She's So Unusual (1983)
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Money Changes Everything 8/10
So, you're going to just have to accept that Cyndi Lauper has an annoying voice. She sings with some overly cutesy, bubblegum vocals that frequently find themselves off-key. I suppose she was trying to be the '80s female version of Bryan Ferry or something --- which was a nice idea I suppose. Otherwise, this actual composition isn't a poor one. It's a typical '80s harder pop song with a determined snare drum and some nicely chosen synthesizers. (I especially like that one we hear cranking away at a low register.) The melody is pretty catchy, and I can see how they thought it would have made a great, anthemic song to get the ball rolling on this album.
Girls Just Want to Have Fun 8/10
One of the most horrible memories I have of my disastrous one-year tenure at Kansas State University took place during a very hot afternoon at the dormitories. The people in charge of turning on the air conditioning were sleeping on the jobs, so everyone had to have their windows open. Some dork on the first floor decided to loop this song on his stereo very loudly at full volume --- and we had to live with it or leave. We weren't going to shut our windows for no man! Well I had to leave, because I couldn't take it anymore. ... Six years later, I still feel the pain. But in all honesty, this is a pretty good song. The melody is formidable but nothing that's feeling proud about. The '80s song production has a fun, kitschy quality to it that's undeniable. All in all it's a well written tune, but I wish people weren't so compelled to play it all the time. I love listening to the '80s pop radio stations, but I'm compelled to switch it off when the inevitable time comes for them to play this...
When You Were Mine 8/10
You can't claim that this early Cyndi Lauper albums isn't consistent in its first half. This is just a slightly lesser song than the previous two. The production is just about the same, above-average quality. There are a few memorable hooks in the melody and a few nice chord changes. Lauper's over-the-top vocals are kind of fun, and I think I exaggerate sometimes when I say they're annoying. She does have solid chops and at least she sounds like she's trying. However, there are some moments in here where she's trying to sound so over-the-top, and it comes off as goofy. This is probably filler material, but it's better than the average pop hit from the era. There, that's worth something.
Time After Time 9/10
This is another song that gets tremendously overplayed, but I actually enjoy this one. This song is played in every single movie that predicts a prom dance in the '80s (or it seems like it should be). The synth-heavy instrumentation is certainly memorable, and the melody is undoubtedly catchy. I have trouble telling this apart from Alphaville's "Forever Young," but this one's definitely better... So, way to go, Cyndi.
She Bop 8/10
This is a ridiculous song. I watched the music video of this (for some reason) a year or so ago, and this song is apparently about some horrible Orwellian existence... Geez... The chorus consists of variations of "And she bop, you bop, they bop, and you bop..." But musically speaking, this has some merits. It begins as a robo synth-pop song with Lauper delivering the most enjoyable vocal performance on the album, appearing to give her best Elvis impersonation. The chorus is extremely well orchestrated that manages to help this song soar despite the limited lyrics! The hooks are primitive, but they're definitely there, and that's worth something.
All Through the Night 9.5/10
I heard this song in the grocery store the other day!!! ... OK, that's no surprise. Well I always enjoy listening to this song, and I can say with an amazing degree of confidence that this is the song of Cyndi Lauper's career. How can I say that? I listened to all her studio albums of course! This is a great song because the melody is so catchy, and it doesn't get much better than that chorus. Some points are taken off for the instrumentation, which is utterly clunky sometimes. (Who knows what was with that synthesizer solo that sounds like someone killed a bagpipe.) Still, this is brill.
Alright, reggae-pop should probably have ended with The Police ... especially if you're not too sure what to do with the genre. Right off the bat, this choppy and sloppy song comes off as a huge bomb, and it doesn't do anything throughout its running length to convince me otherwise. The instrumentation is hopelessly misfired (this would have sounded much less awkward without those reggae rhythms), and even then the song isn't hooky whatsoever. I appreciate the goofy developments at the end (that include a drum solo and random synth solos) and they're worth something. At the very least, this comes off as misfired instead of throwaway.
I'll Kiss You 7/10
The good news is that this song isn't as awful as banal '80s pop normally gets. It's clear that this wasn't being groomed to be a hit, but the production values are perfectly passable. Lauper's vocal performance is extremely erratic. She's doing that on purpose, but it's so strange. (I guess she is so unusual after all!) The melody is alright but definitely on the bland side. The robo-funk groove is only marginally interesting.
