Review: “She’s So Unusual” by Cyndi Lauper (CD, 1983)

Today’s POP RESCUE from an uncertain future, is the 1983 debut solo album She’s So Unusual, by American singer, songwriter, actress and activist, Cyndi Lauper. Will this album be Fun, or is it not what Girls Just Wanna Have? Read on…

Cyndi Lauper - She's So Unusual (1983) album cover
Cyndi Lauper – She’s So Unusual (1983) album

First up on this 10 track album is Money Changes Everything, bursting in with snare and guitar. This is a cover of the 1980 track by The Brains. Here though, Cyndi’s instantly recognisable vocals are soon on the mic, and they sit perfectly in contrast to the music, and she gets tons of moments to show off her range and vocal power, which she swiftly grasps. A delightful synth cuts through too, helping the song to grow into a catchy 80’s rock-pop song. We’re off to a great start.

Next is lead single, and huge hit that’s synonymous with Cyndi’s name, Girls Just Wanna Have Fun. This is instantly recognisable from the guitar intro and beat, and it just effortlessly and yet playfully shuffles along completely flawlessly. Cyndi’s vocals do somersaults through her range and are beautifully crisp throughout, giving us an early 80’s masterpiece that you’d be hard-pushed to not tap your feet to, sing along to, and it has earned its place with ease on practically every 1980s compilation. Perfect! The song gave her a #2 UK hit in the UK. A later version in 1994 reached #4.

When You Were Mine follows this, giving us some wonderful beats, synth pads, and little guitar riffs echoing through. Here Cyndi gets to show off some softer vocals, aside from a high note that would even prick up Mariah Carey’s ears. Her softer vocals work well against this wafting dreaminess of the music, which in itself is a fairly simple and straight forward song. It’s a nice mellow song, and one of a few cover songs here, this one originally by, and penned by, legendary guitarist and singer Prince. The track did get some releases around the world, but seemingly avoided the UK.

That’s followed by another huge hit, again synonymous with Cyndi’s name (although Phil Collins gets a good run with this too), Time After Time. Here though, we’re getting the original (Cyndi co-wrote it with keyboardist and backing vocalist Rob Hyman), and the synths and vocals are just beautiful. The vocal harmonies (which I assume is with Rob) work wonderfully, giving a contrasting sound over this warm synth ballad. A masterpiece. This was the album’s second single, and it gave Cyndi a #3 UK hit.

Next up is She Bop. This changes the tone, with a catchy little growly guitar sequence over a simple snare beat, whilst synths flitter in the background. This gives a more playful sound again, and Cyndi’s vocals instantly match it with soft and high notes thrown around with seemingly great ease. The chorus is really nice with the vocal harmonies, and there’s even some whistling and synth brass notes. This was the album’s third single, but sadly the UK sat this bop out, taking it to a lowly #46.

All Through The Night follows that, and this is a cover of the (also) 1983 Jules Shear album track. Whilst Jules released his track himself on his album, he’s here too giving backing vocals, which work well as a contrast again to Cyndi’s higher vocals. Cyndi seems to make light work of some very big long held notes as a gentle synth dances around her almost fairytale like. It’s a great little pop song, but sadly the UK public again failed to grasp Cyndi’s single, and it stumbled at #64.

Then it’s Witness, and this track bounces along wonderfully and is loaded with percussion throughout, but the mid section shows this off with some shouting. There’s plenty of almost reggae/ska inspired guitars and they waft in and out throughout the song, helping to keep it all sewn together as it bounces around.

Some delightfully 1980’s synths lead us into I’ll Kiss You. This is a narrative song about Cyndi getting potions from a gypsy, referencing hit Love Potion No. 9. The hard snares and guitar riffs work a treat, but there’s plenty of space for Cyndi show off her vocal diversity and she throws her voices around like a hot potato. She’s flanked occasionally by male backing vocals and various sound effects. It’s a fun track, and reeks of 80’s ‘freshness’.

Almost-titular track He’s So Unusual is up next, and it’s just a 46 second little burst of the 1920’s Helen Kane cover, very much stylised to that era and the song’s often cited subsequent inspired creation, Betty Boop. The track is performed in a mono recording over a cabaret piano style and serves as fun little song.

The album closes with Yeah Yeah and which sees Cyndi throwing more stylised vocals down that almost feel like they would fit in the previous track, over a fairly steady plodding beat and guitar sequence. Again, she’s flanked by male backing vocalists and they add a deeper and soulful base from which her voice can flitter around like magic. This is also a cover version, this time of the 1981 song by Mikael Rickfors. It’s a nice little upbeat ending to this album.

Cyndi’s lead single ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’, 1983.


Over all, this album is pretty much loyal to its title – unusual. Thankfully, were on the good side of that term, and we’re given an album packed with catchy songs and what would be iconic hits of the 80s.

There are some very clear highlights here – the two huge 80’s hits Girls Just Wanna Have Fun and Time After Time lead the way, but most of the rest are following closely behind it. Money Changes Everything and All Through The Night work a treat, and despite them being two of the five cover versions here, Cyndi brings enough to the table to make them her own. I’ll Kiss You and Yeah Yeah are probably the weaker two songs here, but not by a lot.

For a 10 track debut album (albeit track 9 is 46 seconds long), choosing to have the majority (5) of the tracks as cover versions, and recent ones too, was a brave move, but one that clearly launched Cyndi into the charts, and crucially gave us two of the biggest hits of the 1980s that still endure today.

Definitely give this album a listen, it’s not now that unusual, but it’s good fun.

Rated 4 stars - You're missing a treat!
  • POP RESCUE 2023 RATING: 4 / 5
  • 1983 UK ALBUM CHART PEAK: #16, certified Gold by the BPI.
  • POP RESCUE COST: £1.71 from an eBay seller.

Artist Trajectory

Based on all of the Cyndi Lauper albums that we have reviewed so far, we are able to calculate her average album score as 3.66 out of 5.

Cyndi Lauper artist trajectory score from Pop Rescue reviews.
Cyndi Lauper artist trajectory based on Pop Rescue reviews.

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