To celebrate the 30th anniversary of her breakthrough solo debut, Cyndi Lauper is not only performing “She’s so Unusual” in its entirety, but she’s also sharing stories that may make listeners exclaim that title phrase.
“When I recorded ‘She Bop’ I wanted the producers to run a wire from the control booth to the rehearsal room where Kiss had their stuff,” she remembers. “I felt comfortable enough to sing freely because I was uninhibited and nobody was watching. … so I wound up actually taking my shirt off to feel free, which is hard to explain to a man, because you grow up and you take your shirt off whenever you want and women can’t so that freedom you never feel as an adult.”
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The story even gets a little more unusual.
“Actually, I tickled myself to make myself laugh,” Lauper reveals with an echo of the laugh that’s captured in the song. “I mean it was so ridiculous I just started laughing. So that is the laugh on the song and then of course as soon as that album became popular and ‘She Bop’ became popular then all of a sudden there's a lot of people laughing on their albums and I always used to think to myself, ‘Well I know what I was doing, but what were they doing?’”
But what is probably most unusual about Lauper doing an “Unusual” tour at this point in her career is that she has achieved so much recently by staying focused on the present. She wrote the lyrics and music for the Broadway smash “Kinky Boots,” which won six Tony awards this year.
“With the success of the show on Broadway and the Tonys I feel like people actually do want to hear my new music, and I have a venue for it, so it doesn’t feel like an oldies show that I have to do,” she says. “This is the first time I’ve done anything like this and it will probably be the last. It’s an interesting journey for me to look back.”
‘Girls Just Want to’ do the song right
“Girls Just Want to Have Fun” was originally written and sung by a man, Robert Hazard and the message of the song was quite misogynistic. Yes, the narrator still comes home in the morning light and the phone still rings in the middle of the night, but it’s all because girls are making booty calls and wanting to “have fun” with him.
“I said, ‘The way Robert recorded this, it’s not gonna work,’” recalls Lauper about a conversation she had with producer Rick Chertoff. “I said, ‘This story can’t work. I don’t know what you expect.’ And he looked at me and said, ‘Well, think of what it could mean. It could be an anthem.’”
But in order for it to be an anthem, Lauper took out any trace of trampiness and made it about partying.