Released: February 10, 2017
Having taken a musical hiatus for god knows how long (her last album Prism was released back in 2013), the ever-so-stylish Ms. Katy Perry gave the world a full-on taste with her comeback single “Rise”, which was used as one of the official theme songs to the Rio Olympics that was held back last year. Unfortunately, that ‘taste’ was more like bitterness; the song actually sucked, and didn’t do any favors of the new re-invented Katy Perry that the world had been waiting for. Fast tracking it to February 2017, and the pop star drops her disco-fied number “Chained To The Rhythm”, with the featuring artist Skip Marley. I will say I was slightly surprised with the release, having though Ms. Perry would further expand her style since the timid “Rise” was released last year. But as a result, this new single is actually worth waiting for… to an extent.
The track offers an expansion to 2016’s cool-and-chic pop sound that graced oh-so many artists and songs last year that I’ve instantly forgotten who did what and what did who (nah I’m kidding, I’m pretty familiar who did what… and what did who.) But the single is actually a laid-back disco track that blends that 2016 pop vibe, almost giving it a retro-type of feel with its guitar riffs and subtle drum beats. To me, this re-visits the mature and stripped essence from her Prism work, and the frothy deliveries of Teenage Dream, which only shimmers some more incredible nostalgia (ahhhhhh, the memories). Another trait that was heavily picked up on by the world was its semi-political approach, which has been a… well, phenomenon—to the say the least—particularly in America in recent months. Personally, I can’t see squat, but what I can hear is the lyrical contents empowerment of liberty and comfortability to the people in the world, particularly with lyrics like “Turn it up, it’s your favorite song /Dance, dance, dance to the distortion,” and “Break down the walls to connect, inspire”.
But here’s the trick; it can also be taken as a contrasting effect especially with the title; does that mean we are “Chained” in a bad way, or “Chained” in a good way? Whatever the case may be, this is a typical motif within Perry’s songwriting, so it only gives her more brownie points for its inspirational message. Also, the bridge section is effortlessly claimed by Skip Marley, the 20-year old grandson to the legend himself Bob Marley (uhhhh, if the name wasn’t enough?) He does a good job performing his parts in good o’l dancehall vibes, and makes it equally his own.
Having said that, there are also… the bum notes. The issue I have with the song is her singing. Not because she can’t sing, cause she shines just as bright with those vocals that made “Firework” and “Roar” massive bangers. But it’s the lazy and too conformable deliveries, particularly in the chorus where it sounds a little sloppy to me. And the other factor is the remaining half of her songwriting. Whilst she belts out some pretty impressive notes and stories, one thing I notice… and to me, it’s more a FACT… is that she still stumbles about with ridicule cliches, especially with the dire “Stumbling around like a wasted zombie” and the generic “Living our lives through a lens”. At times, even the repetitive “Chained to the rhythm, to the rhythm, to the rhythm” becomes an irritating earworm. Gurl… no.
Despite the numbers of flaws, which hopefully isn’t infected throughout the material on her upcoming album, “Chained to the Rhythm” is a nice step in the right direction. This is the year where it channels the groovy Katy, after having big poppy princess Katy and stripped Katy. So, with that said, it’s time to hang up the old clothes, put some hair spray on, lace up them Converses, and wear your rose-tinted glasses… cause Ms. Katy Perry is back!