He's So Unusual 7/10
And, he's so unusual, too... This is a 30-second, scratchy old recording of Lauper singing an old jazz tune (giving a pretty impressive rendition of Betty Boop).
Yeah Yeah Yeah 7/10
Geez, they really saved the worst stuff for last. There isn't anything else wrong with this song other than it's just not catchy and interesting. Maybe the most interesting aspect about this song is Lauper saying some of the most ridiculous things in the background with her baby-girly voice (i.e., "Sushi! I want sushi!"). The groove is rather menacing, and the production is alright. I like that cheap New Wave organ.
Geez, Lauper has a cartoony voice. Just hear her introduction to this live version of "Money Changes Everything." Nobody talks like that! Anyway, this live version features a much less enthusiastic vocal performance than the studio version. Other than that, it's just about as good.
Why is she covering live versions of songs like "She Bop" instead of one of those massive radio hits? Eh who knows... Anyway, as expected this live version is less produced. A few new synthesizers can be heard... Um... I don't care enough to go into more detail.
The only reason I got out of bed this morning was to write what I thought about the live version of "All Through the Night." Yup, I'm glad I got up this morning.
True Colors (1986)
Change of Heart 5/10
Cyndi Lauper doesn't make a very good first impression --- that's for sure. This song embodies the reason why many people think the '80s were such a horrible decade for music. What else should I say other than it has these synth-led power chords, pukey guitar licks and drums louder than a hydrogen bomb. The most damning factor is the stark lack of vocal hooks in the melody. We hear Lauper singing her heart out, but for no good reason whatsoever; the mood might be right but the substance is nill. The good news is that this song completely lowers our expectations for what's to follow. The end of this song is interesting in a way, but there's a "what were they thinking factor." They have a perfectly nice ending with a ballad section, but then they reintroduce that pukey groove and then fade it out. Huh?? OK. Whatever. Next song.
Maybe He'll Know 6/10
...or does it? Well, I suppose it does. If the opening track was something like "Let it Be," I suppose I would hate this track even worse. The chord progression is the typically cutesy '50s "Heart and Souls" sequence. Lauper seems to be trying to show us her entire vocal range except we can't really hear her too well over all that production. It doesn't matter anyway, because this would have been a horrible song even if we could hear her well enough. The production is otherwise alright, but I guess the producers can't make a great song out of such a bland melody... The fact they had to use that chord progression sort of damned them from the very start.
Boy Blue 7.5/10
Alright, if those previous two tracks weren't enough to make your brain rattle, here's finally a formidable song. Really it's nothing to phenomenal, but it does sound like "Billie Jean" next to the opening tracks. Cyndi Lauper's uphill theory proved to be effective! Really this is a fairly bland mid-tempoed song, but I appreciate it because it's not stupid and it doesn't suck. The chorus is enjoyable and you really have to appreciate those vocals, which seem to be trying to soar through the air. The production is alright, but it's very typical for the '80s. This isn't done with the same sort of creativity that we saw on She's So Unusual.
True Colors 7.5/10
A ballad! It's likable and was apparently covered by a wide array of artists including PHIL COLLINS. As you probably know, any song covered by Phil Collins must be great. This might be an utterly bland and generally uninvolving ballad, but ........... um, I can't think of anything good to modify that phrase. I think the good news is that it's tasteful and subtly melodic. The production is crystal clear, but the instrumentation was a bit of a misfire. Usually, instrumentation enhances a song instead of making it sound so dang sluggish.
Calm Inside the Storm 6.5/10
Very banal, but it's upbeat and it's kind of danceable. I do miss the brash creativity that we were drenched with in the debut album, but I suppose the rest of the world shared this feeling! The melody ought to have been injected with some hooks somewhere, and the groove isn't infectious whatsoever. Seriously, the only reason this track is half-listenable is for its upbeat rhythm. That's not exactly good tidings.
What's Going On 7/10
Calmer and less intrusive. I think it's safe to say if you're not going to write catchy melodies, the least you can do is refrain from annoying me. The groove is smooth and pleasant, and it's perfectly decent for in-one-ear-out-the-other listening. Lauper does what she can with her jumpy vocals, and that's kind of fun to hear if you're actually thinking about paying close attention to this song. I just realized that this is a Marvin Gaye cover. I suppose I should be disappointed...
