The Essential Cyndi Lauper
First Appeared at The Music Box, October 2003, Volume 10, #10
Written by Michael Cooney
To some, it may seem a bit odd that Cyndi Lauper would release a greatest hits collection. She never seemed to have that many hits. Her debut (She’s So Unusual) was one of the biggest albums of the ’80s, but other than True Colors, the title track and single from her 1986 follow-up outing, she never had another major chart success. She hardly took over the pop charts like her contemporaries Duran Duran or Hall and Oates (whose career actually began more than a decade earlier), and as the ’80s drew to a conclusion, her subsequent efforts disappeared from the charts altogether. As a result, The Essential Cyndi Lauper is littered with forgettable minor tunes, but for someone who grew up listening to her sing, this probably doesn’t matter. There was more to Cyndi Lauper than hit records, and the hand full of successes that she did have were huge.
Amid the straight-laced conformity of the Reagan years, Lauper became a champion of individuality. With her campy outfits, multicolored hair, and outrageous attitude, she was a role model for an entire generation of kids. She offered a picture of freedom, confidence, and self-expression that was palatable for young people and parents alike. She made it cool to be different. Beyond the assertion that Cyndi Lauper’s career had social ramifications — and quite unlike many of her counterparts — she was fun. It is impossible for anyone who grew up during the height of her popularity to hear Girls Just Want to Have Fun without thinking back to sixth-grade dances and pretty girls with big hair. The song was an anthem for the decade, and its appeal lives on for younger generations. Not to mention, Lauper’s Time after Time is still the quintessential song of first love and heartbreak.
Unfortunately, more than half of The Essential Cyndi Lauper is largely comprised of lesser tracks and thus is inherently a waste of time. Anyone who came of age in the ’80s, however, will enjoy playing the same four or five songs over and over again.
The Essential Cyndi Lauper is available from Barnes & Noble.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2003 The Music Box