Katy Perry: Why You Can’t See the Original ‘Dark Horse’ Video

The music video for Katy Perry’s “Dark Horse” garnered over a billion views, however, the original version of it is nowhere to be found. That’s because it was censored. Here’s a look at the controversy that led to the video being changed.

Katy Perry | Jim Spellman/WireImage

Why is the video for Katy Perry’s ‘Dark Horse’ set in ancient Egypt?

“Dark Horse” is about a man who is considering courting an extremely powerful witch. In the video for the song, Perry plays a cartoonish version of Cleopatra named Katypatra. Why is the video about Cleopatra when the song as nothing to do with her?

According to Time, Perry decided on the setting for the music video as an homage to her collaborator on the track: Juicy J. “[Perry] said that there’s actually a place in Egypt called Memphis, and she thought it was so interesting that Juicy J is from Memphis, Tenn.,” music video director Mathew Cullen revealed. “She basically came to me and said, ‘I want to do something Egyptian and I want to combine it with Memphis hip-hop.’ That’s music to my ears — when an artist has a couple concepts that they want to mash up to create something fresh.”

“Dark Horse”

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Cullen described ancient Egypt as part of the world’s “collective mythology.” He added “We’re only here because we build on the stories of every human being since the beginning of mankind. The most important thing is that when you create something, and this is actually something Katy and I worked to do — you bring a new spin to it.”

The necklace that inspired a major controversy

According to The Guardian, the original version of the video featured a man wearing a necklace with the word “Allah.” In this version, he’s destroyed by Perry’s magic powers. The use of an “Allah” necklace might be a reference to the fact that Egypt is currently a Muslim nation. However, it was not a Muslim nation in ancient times, when the video is set.

A remix of “Dark Horse”

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Regardless of the anachronisms, destruction of an “Allah” necklace offended some people, who felt the video insulted Islam. Rolling Stone reports a Change.org petition calling for the removal of the scene garnered over 65,000 signatures. The video was subsequently altered so that the necklace no longer has the word “Allah” on it. The original version of the video appears to have been scrubbed clean from the internet.

Did the controversy stop ‘Dark Horse’ from becoming a hit?

So how did “Dark Horse” perform in light of the controversy? The track reached the top of the Billboard Hot 100. As of 2018, it was the 100th most popular song in the history of the Billboard Hot 100, which began in 1958. It’s the only song by Perry or Juicy J to make the top 100. The original version of the video did not stop “Dark Horse” from becoming successful. However, Perry still reacted when members of the public found the video blasphemous.