Katy Perry: Who Am I Living For? Meaning
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Who Am I Living For? Lyrics
I can feel a phoenix inside of me
As I march alone to a different beat
Slowly swallowing down my fear, yeah yeah
I am ready for the road less traveled
Suiting up for my crowning battle
This test is my own cross to...
This song is about Perry's personal struggle between the direction she wants her music to take her and her fans and what pop culture and the media expects and wants from her. She is a former gospel singer, so she does have strong Christian roots. Her debut single "I Kissed A Girl" is sexually charged and homo-erotic, which obviously butts heads with a Christian belief system. Songs from this album like "Peacock" and "T.G.I.F" are about lust and gluttony. The title of "Who Am I Living For?" states the idea of the song - is she performing music that she feels in her heart or is she performing music that will boost her record sales? "I march alone to a different beat" means even though her songs are similar to artists with more unapologetically sexual songs like Rihanna with "S&M" and Ke$ha with "Fuck Him He's A DJ" (yes, that is the actual title), she feels separate from them because she knows there's more to music than sex. "I am ready for the road less traveled/suiting up for my crowning battle" she's mentally and spiritually preparing herself to write and perform music she feels more comfortable with, possibly with a more religious feel. "It's never easy to be chosen/never easy to be called" she feels God has literally chosen her to be a voice of reason in this corrupted music industry. He helped her on her path to success specifically so she could bring God back into the mainstream. "I can see the Heavens but I still hear the flames/Calling out my name" she knows her 'task' is possible, yet the allure of giving into what the mainstream wants for her and her career is all too real. The chorus addresses how in the beginning of her career she went along with what everyone wanted of her but now she can no longer ignore that this is not what she intended for her music. "I can feel this lightness inside of me" she feels the light of God in her soul and she knows if she introduced it into her mega-popular music, she could share God's love and "shock the world". In the second verse after the first chorus she addresses God directly and asks for His favor "like Ester". Perry knows she will have to sacrifice popularity if she wants to share her message of God's love with the world, "But that's the price" she is willing to pay. "Heavy is the head that wears the crown" She feels this is an extremely risky and daunting task to undergo, but she will not "Let the greatness get (her) down". The points in the song when she sings with an English accent ("crowning bat'le" and "bol a light-en-ning") are nods to her English husband Russell Brand who clearly supports her in her charge of bringing her beliefs into the mainstream. The numerous biblical allusions (phoenix, cross to bear, being chosen, Heaven/Hell, writing on the wall, Holy War, inner light, Ester, sacrifice) all reference what Perry's struggle is about - giving into the mainstream or staying true to her religious beliefs. For Perry this is an incredibly deep song and an insight into her view of the media industry and what it all means to her. Will she give in? Or will we continue to see more songs like this from her?
anonymous Nov 3rd, 2013 11:09pm report
I absolutely Commend Katy for putting this song on her album. When she came out with "I Kissed A Girl", my pastor told my church that he knows her father, and he talked about famous artists who start out singing in church. God gave the gift of singing to certain people. But he also gives us free will to do what we want with these talents. And this song made me completely respect Katy because she has not forgotten about God. I know God delights in her courage to put out a song that references Him and His Word. I understand her behavior and challenges, and I so badly want her to know: There are 23 year old American girls, like me, backing her up. And I would stand up to any and all haters and rebuke them.
I believe a revival is coming in this country. And people like her have the potential to bring masses of people to God. He put her in this position. I hope she pursues more songs like this because no matter what resistance she faces, God and his Army will back her up. I would bet on it that her fans will still love her, and she will lead a generation out of the darkness.
Christians need to love on Katy and pray for her NO MATTER WHAT songs she has/will put out.
anonymous Jan 12th, 2013 1:12pm report
i love this song its about making a choice about something that can be very hard to decide. i believe that it can relate to harry potter in many ways because she says "its never easy to be chosen" which perfectly describes harry potter's life since the 4th movie when he gets picked for the tourtament and when voldemort comes back he has to make very big decisions to save the people he loves even if that means sacrifice himself. "i know there will be sacrifice, but thats the price" no matter what anyone says this song will always make me think of harry potter. i love katy perry and her lyrics they are very inspirational.
anonymous Nov 5th, 2012 11:59pm report
We all have choices to make, and "at the end of this life," who is she living for? Well, Romans tells us the flesh (lust, pride, sinful thoughts) and the spirit (peace, longsuffering, kindness, gentleness) will battle continuously due to the nature of this fallen world. She seems fully aware of the battle--and says so. The Grace of God, to those who accept it, is all the armour needed (Put on the breastplate of righteousness, etc). She indicates that she's wholly aware of the battle, understands what's at stake, and is willing to pursue her fate. Institutionalised Religion will persecute her for following her heart because I.R. thinks that the appearance of deeds is more important than the heart (outside of the cup, etc), but at the end of the day, who is she realling living for? I believe she knows.