Iko Iko 7.5/10
This is Lauper's cutesy cover of a Cajun folk song. For some reason, this used to midly impress me, but I can't say that it has that effect on me anymore. I suppose the busy and lite percussion is rather well done, but it probably would have been better if it didn't sound so '80s! I guess it's useless criticizing anything here for sounding too '80s! The melody is memorable, but it's very trite. No, any argument you're going to use against that statement will work. It's a trite melody. There are proper ways to cover this song such as Dr. John's celebrated cover.
The Faraway Nearby 7/10
This is really pretty awful, but it does constitute one the highlights of the album. At first I want to give this song a B-, because the initial hooks work well enough to draw me in. Lauper ends up repeating the hooks so much that it grows stale and even borderline miserable. The production is quite dull, and it all turns out to be a standard boring '80s pop affair. Meh.
Good old Lauper is working on some power pop song in the same vein as Robert Palmer's unstoppable hit "Addicted to Love." The problem with this is that Lauper doesn't even possess half the suave and awesomeness to make something like this work. But the good news is that this is acutally the best-written song of the whole album, because the groove is pretty good. Furthermore, there's a Pee Wee Herman cameo at the end. Oh, freak yes.
One Track Mind 8/10
For the love of GOD, Cyndi Lauper really was using the Uphill Theory "One Track Mind" is easily one of the best songs of the album. She should have just reversed the track listing. The production is thicker and more convincing than most of these other songs, and she does deliver a decent hook here and there. This is so '80s that it almost hurts, but at least it's a formidable one. I don't like the sudden way this song ends though. It's very anti-climactic. Well... anyway... what can I expect...
A Night to Remember (1989)
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I Drove All Night 8/10
Already this album is better than True Colors. Now I'm expecting Lauper to adhere to her Uphill Theory, and I should expect some real masterpieces after this!!! OK, that's really wishful thinking, because I'm already aware what comes after this. Generally speaking, this is a thunderous opener with some interesting bits in the production. It begins with a synth-string loop that manages to draw me in. The rest of the song is also well produced with some really thunderous sounds and lovely synthscapes. Lauper's vocals are actually allowed to soar above everything else.
A nice Madonna bass-line starts off the festivities and some Peter Gabriel xylophones are imported to bring in some textures. (What's this? Interesting production??? Yeah... pretty much.) The general problem with this song is the lack of really memorable hooks, but there's enough to keep this entertaining enough for at-the-moment listening. There are a non-cheesy saxophone solo imported for the instrumental interlude. This is very '80s, but it's not so slight. Also a fortunate aspect about Lauper is she's not a jerk like Madonna is. Trust me, that's a valuable quality.
My First Night Without You 7/10
Hm... I don't know about this one. It starts out very awkward with just a simple bassline, primitive percussion and Lauper whispering some words. The Lauper starts singing and the instrumentation pipes up. The instrumental ideas throughout are proving that Lauper wanted to be relatively interesting, but it really didn't work here. Part of the problem is the melody isn't very catchy. Well, Lauper's singing her heart out, and that's worth something at least...
Like a Cat 6/10
...touched for the very first time? Well a virgin cat... Um, let's talk about Lauper now. This is another song that seems like Lauper thought she was being experimental. But really the song structure is just clumsy and I really have no idea what Lauper was actually thinking. It starts out with a quirky groove that gets tiring rather quickly. Whenever the chorus decides to pipes up, it always manages to catch me off-guard. What's worse, the melody doesn't interest me whatsoever. Geez, Cyndi! I'm glad you're no longer adhering to '80s cliches, but I wanted something a tad more ... um ... accessible.
Heading West 6.5/10
The chorus is pretty hooky (and I swear they're pretty much the same hooks left over from "Primitive"), but the verses are not. There's a nice twinkly xylophone playing around in the background to give it some nice texture, and I like those dark string sounds. ... Dear Cyndi, I'm trying to like this song. Really I am.
A Night to Remember 7/10
This is a little more normal and straight-ahead, but it's an awfully sterile pop song. The melody isn't hooky whatsoever, but they were at least trying with a few interesting chord changes. Lauper's performance isn't anything special. All of that said, I have difficulty writing-off this song, because it features a sitar solo.
Unconditional Love 7.5/10
The melody's not bad and the production is basically normal with some less-than-generic instrumentals. Lauper's performance is nice but it's pretty faceless. The general problem with this song is it has such a choppy and robotic flow to it. It's hard to get into a ballad when it's bobbing uncontrollably in such a jerky fashion.
