How Lady Gaga’s “Fun Tonight” Brought Me to the Other side

June 18, 2024

Livia Caligor (she/her) is an art and culture writer with bylines in Architectural Digest, Teen Vogue, Hyperallergic, and Wonderland. Her content focuses on the intersection between art, design, and social issues, as she seeks to uplift minority demographics and make the arts a more equitable space through her writing. Livia is passionate about deconstructing social stigmas around mental health and making resources more accessible to youth without the means; she has spoken about the topic on CBS, NY1, and MTV. In her free time, she works on her photography, which has been exhibited at The Metropolitan Museum of Art and published on Livia holds degrees in Fashion Management and English from Cornell University and lives in her hometown of NYC. 

Check out Livia’s art and writing at; Follow her Instagram @livia.caligor and her photography page @puddlesbylivia.

This story took place in United States

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(Lady Gaga’s Chromatica Ball show at Metlife Stadium on August 13, 2024. Photo by Livia Caligor.)

In September 2022, for one of the first times in months, I left my home and had fun. From the back row of the top balcony at MetLife stadium, I was overwhelmed with tears and gratitude at the Chromatica Ball as Lady Gaga sang “Fun Tonight,” a song that had resonated with and encouraged my perseverance through one of the hardest chapters of my life. The song was and continues to be my daily anthem — it’s engraved on a ring I never take off, it’s my daily alarm, and it’s the last thing I listen to before I go to sleep each evening. It’s my daily celebration of my health and friendships, a catalyst for perseverance, and a loving anthem that holds me when I feel alone. In an unprecedented way, the song articulates one of the loneliest parts of suffering from chronic health: longing for the person you once were and exists only in memory. 

In the song, she sings “you love the paparazzi, love the fame/ even though you know it causes me pain” to the version of herself that she shares with the public eye. She reveals, “I feel like I’m in a prison hell/ stick my hands through the steel bars and yell,” conveying the isolation, entrapment and sense of foreclosure resonant beneath the facades of many who battle for their healthno matter how industrious, resilient, or vibrant their exterior may be. 

As she sings “I can’t see straight, I can’t see me/ There’s too much hurt caught in between/ Wish I could be what I know I am/ this moment’s hijacked my plans,” she evokes the loss of control, disorientation, and grief of being disconnected from the person you know you are when you are held back by your health. She eloquently captures the self-judgment and duality of feeling so past the point of departure from yourself that you’ve almost accepted your defeat. She articulates this dialogue with a ghost of her past, singing “I can see it in your face/ You don’t think I’ve pulled my weight/ Maybe it’s time for us to say goodbye ‘cause… I’m not havin’ fun tonight.”

During the Chromatica Ball, she interpolated this heart-wrenching performance of “Fun Tonight” with a personal reflection. She shared, “My friends used to come upstairs and say ‘let’s go downstairs, let’s go write some music, come on,’ and I’d be like, ‘You don’t understand. You don’t understand what I’ve been through.’ I was so sad, I was so mad, I was so f*cking mad, I was in so much pain.”  As she revisited these times when even her closest friends failed to empathize with her inner battles, the solitude of battling to merely stay afloat – let alone continue creating prolific and impactful work – hit me to my core. She said to the crowd, “I didn’t think I’d ever be able to tour again like this, ever. Not because you wouldn’t show up, but because I didn’t know if I could show up.” What resonated most deeply with me was the self-blame, guilt, and disappointment of not being able to live up to your own standards, of sacrificing so much for your art and career and self, only to feel like you have lost control of and will never retrieve the person you know and love so deeply. 

(Lady Gaga speaking about “Fun Tonight”/Photo by Livia Caligor.)

She continued, “So I wrote this song about those nights when I wasn’t having fun, and I thought about how there were prob people all over the world who tried to go out and have fun but you just f*cking can’t.” Ultimately, the song is not only a dialogue with herself, but also a dialogue with and about me and everyone else experiencing their own battle to persevere. “Fun Tonight” is exactly why, as a longtime little monster, Chromatica has an especially special place in my heart. It trains attention on a challenging and largely unexplored dialogue in the arts: the turbulent journey of persevering through chronic physical and mental illness, and the solitude that shapes the experience. 

In the second portion of the performance, she jumped off the piano and transitioned from the teary-eyed acoustic performance to a celebratory, joyous dance across the stage, dressed in an extraterrestrial bodysuit by Dead Lotus Couture that embodies the land of Chromatica she reaches by healing through creating art. As she jumped up and down alone on stage, smiling and singing to the crowd, her unparalleled exuberance, creative energy, and tangible love for performing gave me chillshow could it be that her creative spirit shined brighter than ever, encapsulating the health, vibrancy, and fire that I could only aspire to one day regain? Given the intimate subject matter of the song being about the pain that holds her down, I struggled to comprehend how the protagonist of the song and the performer in front of me were the same person, though I know and have experienced the disconnect myself. I could only imagine the internal fortitude and perseverance that fueled her return to the stage against all oddsas well as the joy and gratitude she felt to have conquered the battle.  

(Photo of Lady Gaga performing “Fun Tonight” from the very top of Metlife Stadium filled with almost 60,000 little monsters. Photo by Livia Caligor.)

I began listening to the song everyday, as I believed that I, too, could persevere through seemingly unconquerable painand though I could barely believe that the Lady Gaga I saw dancing across the stage and sharing her art with her fans was the same person as the subject of the song, I, too, believed that I could persevere through seemingly unconquerable pain – and that no matter how lonely and disconnected from myself I felt, I was not alone. Two years later — with a lot of DBT along the way — I’ve learned that the battle is just as challenging as I had feared, and that it is far from linear. I continue to straddle between both ends of the spectrum, and the pain has not disappeared or been erased. But I’ve learned how to accept and embrace their coexistence, as it’s the internal duality and constant battle to stay afloat that makes that health and joy of making it to the other side all the more worth celebrating. 

And I’ve learned the patience, attention, and nurturing that I so often extend to others before myself that it takes to, in time, be able to experience the joy of dancing in the rain again. I continue to wear my ring and listen to “Fun Tonight” every day — and as its lyrics course through my veins, I remember that though I’d rather be dry, simply being alive is the greatest win. 

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