We’ve posted a million Katy Perry covers over the years. But they all tend to be of songs from that early-2010s window when it seemed Perry couldn’t miss: “California Gurls,” “Teenage Dream, “Firework,” etc (those were all on the same album!). But on her new covers EP Pensive Pop, Amythyst Kiah digs a little deeper. True, “Chained to the Rhythm” isn’t exactly some obscure B-side – it was a single and a modest hit. But for Perry, “modest hit” at that point felt like a flop. While we still get new covers of those Teenage Dream-era hits regularly (VÉRITÉ dropped a good one a few months back), no one is covering “Chained To The Rhythm.” Until now!
Kiah, perhaps best known as one-quarter of Our Native Daughters, an all-women-of-color roots-music supergroup whose Kiah-penned “Black Myself” earned a Grammy nomination, had this to say about her song choice:
I remember watching the ‘Chained To The Rhythm’ music video and being blown away by a kind of infectious, self-medicated joy within an ever-colorful dystopia. It actually inspired the poem that would later become ‘Fancy Drones (Fracture Me).’ I’ve always been fascinated by songs that you can shut your brain off to and dance, while also pointing out that something is terribly wrong. Breaking free of the cycle of mindless consumerism and incessant comparison and creating a life of meaning and some sense of purpose is a difficult task. And while the irony of a famous pop star on a Major Label singing and performing a song that questions the very listener that is dancing is not lost on me, we do each have to ask ourselves, “When will we have enough?”
Kiah’s “Chained to the Rhythm” doesn’t sound much like Katy Perry, but it’s also not the folky strummer you might expect given her roots-music bonafides. Listen below.