Back in 2010, when pop princess Katy Perry was in the news for shooting whipped cream from her bra in the “California Gurls” video, few may have guessed that she’d emerge as an outspoken political activist in the 2016 election. It’s not that women who play with a little sexual whimsy with their costuming choices can’t also be politically and socially active, but lighthearted fun seemed to be Perry’s primary goal at the time. An ardent Hillary Clinton surrogate, Perry campaigned with the former secretary of State on several occasions and even performed her singles “Rise” and "Roar" at the Democratic National Convention. Now Perry’s set to perform her politically charged brand-new single “Chained to the Rhythm” at the Grammy Awards on CBS this Sunday.
While Perry’s ballad “Firework,” also released in 2010, exhibited some social relevance due to its inspiring message to otherized, particularly LGBT, kids, “Chained to the Rhythm” tackles politics head-on, specifically the apathy that helped lead the country to a Donald Trump presidency.
The catchy song begins, “Are we crazy / Living our lives through a lens / Trapped in our white picket fence / Like ornaments.” Perry’s song continues to assail those in privileged situations that allow them to shut themselves off to the news cycle if it doesn’t directly inconvenience their lives.
“Turn it up, it's your favorite song / Dance, dance, dance to the distortion / Turn it up, keep it on repeat / Stumbling around like a wasted zombie,” she sings in the chorus.
The new song is off of Perry’s yet-untitled upcoming fourth studio album, due out this year, although a release date has not been confirmed. She cowrote “Chained to the Rhythm” with Sia Furler, Max Martin, Ali Payami, and Skip Marley (Bob Marley’s grandson, who also sings with Perry on the tune).
While the new song begins benignly enough, by the time the bridge ramps up, there's no question that it’s intended as a direct rebuke to Trump and his administration.
“It is my desire / Break down the walls to connect, inspire / Up in your high place, liars / 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 about to riot / They woke up, they woke up the lions,” Marley chants.
Beyond stumping for Clinton throughout the election, Perry recently appeared at the National Women’s March in Washinton, D.C., among other celebrities, including Madonna, Janelle Monae, America Ferrera, and Cher.
Watch the lyric video for "Chained to the Rhythm" below.