This list of songs is inspired by a list published by radio station, KEXP, from Seattle in 2010, as well as, the latest poll taken in 2021 by Rolling Stone Magazine. For the most part, I will faithfully countdown from their lists, from Song #500 to Song #1. So, when you see the song title listed as something like: “KEXP: Song #XXX”….it means that I am working off of the official KEXP list. “RS: Song XXX” means the song is coming from the Rolling Stone list. If I post the song title as being: “KTOM: Song #xxx”….it means I have gone rogue and am inserting a song choice from my own personal list of tunes I really like. In either case, you are going to get to hear a great song and learn the story behind it. Finally, I am not a music critic nor a musician. I am a music fan and an armchair storyteller. Enough said! Let’s get on to today’s song.
KEXP: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History.
Song #133: Girls Just Wanna Have Fun by Cyndi Lauper.
If I was being completely honest, I would have titled this post: “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” by Robert Hazard because, surprise, surprise…..this song was originally written and recorded by a man. So, let’s give him his due first. The song that we all know….the one that speaks to female empowerment…was not at all the original intent of the song when it was written by Hazard. Robert Hazard was a dance hall DJ back in the 1970s. His version of “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” was written from a male perspective and, in particular, a male perspective of hoping to find girls who ‘wanted to have a little fun”, if ya know what I mean?! In Hazard’s hands, the song becomes an anthem for misogynistic male behaviour and, if truth be told, it is kinda creepy. But, he is the original author and, without his sleazy take on the song, Cyndi Lauper would never have come along and decided that this was a song that needed to be flipped on its ear. So thanks, Robert Hazard, I guess.
The original version of “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” was released in 1979. Cyndi Lauper recorded her version in 1983. The Cyndi Lauper version is, of course, the one that became famous and helped to make her the star that she is today. However, that she is known most for songs such as “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun”, “True Colours”, “Time After Time”, “We Drove All Night” and many more, doesn’t tell the whole story of who Cyndi Lauper really is. Those songs, as popular as they were, comprised only the first third of her career. Since the 1980s, Lauper has made Broadway history by becoming the only solo female to ever win the Tony for Best Musical Score for the show, “Kinky Boots”. She has, also, been inducted into The Blues Hall of Fame on the basis of a Blues project in 2010 called, “Memphis Blues”, which reached #1 on the Blues charts and stayed there for over three months; earning her the Grammy Award for Best Blues Album of the Year. She has sold over 50 million albums over the course of her career and has been inducted into the songwriting category of The Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame. In addition to her career in the Arts, Lauper is, also, well known for her advocacy of causes related to “Gay Rights”. She champions numerous causes related to the LGBQT community. All in all, Lauper has made good on the promise of a brighter, more self-directed and self-actualized future for women that she sang about, way back in the early 1980s, when we first laid our eyes and ears on that brightly-hued, squealy-voiced girl with the funky hair and dance moves to match.
When Cyndi Lauper first came across the song, “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” in its original form, she was as turned off by Hazard’s leering intentions as most women would be, I assume. The genesis for how she transformed the song was simple: Lauper simply turned the song around and stated her desire to be able to go out to a club (or anywhere else, for that matter), as a woman, and have fun as freely and easily as a man could. That was it. That was equality. The simple notion of women being able to do what men do….without fear of harm or sexual harassment. Lauper’s transformation of the song helped turn it into something that struck a chord with many women and, as a result, it became a feminist anthem. But, Lauper, being the clever woman that she is, took things one level higher. In the video for this song, she went to great lengths to cast “ordinary women” in all of the main roles to eliminate the notion that it is only super-model-types that men harass sexually. Sexual harassment happens to all women, regardless of age, hair colour, body type, profession and so on. “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” is a song that makes an important political point, all the while in the guise of something fun and bright and cheery and uplifting. The video for “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” was the very first video honoured on MTV for “Best Video by a Female”. As if this all wasn’t enough already, in the video, the role of her father was played by a character from the World Wrestling Federation named Captain Lou Albano. Because of his inclusion in this highly successful music video, Lauper got to become involved in the WWF and actually appeared in several matches as Albano’s ally in the drama that unfolded in the squared circle where the wrestling took place.
Overall, Cyndi Lauper has had a career that has made a difference to many; all because of her intelligence, her creativity, her positivity and her compassion. She has helped advance many progressive causes and, as a result, has touched countless lives for the better. She has much to be proud of. And to think, that it all became possible because of a sleazy song written about hunting for women in a club. Thank goodness for Cyndi Lauper and her take on “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun”! Here she is! The one who made “thrift-store chic” a fashion choice! The one who threw her arms in the air like she just didn’t care! The Queen of the Blues! The Belle of Broadway! The pride of those in the margins of society! Here is Cyndi Lauper…..enjoy!
The link to the video for the song, “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun!” by Cyndi Lauper, can be found here.
The link to the video for the song, “Raise You Up” by Cyndi Lauper, from the Broadway play, “Kinky Boots”, can be found here.
The official website for Cyndi Lauper, can be found here.
Thanks, as always, to KEXP, for always championing the rights of women to live their lives, free from misogynistic songs and the messages they contain. The link to their wonderful website can be found here.