Review: Katy Perry’s “Chained to the Rhythm” Is the Song We Need Right Now

Perry’s new single feels like the off-season summer smash we need right now.

Review: Katy Perry's Chained to the Rhythm Is the Song We Need Right Now
Photo: Capitol Music Group

In case you weren’t among the lucky few who happened upon the 20 some-odd disco balls strategically placed around the world, from San Francisco to Paris, playing Katy Perry’s new single, “Chained to the Rhythm,” the track made its official online premiere tonight. Rather than the stomping disco anthem the song’s title and inventive, albeit not always successful, pre-release promo might have suggested, “Chained to the Rhythm” is a midtempo—but no less beckoning—invitation to the dance floor.

Though it’s only February, the single—co-written by Sia and produced by longtime Perry collaborator Max Martin—feels like the off-season summer smash we need right now. This can be largely attributed to the song’s breezy Caribbean flavor, strikingly reminiscent of Men at Work’s early-’80s hit “Down Under.” (The song also features Bob Marley’s grandson, Skip Marley.)

True to the track’s genre bona fides, “Chained to the Rhythm” is a decidedly political statement: “So comfortable, we’re living in a bubble, bubble/So comfortable, we cannot see the trouble, trouble,” sings Perry, who was a vocal supporter of Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election. Marley takes a more combative tone (“Time is ticking for the empire/The truth they feed is feeble…And we about to riot/They woke up, they woke up the lions”), but whether the song is an endorsement of self-care or a critique of escapism in times of political upheaval is up for interpretation. What is certain is that a track with a hook that implores listeners to “Come on, turn it up/Keep it on repeat” had better deliver the goods, and this one most definitely does.

Perry is scheduled to perform at the 59th Grammy Awards this Sunday.

Sal Cinquemani

Sal Cinquemani is the co-founder and co-editor of Slant Magazine. His writing has appeared in Rolling Stone, Billboard, The Village Voice, and others. He is also an award-winning screenwriter/director and festival programmer.

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