Katy Perry has risen and she’s wide awake. Seven months after the release of her single, “Rise” that made rounds this past summer as the official song of the 2016 Rio Olympics, Katy Perry is back with a new single.
Debuting at number four on the US’ Billboard Hot 100, Perry’s “Chained to the Rhythm” featuring Skip Marley – which was released only two weeks ago – is catchy as it is eerie.
Dance, dance to the Distortion
At first click, it’s rhythmic and catchy. It’s a sure party song. How long has Katy Perry been gone? Why has she deprived our eardrums of this gem (that she co-wrote with Sia among others)?
On second listen and ten repeats later, it sounds like she’s saying dance, dance to the disco song? And then you finally look up to read the lyrics and she actually says distortion…huh…It’s then followed by “Turn it up, keep it on repeat / Stumbling around like a wasted zombie / Yeah, we think we’re free…”
A party song with heavily laced political undertones. Perry, who has been publicly outspoken about her feelings towards the past election and her support of Presidential Nominee Hillary Clinton during the course of her campaign, would undoubtedly release a song like this. A song where you can dance, dance, dance to it’s rhythm on the dance floor but when listening to it loudly on your headphones in the quiet of your own room, it gives you pause on wait… oh… that’s what it means.
Rolling Hamsters or Rioting Lions?
The song’s lyric video companion supported the song’s deeper lyrics by featuring a hamster living in an oblivious existence of nothing more than awaiting its food, in an egocentric way of caring for not much else but the food that its being fed with.
Perry then asks if we’re tone-deaf. ”So comfortable we live in a bubble, a bubble / So comfortable, we can’t see the trouble, the trouble.” Skip Marley adds, “The truth they feed is feeble / As so many times before / They greed over the people / They stumbling and fumbling and we’re about to riot / They woke up, they woke up the lions.”
For the most part, the hamster awaits on its couch watching TV while a fictional hamster rolls in its wheel to no end as it is served food. Everything’s been devoured and yet it still wants more. The song then ends with: “It goes on, and on, and on” like the hamster who just keeps rolling on the wheel and the hamster who can’t stop eating all that it is being fed…like information overload, social media noise or capitalism and its excess for that matter.
Welcome to Oblivia
Just this past Tuesday, the official music video was released which already has almost 13 million view count on YouTube within 48 hours. It’s all bubblegum colors reminiscent of “California Girls” in the cloud and futuristic like “ET.” In a vintage but dystopian future of a Disneyland-esque, Stepford-Wives existence. As one Chris Rollins (@chrisrollins_) tweeted, it looks more like an episode of BBC’s “Black Mirror.”
While there are those who have criticized Perry for not taking an actual stance – it’s a mere presentation of the “distortion” presenting no solution…or whatever. It can be argued, however, that Perry’s vision is one of satire mocking the rose-colored glasses wearing, utopia-living, comfortable-bubble-thinking and it’s all under the layers of the rhythm of a many’s new favorite pop song.
A question to ask though: If you put Chained to the Rhythm on repeat, just how chained to the rhythm are you?