Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, Damn It.

It turns out that Cyndi Lauper’s 1983 hit “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun”—an upbeat, female anthem—was written by none other than a man who was looking to make a point about how many women he’d slept with. I didn’t see that one coming. Maybe this is a well-known fact, but it was news to me. News that came soon after I found out that Aretha Franklin’s “Respect” had a similar evolution from misogynistic male song, to inspiring karaoke classic.

Cyndi Lauper’s producer at the time, Rick Chertoff, had heard Robert Hazard’s original recording of the song, and received permission from him to change the lyrics up a bit. A noted feminist, Lauper swapped out the tales of a man bedding many women and turned the song into a powerful story of, well, I’ll let Lauper explain it: “It doesn’t mean that girls just want to fuck. It just means that girls want to have the same damn experience that any man could have.” Lauper wasn’t just about equality between the sexes though, but between races as well. Her video for the single was one of the first music videos to feature women of multiple races.

Aside from the lyrical improvements, the entire song got an upgrade when Lauper took it over from Robert Hazard. Listen to the original below, if you can even make it through the whole song. It’s uncomfortably fast, and a feels like the lyrics are shoved into spaces they weren’t meant to fit. Maybe it’s just because I’m so used to the original, but I have a hunch I wouldn’t dig it even if I had heard Hazard’s
first.

Lauper’s version went on to be covered many more times, while Hazard’s version was left in the dust. Other artists that have performed the track range from Arcade Fire (joined onstage by Lauper herself), to Relient K, to Katy Perry and Nicki Minaj. The song is an 80’s classic, and rightly so. I’m certain it will be performed by generations of karaoke goers and famous musicians alike in the decades to come.

Everyone wants Candy

In 2000, I spent hours listening to Aaron Carter’s new album Aaron’s Party (Come Get It) while jumping on my bed or dancing around the room with my Aaron Carter poster. Little did I know that one of the songs I had memorized all the words to was actually a cover of a song from the 1960s. That song was “I Want Candy”. It was years later that I learned the song was originally written and performed by The Strangeloves, and was the title track of their first and only LP release.  Carter’s version was pure pop, and stayed loyal to the original.

In between the original and Carter’s version is new wave group Bow Wow Wow’s cover of the song. Their cover swapped pronouns, opting for their female lead singer, Annabella Lwin to sing “Go to see him when the sun goes down, ain’t no finer boy in town…” instead of “see her” and “finer girl”. The song was released in 1982, and continues to be a staple of 80’s music, being featured in films or TV flashbacks set in the 1980s, as well as landing on many “Best of” 80’s compilations.

Though the song is not covered terribly often, a few other artists have shared their take on it. Good Charlotte recorded the song to be featured in the film Not Another Teen Movie. Cody Simpson covered the song for the soundtrack to the animated movie Hop. Melanie C chose her cover of the song to be the first single off her album This Time.

No matter how many more artists cover the song, I know that whenever I hear “I Want Candy”, I will always think of Aaron Carter dancing around in a silver puffer jacket and matching pants with Hilary Duff on Lizzie McGuire, and their real life relationship that seven year old me was so excited about.