WeKnowTheVideo: Katy Perry’s Chained to the Rhythm

February 23, 2017

Wow. I just have so many things to say about Katy Perry’s new music video for ‘Chained to the Rhythm’, but definitely not in a bad way.

Katy Perry’s new single, ‘Chained to the Rhythm”, features Skip Marley and was released on Tuesday. While the album hasn’t been talked about, we can assume the track is a single of what will be an upcoming album from Perry. ‘Chained to the Rhythm’ as a single is a very catchy track, true to Katy Perry’s style. But what shocked me was how deep this song actually goes.

If you have been paying attention to Perry during the past election, she was very active in the political world, and used her platform to speak on political issues. So following this, it makes sense that the song comments on our current political climate, and the place that our society is. It’s not very flattering commentary either. Katy describes the track as “purposeful pop” and I think that is spot on. It’s a catchy tune, but uses her voice to talk about bigger issues. Overall, the song comments on how we blindly function in our daily lives. About how we are all doing the same things, and are trying to live in some sort of utopia that we have imagined up.

But let’s talk about the video. I think the video clearly visualizes and represents the themes represented in the song, and I believe the video makes the song hit much harder. The video opens in a theme park called ‘Oblivia’- a direct reference to society being oblivious. The world depicted at first view looks like a futuristic pastel utopia, but it gets much, much darker and deeper. The theme park looks like Disney World’s EPCOT, if it was pastel. The whole video, from the theme park to the people, is very 50’s inspired, but also futuristic. Visually, the theme park is a direct contrast to what the world actually is, which I find very interesting. The video makes major cultural and societal references, with strong references to things and ideas like: George Orwell’s classic novel, 1984, the housing market crash, the American dream, and weapons of mass destruction. Some smaller and more contemporary references include: likes on Facebook, social media, and the selfie culture. Katy Perry isn’t treading lightly in the area of classic imagery.

As we move through the video, we see this utopia-like place, which we discover is actually a dystopia. As the video unfolds, we can all see how bad this world is. It reminds me a lot of the episode of Black Mirror, “Nosedive” which addresses similar issues in a very similar visual style. Katy Perry’s character quickly picks up that something isn’t right here. As her character moves through the video, she becomes less content, and very, very concerned. I think the real turning point is when Skip Marley enters the video during the movie scene. Katy Perry’s character breaks out of step with the other characters in the video, and this is what sets her apart.

Although talking about these sorts of issues in music isn’t necessarily new (it’s particularly common in hardcore punk), it’s really refreshing to see this powerful of a song released as a very mainstream release. And on top of this, I think the music video is brilliant, and really drives the main messages of the song home. I think using music as an outlet to talk about societal issues like this is incredibly important, and I commend Katy Perry for doing so. We shouldn’t be complacent if we don’t like the way our political or social climate is currently.

Overall, I think the song and video are both amazing and the video is very well done. I could talk about and analyze this video for days, but we all have other things to do! What do you think? Be sure to let us know on Twitter @weknowtheDJ!

-Tara Howell (@taraisntpunk)

Feature image by Leslie Crow

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