You Were a Woman (And I Was a Man)",[3] which was subsequently used in Bon Jovi's 1986 song "You Give Love a Bad Name".[4] Desmond Child was consequently credited on "Kings & Queens" as a songwriter.[3][5] Max decided to include the electric guitar in the track to complement the pop electronic sound in her music.[2]

"Kings & Queens" was announced on February 27, 2020, where Max confirmed that Cirkut, RedOne, and Love were involved with production. She later revealed the song's release date, with the title and artwork on March 7, 2020.[6] It was written by Max, Leland, Child, Hillary Bernstein, Jakke Erixon, Love, Mimoza Blinsson, and producers Cirkut and RedOne.[7]

Composition and lyricsEdit

"Kings & Queens" contains several pulsing verses, with a hook containing synthesizers. The guitar solo following the second verse includes elements of glam rock,[8] which Jon Blistein of Rolling Stone noted as having a "Queen-esque quality".[9] Max stated that the lyrics to "Kings & Queens" describe how the world would be a better place with queens ruling the world.[10] She likened it to her previous song "So Am I" (2019), acknowledging that it contained a similar message about women's empowerment.[2] A line taken from the 1865 book Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by the Queen of Hearts was used in the song, "Disobey me, then baby, it's off with your head".[11]

Critical receptionEdit

Writing for MTV News, Madeline Rothman praised the song's strong electric guitar solo with the lyric, "You might think I'm weak without a sword / But if I had one it'd be bigger than yours".[10] Mike Nied of Idolator noted that the single "highlights Ava's ability to fill dance floors across the globe".[12] Nicholas Hautman of Us Weekly described "Kings & Queens" as "one of the best singles to come out of 2020 so far", praising Max's "powerful and theatrical vocals" and the guitar solo.[8] Writing for Uproxx, Caitlin White described the lyrics as "a subtle tribute to the power of women and a call to action for men to support the queens in their life",[13] while Heran Mamo of Billboard acknowledged that it compared chess moves to feminism; "In chess, the king can move one space at a time/ But queens are free to go wherever they like".[14] Soundigest writer Andrew Chinikidiadi praised the transitions of the electric guitar riff into the bridge and the song's ending. However, he lamented the repetition and duration of the track.[5] Billboard staff ranked "Kings & Queens" at number 53 on their listicle of The 100 Best Songs of 2020, acknowledging that it was the "unofficial anthem of the parade-free 2020 Pride season" during lockdown from the COVID-19 pandemic.[15]

Commercial performanceEdit

"Kings & Queens" debuted at number 73 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart dated August 22, 2020, where it peaked at number 13 on the chart dated November 24, 2020.[16] It also topped the Adult Top 40 chart dated December 12, 2020.[17][18] The song was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) on January 5, 2021, for sales of 1,000,000 units in the US.[19] It was the first time Child's interpolated melody received a platinum certification since being used in 35 years.[4] "Kings & Queens" peaked at number 15 on the Canadian Hot 100 for the chart dated January 16, 2021, and was eventually certified double platinum by Music Canada (MC) for 160,000 track-equivalent sales.[20][21] In Australia, the song bowed at number 31 on the ARIA Singles Chart dated October 4, 2020, where it charted for 11 weeks.[22]

In the United Kingdom, "Kings & Queens" bowed at number 19 on the UK Singles Chart dated July 3, 2020, where it was certified platinum for selling 600,000 equivalent units in the country.[23][24] In Israel, the song peaked at number one on the Media Forest airplay chart dated May 24, 2020.[25][dead link] "Kings & Queens" also topped the Polish Airplay Top 100 on the chart issued June 27, 2020, where it was certified triple platinum by the Polish Society of the Phonographic Industry (ZPAV) for track-equivalent sales of 150,000 units.[26][27]

Music videoEdit

A visualizer was released along with the song on March 12, 2020,[28] which depicts Max as a queen holding a glass of champagne and sword, with a royal deck of cards.[14] She confirmed on the song's release date that she already filmed the official music video, describing it as "very colorful, super fun, crazy dancing, and a big celebration", and likened it to a rainbow.[10] The music video was released on March 27, 2020, and is directed by Isaac Rentz. Max is seen dancing in a heaven-themed throne room with a group of dancers,[29] as she was inspired by Khaleesi from American television series Game of Thrones, and wanted to portray an Amazonian queen surrounded by warriors. Max and Rentz used a moodboard to list several ideas for the feminist-themed music video, with the former often texting ideas to the latter during the night to ensure that it would be perceived as "authentic and personal".[30] Max envisioned the video to be "royal, but in a modern, futuristic kind of way", to ensure that it would feel simple.[1]

