Cyndi Lauper - All Hail Queen of Queens

Written by Alan McGee
  • font size decrease font size increase font size
  • Print
  • Email
cyndi lauper alan mcgee zani 4.

We all know New York is going off at the moment, and one manifestation of the city's new-found confidence seems to be a new-found love of Cyndi Lauper – the original queen of Queens. Lauper's iconic image and quirk-fuelled pop has taken hold again in music, whether it be the 80s-tinged pop that is presently engulfing Britain or the echoes of her influence in stars like Karen O and Santigold in the US.

I've been listening to Lauper's debut album She's So Unusual (released in 1984) and I've got to say, it's far from the 80s time-capsule relic that some might assume. In fact, it's amazing. Lauper captured the exact moment of the cultural shift from records to video, participated in the feminist revolution, and became an international pop star.

The video for Girls Just Want to Have Fun was a colourful MTV moment that became one of defining videos of the 80s. Her look (thrift-store waif with punk-rock hair) glowed on television screens throughout the world and her portrayal of a multicultural New York was an achievement in itself during the whitewashed early days of MTV. The ideology of Girls Just Want to Have Fun predated the "girl power" slogan (Lauper actually appeared on Newsweek's cover with the line "Women Power").

Ironically for a record about girl power, Lauper didn't write the original song that eventually became her anthem – Girls Just Want to Have Fun was written by Robert Hazard, yet Lauper took the track (previously tinged with misogynistic sentiments), cast a gender reversal on it, got Ellie Greenwich to sing backing vocals any artists claim to hate the song that made them famous, but Lauper remains proud of her signature song, calling it an "anthem for females everywhere".

Although you could argue that Lauper's story is hardly unique (pop moppet sings covers to cash in), She's So Unusual is steeped in her personality. In fact, the album fits Lauper so perfectly it is a shock to discover that she never wrote it. Just check the credits: All Through the Night (Jules Shear); Money Changes Everything (the Brains); When You Were Mine (Prince). Yet Lauper chose the songs because they represented who she was. She made them her own, proving herself to be one of the greatest interpretators of song (and the owner of an impressive four-octave vocal range).

Years after her three albums of pop covers – She's She Unusual, True Colours, and A Night to Remember – Lauper later documented her fight to write her own material. One song, the classic Time After Time (written by Lauper and Rob Hyman), vindicated this struggle. Here, Lauper demonstrates real blue-eyed soul worthy of Kate Bush (and the worthiness of her fight was further justified when Miles Davis covered the song).

However, the compromising proved too much for Lauper, who derailed her own pop career for absolute control over her music. Though she no longer had international stardom, she maintained integrity, incorporating heavy themes and social activism for her subsequent albums.

Lauper's triumphant return in 2008 was one of pop's more intriguing moments. Whether it be working with Basement Jaxx, singing Christmas duets with the Hives or doing gay-pride tours with Gossip and Debbie Harry, it seems fellow artists and fans are willing Lauper to return to the days when she had world domination in her hand. And I've got to say I'm with them.

Reproduced by Kind Permission of Alan McGee

Read 4945 times Last modified on Friday, 08 May 2015 15:38
Rate this item
(0 votes)
Alan McGee

Alan McGee

About Us

ZANI was conceived in late 2008 and the fan base gradually grew by word of mouth. Key contributors came from those of the music, film and fashion industry and the voice of ZANI grew louder. So, when in 2013 investor, contributor and fan of ZANI Alan McGee* offered his support to help restyle and relaunch the site it was inevitable that traffic would increase dramatically and continues to grow. *Alan McGee co-founder of Creation Records and new label 359 Music..


What We Do

ZANI is an independent online magazine for readers interested in contemporary culture, covering Music, Film & TV, Sport, Art amongst other cultural topics. Relevant to modern times ZANI is a dynamic website and a flagship for creative movement and thinking wherever our readers live in the world.