“Lauper, who says she happily burned her training bra during a protest in New York City, gets excited when talking about Ms. Magazine founder Gloria Steinem,” reads one recent article on Cyndi Lauper. Gloria Steinem is the founder of Ms. Magazine and one of the most well known feminists of the 20th and 21st centuries. In addition to her close identification with feminist activism, Lauper is known these days for her nearly two decades of gay rights advocacy. (Although she is straight, she considers herself a part of the gay community. She’s a little bit like Lady Gaga, but with more serious chops. After all, that was the ‘80s, when speaking out about gay rights was somehow even more volatile than it is today.)
Cyndi Lauper is considered a pop legend, even though She’s So Unusual was her only big hit album. “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” almost became her signature by default, as she only had a handful of other hits. After dropping out of school at seventeen, Lauper spent the 1970s singing with cover bands. Her first real band, Blue Angel, was a hard sell for record labels, which generally wanted to sign Lauper alone. After their first studio album flopped and led to a lawsuit, Lauper finally decided to go it alone, signing with Portrait in 1983 with the help of her manager/boyfriend, David Wolff.
After the massive success of She’s So Unusual and its four hit singles, great things were expected of Lauper. Steven Spielberg personally asked her to work on the soundtrack for The Goonies in 1985. She released her second album, True Colors, in 1986, but it was far less successful than her debut. Although the title track was a #1 hit and remains a popular song to this day, the album fit into that death-knell category known as “Adult Contemporary,” sending Lauper’s younger fans packing. Much of her music since has been released to lukewarm reception at best, although she garnered some real attention for her 2010 release Memphis Blues. She still makes music and takes her creative endeavors seriously, but, most fans will continue to hold onto the She’s So Unusual Lauper of yesteryear, the girl who just wanted to have fun.