Katy Perry's "Chained to the Rhythm" Is a Wake Up Call

Katy Perry's "Chained to the Rhythm" Is a Wake Up Call

The pop star warns America against complacency in 2017.

The pop star warns America against complacency in 2017.

Text: William Defebaugh

Today, Katy Perry releases her new single "Chained to the Rhythm," after teasing the track this week by planting disco balls containing snippets of the song chained to locations all around the world. The call to action was a fitting tactic for rolling out the new track, given its subject matter.

Produced by Max Martin and co-written by Sia, the song is a disco-infused banger that will make you want to immediately drop your things and head for the dance floor. But the track's true genius lies in its undertone of cultural criticism, warning us against desensitization in Trump's America. In the opening verse, she dives right in: "So comfortable, we live in a bubble, a bubble/ So comfortable, we cannot see the trouble, the trouble/ Aren't you lonely up there in utopia/ Where nothing will ever be enough?"

The song can be seen as a call to arms, and a musical manifestation of Perry's recent political activism (she was a vocal supporter of Hillary Clinton during the presidential election). "Dance, dance, dance to the distortion/ Come on, turn it up, keep it on repeat/ Stumbling around like a wasted zombie/ Yeah, we think we're free/ Drink, this one is on me, We're all chained to the rhythm," she sings in the chorus. The rhythm, in this case, is complacency.

This sentiment is echoed by the track's accompanying lyric video, which sees a hamster eating food prepared by hands belonging to someone unseen, while happily watching another hamster run in a wheel on TV (mindless consumerism!).

The metaphor reaches its peak in the bridge, when featured guest Skip Marley makes it explicitly political: "Time is ticking for the empire/ 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."

We can only assume this is just the beginning for Perry, who is expected to release a new album this spring. Listen to the track below, and be sure to tune into her performance at the Grammys on Sunday night.

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