Chained to the Rhythm
by Katy Perry (featuring Skip Marley)

Album: Witness (2017)
Charted: 5 4
  • songfacts ®
  • Artistfacts ®
  • Lyrics
  • This bouncy, tropical disco song was written by Katy Perry with her frequent collaborator Max Martin, his fellow Swede Ali Payami and Australian singer-songwriter Sia. Max Martin has helped craft all of Perry's #1 singles with the exception of "Firework."
  • The sociopolitical lyrics are a rallying cry for society to stop living in a bubble and become more politically involved and less complacent. Perry suggests that most people are chained to insidious "rhythm" of conformity.

    Are we tone deaf?
    Keep sweeping it under the mat
    I thought we could do better than that, I hope we can


    Perry was a vocal supporter of Hillary Clinton during the 2016 US presidential election. The day after Donald Trump's inauguration, the singer joined various other female celebrities at the nationwide Women's March on Washington.
  • The reggae-tinged song features a guest appearance on the bridge by Bob Marley's grandson Skip Marley.
  • The song's release on February 10, 2017 followed a guerrilla marketing effort in which disco balls with headphone jacks were strategically placed in major cities across the globe. The result was a worldwide scavenger hunt in which fans hunted the disco balls down to listen to the track before its official debut.
  • Perry performed this song for the first time at the Grammy Awards in 2017, where she was joined by Skip Marley. The set was a house that was made up of pieces held by humans, who weren't revealed until the end, when they reconfigured to form a wall emblazoned with script from the United States Constitution.
  • This was the first song featuring a member of the Marley family to reach the Top 10 of the Hot 100. The previous most successful tune by a Marley was "Tomorrow People" by Bob's son Ziggy with his backing band the Melody Makers, which reached #39 in 1988. Surprisingly Bob Marley never had a Top 40 Hot 100 hit.
  • Katy Perry shot the video over three days in January 2017 at Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia, California. The theme park hosts a world record 19 roller coasters and is often called "the thrill capital of the world".

    The visual was directed by Matthew Cullen (Jay-Z, Beck), who also helmed the Perry's clips for "California Gurls" and "Dark Horse."

    The candy-colored video is set in a fictional theme park called 'Oblivia', in which patrons queue hours on end to get flung through the air in the name of fun. It continues the single's theme of calling out sections of society who prefer to live in a bubble rather than waking up to the issues that really matter.
  • Skip Marley came on board after Perry heard his debut single "Lions." He recalled to Billboard magazine:

    "My manager [Brandon Creed] called and told me that 'Lions,' which I made around election time, was being played at the studio in L.A. with Max Martin, and Katy heard it and said, 'I want him to be a part of the song.' She reached out in January, and I went to the studio and delivered the message that I had to deliver. I had free rein lyrically. Katy said, 'Just do you.'"
  • The genesis of the song was something that Ali Payami played on a guitar during a writing session with Sia and Max Martin. "I don't know if I accidentally played a riff or if it were on purpose," Payami recalled to Billboard magazine. "But they liked it and we started writing on that. We spent a long time on the melody and lyrics and when that was done, we spent an even longer time on the production."
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