Girls Just Want To Have Fun - the Robert Hazard original
There’s a certain charming swagger in some corners of rock. A misogynistic bent that we wouldn’t tolerate in real life but adore when it growls from the mouth of a disheveled rocker.
Robert Hazard’s 1979 recording of Girls is one of those boastful numbers that objectifies women. It was written in twenty minutes in the shower and it sounds like it took nearly as long to record.
Girls is a stripped back, unpolished, uptempo number that rocks along with a catchy guitar hook popping up whenever Hazard isn’t singing. The lyrics are suggestive in a way that a 1950s rocker might employ to have plausible deniability while boasting about their conquests. They’re delivered in a sloppy, haphazard way that shows the disdain of the narrator for all those around him. They echo Elvis Costello’s playfulness, but without Costello’s je ne sais quoi. I’m sure Hazard could sing better if he chose to, being the son of an opera singer.
Cyndi Lauper covers Girls Just Want To Have Fun
Cyndi Lauper. The inimitable Cyndi Lauper. A woman of distinguished style and pizazz, both visually and lyrically. Unapologetically 80s but somehow managing to transcend the fashion cycle so as to never go out of style, even after forty years have passed. She’s a classic.
1983’s Girls showcases Lauper’s free spirit. It shines through her vocal delivery and is matched visually by her quirkiness in the video clip. Speaking of the video, the crowded room scene is a throwback to the Marx brothers’ A night at the Opera crowded cabin scene. I defy anybody to be in a bad mood after sitting through the music video.
Girls rocketed up the charts internationally, catapulting Lauper into the public zeitgeist. It was the centrepiece of her classic album She’s So Unusual and set her on her way to selling over 50 million records.
Comparing Lauper and Hazard
Lauper took Hazard’s sleazy rock track, tweaked the lyrics, played an Uno Reverse Card, and turned it into a feminist anthem. She moved past the first few waves and demanded that girls should be able to enjoy themselves without being judged harshly.
Musically, she shook up the arrangement to make it unmistakably her own, while managing to preserve the essence of the original. Lauper’s Girls kicks off with one of music’s most memorable and identifiable guitar licks. It puts you right in the mood for lip syncing and sideways head dancing with your passengers while motoring down the freeway.
It really is difficult to compare the two versions. One is a straight-ahead rocker and the other a cheerleader pop anthem. The lyrical changes also subvert the essence of the song, but not in a bad way. It possibly isn’t fair to compare the two, considering Lauper has produced one of pop’s all-time great classics. It really is apples and oranges.
Lauper shows what a great artist can do to renovate a track. She overhauled Girls from the ground up while staying true to the elements that made the original shine.
I really enjoy Hazard’s Girls and wouldn’t reach for the “next track” button if it turns up in my playlist. But if both tracks appear in search results, you’ll find me bopping along to Ms. Lauper. With Girls, she delivered the complete package.
I rate this cover eight Captain Lou Albanos and a quirky hat out of three. Fantastic.
Please enjoy these rejected cover images.