‘No Ego’: Citizen Queen represents girl group excellence for the new age

Jon Ali is In The Know’s music contributor. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram for more.

From The Supremes to TLC to the Spice Girls to Destiny’s Child to The Pussycat Dolls to Fifth Harmony to Little Mix and so on: There’s just something about a group of talented and fierce ladies dancing and singing that conjures instant empowerment.

Enter Nina Nelson, Kaedi Dalley, Hannah Mrozak, Cora Isabel and Kaylah Sharve of Citizen Queen — the girl group 2021 deserves.

Citizen Queen
Credit: Lauren Dunn

What makes these girls so special? No single member of this a cappella girl group is alike. All five ladies come from different states and different backgrounds — and that’s just the beginning. As vocalists, each member has a distinct tone and style. Instead of fitting into one specific mold, these five lean into their individuality, blending together effortlessly like every necessary ingredient in a recipe

The group oozes that Spice Girls “girl power” camaraderie, which is surprising considering they were complete strangers before the group’s formation. That is, aside from Nelson and Sharve, who both graduated from USC and performed in the SoCal VoCals, the university’s oldest a cappella group.

SoCal VoCals alumnus and member of the Grammy-winning a cappella group Pentatonix, Scott Hoying, along with fellow alumni and acclaimed vocal arrangers Ben Bram and Shams Ahmed, hand-selected each member of Citizen Queen. The co-founders spent months sorting through hundreds of audition tapes and hosting in-person callbacks in Los Angeles and New York to form the group.

Not only does Citizen Queen have undeniable chemistry, but they managed to create magic from the get-go. They’ve already racked up hundreds of thousands of streams, and millions of views on YouTube since their launch in 2018. That includes the expertly-arranged “Evolution of Girl Groups” (20 million views and counting), which is filled with legendary hits of past and present girl groups. 

Since then, Citizen Queen has released spectacular covers, toured in arenas throughout North America as an opening act for Pentatonix and received praise from Ariana Grande and Meghan Trainor — all without ever releasing any original music of their very own. That is, until now.

Alongside producers Justin Tranter and NOVA WAV, Citizen Queen spent the better part of last year developing their sound. Now, it’s time to show the world what they’ve been working on.

Tranter, the writer behind hits from Britney Spears, Selena Gomez and Halsey, said in a press release, “These brilliant young women are exactly what a girl group should be … Diverse, inclusive, passionate, loving and truly dedicated to every detail of their craft. They don’t take their extraordinary vocal gifts for granted for one second.”

“Citizen Queen has always been five best friends that love to sing together, love each other for our differences as much as our similarities and respect each other for that very same reason,” member Kaedi added. “We’re taking that energy into this new chapter of our story!”

Citizen Queen
Credit: Lauren Dunn

The ladies got it right straight out of the gate with their debut single, “Call Me Queen.” It’s a stomping, empowering throwback to ’90s girl group harmonizing with a soulful sound that feels familiar and fresh at the same time. The song is chock full of rich vocals, and the sexy video brings it more to life, showcasing a grittier side of CQ.

Their newest single released last week, on the other hand, is a much more modern, club-ready banger. In “No Ego,” the girls unapologetically strut their confidence across twerk-worthy claps and pounding, aggressive beats.

“I’m a real one, no, no ego/ I can’t keep my hands off of me/ Sorry not sorry, no apology…,” the girls declare across the earworm of a chorus.

It’s a fun, caption-ready and youthful blast of beat-heavy female empowerment. It’s cheeky, fresh and fierce — and perhaps their best shot at Top 40 radio play.

But beyond that, it’s also the song that perfectly bridges the gap between the earnestness of Citizen Queen’s early YouTube rise in 2018 with the grown stars of 2021. It’s still very early days for the group, but keep your eyes and ears peeled. There’s plenty of promise packed into this quintet.

“No Ego” is available on all streaming platforms here.

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