Florence + The Machine’s new single, “King,” reveals the issues women face while creating artwork.
“We argue in the kitchen about whether to have children / About the world ending and the scale of my ambition / And how much is art really worth,” vocalist Florence Welch sings.
Motherhood is beautiful, but a taxing job. As women grow older, society tends to ask when they’ll have a baby and the pressure strengthens. There is a growing realization women do not need to have children, but a lot of people still feel the pressure.
After four years without new music, the indie rock band is now working on their fifth album. They released “King,” the album’s first single, February 23.
“As an artist, I never actually thought about my gender that much. I just got on with it,” Welch said. “But now, thinking about being a woman in my 30s and the future, I suddenly feel this tearing of my identity and my desires—that to be a performer, but also to want a family, might not be as simple for me as it is for my male counterparts.”
Women have historically been held to standards men could never understand. They’ve been told to be pretty while doing all the housework, while raising children and while being the perfect wife. Being held to almost impossible standards some women do not want to conform to has led to generations of forced or pressured pain. Welch belts out lyrics declaring that she is not a mother, nor a bride. Instead, she’s a king.
A woman of many roles, she sings of the difficulty she now has while creating her artwork.
“The very thing you’re best at is the thing that hurts the most / But you need your rotten heart, your dazzling pain like diamond rings,” Welch sings.
Welch, in her 30s, began to feel higher pressures of being a woman. She sang about her golden crown of sorrow and empty halls that echoed with self mythology.
Welch sang about her artwork becoming painful and the creative process harming her. Her lyrics about going to war in order to have material to sing reflects the pain of women: motherhood and marriage. Her artwork becomes an outcome of hardship.
The song is a reference to the sacrifices women make for their art. Having to feel pain in order to create, Welch sings about needing to go to war.
In “King,” Welch refers to women as changelings. She sings about the strange claws of a killer coming from within her. This refers to her inner self challenging her creative side by degrading her self worth and forcing other issues into her life.
“I had modeled myself almost exclusively on male performers, and for the first time, I felt a wall come down between me and my idols as I have to make decisions they did not,” Welch said.
Unlike men, women have to balance more aspects of life in order to sustain a career along with motherhood. This can be traced back to the beginning of the song where Welch sings of an argument about whether to have children.
Pressure against women has been built over centuries, and Welch is declaring herself king while struggling with the constant pulls of her career along with the rest of her life. By the end of the music video, Welch ascends above the men around her. She is the king.