YUNGBLUD – ‘The Emperor’ single review: an anthemic equivalent of sticky indie club at 2am


YUNGBLUD delivers his most high-octane song in years with 'The Emperor', surely set to get the crowd rocking as he embarks on his first arena tour next year.

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The fourth single from his upcoming self-titled third album, Doncaster indie-emo star Dominic “YUNGBLUD” Harrison released The Emperor last week ahead of its use this year as the ‘anthem’ of ESPN’s College Football broadcast season.

A slight step away from the pop-tinged production of preceding singles The Funeral and Memories, The Emperor harks back to the indie-punk sound that kicked off Harrison’s career in songs like Tin Pan Boy and modern indie classic I Love You, Will You Marry Me? that always make for a raucous moment in his live sets. Balancing the anthemic, mosh-pit starting chorus with ska-tinged verses, I dare you to try and sit still while listening.

Vocally, Harrison sounds noticeably gruffer than usual on the chorus’ repeating phrase of “are you the emperor?” which gives it a slightly unfinished edge, but this works in its favour as the well-polished, glossy production of something like his second album Weird!‘s Cotton Candy simple would not work. Cotton Candy’s pristine pop perfection perfectly represents the upbeat vibe it’s going for, while The Emperor is the song equivalent of a sticky indie club at 2am, therefore the slightly messy production represents this perfectly.

The song is somewhat of a rowdy call to arms against Harrison’s struggles with mental health, with the song lyrically describing his head as an ‘emperor’ that he battles against. The chorus’s simple repetitiveness hinders its ability to be an anthem in the vein of say, I Love You, Will You Marry Me? but it is one that will be easily be picked up by unsuspecting festival-goers, and the more that enjoy a mosh to this, the better.

The Emperor is out now via Geffen Records, check it out below! YUNGBLUD’s upcoming self-titled album is out on September 2nd.


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