She's So UnusualCyndi Lauper
Synthesizer-laden, bustling songs that perform an incredible sleight of hand of taking themes (and even songs) and shift the focus ever so slightly to the narrator’s perspective, whose voice barrels through the instrumentation. We get songs like “Money Changes Everything” and “Girls Just Want to Have Fun”, the former a song by the Brains about a man whose girlfriend leaves to be with a wealthier man and the latter a song written by Robert Hazard about his girlfriends. The Brains’ song is retold from the perspective of the woman (a defense of women chasing money) and Hazard’s song is reworked into a statement about the right of women to have fun. All of these changes are dressed in the sort of new-wave noise that infects the whole album, resulting in bouncy songs that defy expectations, propelled along by Lauper’s undeniably powerful voice. “When You Were Mine” is a perfect cover, taking the spirit of a song and inflecting it with something new, something unique to the new voice performing it. Lauper deftly does that, not improving but completely transforming Prince’s song. “Time After Time” and “She Bop” are the first original songs on the album and, lest it be worried that all Lauper was capable of was covering other’s music, both are incredible. I am partial to “She Bop”, a stunning song intended as a double entendre (although, I’m not convinced a song that references a gay porn magazine is being sly). Nothing much more needs to be said about “Time After Time”, simply a classic song. The second half of the album really begins to fall flat. I didn’t love either “All Through the Night” or “Yeah Yeah”. The former just feels out of place in the album, it also drags a bit. I am not sure what it is about “Yeah Yeah”, but Lauper’s voice feels flatter than anywhere else in the album and toned down––something is just lacking in it. However, I do love the little voice that whines in the background during the verses and I think the dolphin noise she makes is incredible. It’s a song I really want to love, but just can’t give myself completely to. “I’ll Kiss You” is frantic, loud, and feels like it’s literally coming off the tracks the length of the song. I get the sense that if “Yeah Yeah” sounded more like this, I would be able to love it. Overall, an incredible album. I love the way Lauper crafted a decidedly feminist new-wave sound, using preexisting material (“Money Changes Everything”; “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun”) and without that material (“She Bop”; “I’ll Kiss You”). A near perfect debut. I would give it a 9/10 if I could, but a 5 will have to do on here. Also, it isn’t lost on me that I described the Cardigans as punk in a prom dress and Cyndi Lauper (a new-wave phenom drawing from all sorts of punk and post-punk acts) is literally wearing a prom dress on this album cover. I tried to think of a way to continue the analogy without making it convoluted. this is the best I have: Lauper is the sort of punk that goes to prom in a punkified prom dress. It’s not perfect, but I also think this is a fucking stupid analogy to keep up.