Decoding the Lyrics of Lady Gaga's New Song "Perfect Illusion"—Is Taylor Kinney the Subject?

The Grammy-winning performer just released her first single in years

By Samantha Schnurr Sep 09, 2016 2:13 PMTags

Lady Gaga is laying it out all on the line in the name of song. 

It's been years since the the six-time Grammy winner released a studio album, leaving fans eagerly waiting to get their hands on a new melody from Mother Monster. 

While she's been able to tide over audiences with her Oscar-nominated ballad "Til It Happens to You," written for the campus rape documentary The Hunting Ground, Gaga has been busy earning a Golden Globe for her leading role on American Horror Story: Hotel

Friday marked her grand return to the airwaves when she released her newest single, "Perfect Illusion," a track packed with a rock punch. Despite the relatively new sound for the pop star, it still has a pulsing dance beat to get you in the mood to groove. It even gets Gaga's heart pumping when it's on. 

"The song is about modern ecstasy," Gaga described the track at the iHeartRadio Music Summit in August. "We found our sweet, simple, ragey way of saying it... I get this sick adrenaline rush every time I hear it."

Lady Gaga & Taylor Kinney's Cutest Pics

She can't write a song about extreme bliss without us immediately thinking about her longtime beau Taylor Kinney, the Chicago Fire actor she was engaged to for nearly a year before they unexpectedly broke it off in July. 

After news broke of their split, Gaga took to social media to explain. "Taylor and I have always believed we are soulmates. Just like all couples we have ups and downs, and we have been taking a break. We are both ambitious artists, hoping to work through long-distance and complicated schedules to continue the simple love we have always shared," she captioned a black-and-white shot of the two of them with their arms around each other's necks. "Please root us on. We're just like everybody else and we really love each other."

Lady Gaga Debuts New Single "Perfect Illusion"

While the message tugged at fans' heartstrings, the lyrics of Gaga's track raise new questions about their romance with the repeated use of the phrase, "perfect illusion."

As Gaga has publicly described, the song is a commentary on the ability to paint such an illusion through social media. 

"I believe many of us are wondering why there are so many fake things around us," she told BBC's Radio1. "How do we navigate through social media? How do we look through these images that we know are filtered and altered, and decipher what is reality and what is a perfect illusion?"

"There are also a lot of things on the internet that are not reality," she continued. "I think people are pressured to keep that personal illusion going on in their real lives."

Were Gaga and Kinney among the ones feeling that pressure? While the question remains unanswered, here's a break down of the song's most poignant phrases:


A video posted by Lady Gaga (@ladygaga) on

"Tryin' to get control/ Pressure's takin' its toll/ Stuck in the middle zone/ I just want you alone"

Sounds like there was a struggle for someone's attention. 


"My guessing game is strong/ Way too real to be wrong/ Caught up in your show/ Yeah, at least now I know"

This pop star had an inkling about something


"It wasn't love, it wasn't love/ It was a perfect illusion/ Mistaken for love, it wasn't love/ It was a perfect illusion/ You were a perfect illusion"

And just like that, the illusion was shattered. 


"That's what it means to crush/ Now that I'm wakin' up/ I still feel the blow/ But at least now I know"

As the saying goes, hindsight is 20/20.