Monday, November 9, 2009

Rolling Stone 500: (494) She's So Unusual by Cyndi Lauper [1984]

I remember hearing a few of these songs on the radio in the early to mid-90's. The singles were good, but the overall record is even better. Simply put, if today's pop music sounded more like "She's So Unusual," it would be a billion times better than it is. Cyndi Lauper's sound here is peppy and fun, the lyrics generally straightforward and simple, but all of it is earnest and good. And for an 80's record with a certainly 80's sound, it has worn well and still sounds fresh 25 years later.

The first half of the record is especially strong. "Money Changes Everything" has a cool Cars-ian New Wave sound to it. "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" was one of the major breakout singles and for good reason. The iconic song brings back the 60's girl group feel of the Marvelettes or Shangri-Las and puts an 80's spin on it. "When You Were Mine" would do the same thing, but it sounds a tad more dated than the first two songs and goes on for just a bit too long. Just a bit though. Another big hit comes next, the best song on the record, "Time After Time." The drastic shift in tempo and mood is a welcome change and Lauper's singing is beautiful.

"She Bop" reverts back to the New Wave sound and the lyrics were, and probably still are, considered to be racy. But it isn't as stupid as, say Kiss, where everything "racy" is said with a stupid bro wink and nudge. It's more along the line of Chuck Berry's "I Want to Be Your Driver" and there is enough ambiguity in the lyrics that it is clever and not boringly blatant.  The next song, "All Through the Night," I think would sound better flipped in order with "She Bop," but maybe that is just because I am listening to it on a computer and not vinyl. That changes things sometimes. Anyway, it is actually my second favorite song on the record. Very nice, like "Time After Time," with slightly more energy.

The end of the record sort of limps to the finish line. "Witness" is fine despite the reggae sound. But "I'll Kiss You" is too long. It would be fine if it was a short mindless pop number, but it just goes on and on. It clocks in a 4:12 and would lose only repetitiveness by being under 2:30. But, oh well. And "Yeah Yeah" just isn't all the good. It actually sounds a whole lot like Yoko Ono's songs on the Lennon/Ono record "Double Fantasy." It came out four years earlier.

Throughout the record, I could not believe I had never realized how good of a singer Cyndi Lauper is. A nice listen.



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