Turn it up it's our favorite song, or is it?
Can Katy Perry pull off political pop? Chained To The Rhythm wants to be socially relevant and a dance floor filler - but it falls short on the latter. The production and vocal performance are downers, but the lyrics have more substance than anyone would expect from a Katy Perry lead single. Upholding her recent promise to keep fighting for what she believes in, Perry teams up with Bob Marley’s grandson Skip to deliver a melancholic tune about the dangers of dancing to forget in a world that desperately needs us to keep paying attention. Even the cutesy lyric video is a bleak affair underneath it all: Katy dubbed the hamster "Mr Parsons", after a character from George Orwell’s iconic novel 1984, who blindly follows orders from his corrupt government. Subtlety isn’t the key here, the time for that is as over as the days of teenage dreams and california gurls. While it’s always commendable when singers use their power for good, Chained comes across as more of a resigned lament than an inspiring call to arms.
Lyrically, "Chained to the Rhythm" is a step in the right direction for Katy, although I do wonder if it was written before or after the election. I know she's still just as pressed as we are. But "Chained" musically, however, is not up to par with Perry's previous efforts. "Roar," "California Gurls," and "I Kissed A Girl," all brought something new to the table for Katy and breathed fresh air into the pop realm, but "Chained" just seems like a PRISM leftover, or just a song that was meant for another artist. The chorus falls a little flat, but that doesn't stop me from doing a slight boogie to it. It's basically 2017's "This Is How We Do" meets the Weeknd. Perhaps Skip Marley's addition could've been longer to raise the song's caliber. 6/10
Katy Perry’s “Chained To The Rhythm” falls somewhere in between incredibly mediocre and all too important. You’d think that Max Martin production and Sia-penned lyrics would result in something outstanding. Unfortunately, in Perry's case, it sounds like four minutes of bonus material on the Target edition of PRISM. That’s until you dissect and interpret the political undertones in the lyrics. But can you blame us? When was the last time you stopped to actually listen to what Katy "plastic bag" Perry was singing?
On "Chained to the Rhythm", Katy implores us to “turn it up, it’s your favorite song”, but unfortunately her fifth lead single does not quite live up to the promise. As a huge Perry fan, I was excited for her new offering to blow me away, but couldn’t help but feel slightly disappointed by the lackluster chorus and uninspired production by pop giant Max Martin. Interestingly, the song’s message is what saves it, as it’s one of the rare pop songs that actually gets better once you read the lyrics. Rather than a straightforward party anthem, Katy put forth a statement on our culture’s tendency for complacency and apathy. I appreciate her effort to infuse her newfound political voice into her music, especially at a time when such a voice is desperately needed. My favourite song? Not quite, but hey, maybe if I keep it on repeat long enough, it’ll eventually grow on me.
I'm conflicted. Katy hinted at taking an experimental route post-Prism, and "Rise" gave me hope. But sonically, "Chained To The Rhythm" plays it safe. She enlisted pop heavy hitters Max Martin and Sia to help mold a cookie-cutter bop that sounds epic in your car and probably even better when performed on tour, but it's missing that X factor (and Skip Marley might as well not be featured). We'll see how it bodes when she takes the stage at the Grammys on Sunday to perform it, but right now it's still sinking in. Either I'm forcing myself to like "Chained" (it's on heavy rotation on my Spotify) or the tune is genuinely great. Taking a closer look at the lyrics, Katy demands we take our head out of the sand (or our smart phones) for a moment and really soak in the fuckery going on in the world; climate change, warfare, refugees, Trump. I just worry her valuable message that's wrapped up in a pretty pink bow gets lost in translation. Then again, perhaps that's what we need right now. In a world where if it bleeds, it leads, maybe subtlety is the answer.
Combined score: 6.4