Victoria (song)

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Single by The Kinks
from the album Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire)
B-side "Mr. Churchill Says" (UK)
"Brainwashed" (USA)
Released 12 December 1969 (UK)
15 October 1969 (USA)
Format 7" vinyl
Recorded May–June 1969 at Pye Studios (No. 2), London
Genre Rock
Label Pye 7N 17865 (UK)
Reprise 0863 (USA)
Writer(s) Ray Davies
Producer(s) Ray Davies
The Kinks 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, played by a group not generally known for being anywhere near that patriotic.

Chart performance[edit]

In the US, "Victoria" was the lead single from Arthur, backed with album track "Brainwashed", and reached #62[1] 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. In Canada, the song was a hit in the greater Toronto area, reaching # 9 on the CHUM Top 30 on 21 March 1970, and staying in the charts for a number of weeks. In Australia, it spent 7 weeks in the charts, peaking at 57.[2]

Cover versions[edit]

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.[3][4] 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.

Cultural references[edit]

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.

From December 2014, part of the song was used in a TV advertising campaign for online bathroom retailer Victoria Plumb.


External links[edit]