“Girls Just Want to Have Fun” is a song written by and first recorded in 1979 by American musician Robert Hazard. However, it is much better known as a single by American singer Cyndi Lauper, whose version was released in 1983. It was the first major single released by Lauper as a solo artist and the lead-off single from her debut album She’s So Unusual. Lauper’s version gained recognition as a feminist anthem and was promoted by a Grammy-winning video. It has been covered on either an album or in live concert by over 30 other artists.
The single was Lauper’s breakthrough hit, reaching No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and becoming a worldwide hit throughout late 1983 and early 1984. It remains one of Lauper’s signature songs and was a widely popular song during the era of its release, the 1980s. The “Rolling Stone & MTV: ‘100 Greatest Pop Songs’: 1-50”, “Rolling Stone: “The 100 Top Music Videos”” and the “VH1: 100 Greatest Videos” lists ranked the song at No. 22, No. 39 and No. 45, respectively. The song received Grammy Award nominations for Record of the Year and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. In 2013, the song was remixed by Yolanda Be Cool, taken from the 30th anniversary reissue of the album She’s So Unusual. The song is also featured in the films Clueless, To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar, Riding in Cars with Boys, I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry, Hysterical Blindness, Midnight Heat, The Other Woman , Housefull 3, Peter’s Friends, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2, and Baby Mama. It’s also used in the television shows The Simpsons, Friends, Bones, Gilmore Girls, The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3, Married with Children, Daria, Hinter Gittern – Der Frauenknast, The Comeback, Drawn Together, 90210, Secret Diary of a Call Girl, 20 to 1, Celebrity Big Brother, Two and a Half Men, Family Guy, Coronation Street, and Miami Vice among others.
With the inclusion of promotional releases, the single has seen about 40 individual versions of release. The most common is a 7″ vinyl single (with varying cover artwork) released in 1983/1984 (depending on the country) and the second most common is a 12″ vinyl single (also with varying cover artwork) released in 1983/1984.
The song was written by Robert Hazard, who recorded only a demo of it in 1979. He wrote it from a male point of view. For Lauper’s version, she changed the lyrics[how?] with Hazard’s approval. Her version appeared on her 1983 debut solo record, She’s So Unusual. It is a synthesizer-backed anthem about the roles of women in society and is considered by many to be a feminist classic of the era. Gillian G. Gaar, author of She’s a Rebel: The History of Women in Rock & Roll (2002), described the single and corresponding video as a “strong feminist statement”, an “anthem of female solidarity” and a “playful romp celebrating female camaraderie.”
The variety of releases of the single includes an Austrian birthday card with a 3” CD of the song inside. The song has been heavily distributed in karaoke version as well. Lauper later went on to completely re-work the song in 1994 resulting in the new hit “Hey Now (Girls Just Want to Have Fun)”. The song was remade by Lauper yet again in 2005 on her The Body Acoustic album, also produced by Chertoff and Wittman with Lauper, with guest support vocals from Japanese pop/rock duo Puffy AmiYumi.
The release of the single was accompanied by a quirky music video. It cost less than $35,000, largely due to a volunteer cast and the free loan of the most sophisticated video equipment available at the time. The cast included professional wrestling manager “Captain” Lou Albano in the role of Lauper’s father while her real mother, Catrine, played herself. Lauper would later appear in World Wrestling Federation storylines opposite Albano and guest-star in an episode of The Super Mario Bros. Super Show, in which Albano portrayed Mario (Albano also played himself in the episode). Lauper’s attorney, Elliot Hoffman, appeared as her uptight dancing partner. Also in the cast were Lauper’s manager, David Wolf, her brother, Butch Lauper, fellow musician Steve Forbert, and a bevy of secretaries borrowed from Portrait/CBS, Lauper’s record label.
Lorne Michaels (Broadway Video, SNL), another of Hoffman’s clients, agreed to give Lauper free run of his brand new million-dollar digital editing equipment, with which she and her producer created several first-time-ever computer generated images of Lauper dancing with her buttoned-up lawyer, leading the entire cast in a snake-dance through New York streets and ending up in Lauper’s bedroom in her home. The bedroom scene is a homage to the famous stateroom scene in the Marx Brothers’ film A Night at the Opera.
“The year 1983 makes a watershed in the history of female-address video. It is the year that certain issues and representations began to gain saliency and the textual strategies of female address began to coalesce.” In the video Lauper wanted to show in a more fun and light-hearted manner that girls want the same equality and recognition boys had in society.
Before the song starts, the beginning of her version of “He’s So Unusual” plays.
The music video was directed by Edd Griles. The producer was Ken Walz while the cinematographer was Francis Kenny. The treatment for the video was co-written by Griles, Walz, and Cyndi Lauper. The video was shot in the Lower East Side of Manhattan in summer 1983 and premiered on television in December 1983. The choreography was by a New York dance and music troupe called XXY featuring Mary Ellen Strom, Cyndi Lee and Pierce Turner.