She’s So Unusual (Portrait ’83) Rating: A-
Between her goofy hair stylings, wacky wardrobe, and World Wrestling Federation appearances, it was difficult to take Cyndi Lauper seriously. Which was a shame, because this was one heck of a debut album, one that gets my instant respect. In fact, She’s So Unusual rivaled Madonna’s first album for sheer synth pop fun, causing Lauper to become an instant celebrity and MTV favorite in the process. Although Lauper only co-wrote a handful of these songs, she smartly (and tastefully) covers the Brains’ “Money Changes Everything” and Prince’s “When You Were Mine” (two great new wave songs), and she adds Robert Hazard's upbeat “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun,” an undeniably infectious dance song (and video) despite its dated new wave keyboards. On the mellower front, the gorgeously heartfelt “Time After Time” and Jules Shear’s excellent “All Through The Night” were simply two of the decade’s finest ballads. After all, though she didn’t have a great voice, Lauper sang with emotion and possessed loads of personality. She even got a song about female masturbation (“She Bop”) on the radio, and this album’s first 6 songs are darn near flawless. The rest of the album is less impressive, but “Witness” and “Yeah Yeah” are also kinda catchy, and only the annoying “I’ll Kiss You” ranks as a total filler track. She couldn’t maintain the high standard set on She’s So Unusual throughout her subsequent career, but for awhile there Cyndi Lauper's future seemed as bright as her flaming orange hair.