Welcome to Throwback Thursday, a weekly series showcasing an album, single, music video or performance of a bygone era and its personal and/or cultural significance.
You ever have those days when you just need something fun to get your blood pumping? An elastic melody stretched over neon-blasted synths and a rock-vibrant punch, Cyndi Lauper‘s iconic 1983 classic “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” hits on all the right cylinders. “I come home in the morning light / My mother says when you gonna live your life right / Oh mother dear we’re not the fortunate ones / And girls they wanna have fun,” Lauper screeches, mounting the feminist party of the century. The song is dressed up with slick ’80s classicisms and a fairly progressive message (at least for the time).
“Some boys take a beautiful girl / And hide her away from the rest of the world,” she sends up a rallying cry, shattering the glass ceiling along the way. It’s a torch song, by all accounts, and its feverish club-readiness has made it one of pop’s greatest contributions. “I want to be the one to walk in the sun / Oh girls they wanna have fun,” she longs for her own well-earned, long-awaited independence from up under not only her father’s thumb but that of all men ⎯⎯ free to think, act, feel, do like how she was always destined. As a non-binary individual, I find the song’s glossiness and fist-pumping excitement to be especially empowering.
The grainy, too-cool and so-hip music video is equally as freeing, entitling the viewer to really let loose in their life ⎯⎯ and on the dance floor. Directed by Edd Griles, known for his work with Sheena Easton, Huey Lewis & the News, Rainbow and others, the clip witnesses Lauper dancing through vignettes of her ho-hum true American life, defying tradition and carving out her own path, until she’s joined on the streets by a bevy of women, who embody true diversity and power. Funny, songs such as this come off as kitschy at the time, but given decades separation, it becomes a timeless reminder of our society’s growth but also its enduring problems.