On Wednesday afternoon I was casually going about my day doing what I do best, which is minding my own business, when out of nowhere Katy Perry announced she had dropped glitter balls in prime locations that were playing her new single Chained To The Rhythm.
Naturally I ran across London on a mission to find the glitter ball convincing myself this was legitimate pop emergency that needed my full attention. After a ridiculously fast sprint to Leicester Square, that I’m sure my P.E teacher had been trying to coax out of me during my five years in secondary school, I was the third person in line waiting to listen to the new track.
And while to the average person running across London to get a first listen of a song by a pop star on a glitter ball may seem ridiculous, perhaps bordering on absurd, I couldn’t help but keep thinking how fun the whole thing was.
Fun is a word I haven’t really been able to associate with pop music for a while now. Political world events have become so inescapable that the music coming from pop’s biggest players had no other choice but to echo the dark sad state the world is currently in.
Beyoncé and Solange both released albums that highlighted the continued struggle experienced by black women in America. Rihanna swapped radio friendly hits for a more introspective sound on ANTI. Even Ariana Grande ditched the cute girl next-door image that was synonymous with her first two albums and instead became a Dangerous Woman.
But then on Monday night Katy Perry, who hasn’t released an album since 2013’s Prism, uploaded a photo on Instagram. The photo showed the singer looking piercingly into the camera dressed in pastel pink against a warm blue background with the caption ‘new life who dis’.
And just like that it suddenly felt like pop music was about to lighten up.
The singer later confirmed on Twitter that she would be performing her new single at The 59th Annual Grammy Awards this Sunday. This sent fans into hysteria with many of them citing Perry’s return to the spotlight after four years away as not just something her fans have wanted for so long, but as something everyone needs right now.
And they are absolutely right.
Don’t get me wrong. I love it when pop stars use their platform to talk about real issues that affect real people. They seem to have greater power in representing the feelings of a generation more so than any politician does. But between Brexit, Trump, the travel ban, the rise of the Alt-Right, Tomi Lahren, Syria, alternative facts, fake news and the deaths of Prince, George Michael, Muhammad Ali and Bowie to name but a few, I am ready for a fucking break.
When you think about Katy Perry, she’s always been at the forefront of fun in pop music. Whether it’s with her music videos, outlandish outfits or songs that are brimming with feelings of euphoria, you can always count on KP to bring the light relief.
It’s her unabashed enjoyment in being a pop star and making pop music that makes her such an enigma. While other artists are concerned with coming off authentic and gaining credibility from all corners of the industry, Katy Perry is headlining the Super Bowl halftime show dancing with blue sharks and turning up with Missy Elliot.
While I was in the queue for the glitter ball there was a real sense of jubilation, just like when Beyoncé announced her pregnancy last week. Fans were going back for second and third listens to the song (I listened to it in total about eight times – ahem) and forgot everything else that was going on. This is what I grew up knowing pop music to be about; escapism and just enjoying yourself.
This is not to say the Katy Perry isn’t in tune with what’s going on around the world right now. Shortly after the US Presidential Election the singer took a break from social media. When she came back she declared she was finally politically conscious after admitting she had been asleep for so long.
Katy Perry was now ‘woke’.
She has since urged her millions of followers on social media to make their voices heard in the wake of Trump’s presidency. There are even subtle hints of new this new, ‘woke’ Katy in the promotion of her new music. A Snapchat filter sponsored by the glitter ball campaign read ‘So comfortable we’re living in a bubble?’ And if that wasn’t enough her Twitter bio now reads Artist. Activist. Conscious.
We don’t know if the new album will be full of politically charged anthems calling for a resistance against the establishment. All I can say is that I’m happy the singer’s timely comeback is currently providing a break from the perpetual bleak outlook everyone seems to have.
Katy Perry’s new music won’t save us from the daily horrors this world is currently exhibiting, but for a brief moment a glitter ball chained to a railing playing a buoyant pop song was a pretty good distraction.