|Single by The Kinks|
|from the album Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire)|
|B-side||"Mr. Churchill Says" (R. Davies) (UK)
|Released||12 December 1969 (UK)
15 October 1969 (USA)
|Recorded||May–June 1969 at Pye Studios (No. 2), London|
|Genre||Rock, folk rock|
|Label||Pye 7N 17865 (UK)
Reprise 0863 (USA)
|The Kinks singles chronology|
"Victoria" is a song written by Ray Davies of The Kinks. It is the opening track on the band's 1969 concept album Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire).
In the satirical style that Ray Davies had become known for, the lyrics juxtapose the grim realities of life in Britain during the 19th century ("Sex was bad, and obscene/And the rich were so mean") with the paternalist aspirations of the British Empire in the Victorian age ("From the West to the East/From the rich to the poor/Victoria loved them all"), and expresses the simple adulation of queen and country by the downtrodden working class ("Though I am poor, I am free/When I grow I shall fight/For this land I shall die").
The music starts with a simple electric blues guitar riff carried through each verse and chorus, while the "Land of hope and gloria" bridge builds to an exultant climax of brass in a patriotic manner, played by a group not generally known for being anywhere near that patriotic. The play-out features brass as well as heavy rock guitar and raucous background vocals from Dave Davies.
Although not a major hit, "Victoria" was much more successful than recent Kinks singles. In the US, "Victoria" was the lead single from Arthur, backed with album track "Brainwashed", and reached #62 on the Billboard Hot 100 - their highest position there since their top 20 hit "Sunny Afternoon" in 1966. In the UK, The Kinks' previous two singles had failed to chart. "Victoria" was released as the third and final single from the album in December (backed with "Mr. Churchill Says"), returning them to the UK singles chart, reaching a peak of #33.
A version by The Fall was a UK Top 40 hit in 1988. A version by The Kooks was released on the War Child charity album, Heroes, in February 2009. The album was also released as a 7" boxed set including a 7" with the Kooks version of "Victoria" on one side and the Kinks version on the other. The song has also been covered by Cracker, Nomeansno (who adapted the lyrics to be about Victoria, British Columbia), Roy Arad (who translated the song to Hebrew and changed Victoria to the Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin) and Sonic Youth. Mando Diao recorded a version of it with Ray Davies for MTV Unplugged in 2010.
The song was prominently featured throughout the second episode of How I Met Your Mother 's seventh season, "The Naked Truth", culminating when at the end of the episode, Ted Mosby spots his ex-girlfriend Victoria across a gala.
- The Official Ray Davies Web Site
- The Official Ray Davies Forum - "The Old Grey Board"
- The Official Ray Davies Forum on YouTube
- Full lyrics of this song at MetroLyrics