Track Review: Katy Perry, ‘Chained to the Rhythm’
It’s been a minute since we’ve heard from Katy Perry, easily among the biggest popstars of the 00s. In 2016, Perry teased the world with “Rise,” the 2016 Olympics theme. Otherwise, she’s been quiet since her 2013 album, Prism which featured no. 1 hits “Roar” and “Dark Horse.” Now, she seems to be returning after more than a three-year hiatus… or at least the release of single “Chained to the Rhythm” suggests as much. She is assisted by Skip Marley.
The groove of “Chained to the Rhythm” is infectious from the jump. The production instantly stands out, blending danceable urban-pop production with a touch of tropical pop. This isn’t disco – neo-disco perhaps – but the smooth sound and rhythmic production hearken back to that sound. From the start, it’s clear that Perry wanted “Chained to the Rhythm” to contrast previous singles. Indeed, it does, separating it from megahits like “Teenage Dream,” “Roar,” or “Dark Horse.”
Vocally, Perry exhibits a nice tone, suited perfectly to this pop record. She doesn’t need to over-sing, but her approach is pitch-perfect contextually. There’s no denying there are more prolific, decorated singers, but this is her lane and she stays in it exceptionally well. The chorus truly puts “Chained to the Rhythm” over the top, latching after an initial listen:
“Turn it up, it’s your favorite song / 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 / To the rhythm, to The rhythm.”
Lyrically, this song balances being catchy and thought-provoking. The verses are particularly socially and politically relevant, finding Perry upping the ante. Skip Marley only plays a small role, appearing on the bridge. This is a prudent choice, as it doesn’t allow for Perry to be overshadowed, and also introduces the up-and-comer to the world.
All in all, Katy Perry likely has another megahit on her hands with “Chained to the Rhythm.” Three years is a long break to be absent from pop music, but if anybody can make a valiant comeback, she should be able to. This grooves.