Lady Gaga's "Perfect Illusion" Lyrics Are A Catchy Warning About Mistaken Love — LISTEN
Regardless of Lady Gaga already explaining what her latest single is all about, Little Monsters and casual fans alike are going to assume that the lyrics to Lady Gaga's "Perfect Illusion" are referencing her recent breakup. Yes, Gaga said at the iHeartRadio Music Summit in August that, "The song is about modern ecstasy," but her collaboration with Mark Ronson, Tame Impala's Kevin Parker, and others is definitely worthy of some more speculation. The song, which dropped on Sept. 9, talks about mistaken love and because of that, theories that "Perfect Illusion" is about her ex-fiancé Taylor Kinney are definitely supported by the lyrics.
Gaga and Kinney broke up in July and with "Perfect Illusion" dropping in September, it's almost impossible not to think the song is about their failed relationship. The couple had been together for five years and to all outward appearances, they seemed to have a happy, healthy, and supportive love, so the news of their engagement ending was pretty devastating to fans. (Not to mention, I was truly looking forward to what Gaga's wedding dress would look like.) Alas, it wasn't meant to be and even though the "modern ecstasy" interpretation of "Perfect Illusion" is obviously one way to look at the song since it came from Mother Monster herself, you're going to think about Gaga's personal life at some point when you're rocking out to the song.
The opening lyrics, "Tryin' to get control/Pressure's takin' its toll," almost sound like they could be about drugs (later lyrics back this up), but also they could be about the demands of her very public life and career. And the line, "I just want you alone," hints at that pressure negatively impacting a romantic relationship. She thens brings up the whole "illusion" part of "Perfect Illusion" with the lines:
My guessing game is strongWay too real to be wrongCaught up in your showYeah, at least now I know
Gaga sounds fierce on "Perfect Illusion," but not necessarily bitter even though she was "caught up in your show." Then the chorus kicks in and all thoughts that the song isn't about Kinney go out the window:
It wasn't love, it wasn't loveIt was a perfect illusion (Perfect illusion)Mistaken for love, it wasn't loveIt was a perfect illusion (Perfect illusion)
How on earth am I supposed to interpret the above chorus lyrics to be about "modern ecstasy"? Yes, I guess I could put my English degree to good use with minimal effort, but the fact that she's talking specifically about love makes me not want to do that and just continually theorize about her recent relationship.
The previous idea of drugs gets explicitly referenced in the second verse with, "High like amphetamine/Maybe you're just a dream," but those lines really provide more support for the idea that love makes you high. She says she's "waking up" from the illusion and repeats the last line from the first chorus of "at least now I know." That repeated line sounds to me like she realized she made the right call not getting married if her love with Kinney was not legitimate. (Though can we all agree it looked pretty real for a long time?)
The bridge definitely has that drug talk again — and Gaga's explanation of the song — with, "Dilated, falling free/In a modern ecstasy," but you can barely hear that since her belting, "Mistaken for love" is the dominant line. That, combined with the key change into the chorus, makes the focus of the song definitely about a love gone bad — or really, inaccurately thinking your feelings were love when they weren't.
Whether you choose to interpret Gaga's lyrics to "Perfect Illusion" as about "modern ecstasy" or her breakup, you'll be singing along to the short and catchy song before you know it. And really, that's probably all Gaga wants from her fans after dealing with the personal blow of ending her engagement.