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Music / Cyndi Lauper

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"I love fashion. I went to Fashion Industries High School as a kid. I flunked out, of course. Guess my biggest revenge was to screw up fashion for a while."

Pop starlet Cynthia Ann Stephanie Lauper (born June 22, 1953 in New York City, New York), better known as Cyndi Lauper, is notable as being one of the earliest success stories of MTV as well as one of the most fondly-remembered pop stars of The '80s. So visible was Cyndi, in fact, that for a time she was a serious rival to no less than Madonna. Her debut album, She's So Unusual has sold 22 million copies worldwide - thus making it one of the decade's best-selling albums - and contains her most famous songs, "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun", "Time After Time", and "She Bop".

Lauper was a member of rockabilly outfit Blue Angel, but their music didn't really go anywhere commercially, and the band dissolved. Soon after, David Wolff discovered her singing in a bar in New York, and became her manager (and, for a time, her significant other). With his help, she signed with Portrait Records (a subsidiary of Epic Records) and released She's So Unusual in October 1983. In addition to the enormous success, lead off by the single "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun", Cyndi was a major teen idol and fashion icon for a time. In fact, Lauper was the first female to have four consecutive Billboard Hot 100 top five hits from a single album.

During this time, Wolff arranged for Cyndi to make a brief foray into the world of Professional Wrestling (namely, WWE, then the WWF), in a storyline where Captain Lou Albano insisted that he was her manager. Cyndi herself eventually showed up on Piper's Pit and negated these claims to "Rowdy" Roddy Piper (eventually getting righteously pissed off at Lou in the process). Soon after, she became the manager of would-be Women's Champion Wendi Richter, who borrowed Cyndi's "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" for a theme song. This would lead directly to a phenomenon referred to as "The Rock 'n Wrestling Connection", which has been credited for helping lead to WrestleMania.

Not wanting to be remembered as a "cartoon character," it wasn't long before she was back to music, and she released the follow-up to the debut, True Colors, in September 1986. It didn't have the huge impact of the first record, but it did spawn a hit single in the title track. By this point, Cyndi was starting to move in a more contemporary direction, meanwhile Madonna was clearly taking over as the more provocative presence in mainstream pop. Undeterred, Cyndi continued on this path into The '90s with the albums A Night To Remember, Hat Full of Stars and Sisters of Avalon, all of which made little headway commercially. Notable projects since include an album of old pop standards (At Last, 2003) and an acoustic record (The Body Acoustic, 2005).

Cyndi has always remained in the public eye to a certain extent thanks to 80s nostalgia, but she's also branched out into acting. Her first silver screen starring role, 1988's Vibes, was a critical and commercial flop, but she's had a fair amount of success in this field since, with a recurring role on Mad About You, cameos on Queer as Folk (US), Gossip Girl and The Simpsons. She composed the music for the musical adaptation of Kinky Boots, which earned her a Tony Award for Best Score, the first woman to earn this award.

Cyndi has been married to actor David Thorton, with whom she has a son, Declyn. She is a major LGBT activist.


  • She's So Unusual (1983)
  • True Colors (1986)
  • A Night to Remember (1989)
  • Hat Full of Stars (1993)
  • Sisters of Avalon (1996)
  • Merry Christmas... Have a Nice Life (1998)
  • At Last (2003)
  • Shine (2004)
  • The Body Acoustic (2005)
  • Bring Ya to the Brink (2008)
  • Memphis Blues (2010)
  • Detour (2016)

Tropes Just Wanna Have Fun:

