Katy Perry’s video for her current No. 1 hit, “Dark Horse,” was just released, and, as promised, it takes viewers all the way back to ancient Egypt. Or, rather, to ancient Egypt as imagined by Perry and her always over-the-top creative team.
Much has been written about Perry’s fraught history of appropriating other cultures—from her controversial song “I Kissed a Girl” to that ill-advised geisha performance right up to this video, in which she dresses up as a Lisa Frank-style Cleopatra. (This is a style Perry is very familiar with.) These critiques make valid points and are worth reading.
But I’m more stunned by the other source from which Perry haphazardly borrows: the video for Michael Jackson’s classic “Remember the Time,” also set in ancient Egypt. Perry, like supermodel Iman (who played Queen Nefertiti), turns away several pathetic performers who fail to capture her attention. But whereas the R&B hit dazzled with an all-star cast, a great breakdancing sequence, and a legitimately solid song, “Dark Horse” just feels laborious.
Stripper poles, fancy sneakers, and the always entertaining Juicy J can’t save us from cheesy special effects and Perry’s middling attempts to dance. But at least you now have another reason to go back and watch “Remember the Time.”