What's this? Electric guitar licks? That's a pretty nice opener. What follows is a slightly catchy '80s pop number. Again, the problem is that it's so faceless and inconsequential that it's difficult to even want to give a damn about it. It could have used a catchier groove.
Dancing With a Stranger 6/10
Here's some late '80s dance-funk, and you might have hoped that Paula Abdul would have cornered the market on that. There's absolutely no charm to this song whatsoever (thanks to the genre) and the only redeeming factor it could have is a catchy melody. Um, no it falls short there as well. At least they could have written some better chord progressions...
I Don't Want to Be Your Friend 6.5/10
This reminds me of one of those boring ballads I heard on Melissa Etheridge's debut album, but the song production is a tad more busy and interesting. It's only a tad more interesting, though, because this is a phenomenally boring. She adds on some vocals by the end, which helps make it a little more likable.
Kindred Spirit 7/10
An old folk cover with some pops and hisses as if it were played from an old record player. OK.
Hat Full of Stars (1993)
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That's What I Think 6.5/10
You have to understand where I'm coming from. This song begins with an urban rhythm that sounds like this is gonna be some **gnarley** song. But then these wimpy old synthesizers come in playing the most flat and uninteresting groove that just repeats itself throughout the four-minute running length... Geez!!! The highlight of the song is inevitably Lauper's incredibly passionate vocal performance, which doesn't disappoint. Imagine how she would sound if the song was actually good.
Product of Misery 7/10
This is probably the worst intro to a Cyndi Lauper song yet. A flat and uninteresting drum machine plays and nothing else. When I was a kid, I had a toy bear drummer that delivered a much more lively solo. Eventually a synthesizer comes in and plays two flat chords. Then the usual rock combo comes in and Lauper goes right into singing "I am a product of misery." These uninteresting nine notes are repeated at least a dozen times in the course of this song, and it really gets tiring. The saving grace is Lauper's jazzy, world weary performance. Other than the chorus, some bits of the songwriting is OK. It also features a surprisingly convincing electric organ solo. They really aren't trying to be my friend when they end this track with the same boring loop that opened this horrible song...
Who Let in the Rain 6/10
Here I have no beef with the production or arrangement whatsoever. I'm also beginning to feel grateful that this isn't the '80s anymore, because the snare drum is only a little bit too loud. The only beef I have with it is the melody is absolutely WORTHLESS. This is the type of song where I would expect Lauper to start delivering some deathly hooks, but she doesn't even bother. Not even a little bit. Lauper: Don't you have anything left to give to the working class?
...and the floodgates of the hooks hath opened, and the worth hath rejoiced... So, this is what a catchy melody sounds like. It's nice! I feel like I'm the dinosaurs from The Land Before Time who finally made it to that Happy Valley ... Place...... It starts out with another drum machine solo, but this one's actually interesting. The two chords Lauper used for this song are interesting with a nice bit of rhythm from the piano. The star of the show is that xylophone in the background. NICE.
Broken Glass 7.5/10
Oh yeah! Cyndi Lauper grew up in New York, so she can have an urban groove because SHE'S FROM THE CITY! This song comes fully equipped with a funk guitar and a particularly awesome Sanford & Sons-esque harmonica. ... And, well, I actually enjoy this song. Lauper is much humbler than Madonna (well, pretty much everyone is humbler than Madonna). The melody continues to be week, but this groove and slick production dazzles me enough to distract me. Oooo, they're up to trickery it seems!
Sally's Pigeons 6.5/10
This track begins with Lauper singing another BORING melody except it's a cappella. Hey I don't mind hearing her sing a cappella, but ... geezzz. It's like she has no idea what a "hook" is. There's a little bit of redemption when the instrumentation gracefully thickens. Lauper seems to be going for a touchy-feely thing, but she's only coming up with a sleepy-boring thing. I will say that I like the instrumentation, which contains a few nice ideas.
Feels Like Christmas 6/10
This starts out with a folk beginning sounding exactly like she was playing in some dusty old radio station in the '20s for the country-folk. And then somewhat annoying instrumentation pops up, and Lauper starts to sing meaningless lyrics about holidays and some crap about "love knocking at your door." Whatever happened to the melodies? Did she really think endlessly repeating five notes worth of "it feels like Christmas" was going to be interesting to listeners? ...CYNDI LAUPERrrrrrr!!!!!
