It seems impossible to think that Cyndi Lauper’s iconic album She’s So Unusual is as old as me. One of us it seems has weathered the test of time much better than the other, with the likes of Girls Just Want To Have Fun and Time After Time still sounding like songs that would still garner mainstream radio success if they were released today. Whether it’s the subtle exploration of masturbation in She Bop, her cover of The Brains Money Changes Everything or Prince’s When You Were Mine, Lauper’s trademark vocals, which span a ridiculous number of octaves ,are what shine through.
Of course, the crunch of this album is not the re-released tracks which we’ve come to love, but instead the bonus numbers in which the journey of the songs can be seen. The early guitar demo of Girls Just Want To Have Fun sounds like a Blondie track, Lauper’s voice becoming more monotone and the guitars cranked up. It’s almost a depressing number about a dream for emancipation, rather than the celebratory anthem which found it’s way onto the album. Meanwhile the early working of Time After Time shows how the song was structured, the melody already in place, whilst Lauper is heard humming and mumbling half formed lyrics.
Elsewhere Lauper fans will be happy to hear the addition of Right Track, Wrong Train (the B side to Girls Just Want To Have Fun) and the previously unreleased Rules and Regulations. Though the live tracks give a sense of Lauper’s formidable stage presence and the remixes display how dance floor friendly her work has been, for me it’s the early demos which transform the extended play into something which begins to tell the story of her career.
With the album making Lauper the first female to have 4 number ones from one album, She’s So Unusual reconfirms her ability to continually set trends and break boundaries. Whilst I might have weathered the 30 years with a little less ease than She’s So Unusual, I am at least grateful that the released version of Girls Just Want To Have Fun ended up being the defiant pop number which inspired a generation of women to embrace the fun.