"[I'm] always the bridesmaid, never the bride," she quips to PEOPLE. The singer won the best new artist award for her 1983 debut album She's So Unusual, which made her a household name.
"It definitely had to be a hit album," she recalls about setting out to create it. "I was trying to make a sound and not sound like everyone else. There was a lot of incredible music, and I had to make this commercial album and I was trying to think of a way to make it in a really cool way."
Lauper, 60, clearly succeeded. The album made music history when she became the first female artist to have four top 10 singles from a debut album at the time.
And as she gears up to release a 30th-anniversary edition of Unusual – it hit that milestone last October – the singer shares the brand-new NERVO "Time After Time" remix from the upcoming release and dishes to PEOPLE about the hits that put her on the map.
"Time After Time" Remix by NERVO
"With the invention of electronic music, they always reinvent your stuff. I thought, 'Why not have it be done in a style of music that you like?' NERVO did a really great remix," Lauper says of the new track.
"Girls Just Want to Have Fun"
"I wanted to make it a female anthem that would mean something, and I busted my butt to make sure that it would have some validity to women from then on," she says. "I did real singing on it. People would say, 'Oh she sings so high and she can't really sing.' And as it became a karaoke favorite, people realized it was a really hard song to sing."
"Read the lyrics! It was always meant that a kid wouldn't know [what it meant], but a grown-up would. So, the grown-up would have a chuckle and the kid would think she's just dancing – which is the way it should be."
"Time After Time"
"'Time After Time' was the shocker because I just wrote that from the heart and that was a title that I got from TV Guide. It was the name of the movie that Mary Steenburgen was in, and I was writing down titles with no intention of keeping it. Then every time I tried to take it out, it fell apart. And then I found all these other songs that were called 'Time After Time,' and I was like, it doesn't matter."
The 30th-anniversary edition of She's So Unusual will include the original album, an unreleased live show from 1984 and never-before-heard demos in addition to new remixes. Lauper is a nominee and presenter at the 56th Annual Grammy Awards airing Sunday at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.