Dear John 7/10
What's with these drum machine solos that's been opening the songs? You know that's one of the worst ways you can start a song, right? Anyway, this is a similarly folk-flavored pop ditty that's difficult for my poor little brain to think about. The good news is that the melody is at least somewhat formidable, and I like that glockenspiel. Lauper tries to sound "gritty" here and I really don't think that's a good sound for her.
Like I Used To 8/10
Well, this is something. It's a happy and upbeat song with a melody that's actually pretty enjoyable! There's a little bit too much Bobby McFerrin pandering in here with this happy urban groove, but whatever. If it has a decent, poppy tune, then I'm kept happy.
Someone Like Me 8.5/10
Yay! The Kate Bush/Tori Amos ballad! Mostly due to the fact that I like that style of music ends up making this my favorite tune of the album. I like that woodwind synth we hear during the "ballad" part. Most imporantantly, the melody is catchy --- not so much the chorus, though. Halfway through, she turns this into a Madonna dance track, but I acutally think it's pretty convincing. Yeah... Now why couldn't she have done this in the rest of the album?
A Part Hate 7/10
A part..... love? This song is OK. It's another one that features an urban groove... It does get boring after a little while, but I guess we can't have everything, can we?? The melody is utterly bland even though Lauper delivers a soulful vocal performance. I like some of the textures... the xylophones are nice.
Hat Full of Stars 6.5/10
Lauper ends this with a sweet ballad... I don't have anything against the way it's produced or sung. In fact, I think the production is rather good. Maybe it could have been more atmospheric, but that's not an important point. There is just one problem with this song: IT BORES ME TO TEARS. The melody is as bland as can be. Yawn.
Sisters of Avalon (1997)
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Sisters of Avalon 9/10
Er, what??! I almost don't believe it! This is the best Cyndi Lauper song ever since her debut album. Easily. So, I have great tidings about this album already. The melody is actually interesting along with Lauper's convicting vocal performance. The arrangements are mightily tasteful (partly thanks to it being a comfortable six years away from the obnoxious '80s). They were certainly affected by the '70s revival mode, 'cos there's some retro funk guitar in here, but that just makes the texture quite interesting. Overall, this mid-tempo number has very good flow, nicely developed atmosphere and it's a joy to listen to. The melody might not be so golden, but that doesn't matter for once. There's even a funny bit of noisy distortion that constitutes an interesting ending. Awesome.
Ballad of Cleo & Joe 9.5/10
First of all, this isn't a ballad. It's much closer to a techno dance song. But this is a pretty neat song anyway, and it's also her best work since She's So Unusual, and perhaps even the best song of her entire career. The melody is actually interesting with Lauper delivering a remarkable, soulful performance. The production is thick and involved featuring that pounding beat (which is fun, mind you), gypsy harmoniums and various sci-fi blips and beeps. The ending is even interesting. They don't fade it out or end it awkwardly. The actual instruments have something to say about it... They sort of whither out.
Fall Into Your Dreams 8/10
Not so horrible, but Lauper's dangerously shifting back to her usual boring self. The melody is OK but nothing to write home about. The star of this show is the production, which is very nice. Those straight-ahead drums sound just right, and those occasional orchestral build-ups were great ideas. She could have been much more tactful with the chorus, which sounds a bit too generic in the adult-contemporary world.
You Don't Know 7.5/10
A considerable step down for Lauper, although it still has class going for it. Not nearly as much, though, and she sure could have cut this by two or three minutes and not lost anything. The melody doesn't work that well, and that's its primary downfall! Lauper's performance is a tad annoying here, and the production isn't nearly as impressive. So... OK... Musically, it's not too notable. It's a mid-tempo adult contemporary song with no soul.
Love to Hate 6.5/10
She's bringing up the electric guitars, and I like that. She's grunge, which is an interesting though not-too-successful twist. She really doesn't have much of a voice for grunge; she's trying to sound rough and unkempt, but this effort just makes her sound ... well ... crappy. Her voice would have needed more grit and body to be successful there. Otherwise, the song itself isn't the worst I've ever heard. It's passable though it would have needed more verve to be truly successful. Lauper's performance really ruins its potential anyway... Geez...... Thanks for the effort at least.
Hot Gets a Little Cold 8/10
Wow, another decent song. She's been doing a lot of those lately. Sure there was the previous track, but many albums have one serious lapse in taste like that. This track would have scored higher if the melody weren't so childish, but this is still fairly tasteful. It's a ballad among the more shoegazing variety fully equipped with dreary guitar tones and her nicely strummed acoustic guitar. Oooh!!!
