Victoria (the Kinks song)
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|Single by the Kinks|
|from the album Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire)|
|Format||7-inch 45 rpm single|
|Studio||Pye (No. 2), London|
|The Kinks UK singles chronology|
|The Kinks US singles chronology|
|Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire) track listing|
"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 Ray Davies' satirical style, 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 production begins with a simple heavy rock electric blues guitar riff, carried through each verse and chorus, while the "Land of hope and gloria" bridge and raucous background vocals from Dave Davies build to an exultant climax of brass.
In the US, "Victoria" was the lead single from Arthur, backed with album track "Brainwashed", and reached No. 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 No. 33. In Canada, the song was a hit in the greater Toronto area, reaching No. 9 on the CHUM Top 30 on 21 March 1970, and staying in the charts for a number of weeks. In Australia, it spent seven weeks in the charts, peaking at No. 57.
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. From 2014, a cover was used in a VictoriaPlum.com advert.
In popular culture
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.