Of course, we could just ask her, right?
anonymous May 7th, 2012 5:42pm report
Reference to having a cross to bear (as Jesus did), heaven and flames (hell), and Esther, who is a woman from the old testament with a whole book about her who risked her life to save the Jewish people, are show that this song was written with Katy's life as a Christian in mind, possibly because she knows MOST Christians would brand what she sings about and how she dresses as wrong, and she's strongly set in her beliefs. I say most Christians, because I personally love her.
anonymous Mar 27th, 2012 3:40am report
The bible says you cannot serve two masters, in this song, it seems she wants to serve both of them and get the best of both worlds! Looking at her christian background you can see why she's battling with herself, this inner turmoil is because she left the church for the world of superstardom yet she wants to return to 'the raod less travelled by'! The problem is that 'I can see the heavens and I can see the flames' meaning the flames are still enticing and hard to let go of! She is in her own limbo but it seems as if she's living more for the world than Christ. The writing on the wall is a warning or a message in the bible yet she's still caught up in the fame of this world to go back to being the unkown gospel artist...
anonymous Feb 29th, 2012 2:39pm report
I love this song, I beleive it's about the ongonig battle of life and how many don't understand what somone is risking on a battle feild. 'Heavy is the head that wears the crown,Don't let the greatness get you down' Is about how hard it is to be a ruler of king, the responsibilitys.
This is an amazing meaningful song.
anonymous Feb 6th, 2012 2:57pm report
Katy Perry is fighting a spiritual war in this song. She doesnt know if she has made the right decisions in her life. "Standing on the frontline when the bombs start to fall" she is observing the spiritual war happening inside her.
anonymous Dec 15th, 2011 12:53pm report
The very first time I heard this song, I thought, "Oh my gosh, Harry Potter!" So here's my backup for a HP interpretation:
The phoenix is Dumbledore's pet and sign, The order of the Phoenix, his Patronus. Harry identifies with it too.
Harry marches alone to a different beat- he's been different ever since Voldemort tried to kill him. He's the Chosen One, and he's taking the road less traveled because no one has ever done what he's done before. He has to bear his cross alone in the end, because he's the only one that can defeat Voldemort.
The crown is physically his scar and figuratively the responsibility he carries. And of course, the question of who he's living for. Is he living just to die at the right time so Voldemort can be finished? Is he living for himself and his friends and the ones he loves?
So that's MY interpretation of the song. I will forever think of Harry Potter wehn I listen to it, but it's real meaning is great too :)
anonymous Dec 4th, 2011 12:32am report
i think when she says "i can see the heavans but i still hear the flames calling out my na-ame" she meens that shes trying to do better and not to sin against god. when she says "suiting up for my comming battle" and "i can't ignore this war" shes say ing that jesus or god is fighting to have her and to have her do the right thing and that he is fighting to protect her from sin
anonymous Nov 18th, 2011 11:07pm report
I don't think it's about the occult or pop star status. The first time I heard this song, I thought of Joan Of Arc. It's about being called as a leader and taking up that cause even at great personal cost. It could be religious but not necessarily...I think this song could be used in The Hunger Games movie...it fits perfectly. It is one of my absolute favorite KP songs.
anonymous Nov 12th, 2011 11:56pm report
I think it's about how hard it is to be chosen to make a hard choice.
Yes, like Harry Potter, but you're all forgetting that most books are like that with one hero... Percy Jackson, The Mortal Instruments, Maximum Ride, etc.
anonymous Sep 25th, 2011 9:50pm report
For her personally, it could have something to do with religion vs the world.
But, for me at least, it means being brave enough to try to change the world for our real world.
And it could pertain to fantastical heroes, like Harry Potter and others. The chosen ones. The line "I can see the writing on the wall, I can't ignore this war" made me think of the upcoming game Skyrim - the Hero's coming is prophesied by Alduin's Wall, as well as the events in the games predecessors.
anonymous Sep 10th, 2011 9:26pm report
i think its about going through life living for God.But being tempted to sin. i think when she says the road less traveled she is meaning following God, because not many people do.
anonymous Aug 11th, 2011 8:40am report
My interpretation for this, is that Katy Perry is choosing between the two roads she must be travelling... As I know, and as some interviews of Katy Perry, she said that she sold her soul to the devil... They offer this, then promise this person forever FAME.. But then, every devil is a liar... And THERE IS NO OTHER TRUTH BUT ONLY THE WORD OF GOD... Maybe they will meet the fame and success.. But WHAT IS THE REAL HAPPINESS ? You will never feel it, unless you go unto God.. As common sense, when someone sold his soul to devil, common sense, you will be on HELL.. And yes, HELL is true :) You will burn in hell forever... But in HEAVEN? You will feel the REAL HAPPINESS, LOVE, and THE REAL SUCCESS..... Back to topic .. Katy Perry is a Christian ! And I do believe, that someday Katy will choose the right path.. And I do believe, she will still stay with Lord God :) C'mon, just don't lose faith. Keep praying for the persons who struggles for this kinds of problems...
anonymous Jul 10th, 2011 7:28pm report
May God bless you, Katy. This song is about God and Satin and deciding which one to choose. Katy, please choose God. He died for you and loves you and will forgive you. Katy, stop all this nonsense about going around half naked on you tube and cussing in songs. Idea: do pop Christian.
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