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I'm listening to Lana Del Rey's song, the greatest, and she says:

The culture is lit and I had a ball.

What does she mean?

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    And then there’s her most millennial line yet: “The culture is lit, and if this is it, I had a ball / I guess that I’m burned out after all.” Her play on words turns the phrase on its head, skewering the youthful slang term “lit” and leaning into the nihilistic burnout instead. I don't know this "youthful slang term", but that should be enough to point you in the right direction. Oct 7, 2020 at 18:09
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    ...The Teen Slang Dictionary for Parents: Lit - Amazing, cool, or exciting. And I had a ball = I really enjoyed it. Oct 7, 2020 at 18:13

2 Answers 2

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Lana's singing about "those nights" in a variety of nostalgic places. "Lit", as mentioned, is very recent slang, meaning not just "outstanding" but especially "exciting", "high energy", or "wild"--"uninhibited", in an enjoyable way. "The culture" is becoming increasingly slang for what might have been called "the vibe" or "the community" in previous decades--for example, I can say "the culture was wack" about a party populated by people I find weird or corny.

When Lana sings "the culture is lit", it specifically means the people, parties, and places she interacted with/was part of were high energy, wild, exciting, and uninhibited, likely partying hard & partying often.

This is supported by the following lyrics which extend the implicit flame metaphor in the slang term "lit":

Those nights were on fire
We couldn't get higher

While "high" doesn't necessarily mean high on drugs, the overall effect of the lyrics is to describe a rowdy, euphoric environment Lana left.

It's worth noting that Lana uses the present tense "is" to describe "the culture"--even though she's not part of it any more, the culture's still there; she just stepped away from it.

"I had a ball" is much more straightforward; simply meaning she had a great time.

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"Lit" is very recent (2010s) teen slang. It means "outstanding".

"I had a ball" is older (1920s) slang meaning "I had a very good time".

There seems to be some sense of irony in her use of these slang expressions from different times, but a literary analysis is beyond this answer.

It is worth noting that two years later, "Lit" is now very dated, and very old-fashioned.

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