On March 21st, Katy Perry released her new music video, “Part Of Me,” a bonus track from her world-renowned album, Teenage Dream.
In the video, Perry dumps her cheating boyfriend, cuts off her hair, binds her chest and signs up to join the Marines. The aggressive lyrics of her breakup song consist of phrases such as “You chewed me up and spit me out / Like I was poison in your mouth /You took my light, you drained me down / That was then and this is now.”
There is great controversy surrounding the subject of her song. The themes of the video portray an exaggerated emotional hardening as a result of lost love. Thus, many believe it is an introspective anthem for her past rocky relationships with other stars including recording artists Travie McCoy, Relient K frontman Matt Theissen, and, most famously, british actor and comedian Russell Brand. Though the song was only recently released, it is older than many listeners assume. Recently she told MTV News, “I wrote [Part of Me] two years ago when I was writing and recording Teenage Dream, [but] it didn’t feel right on the record. I’d have to take out one of my other songs that [made the album] a nice, complete package.”
Thus, the song’s genesis actually predates some of her luckless romances. This fact shocks and offends many of Perry’s fans, who have concluded hat the song’s release was an attempt to garner publicity and commercial success rather than a true reflection of Perry’s emotions. This is because the song appears to have been almost strategically withheld from audiences until Perry’s highly publicized divorce from Russell Brand.
Some believe that Perry never planned to release the song at all and, instead, only chose to release it because her split with Brand provided Perry with a winning marketing strategy that would guarantee success, since ill informed fans would believe the song reflected Perry’s emotions after the divorce.
Katy Perry in "Part of Me"
Katy Perry is known for her profligate costumes and she rarely mollifies the lavishness of her music videos. Yet the fatigued colors and simplicity of her uniform in this video contrast with her usual extravagant attire. She ditches her neon blue wig and provocative dresses for a shockingly serious and militaristic style. “Katy is definitely not like her usual self,” observed Leah Cannon ’14. “In most of her other music videos she does not take life seriously. For example in Last Friday Night she threw a massive house party and didn’t care about the repercussions. However, in this video she is very serious and even refers to a subject as somber as the military. I am really surprised that she would make a music video like this.”
“This song feels like one of the most aggressive songs I’ve ever put out,” Perry explained to the New York Daily News. “It’s kind of like an affirmation of strength, so I wanted to go the strongest route I possibly could, so I had this idea—what if I joined the service.”
While some might find this change of style refreshing, the website The Vigilant Citizen claims that the music video’s agenda is actually to entice young people to enlist in the military. Containing all the components found in TV ads for the military such as cool high-tech war machines, excitement and action and being “All You Can Be”, she “represents the military and war as the perfect escape from the bummers of regular life.”
The video was shot at a U.S. Marine base, and features actual Marines, as Perry endures three days of a brutal boot camp. Accompanied by the real-life soldiers, she fires machine guns and wields bayonets. Some may argue that by using singers who are worshipped by young people, the U.S. Military is advertising for recruitment.
In this new video, Katy ultimately illustrates a mature, serious, and respectful side of her that was previously unknown to the world. “This music video [made me] so educated on people in the service who I’ve always respected, but this time the respect goes beyond and above anything I could’ve imagined,” Perry said. “The stuff that they go through, the loyalties and strengths that they all possess, it seems like they are seriously…the heart of America.”
By Nicole Feibelman
Corrections: A previous version of this article referred to Perry’s sophomore album as “California Girls.” This has been corrected to “Teenage Dream.” Additionally, a previous version was entitled “Katy Perry Joins the Army.” However, Perry joins the Marines which perform service operations at sea. She does not join the Army, which a distinct branch of the military that performs service operations on land. Maroon would like to thank our dedicated readers for informing us of these factual errors.