The 2016 presidential election prompted flare-ups from both sides of the line, and the ensuing months saw many musicians channel their unrest into song. Lana Del Rey's Lust For Life is no different. Now, Del Rey has never been one to shy away from opinions, and she's stated in numerous interviews that the new album is decidedly political. So, really, it's no wonder you get the vibe that "When the World Was At War We Kept Dancing" is about Donald Trump.
While the lyrics don't call him out directly, they do seem to capture the general unease that's trailed his election — not only because a large swath of the U.S. has vocally opposed his presidency, but also because it's exposed deep tensions within the American public. "Is it the end of an era? Is it the end of America?" Del Rey ponders in the chorus, perhaps referencing the shift from Barack Obama's left-leaning leadership to the conservative-driven platform Trump campaigned on.
But the track isn't so much about Trump as it as about staying vigilant and fighting back in the face of adversity— a sentiment that echoes Del Rey's comments during an in interview with Flaunt in May. She told the outlet,
"I have a song that’s quite aware about the collective worry, about whether this is the end of an era. It’s called 'When The World Was At War We Kept Dancing.' And the question it poses: Is this the end of America, of an era? Are we running out of time with this person at the helm of a ship? Will it crash?
She continued, "In my mind, the lyrics were a reminder not to shut down or shut off, or just don’t talk about things. It was more like stay vigilant and keep dancing. Stay awake."
Lust For Life, as a whole, is quite purposefully political, and Del Rey has been open about her disdain for the president. In February, she urged fans via Twitter to participate in a witchcraft ritual to try to remove him from office, and, earlier this week, she revealed to Pitchfork that she would stop using her American flag visuals because it now felt "uncomfortable." She explained,
"I feel less safe than I did when Obama was president. When you have a leader at the top of the pyramid who is casually being loud and funny about things like that, it’s brought up character defects in people who already have the propensity to be violent towards women."
But, though spurred by Trump — or at least what his presidency has come to represent — "When the World Was At War We Kept Dancing" seems more about the overarching political landscape than one specific person, and it ends with a hopeful resolve that suggests it's us, not Trump, who has the power to change our country's future. She sings,
"No, it's only the beginning
If we hold onto hope,
We'll have a happy ending
When the world was at war before,
We just kept dancing
And we'll do it again."
That we will. We certainly will.