For anyone who was hoping to live in a bubble for the next four years, ignoring the pretty depressing state of American politics, Katy Perry has a strong message.
Her new song, “Chained to the Rhythm,” dropped last night, and just to make sure no one missed the message, she also released its music video, complete with on-screen lyrics. The song — which will stick in your head like glue, trust — was co-written by Sia and Skip Marley, who is also featured. And it is not shy about getting political, even though the video doesn’t look all that polarizing because it just shows a hamster watching TV and eating tiny foods.
But the lyrics tell a totally different story. The song starts with “Are we crazy? Living our lives through a lens / Trapped in our white picket fence, like ornaments.” One refrain of the song is “So comfortable, we’re living in a bubble, bubble / So comfortable, we cannot see the trouble, trouble.” And the chorus calls out the politically disengaged who have been (at least partially) blamed for Trump’s rise to power: “So put your rose-colored glasses on / And party on / 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.”
When Marley comes into the song, his lyrics are about the resistance movement that has been strengthened since the election by events like the Women’s March: “It is my desire / Break down the walls to connect, inspire / Ay, 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’re about to riot / They woke up, they woke up the lions.”
There’s also some cool symbolism in the video; even though the concept of a hamster eating tiny meals seems pretty innocuous, as one viewer pointed out, the color finishing on the video is very similar to colors that Hillary Clinton wore as she rose to political prowess as first lady in the ’90s.
Considering how hard Perry campaigned for Clinton before the election, that nod to the former Secretary of State doesn’t seem accidental.
Then there’s the hamster himself (his name is Mr. Parsons, by the way). He’s clearly representative of those politically disengaged nonvoters Perry is singing directly to — his only role in the video is to stuff his tiny hamster face with tiny hamster food and watch another hamster run on a wheel on TV. The only thing he’s engaged with is the pointless repetition on the screen, and it’s a pretty powerful image, considering it’s a video of a hamster.
Of course, with a video as subtly political as this one, not everyone is stoked about the message.
Perry is expected to perform “Chained to the Rhythm” at the Grammys on Sunday.
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