The Story of... 'Girls Just Want To Have Fun' by Cyndi Lauper

15 May 2024, 14:01

Cyndi Lauper on performing every night with Rod Stewart

By Mayer Nissim

How Cyndi Lauper turned a finger-wagging bit of sexism into a feminist anthem.

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Cyndi Lauper has more hits than you can shake a stick at, but one of those songs has become an absolute anthem.

Her first proper single as a solo artist, 'Girls Just Want To Have Fun' helped set Cyndi on the path to superstardom.

But do you know who wrote the song, and how Cyndi's cover totally flipped its meaning?

Did you know the track became a hit twice over in the UK, with the help of a splash of reggae?

Read on for everything you ever might want to know about Cyndi Lauper's 'Girls Just Want To Have Fun'

Who wrote 'Girls Just Want To Have Fun'?

Robert Hazard - Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

As well as being a fantastic live and studio performer, Cyndi Lauper is one hell of a songwriter.

She co-wrote most of the self-titled Blue Angel album from her pre-solo band, and has writing credits on 'Time After Time', 'She Bop' and many other songs in her back catalogue.

But 'Girls Just Want To Have Fun' isn't one of hers.

'Girls Just Want To Have Fun' was written by Robert Hazard (yes, that is a man's name), and he recorded his own demo of the song as early as 1979.

Robert Hazard - Escalator Of Life (Version 1)

Hazard went on to release his own Robert Hazard EP in 1982, which included 'Escalator of Life', followed by a clutch of varied albums taking in folk, pop and country.

Lauper's producer Rick Chertoff was on the hunt for songs for Cyndi to sing, and immediately thought of Hazard's tune.

"He knew about 'Girls Just Want to Have Fun' for years," said Hazard. "He always told me what a great song he thought it was. When he met Cyndi, it was a match made in heaven."

At first, Cyndi didn't agree.

According to Rick, when he took her to see Hazard, she first told him in no uncertain terms: "I would never do that f**king song."

What is 'Girls Just Want To Have Fun' about?

Cyndi Lauper - Girls Just Wanna Have Fun ( TV Show Germany ) rare perfomance

It being a bloke who wrote 'Girls Just Want To Have Fun' doesn't quite chime with how we all think about the song today.

In Hazard's original, the ever-so-slightly different lyrics and male vantage point make the song a bit of a moan/critique about the girls out there just looking for a good time.

"Father dear, you are the fortunate one / Girls just wanna have fun" he sings, followed by "Don't worry, mother dear, you're still number one / Girls just wanna have fun".

As for who tweaked the lyrics, there are some conflicting stories.

"A man wrote it, so imagine what it's really about," Cyndi once said. "And I'm like, 'And how am I supposed to write this? What am I supposed to get a lobotomy and be like a big dope?!'."

Cyndi Lauper - Girls Just Want to Have Fun (from Live...At Last)

She put it more bluntly in the recent documentary Let the Canary Sing: "Every time we want to have fun, we're whores."

It's claimed that producer Rick told her to instead "make it what you would sing about", while she also got involved in suggesting a new sound, shifting it from the garage punky rock of the original to a more Motown, reggae, pop effort.

For his part, Hazard says he was actually involved in the lyric tweaks himself alongside Cyndi.

"I changed all the lyrics over the phone with her," he claimed. "Originally, it was from the guy's point of view. We had to make a lot of gender changes."

Cyndi Lauper in London in 1983
Cyndi Lauper in London in 1983. Picture: Getty Images

He added: "She actually had the guts to say in interviews that she wrote part of it. We sent her a cease and desist order.

"She did come to me with one line. I used to say, 'All my girls are going to walk in the sun.' And her line was 'I want to be the one to walk in the sun.' The original version was a guy talking about his girlfriends. A gender switch is a common thing and no one takes credit for it."

It's striking that Hazard also said: "She took the first verse and second verse and switched them. Why, I have no idea. Melodically, it's exactly the same."

Cyndi switching things up to have her narrator speak to her mother first is one of the many subtle changes that put a whole new complexion on the song, turning it into the Girl Power anthem we all know and love.

Is that Cyndi Lauper's actual mum in the 'Girls Just Want To Have Fun' music video?

Cyndi Lauper - Girls Just Want To Have Fun (Official Video)

It is indeed.

"I told my mother, 'If you do this, it's going to bring mothers and daughters closer," Cyndi said. "I got to share my success with my mom."

Her dad was played by pro-wrester and pal Captain Lou Albano, which led the way to Cyndi's heavy involvement in the then-WWF.

She helped kick off the Rock 'n' Wrestling Connection in the lead-up to the first-ever WrestleMania, where she appeared as Wendi Richter's manager.

Cyndi's stuffy dance partner was actually played by her real-life lawyer Elliot Hoffman.

When was 'Girls Just Want To Have Fun' released and where did it get in the charts?

Cyndi Lauper - Girls Just Want To Have Fun
Cyndi Lauper - Girls Just Want To Have Fun. Picture: Alamy

'Girls Just Want To Have Fun' was technically first released as a track on the She's So Unusual album on October 14, 1983.

As a single, the song was released just a few days later on October 17 in the US with 'Right Track Wrong Train' on the B-side.

The UK release came later that year on December 30.

In the US the song peaked at number two, only being held off the top by the equally massive 'Jump' by Van Halen.

Cyndi Lauper at the 1984 Grammy Awards
Cyndi Lauper at the 1984 Grammy Awards. Picture: Getty Images

The song also went to number two in the UK, with the spoiler over here being Frankie Goes To Hollywood's all-conquering 'Relax'.

The song went SIX TIMES platinum in the US with sales of over six million, and double-platinum over here with sales of over 1.2 million.

'Girls Just Want To Have Fun' has also racked up over a billion listens each on Spotify and YouTube.

What is 'Hey Now (Girls Just Want to Have Fun)' all about?

Cyndi Lauper - Hey Now (Girls Just Want to Have Fun) (Official Video)

Cyndi Lauper's debut album She's So Unusual was an instant smash, eventually selling over 16 million copies.

She followed it up with the incredible 'True Colours' and kept on releasing massive bangers, so the greatest hits was always just a matter of time.

The excellently-titled Twelve Deadly Cyns...and Then Some was released in 1994, and to grab those of us who already had all her previous records, there were the obligatory three new tracks.

Those songs were the singles 'I'm Gonna Be Strong' and 'Come On Home', and '(Hey Now) Girls Just Want to Have Fun'.

The last of those was a total reworking of 'Girls Just Want To Have Fun', which leaned into and amplified the reggae influence on the original, with an interpolation of Redbone's 'Come and Get Your Love'.

As well as helping sales of Cyndi's best-of, '(Hey Now) Girls Just Want to Have Fun' was a hit in its own right, going all the way to number four in the UK.

Who has covered '(Girls Just Want to Have Fun)'?

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

Leaving to one side that Cyndi's version is of course a cover (though the first version to get a proper release), 'Girls Just Want To Have Fun' has been covered a fair few times over the years.

Lolly scored a number 14 hit with the song in 2000, while a gaggle of celebs including Nina Wadia, Kym Marsh, and Caroline Quentin released a version in 2010 as Race For Life for Cancer Research UK.

It's been a medley favourite, popping up in mashups from Dame Edna Everage, The Nolans and Mini Pops, while Shaggy and Eve's song of the same name naturally borrowed heavily from Cyndi.

And more straightforward covers have come from the Grange Hill cast, Greg Laswell, Miley Cyrus and Scouting For Girls.