Dua Lipa’s ‘Illusion’ Lyrics Are About ‘Really Seeing Past Someone’s Bullsh*t’

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Dua Lipa is continuing her Radical Optimism era, with another new single, “Illusion.” Its honest lyrics capture the reality of seeing someone for who they are, beneath their “bullshit” facade—and knowing how to have a little fun with that. As she sings, “Was a time when that shit might have worked / Was a time when I just threw a match and let it burn / Now I’m grown I know what I deserve / I still like dancing with the lessons I already learned.”

Radical Optimism by Dua Lipa

<i>Radical Optimism</i> by Dua Lipa

Radical Optimism by Dua Lipa

It’s unclear who the song is about, or whether it’s anyone from her real life. Lipa has kept her love life generally private. In between Future Nostalgia and Radical Optimism’s release, she ended her relationship with Anwar Hadid in late 2021, then dated French director Romain Gavras from March 2023 to late 2023. She is now seeing actor Callum Turner.

“Illusion” is conceptually a very important song for her album. Lipa spoke to Variety last month about how the track was the eureka moment for Radical Optimism and its sound.

“That was a song where I felt like lyrically, I got this radical optimism,” she said. “I felt very strong in the moment when I was writing that song, because it was really seeing past someone’s bullshit, I guess, for lack of a better word. And understanding it for what it is and just entertaining it for the hell of it, even though you see what’s happening. But I felt in a stronger power of position, because I was like maybe before, I would have fallen for something like this and now I can dance with the illusion, and it’s something for me too, you know? I think musically also, when Kevin [Parker] and Danny [L. Harle] came together and it was the live drums and the synths and the big music breakdown, in my head the big dance moment, when all those came together it was just a feeling. I had a feeling and I was like, now I have something to bounce off of. And in that first week, even though sonically they’re in the same world but they’re very different, I wrote ‘Illusion’ and then I wrote ‘Happy for You’ and “Happy for You” is a much bigger ballad, in a way. Somewhat. I wouldn’t really classify it as a ballad. Because I don’t do songs that are slow and big and emotional, but I just put them in the ballad section, I’m like, I don’t do those. But this feels almost in a world where I can really have this epic singing record that I was able to be very vulnerable and open in. But still sonically, it has this tremolo sound that I’m really obsessed with and it’s Kevin’s voice replicated. We use it as a sample throughout. That was just a moment for me to be really vulnerable and open and honest in what was happening in my life at that point. But I feel overall, in this whole record, I just grew as I was writing. I feel like I matured throughout.”

In a press release provided to ELLE, Lipa said “Illusion” is about “knowing what you’re getting yourself into, but staying for the hell of it. The joke’s on them, it’s the fun of playing someone at their own game because ultimately you won’t fall for an illusion.”

Read the lyrics for Lipa’s “Illusion” and listen to the song below:

I been known to miss a red flag
I been known to put my lover on a pedestal
In the end those things just don’t last
And it’s time I take my rose colored glasses off

I already know your type
Telling me the things I like
Trying make me yours for life
Taking me for a ride
I already know your type
Think you can play your cards right
Don’t you know I could do this dance all night?

Oooh whatcha doing?
Don’t know who you think that you’re confusing, I be like
Ooh, it’s amusing
You think I’m gonna fall for an illusion

Was a time when that shit might have worked
Was a time when I just threw a match and let it burn
Now I’m grown I know what I deserve
I still like dancing with the lessons I already learned

I already know your type
Telling me the things I like
Trying make me yours for life
Taking me for a ride
I already know your type
Think you can play your cards right
Don’t you know I could do this dance all night?

Oooh whatcha doing?
Don’t know who you think that you’re confusing, I be like
Oooh, it’s amusing
You think I’m gonna fall for an illusion

Illusion, I really like the way you’re moving
Yeah I just wanna dance with the illusion
Yeah I just wanna dance with
Yeah I just wanna dance with
I could dance all night

Oooh whatcha doing?
Don’t know who you think that you’re confusing, I be like
Oooh, it’s amusing
You think I’m gonna fall for an illusion

Oooh whatcha doing?
Don’t know who you think that you’re confusing, I be like
Oooh, it’s amusing
You think I’m gonna fall for an illusion

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