If you’ve listened to the radio in the last year, you’ve no doubt heard Christina Perri’s “Jar of Hearts” (her album, Lovestrong, is in stores today), an angsty piano rock song that’s supposed to be about Perri’s ex-boyfriend looking to restart their relationship. Except that’s not what it’s about at all.
In reality, it’s about Scorpion and Sub-Zero’s fight to the death in Mortal Kombat! Forget backmasking, Perri has planted a hidden message to Mortal Kombat fans everywhere in a sad song about a cheating boyfriend. Don’t believe me? Just look at the lyrics:
No, I can’t take one more step towards you
‘Cause all that’s waiting is regret
Don’t you know I’m not your ghost anymore
You lost the love I loved the most
As the singer, Perri’s role in the song is that of Scorpion. In the first few lines of the song, she admits to being a ghost (Scorpion is considered a “spectre” in Mortal Kombat lore) and lamenting a lost love (Sub-Zero killed Scorpion’s family prior to the events of the first tournament).
I learned to live, half alive
And now you want me one more time
As a spectre, Scorpion can be considered “half alive.” After avenging his family’s death by finishing Sub-Zero in the first tournament, he again sees the Lin Kuei ninja in Mortal Kombat II. This new Sub-Zero (the original’s younger brother), wants to find the killer of his brother.
Who do you think you are?
Runnin’ ’round leaving scars
Collecting your jar of hearts
And tearing love apart
It’s in the chorus that Perri truly hammers home the Scorpion/Sub-Zero connection. Perri (as Scorpion) is confused about seeing Sub-Zero again, as if to say, “Who do you think you are? I killed Sub-Zero with my bare hands.” But regardless of who the man in blue is, Scorpion cannot stand to allow this new Sub-Zero to continue fighting (“Runnin’ ’round leaving scars”) and killing (collecting a literal “jar of hearts”) other innocent people (“tearing love apart”).
You’re gonna catch a cold
From the ice inside your soul
So don’t come back for me
Who do you think you are?
It’s shown in the Mortal Kombat series that the entire Lin Kuei clan can’t command the power of cold. Only Sub-Zero can because of something icy in his very being. Perri’s use of the word “soul” (a word that appears in Mortal Kombat frequently) to denote this power is a clear Mortal Kombat reference.
I hear you’re asking all around
If I am anywhere to be found
But I have grown too strong
To ever fall back in your arms
Once again, the new Sub-Zero is searching for his brother’s killer. Scorpion knows this, but he also knows that his increased hell powers can take on any challenger.
It took so long just to feel alright
Remember how to put back the light in my eyes
Due to his status as a spectre, Scorpion’s head has been replaced with a flaming skull. He, quite literally, has light in his eyes.
Perri doesn’t only identify with Scorpion in the lyrics, she has also imbued the “Jar of Hearts” music video with a little Mortal Kombat as well.
Aside from the armageddon-like setting, it’s most apparent at the end of the video, when the ex-boyfriend fights with a string of girls (a possible stand in for a tournament) and then Perri kills him by stealing his soul.