The video opens with Max holding a sword between her legs as she sits on a golden throne. She then organizes a banquet, in which several dancers begin drinking champagne and eating food, before performing a dance sequence. During the pre-bridge guitar solo, the dancers wield electric axes.[31]

Track listingEdit

Credits and personnelEdit

Credits adapted from Tidal.[7]

  • Amanda Ava Koci – vocals, songwriting
  • Henry Walter – songwriting, production
  • RedOne – songwriting, production
  • Chris Gehringer – mastering
  • Serban Ghenea – mixing
  • Brett McLaughlin – songwriting
  • Desmond Child – songwriting
  • Hillary Bernstein – songwriting
  • Jakke Erixon – songwriting
  • Madison Love – songwriting
  • Mimoza Blinsson – songwriting

ChartsEdit

CertificationsEdit

Certifications and sales for "Kings & Queens"
Region Certification Certified units/sales
Austria (IFPI Austria)[105] 2× Platinum 60,000 
Belgium (BEA)[106] Platinum 40,000 
Brazil (Pro-Música Brasil)[107] Platinum 40,000 
Canada (Music Canada)[21] 2× Platinum 160,000 
Denmark (IFPI Danmark)[108] Gold 45,000 
France (SNEP)[109] Gold 100,000 
Germany (BVMI)[110] Platinum 400,000 
Italy (FIMI)[111] Platinum 70,000 
Norway (IFPI Norway)[112] 2× Platinum 120,000 
Poland (ZPAV)[27] 3× Platinum 150,000 
Spain (PROMUSICAE)[113] Gold 20,000 
United Kingdom (BPI)[24] Platinum 600,000 
United States (RIAA)[19] Platinum 1,000,000 

  Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.

Release historyEdit

Release dates and formats for "Kings & Queens"
Region Date Format Version Label Ref.
Various March 12, 2020 Original Atlantic [32]
Russia March 19, 2020 Contemporary hit radio [42]
Italy April 10, 2020 Warner [114]
Various April 22, 2020
  • Digital download
  • streaming
Acoustic Atlantic [33]
April 30, 2020 The Remixes [34]
United States July 7, 2020 Contemporary hit radio Original [115]
Various August 6, 2020
  • Digital download
  • streaming
"Pt. 2" [116]
United States August 10, 2020 Hot adult contemporary radio Original [117]

Kings & Queens, Pt. 2Edit

"Kings & Queens, Pt. 2"
Single by Ava Max featuring Lauv and Saweetie
ReleasedAugust 6, 2020 (2020-08-06)
Recorded2020
Length2:55
LabelAtlantic
Songwriter(s)
  • Amanda Ava Koci
  • Brett McLaughlin
  • Madison Love
  • Henry Walter
  • Nadir Khayat
  • Desmond Child
  • Mimoza Blinsson
  • Hillary Bernstein
  • Jakke Erixon
  • Ari Leff
  • Jacob Kasher Hindlin
  • Derrick Milano
  • Diamonte Harper
Producer(s)
  • Cirkut
  • RedOne
Lauv singles chronology
"Slow Grenade"
(2020)
"Kings & Queens, Pt. 2"
(2020)
"Sweet & Sour"
(2020)
Saweetie singles chronology
"Bussin 2.0"
(2020)
"Kings & Queens, Pt. 2"
(2020)
"Money Mouf"
(2020)

A remix of the song titled "Kings & Queens, Pt. 2" was released on August 6, 2020. It features American singer Lauv and rapper Saweetie. The song was recorded during quarantine from the COVID-19 pandemic, after initiation from Max.[1]

Composition and lyricsEdit

"Kings & Queens, Pt. 2" incorporates a new second verse from Lauv, who described the male perspective of being in a relationship with a strong, independent woman.[118] He incorporates Auto-Tune in his vocals, which replaces his lovelorn lyrical style.[119] Saweetie also adds a rap verse in the song, continuing the theme of female empowerment.[118]

Track listingEdit

Digital download – Kings & Queens, Pt. 2[116]
No.TitleLength
1."Kings & Queens, Pt. 2" (featuring Lauv and Saweetie)2:55

ReferencesEdit

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