  • Be Yourself: "True Colors" is about how being yourself doesn't only make you happier but can make you beautiful to other people as well.
  • The Cameo: Cyndi used lots of famous wrestlers in her music videos, including Randy Savage, Captain Lou Albano, Rowdy Roddy Piper, Wendy Richter, The Fabulous Moolah, The Iron Sheik, Nikolai Volkoff, Freddie Blassie, and André the Giant.
    • The Bangles appeared in the music video for "The Goonies R Good Enough", and provided the backup vocals for "Change of Heart."
    • And speaking of Captain Lou Albano, Cyndi herself also made an appearance in one of the live-action segments of The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!.
    • She has had a recurring role on Bones as Angela's psychic friend Avalon. She appeared in a cameo in the eighth season episode "The Lady In White" where she sang "At Last" at Booth and Brennan's wedding.
    • The Body Acoustic features guest vocals from Adam Lazzara, Shaggy, Sarah McLachlan, Jeff Beck, Puffy AmiYumi, and Ani DiFranco.
  • Cloudcuckoolander
  • Cover Version:
    • Prince's "When You Were Mine." Cyndi doesn't even change the genders in the song, so she's singing about a man leaving her for another man.
    • In 1987, she had a Top 20 hit with her remake of Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On."
    • "All Through the Night," one of her big hits from She's So Unusual, is a Jules Shear cover.
    • Also, Roy Orbison's "I Drove All Night." Orbison recorded it in 1987, Cyndi released her version in 1989. (Though technically speaking, Orbison's version was only released in 1992, four years after his death.)
    • Her album "At Last" features covers of jazz and early rock standards, such as "At Last", "The Sunny Side of the Street", "La Vie En Rose" and "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood".
    • "Time After Time" received a well-known jazz instrumental cover by Miles Davis. It also became a Top 10 hit in 1998 for R&B singer Inoj, and Cyndi herself returned the song to the Adult Contemporary charts nearly a decade later singing it as a duet with Sarah McLachlan. Iron and Wine also covered the song.
  • The Cover Changes the Gender: Prince's "When You Were Mine" originally had a couple of lyrics which mention "Girl" as the addressee/subject. Combined with Prince as a male singer, the lyric: "I know that you're going with another guy." implies that the addresser/singer is meant to be male. Cyndi Lauper's cover strips references to the subject's gender out completely, which makes both singer and subject ambiguously gendered when combined with the lyric. It could be a male singing to a female, a male singing to a male, a female singing to a male, a female singing to a bisexual female who used to date men before and after her ("another guy" being in the dismissive sense), etc.
  • Domestic Abuse: "Broken Glass."
  • The '80s: Cyndi is probably one of the first people you'd think of when you think of early 80s pop.
  • Good Girls Avoid Abortion: Averted. "Sally's Pigeons" is based off of a real life friend of Cyndi's who had a back alley abortion and died from it as a result.
  • Greasy Spoon: One of the locations in "She Bop"
  • Greatest Hits Album: Twelve Deadly Cyns. There's also The Essential Cyndi Lauper, the first compilation of hers to include "The Goonies 'R' Good Enough."
  • Incredibly Long Note: "Money Changes Everything."
  • Intergenerational Friendship:
  • It Makes Sense in Context: "She Bop" has a number of these: The Burger Klone restaurant with the fast moving hamburgers and the zombie-like customers represented the teenagers of the day and their need for in-demand fast food restaurants. Also the S.W.A.T. truck, which stands for “Suburban Wives Against Transgressors”. The S.W.A.T. Team could signify those who were against females exploring and appreciation of their sexuality.
  • Lawyer-Friendly Cameo: In "She Bop" the Burger Klone restaurant name replaces Burger King; and "Over 20 Billion Sold Out" (with a changeable red board for the numeral) referencing how McDonald's, at the time the music video was released, put a running total on their logo signs outside the restaurant with the changeable numeral describing how many millions of customers were served to date.
  • Money Song: "Money Changes Everything".
  • New Sound Album: Cyndi tests out Country Music in her 2016 album Detour.
  • Odd Friendship: With Captain Lou Albano. She was an up-and-coming pop singer, he was a middle-aged wrestler. They reamined close friends until Albano's death.
  • Toplessness from the Back: The cover of True Colors shows Lauper's bare back as she lies in front of a reflecting pool.
  • Unplugged Version: The Body Acoustic, a compilation of acoustic arrangement of some of her most popular songs.
  • Retraux: She's So Unusual includes a short cover of "He's So Unusual" by Helen Kane; The arrangement is very similar to the 1929 original, and it's produced to sound as though it's playing off an old phonograph. The effect is heightened by the fact that it very abruptly segues into "Yeah Yeah", which has a much more contemporary New Wave sound to it.
  • Rummage Sale Reject: A major part of her aesthetic, as seen in her videos and performances. Then again, for her many fans, it's more like Impossibly Cool Clothes.
  • "Sesame Street" Cred: She performed the song "I Want A Mom That Will Last Forever" for Rugrats in Paris, and the Villain Song "Lady in Pink" for The Backyardigans, and the theme song for Peewees Playhouse.
  • Shout-Out: The party scene in the video for "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" is one to the stateroom scene in A Night at the Opera.
  • Xtreme Kool Letterz: "The Goonies R Good Enough"


Video Example(s):


Lady in Pink

Oh, come on, the rubber duck thing is just petty.

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Main / VillainSong

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