One of MTV’s first video icons, Cyndi Lauper brought to the cable a distinctive blend of new wave and pop, edgy and smooth, jubilant and pensive, libidinous and sentimental, that made her practically a one-person genre. That is, unless one views her as Madonna without the artifice. In whatever category she might be placed, the feisty redhead with the brassy voice would not go unnoticed.
Lauper started with a band called Blue Angel which had quite a following in New York, but tanked with their 1980 debut album, precipitating her bankruptcy and the group’s dissolution. After singing in clubs for a while, her manager/boyfriend got her a record deal, and in late 1983, she released She’s So Unusual. The video she made for the song Girls Just Want To Have Fun was quickly snapped up by the young and content-hungry MTV network, and seemingly overnight, females all over the country were coloring their hair with Jell-O and bopping to Lauper’s bubbly beat. Her music and her image seemed to do the impossible, appealing to the hip teen counterculture without frightening their parents.
Lauper’s succeeding albums gave up the new wave edge for a warmer, mellower sound, costing her some of her fan base, though she continued delivering well produced and intelligent pop songs in an engaging manner. Similarly, her bid for movie stardom fell short, but she later had a successful guest run in a recurring role on the TV comedy Mad About You.
The moral of the story may be that sincerity will carry one farther than talent alone. Then again, it might be that, while Lauper may not give you what you were expecting, as long as you’re open to what she does have to offer, you are likely to be entertained by this sassy lass. So don’t pass.