Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Cyndi Lauper

  • She's So Unusual [Portrait, 1983] A
  • True Colors [Portrait, 1986] B-
  • A Night to Remember [Epic, 1989] C+
  • Hat Full of Stars [Epic, 1993] Neither
  • Twelve Deadly Cyns [Epic, 1994] C
  • The Body Acoustic [Asphalt Tango, 2005] Choice Cuts

Consumer Guide Reviews:

She's So Unusual [Portrait, 1983]
Initially, this blue angel won my heart by covering the two most profound pop songs of the past five years, "Money Changes Everything" and "When You Were Mine." Now, with "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" the official pep song of the daughters of Ms. and Pepsi-Cola and "Time After Time" throbbing hearts by the millions, I've softened my strictures about her Betty Boop bimboism--if a kook who's loved, respected, and taken seriously by her sisters fools boys into believing she can be fooled with, more power to her. First side's an eternal classic. Second sneaks by on the one where she kisses me and the one where she diddles herself. A

True Colors [Portrait, 1986]
Cheap sentiment plus star-budget video make the first side so disheartening that the second isn't much more than a relief. Just as the sensitive relationship songs retreat from the perils of triads and the pleasures of jerking off, "What's Going On" is a nostalgic generalization after the first album's confrontation with capital. Girls just want to have money--and no fun changes everything. B-

A Night to Remember [Epic, 1989]
Can you believe she's talking this one up as a triumph of self-expression (meaning "personal" songs, like that Kodak ad) over spiritual adversity (meaning commercial shortfall)? How embarrassing to have placed hope in this woman. And how sad to compare the bold finds and off-the-wall vulgarity of the only good album she'll ever make to this bigtime pop--a parameter stretched not an iota by songs about one's very own breakup, not to mention strokes as prudently defiant as the lyric about not being a pet, which was probably Christina Amphlett's idea anyway. C+

Hat Full of Stars [Epic, 1993] Neither

Twelve Deadly Cyns [Epic, 1994]
The statistics are brutal. The six best tracks on this 10-year retrospective, arrayed all in a row after a bombastic new Mann-Weil cover, are all from her decade-old debut, and if "When You Were Mine" had been thrown in the figure would have been seven. So you decide--wanna buy this for "True Colors" and "I Think About You"? I thought not, and that was without mentioning the "Girls" remix or the Mary Chapin Carpenter song about pigeons. Maybe she was so set on fun because she guessed it would be hell from there on in. C

The Body Acoustic [Asphalt Tango, 2005]
"Money Changes Everything" Choice Cuts