Culture > Music video review: Chained to the Rhythm by Katy Perry

Posted on February 22, 2017

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Gregory Ledniowski explores the nightmare behind the American Dream

This year, Katy Perry released her brand new four-minute pop song titled Chained to the Rhythm. At the time of writing this review it has 8,825,170 views and is number 3 on trending.

It is not a secret that Katy uses this music video to make fun of the world we live in today. In her song she sings: “So comfortable, we’re living in a bubble; so comfortable, we cannot see the trouble.” It’s admirable to see a pop music star asking listeners to be more reflective and engaged.

A few scenes, which stood out for me were:

Oblivia Theme Park
The video takes place in a futuristic style fantasy theme park, which Katy visits. Ironically it is called “Oblivia”. I think that Katy is trying to say that unfortunately many of us are unaware or unconscious of what is happening in the world around us. I myself can say that when I see words such as: “disaster, deaths, attack, war etc.” in a news headline, I tend not to read the article. This is because I have my own problems in life and I don’t want to think about what other people are going through. However, this is not a good line of thought.

In the video all of the guests walk around like hypnotised zombies taking selfies. They are all also dressed in 1950’s style clothing. The 50’s were a time of great prosperity and optimism for America. Katy herself is mesmerised by the park, but when she pricks her finger on a rose, she realises the truth of the ‘American Dream’.

She realises that life is not at all perfect and that the ‘Dream’ is just that, a dream. It can be described as, “The dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement.” – James Truslow Adams, American writer and historian.

Roller Coaster ride
When Katy sits on the roller coaster ride called ‘Love Me’, she is sat next to a man, just like all the other female passengers. When the ride goes through a tunnel we see ‘like’, ‘heart’ and ’emoji’ symbols.

This possibly symbolises that nowadays we value these virtual signs of appreciation more than anything else. I personally feel disheartened when I see that I have 300 followers on a social media account while someone else has other 1,000. It is very easy to fall into the trap of thinking ‘more is better’ but that is not necessarily true. It is important to remember that ‘likes’ are not the same as real friends. In fact most of the time we don’t even know who is following us. “The truth is, the number of followers you have is nowhere near as important as the type of followers you have.” (Forbes, 2014)

The Rides
Throughout the video we see numerous attractions. In one scene we see a young couple get into a suburban house. The house is lifted into the air, spun around and then drops to the ground. The ride is called ‘The American Dream Drop’, which references the housing crisis in America. Houses are becoming more expensive, this causes a housing shortage, and therefore increases the risks of homelessness. When I consider this, it makes me nervous. I am not sure that I will be able to afford a house for myself in the future, as we have a very similar housing problem in the UK.

We also see guests walking on a giant hamster wheel. It’s interesting that the guests who are white have no trouble on the wheel, while the guests of other ethnicities always seem to fall over. Katy might be trying to say that the world we live in is incredibly racist and that people of different ethnicities seem to have trouble keeping up because the system makes it harder for them.

The Ending
In the final scene, Katy sits down to watch a 3D movie with her fellow guests. It is curious that she seems to look like a futuristic version of Marilyn Monroe. Marilyn was the embodiment of the so-called ‘American Dream’ as she herself achieved most of what it represents. However, behind closed doors she was not happy in her life, was battling depression and died young. And yet I absolutely adore Marilyn. She is an incredible role model to me but could I myself have been brainwashed by the ‘American Dream’?

In the closing scene, Katy Perry turns to the viewer with a worried look on her face, as if it was a cry for help. In an interview she asks us, “Are we comfortable in the world we live in or will we be join her revolution?” In my opinion, yes things in this world are currently worse than they ever have been in my lifetime. But if you keep ignoring and fooling yourself into thinking that things are perfect, then you might never wake up from that dream.

Although she might also be begging us to buy her new album. I for one certainly will.

Watch the video here:

Gregory Ledniowski
Gregory enjoys sharing his opinions with others. His main interests include media, art and drama. He is currently an aspiring actor.

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5 Responses to Music video review: Chained to the Rhythm by Katy Perry

  1. shakira393 March 17, 2017 at 11:28 am #

    This was amazing – I haven’t yet watched the music vid, but awesome to see someone analysing the true message behind it.

    “The truth is, the number of followers you have is nowhere near as important as the type of followers you have.”

    Very true. you could have followers that ‘like’ your stuff and move on, possibly never thinking of it again, or you could have followers who understand your message and engage with it… The internet makes it easier to do the latter, and also far too easy to do the former and just move on, especially as there are many conflicting messages. The American Dream symbolism there is interesting, especially the hamster wheel (perhaphs that could symbolise even the people who don’t trip over are still trapped in monotony) and the American Dream Drop.

    Some might say its a contradiction, as they could argue Katy Perry is living the celebrity life and the American Dream- so she can’t really criticized it. However, just because you’re a celebrity for other people doesn’t mean you can’t see the sometimes hypocrisy of the American Dream and it’s good that celebrities call this out.

    Time to watch this music video it seems.

    • Gregory March 29, 2017 at 2:19 pm #

      Thank you very much for reading my article! It means a lot to me and I am glad that you agree with my opinion on the above subject. I completely agree with everything you say Shakira!

  2. Shakira Dyer March 18, 2017 at 10:33 am #

    The beginning slide of this video just gave me another theory: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GwKzBwcYewg -by First Time Ever, ‘Hidden Meanings: Katy Perry- Chained to the Rythm + Analysis’

    The candyfloss is shaped like the explosion of the atomic bomb dropped by the US on Hiromshima and Nagasaki after World War 2…

    http://www.cnduk.org/campaigns/global-abolition/hiroshima-a-nagasaki

  3. Shakira Dyer March 18, 2017 at 11:16 am #

    Katy Perry herself talks about the meaning behind ‘Chained to the Rhythm’ in this interview at the Grammy’s: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jp_LAQDpKIE

    In it, she commented on the difference between the veneer of celebrity showbiz and the real most important thing – real life’How many fans can I actually get before I actually start living!’ She also said that there’s a lot of pressure in the [music] industry and ‘you gotta just take care of yourself’.

    She especially said ‘The song [Chained to the Rythm] is meant to start conversations… and if anybody is seeing what they’re seeing and still asleep- or asleep and apathetic… and, I think that we all need to start listening to each other.’
    Even though she ‘agrees to disagree with her parents – possibly mostly on political issues, she believes it is important to ‘have a conversation with both sides’.

  4. Dimi June 19, 2017 at 11:53 am #

    When reading the article, it made me question many issues in society nowadays. What I liked is that the person analysed sections of the songs in detail and wanted to explore them further. I am very pleased to see that pop stars reference problems in the world and that young people such as Gregory are interested in them. The fact that young people discuss them online is beneficial as more people become aware of these issues. Well done!

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