‘80’s Pick of the Week
“Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” by Cyndi Lauper (1983)
There ain’t no stoppin’ the whirling New York dervish called Cyndi Lauper. In 2010 at age 57 she had the number one selling blues album on Billboard called “Memphis Blues”.
Seems like she came out of nowhere. Her contribution to ‘80’s styles is unquestionable. Was it her inextinguishable New York charm? Was it her little high pitched squeals interjected into songs? Was it her hair? Or does it really go deeper; like she really is an amazing singer with a innate feeling and understanding for the material, whether her own or the interpretation of others?
So where does this strange girl from New York fit into the grand scheme of pop music? There is a rebellion about Cyndi Lauper music that lurks deeper; much deeper than the glossy rebellion on the surface. When she shows her true colors it comes through in feminine strength, independence and joie de vivre that is attractive and uplifting – magnetic and boisterous.
The first female singer to have 4 singles released from one album. You may even be able to name them as they got strong radio play: “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun”, “All Through the Night”, “Time after Time” and “She Bop”. (She also does a cover of Prince’s “When you Were Mine”)
This is the story of a Queen’s New York girl who listened to Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, and the soaring voice of Judy Garland – they had a profound impact on her. So did the roots of rock and roll and bands like the Beatles. Even with her mother’s encouragement and her love or music and art, she found herself dropping out of a specialized art high school and leaving home at 17. She went to the Canadian woods for a while and thought about it. She returned to the U.S. to work at odd jobs, and sing in cover bands in the ‘70’s. Never really satisfied with doing covers of Led Zeppelin,Jefferson Airplane or Bad Company songs, Cyndi yearned to do something original. In ’77 she lost her voice and was told she would never sing again – Not! She recovered just fine with a little help from a vocal coach.
After meeting saxophone player John Turi, Lauper put out the album “Blue Angel” on Polydor, even though the record companies were keen to sign her as a solo act. She held out, ever loyal to her band. Playing at the “El Sombrero” club in New York the scouts listened to her sing in her 4-octave range and were blown away. Bigger things were in store of this little girl.
When Lauper met David Wolfe in 1981 he became her manager and then her lover. She was signed to Portrait records, a subsidiary of Epic. In October of ’83 “She’s so Unusual” was released. It was loved by everyone. Her cross-over style between punk and new wave spawned copy-cats everywhere. Often changing up the lyrics of songs to suit her, Lauper was the stuff in 1983! The album sold in excess of 16 million copies.
After helping with “We Are the World”, to help Africa and providing musical direction for Spielberg’s movie” The Goonies” (with the cool song “Goonies “’R’ Good Enough”), Lauper was looking at doing another solo project. In 1986 after winning a boat-load of Grammy’s she put out the album “Time after Time” which went to number four on Billboard. Of course “True Colors” went to number one, but there was also “Change of Heart” and a very solid version of Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Goin’ On”.
1989’s “A Night To Remember” contained the hit “I Drove All Night”, which was penned for Roy Orbison, but he did not record and release it for another three years. In 1993’s “Hat Full of Stars” was a commercial disappointment. “Sisters of Avalon” put out in 1996 was directed toward the gay community, again not particularily commercially successful and not her best efforts.
After albums “Shine” and “At Last”, Lauper was back on top with “The Body Accoustic” in 2005 with collaborations with other artists doing her material. It is a very eclectic and interesting album to be sure.
After Donald Trump fired Cyndi while she appeared on the TV show “Celebrity Apprentice”, she performed a song from her upcoming album “Memphis Blues” in the boardroom. She does not need to be anyone’s apprentice that’s for sure, and she could certainly teach Trump a thing or two about style.
As she sings in “Goonies ‘R’ Good Enough”: “Oh it's not real if you don't feel it. Unspoken expectations, ideas you used to play with -they're finally taking shape”. Yep, it all worked out for you Cyndi!