Cyndi Lauper - She's So Unusual
This was a significant pop album, in all the more positive ways of the word. Cyndi Lauper emerged onto the music scene around the same time as Madonna. This was extremely unfortunate because that rather defined her career ever since. Of the two, she was everything her contemporary Madonna was not; she had talent, she had a distinctive style, she wrote a lot of her own music and she demanded from the start to be her own person. Madonna won in the long run, oddly by copying a lot of what Cyndi Lauper had initially stood for - independence, self-reliance and artistic control. If there were any justice in the world, it would have surely been the other way around.
Cyndi Lauper proved that you could sing catchy pop tunes, with underlying meanings, appealing to all levels of music lover, and yet still retain an individuality. Britney and the rest of shit out there today would do well to take note. Actually, they would do well to crawl off into a hole and die with embarrassment. Lauper had more talent and originality than all the wannabe and the made-it plastic creations put together by the record companies. Yet that is risky. Individuality in a pop artist is a dangerous thing. As a pop artist you are required to conform to the record company's template - songs, image, lifestyle. Failure to conform is likely to alienate you from them and that is harmful for your career. That is where Cyndi Lauper made her biggest mistake. She would have been regarded as a loose cannon by the record companies and her career never really took off after this album.
But enough of the bitching - back to the music. She's So Unusual contains some good snappy pop, but also a few howlers, and it is the presence of these which drags it down. Put aside Lauper's stunningly bad 80's hairstyle and appalling dress sense, this was non-commercial pop which became commercial because of the sheer joy of listening to it. The best track is the ballad "Time After Time" which, as it title might suggest, has stood the test of time. "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" and "She Bop" may sound dated, but hey, listen to them for the pure nostalgic effect. The album spawned four hit singles and there can be no doubt that each of them deserved to be hits. OK, some of them were covers (indeed, this album contains quite a few covers, including "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" itself, originally recorded by Robert Hazard. But there is no shame in taking someone else's song and making THE definitive version of it, as Soft Cell and Jimi Hendrix will testify).
Sadly, the heights are not sustained throughout the album, and that is what drags the rating down to the middle of the park level I have accorded it. The second half is the principal cause of this. "Witness" tries and fails to establish a chant refrain pattern and ends up just sounding repetitive. "He's So Unusual" is almost obligatory but fails miserably, though it is thankfully short. Finally, "Yeah Yeah" is just plain awful. Having said that, if you are going to put three duffers on an album, it is a good idea, as is the case here, to group them all together at the end. The rest of the album, the highs and the lows apart, has some moments of uniqueness but is really not a lot to write home about.
Many of the songs on this album received significant airplay and the album was a massive hit when it came out. Even today, some of the tracks still resonate with me. Now why can't all pop music be more like this? Why couldn't Cyndi Lauper have set the pace and rubbish like Madonna struggled to follow in its wake?
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on 2011-03-01 CharlesMartel Said:
Cyndi Lauper recently appeared on Jools Holland's show "Later". She has still got it!