Unhook the Stars 6/10
Yeah, this is more like I'd expect from her. A really boring song. Don't worry. It's still good that it took her this long to come up with such a song. Besides, I like that she's twisting her voice to sound world-weary although that's not always a great sound for her. It's fun to hear her try. This still turns out to be a plodding mid-tempo tune with little interesting to say. The instrumentals build-up as the track reaches its conclusion, but that doesn't matter much when there's NOTHING about the melody that's interesting. Despite this forward progression that I usually like in other contexts, the instrumental add-ons don't end up mattering much, 'cos I'm falling asleep through this...
Much nicer though still imperfect. This is a dreary shoe-gazing song that's supposed to try to put us in a trance which will then open the floodgates for an array of production and sound to enter our minds. The only thing, it doesn't really put us in a trance, so Lauper's endless repetition of "I'm searching! I'm searching!" only makes us want to turn this song off and help her find whatever it is she's looking for. (Contact lense??) The one thing I like about this track is the atmosphere. Not so hypnotic, but it's developed.
Say a Prayer 5/10
Lauper's sounding like Madonna from Erotica, which isn't just a bad sound for get, but would be a bad sound for anybody. Why is it a bad sound? BECAUSE IT'S BORING, THAT'S WHY. This has a plodding groove that works not one second. Lauper's trying to sound jazzy with her vocals, but it's like she's trying to put me to sleep ... which is ironic, because I have insomnia right now! I guess I don't mean that literally.
Well, I'm definitely going out of my way to dislike this song! I do enjoy some of the production with its tribal beat and certain ethnic flutes and chants coming out of the speakers at intermittent times. This is the major redeeming quality to this even though the melody is as bland as can be. I'm thinking her ending was pretty crappy... She whispers "Mother! Mother! Mother!" as though she were in pain or something. Sort of ... uh ... pretentious.
There's a certain quality to this one that I like, and it's a real shame that Lauper couldn't have made it any less plodding. The atmosphere consisting of droning bagpipe noises and the occasional hit from a timpani was really well done. Lauper's melody has a British folky quality to it that's valuable, but it's not as engaging as it could have been. What a shame!!
Brimstone and Fire 7.5/10
OK, this must be the blast from the past. It's a ska and she already tried that once before in her career, but this one actually works more nicely. The sound she chooses for the instrumentation was interesting and the chord progression seems a little bit strange for some reason. The melody should have been hookier, but that's a minor complaint here compared to the other tracks.
This is 23 seconds of goofy studio noise. Hey, Lauper has a Brooklyn accent!! Yeouwwwww!!!!
At Last (2003)
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At Last A-
Even the original song was almost more of a showcase for whoever was singing it instead of a compositional triumph ... although I'll never try to argue that this is a poorly written song. Anyway, let's concentrate on Lauper's vocal performance since she obviously spent so much precious time developing it! Well, she can definitely carry a note or two! The musical accompaniment is nice ... clearly the producers were trying not to outshine Lauper's voice, which was a good idea ......... in this instance.
Walk on By B-
This is a Burt Bacharach song, and therefore it must have a great melody. Though the producers make a mistake of giving this track sparse instrumentation when it would've sounded more vibrant with some sort of synthesizer/string backing sounds and some sort of rhythm section. This is the sort of song that doesn't really work as an artsy / vocal showcase even though that's exactly what they were going for.
This is more along the lines the previous song should have sounded more like... but I didn't want to hear something so freaking generic! I mean, I don't think you could make something sound more run-of-the-mill. I MEAN, COME ON! Those bossa nova rhythms and the horns and those male back-up singers screaming “Stay.” This is a cover of the song that is especially popular for commercials that advertise stuff that's supposed to last a long time. Like bubblegum and condoms and stuff. So I also don't like the song for that reason. And the final nail in the coffin occurs when she starts barking like a dog.
La Vie En Rose B-
Geez, Lauper was sure discriminating for the audience that only buys albums only if they contained horribly overplayed songs in pop culture. This is a genuinely good song, though, and reminds me of that one Audrey Hepburn that I like. The instrumentation was just about right, too, with a simple organic piano and violin. It only gets a B, because of Lauper who is singing so pseudo-passionately that it's like she's trying to murder me with her voice. Get away from me, you freaking superstar from the '80s!!
