Irritating, unsexy and unable to pronounce her R’s, Cyndi Lauper was one of the biggest stars of the early MTV era, selling five million copies of her debut album, She’s So Unusual (1983), as well as scoring a string of four Top Ten Hits including major hits Girls Just Wanna Have Fun (possibly one of the songs of the 80s) and Time After Time.
Lauper’s thin, girlish voice and gleefully ragtag appearance became one of the most distinctive images of the early 80s. Across America, legions of teenage girls were dressing like Lauper and using Girls Just Wanna Have Fun as their anthem.
Both her image and her music helped popularise the image of new wave in the USA, making it an acceptable part of the pop landscape.
But Cyndi did not follow through on the success of She’s So Unusual, choosing instead to turn towards middle-of-the-road balladry and mainstream pop.
Her first album, however, remains a benchmark of the early 1980s.
Born in Queens, New York, in 1953 and raised in Brooklyn, Cyndi Lauper dropped out of high school in her late teens and began singing in a number of local cover bands.
In 1977 she began writing songs with keyboard player John Turi. They formed a duo called Blue Angel and gained a following in the New York area, culminating in their eponymous debut album in 1980.
By 1983, Cyndi was singing solo in clubs and restaurants and at the end of the year she released her debut album after her manager/boyfriend David Wolff managed to secure her a deal with Portrait.
Helped by heavy support from MTV for the first video from the LP, the record became a major chart hit in 1984. Unfortunately, she was not able to maintain her popularity after the first album.
In 1985 she released The Goonies R Good Enough, the theme to a children’s adventure film.
In 1986 she released her second album, True Colors, and while it was successful (with the title track reaching #1), the softer, adult-contemporary sound lost Lauper her hardcore legion of fans.
Her career continued to lose momentum as her feature film debut in Vibes (1988) bombed.
Her third album, A Night To Remember suffered disappointing sales (with the exception of the single I Drove All Night). The next year she severed her relationship with Wolff and married actor David Thornton.
After a few years off, Lauper returned in 1993 with Hat Full Of Stars. The record stiffed at #112.
The following year, the hits compilation album 12 Deadly Cyns And Then Some reached #2 in Britain while a remixed Girls Just Wanna Have Fun also became a number one hit in the UK.
Apart from the handful of 80’s singles, Cyndi also briefly made professional wrestling hip mid-decade by casting Captain Lou Albano in her music videos and promoting WWF matches.
Cyndi eventually returned to the arenas – In 1999 she joined Cher as the opening act on her Believe Tour – and divides her time between music and her husband and their son, Declyn.