This was Lauper's first single as a solo artist. She released an album in 1981 as a member of the group Blue Angel, but "Girls Just Want To Have Fun" made her famous. The song was a huge part of '80s culture. It became an anthem for female attitude, and set fashion trends as the video showed Lauper wearing bright, outrageous clothes that looked like they came from a thrift store (they often did). It set the stage for artists like Madonna: independent women wearing cheap, yet fashionable clothes with a taste for garish accessories.
Ellie Greenwich sang backup vocals on this song and helped come up with the distinctive counterpoint. Greenwich was a legendary songwriter who worked with Phil Spector on many classic songs of the '60s, including Be My Baby
and Leader Of The Pack
. Other songs she sang on include "Evil Woman" by Electric Light Orchestra and "Dreamin'" by Blondie.
The video, which ran constantly on MTV, featured the wrestler Captain Lou Albano as Lauper's father, and also Lauper's real-life mother, who had no acting experience but did just fine. It won the first ever award for Best Female Video at the 1984 Video Music Awards
. Albano was also in her next video, "Time After Time
Lauper co-wrote many of her own songs, but not this one. Like "I Will Survive
," it's a girl power song written by a man. A Philadelphia singer/songwriter named Robert Hazard, who had a band called Robert Hazard and the Heroes, wrote it. Hazard recorded his demo of the song
in 1979. Speaking with Rolling Stone
, Lauper said that she had to alter the lyrics from Hazard's original. "It was originally about how fortunate he was 'cause he was a guy around these girls that wanted to have 'fun' - with him - down there, which we do not speak lest we go blind," she said.
A year before this song hit for Lauper, it was Hazard who was on the charts with his song "Escalator Of Life," which made #58 in the US. Yes, the video is on YouTube
A theme in Lauper's work, as evidenced in her song "True Colors
," is acceptance. Most of the women seen on MTV were the kind of beautiful people rarely seen in the real world, but Lauper made sure that her video was populated with regular folks doing their thing. In the book I Want My MTV
, she explained: "I wanted 'Girls Just Want To Have Fun' to be an anthem for women around the world - and I mean all
women - and a sustaining message that we are powerful human beings. I made sure that when a woman saw the video, she would see herself represented, whether she was thin or heavy, glamorous or not, and whatever race she was."
This song has been used in numerous TV shows and commercials. One of the more successful uses was in the 1995 movie Clueless, starring Alicia Silverstone. It was Silverstone's first big role after playing a vixen in some Aerosmith videos, and helped establish her as a legitimate actress. Other movie uses include To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar (1995), Riding in Cars with Boys (2001), I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry (2007), and Baby Mama (2008). TV shows include The Simpsons, Friends, Bones, Gilmore Girls and Miami Vice.
It didn't take long for the title of this song to get its own movie. In 1985, the unknown actresses Sarah Jessica Parker, Helen Hunt and Shannen Doherty starred in the film Girls Just Want To Have Fun, where the song was also used.
When all of the party guests in the video are shown falling out of the bedroom in a pile when the door is opened, it was a tribute to a similar scene from the classic Marx Brothers film A Night at the Opera. (thanks, Patrick - Conyers, GA)
In 2004, Carnival Cruise Lines used this in a series of commercials. (thanks, Patrick - Conyers, GA)
Weird Al Yankovic wrote a parody of this for his 1985 album Dare To Be Stupid called "Girls Just Want To Have Lunch." He wasn't keen on doing that would make fun of women, but his label insisted on having him do a Cyndi Lauper send-up as this song was very popular. (thanks, Steph - SoCal, CA)
Lauper thought Yankovic's parody was funny. She said during a Reddit AMA: "I like Weird Al. I LOVED 'Like a Surgeon.' I thought he was going to make MORE fun of Girls just wanna have lunch. But it wasn't hard. Because everybody thought I was an alien, I spoke funny and I dressed funny... Not hard to make fun of."
Based on the success of this song, Lauper became part of "The Rock and Wrestling Connection." She appeared at matches for the World Wrestling Federation and managed the women's champion, Wendi Richter.
The song has charted on the Hot 100 on three other occasions following its initial entry in 1983. Cyndi Lauper remade it as "Hey Now (Girls Just Want to Have Fun)," peaking at #87 in 1995. Sixteen years later, the cast of Glee took its version to #59. Finally, in 2015 The Voice contestant Madi Davis reached #98 with her ethereal cover after she performed it on the TV show.