Unchained Melody B+
This is possibly the world's most overrated song... Or, maybe not. I just freaking hate hearing it ALL OVER THE PLACE. Though give the producers credit here for doing just about what they should've. The violins sound nice (the tremolo thing they do is an especially good touch) and the pianos are pounding ever-so-gracefully. And the final credit goes to Lauper whose voice, apart from that high note, hits just the right tones. None of that horrible nonsense that we got out of the previous track. ...But I can't give this song anything above a B+ because of the fact it's boring as hell.
If You Go Away B+
Jacques Brel? ... Could Cyndi Lauper actually be cool enough to like Brel? ... Well, whattayaknow? Cyndi Lauper is cool! I really like hearing Brel's melodies no matter where they are, but geez, Lauper's giving it awfully bland treatment. The instrumentation is very sparse when this sort of song cries out for something terribly bombastic. What we have here is a boring drum beat going off and a number of quiet violins playing something depressing. Lauper's voice sounds OK though, because she's not overdoing it. ... This isn't too bad, but it really should've been better.
Until You Come Back to Me (That's What I'm Gonna Do) A-
It starts out sounding like its going to be some cutesy thing that's going to make me want to vomit, but it actually turns into something tasteful. Looking at the songwriting credits, I discovered that this is a little known Stevie Wonder composition... so that makes sense. They even bring in a harmonica that's played exactly the way Stevie would play it. A nice addition with a rhythm guitar and bouncy acoustic guitar keeps the experience snappy.
My Baby Just Cares For Me < I>C
This is a bouncy, minimalist song... I know minimalism serves its purpose, but what the heck??? That doesn't mean you can be lazy and just find a drummer and a clarinet to give your your accompaniment. This song gets boring quickly, and it shouldn't have.
Makin' Whoopee D
Oh god. This is one of those overly cutesy songs, and I can't stand it. I don't know how many times I sat through this and so I haven't kept tracks of how many seconds of my life I wasted on it. Oh god. Of course, the original song came from a musical written in the '20s, and it comes with play-acting. Worth mentioning, Lauper's duetting with some nobody.
Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood C
I don't think I heard the original version of this (it was a blues hit from the mid-'60s), but Lauper's rendition of it makes it sound like a bad Melissa Etheridge anthem. (Take that statement with a grain of salt, if you wish. I'm under the impression that all of Etheridge's anthems are bad.) Lauper's belting out these lyrics as if someone just punched her in the stomach. Worse off, these horrible ideas to sparsely arrange these songs are really taking their toll. A quilt museum would be more entertaining than this, and I hate freaking quilts.
You've Really Got a Hold On Me D+
Another song with a sparse, calm piano and Lauper singing like the bore she is. I am seriously going out of my mind right now. I feel like I just spent 24 hours listening to some lecture by a less quirky version of Ben Stein. I'VE HAD ENOUGH OF THIS! I'M GOING TO BO BONKERS!!!!!!! HIHOENO!!!!!!!ihoeihe rihe22222222222223- 4----------2==2=2=22=2=2==2=22=2=2==2=2=!!!!!!
Hymn to Love C
It's better than the previous song, but anything was bound to be. For the most part, this song adheres to that tired sparse piano and pretentious vocal performance, but they bring in a few touches from violins here and there. Hey, you take what you can get, right?
On the Sunny Side of the Street C
Coming off of those last few tracks, going right to this goofy ska-version of the well-known jazz number is like the Harlem Globe Trotters coming on after the president just wrapping up the state of the union address. This is arguably the most interesting song of the whole album, but it was ultimately sloppy and misguided.
The Body Acoustic (2005)
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Money Changes Everything B+
Oh yes, this time tested classic! Instead of those polished guitar crunches, it's violins doing the same thing. ......Hey, that's not a bad idea! That constant hand-clap in the rhythm section was a fine idea, but what's the reason that you had to keep repeating it non-stop from the beginning until the end? That's just gonna make the song seem monotonous. But I do think the melody was good, so I do like hearing this.
All Through the Night B+
This is my favorite song the Laupster has ever done, and the reason for that had to do with the melody, so hearing the “acoustic” version just gives it a new twist! ...She really didn't need to do anything than deliver a straight, earnest rendition of it. Just Lauper, her voice and some guy playing an acoustic guitar. ....But of course she doesn't do that. She hires some Calypso-rapper who's dementedly babbling nonsense throughout. And that rhythm is boring as hell. ...You really don't even need drums for this song.
