Both college drop outs, both rode the last ripples of New York’s new wave, both breaking out as solo artists in ’83, and both known for their flamboyant fashions; something which became a bone of contention for Lauper who apparently developed her own look whilst Madonna’s was designed by the multifaceted Maripol.
Initially Lauper looked like she’d be the more successful of the two. Whilst Emmy struggled through downtown clubs, Lauper’s band Blue Angel signed to Polydor but alas, their eponymous debut flopped. Owing much to the bubblegum side of Blondie, Blue Angel was lost in the flurry of me too’s, failing to chart anywhere (aside the Netherlands).
Facing a law suit from her manager, and now working in a thrift store, Lauper signed on as a solo artist releasing her grammy award winning debut She’s So Unusual in ’83, topping international charts with her cover of Robert Hazard’s Girls Just Want To Have Fun.
And of course I wouldn’t be discussing it if there wasn’t something a little skanky contained within. Possibly too poppy for some of you, Cyndi Lauper’s Witness is another track which I’m deeming punk by proxy due to her early work, while the track’s polished production is almost at odds with the echoes of oberheim synths, and the ska! ska! ska! of the double time guitar line.
And speaking of ska, here’s some of that upside down R&B from the Blue Angel days…
Perhaps some ska I shouldn’t speak of – Cyndi performing a raggafied rendition of Girls with the gravel throated Shaggy.
And the parallel’s down stop with questionable collaborations, as plenty of questionable film roles ensued for both though I much prefer Lauper’s Vibes to any of Madonna’s post Susan output. I think I’ll give it a rest now but til next time, I insist you track down a copy of Ken Kwapis’ under appreciated psychic rom-com…