Cyndi Lauper’s Debut ‘She’s So Unusual’ Turns 40, Previously Unseen Images by Photographer Annie Leibovitz Revealed

Following the breakup of her band Blue Angel, Cyndi Lauper began writing some of the songs that would become her 1983 debut She’s So Unusual. Released on October 14, 1983, She’s So Unusual went to No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 and became one of the top-selling albums in the 1980s.

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The album also earned Lauper her first Grammy for Best New Artist and produced four top-five hits “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun,” “Time After Time,” “She Bop,” and “All Through the Night.”

“I’m celebrating 40 years of ‘She’s So Unusual,'” said Lauper in an Instagram video. “I just want to say thank you for supporting this album. It was my first solo album, and it has continued to be still very popular. And I just feel very grateful to have been a part of music like that.”

Lauper also shared one memory from recording the album, from May through August of 1983, at the Record Plant in New York City, where Patti Smith, Bruce Springsteen, KISS, Blondie, Aerosmith, and many other artists recorded before her.

“When we were first in there, making this record, I remember running up and down the hallway and walking right into a John Lennon record and thinking ‘Oh my gosh, I’m making music here in this place,'” shared Lauper. “I feel very blessed to have worked with the people I’ve worked with. I love you guys. Have a great year. And hey, let’s celebrate.”‘

Lauper co-wrote four of the 10 tracks on She’s So Unusual, including hit “Time After Time” with Rob Hyman, “She Bop,” along with Rick Chertoff, Gary Corbett, and Stephen Broughton Lunt, “Witness” with John Turi, and “I’ll Kiss You” with Jules Shear, who also penned “All Through the Night” for the album.

“Girls Just Wanna Have Fun,” which was penned for Lauper by the late Robert Hazard and went to No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100, became an anthem, an attitude, and a call-out for fashion freedom for women in the 1980s. At first, Lauper didn’t connect with Hazard’s song, but after some switches in the arrangement, and giving the song a more reggae feel, she made it her own.

“The good thing is that it was in the key of a trumpet, and we were actually trumpeting an idea that everyone, including girls, could have fun,” said Lauper in 2023. “Because if girls were having too much fun, we were labeled whores, so this was a new idea and a new take.”

Throughout the decades, the song and its more empowering message, have continued to resurface, including in 2022 following the overturning of Roe v. Wade. In response to the decision, Lauper initiated the Girls Just Want To Have Fundamental Rights Fund at the Tides Foundation, which provides financial support for women’s issues.

[RELATED: 4 Songs You Didn’t Know Cyndi Lauper Wrote for Other Artists]

She’s So Unusual was the beginning of a solid gold career for Lauper, who has sold more than 50 million records. She is one of the only artists to pick up a Grammy Award, an Emmy Award, and a Tony Award, the latter for Kinky Boots, which had a Broadway run from 2013 through 2019.

To commemorate the 40th anniversary of She’s So Unusual, a limited edition blue opaque vinyl of the album will be available on Record Store Day on November 24, along with a track-by-track interview with Lauper on Apple Music.

In 2023, Lauper’s documentary, Let the Canary Sing, premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival. Helmed by Laurel Canyon director Alison Ellwood, the film covers Lauper’s life as an activist, actress, composer, singer, songwriter, and more, including her more humble New York City upbringing in Ozone Park, Queens, and the success of her 1983 debut She’s So Unusual.

In addition to the vinyl release, photographer Annie Leibovitz, who shot the cover of She’s So Unusual has revealed several outtake photos from the shoot with Lauper. The cover features Lauper wearing mix-match clothes from the vintage shop where she worked, Screaming Mimi’s, and was shot in Coney Island in Brooklyn, New York.

‘She’s So Unusual’ Tracklist:

1. “Money Changes Everything”
2. “Girls Just Want To Have Fun”
3. “When You Were Mine”
4. “Time After Time”
5. “She Bop”
6. “All Through The Night”
7. “Witness”
8. “I’ll Kiss You”
9. “He’s So Unusual”
10. “Yeah Yeah”

Check out Annie Leibovitz’s outtakes from Lauper’s She’s So Unusual Coney Island photoshoot below:

Photos: Annie Leibovitz / Courtesy of Sony Music Archives / Shore Fire Media

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