Time After Time B-
Hah! I thought that sounded like Sarah McLachlan. I was going to say, “What's with Lauper? She's sounding like Sarah McLachlan all of the sudden” ..... and then I read the entry on Wikipedia and find out that it is her. It was amazing! You learn something new everyday!! (I don't lead a very exciting life ....... if you couldn't tell that already.) Well, this is a horrible duet. I don't think the two really thought things through very well ... I mean, the two voices are completely different as it is... Lauper's butterscotch howl and McLachlan's wobbly woodwind aren't the ideal peanut-butter-jelly combination to begin with ... and unfortunately, my worst nightmares about the combination comes through. This is not a good duet. Both sound like they're separately singing solo. ...Oh, and why is she even bothering with this acoustic nonsense? Those guitars sound faker than the synthesizers on the original. Maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan!!
She Bop C-
Wow... that's the fourth song in a row from She's So Unusual! Guess who wanted to purposefully load this album with material that would sell? ....... Actually, that's no negative crit. That album was the best thing she ever did by far. And that shouldn't explain why this rendition of the industrialized pop song is so damn boring. Some faux-folk acoustic strumming as Lauper sings like she's some sort of world-weary blues singer. ...And those are scaling synthesizer sound effects in the background. Way to go acoustic, body.
Above the Clouds C
The nicest thing about a collaboration with Jeff Beck is that I know that Jeff Beck doesn't sing, so I won't be expecting another tacky celeb-duet. And lookie! It's a new Cyndi Lauper song, and not a self-cover. ...........Wow, is it boring though. ....I'm listening to that piano playing light in the background. I swear, through most of this song, it's playing the exact same freaking chord. (If not, it's playing the same rhythm. Criminy.) Well, at least they let Beck play the electric guitar on an acoustic album.
I'll Be Your River B
Another new song! This one has a bluesy edge, and it tries to pull no other punches than that. Technically, this is a duet with Vivian Green, but you can barely hear her, so it works better! This is supposedly an original song, but this sort of thing has been done so much that I it's not very original. It's less pretentious than the others, and Lauper gives a fine performance, so it's better. (A bit at the end when she bellows ... eh.)
Sisters of Avalon C
Hey, a non-She's So Unusual cover! ... But what made the original so interesting was its bombastic and texture-filled instrumentation. The melody never interested me at all. Lauper's vocal performance is OK, but it gets pretty obnoxious in the chorus with that “Hay-yay-yay!!!” constantly repeated at the top of her lungs. Lauper lets Vivian Green sing her heart out through it, but it's so annoying that I want to shoot her. Geez... It's almost worse than the Calypso rapper nut-boy.
I like this song! It wasn't written for the album, but it doesn't appear on any of her regular discography. It has a great tune, nice flow ... it seems to fit the acoustic setting fairly well except for Lauper's singing voice. (She'd be singing the same way if there were a dozen electric guitarists ripping away as loud as they can.) The vocals are overbearing, but this is a good song. I sorta want to hear the original now...
True Colors C-
A boring ballad ... The original was a boring ballad, so I guess that's no surprise! The melody doesn't do much for me, and the instrumentation isn't very interesting, either. Lauper's singing too loudly again.
Water's Edge B-
Another duet with McLachlan, but she's kept more in the background, so it works better. This song is OK ... it's not too interesting, but it has its moments. This is also a new song. It's a typical mid-tempo ballad with the typical instrumentation. A drum beat. Guitars. Singing. Yeah.
This originally appeared on Sisters of Avalon. I didn't remember it, of course, but looking at my review of this song, I called it boring. Yup. This is boring, too. Why must everyone make such boring songs? We don't like boring songs. It puts me to sleeeeeeeeepses........
Girls Just Want to Have Fun C
Try not to fall out of your chair when I tell you this: It's a ska version of the classic song. .......... WHAT A TERRIBLE IDEA! I mean, the original was bad enough, and now it's even cutesier than it ever was. They make a quizzical idea to insert soundbytes of girls talking it up at a cocktail party, and that just makes it cluttery and that much more difficult to bear. And what's with those back-up singers? Lauper has a batting average of 0.832 of bringing in awful back-up singers. I have half a mind to think she hired “unfit” singers just to make her sound better. Did she really lack this self confidence? ...The one good thing was a playful horn that's tooting and sliding away through this. There. I'll let it end on a positive note.
Bring Ya to the Brink (2008)
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High and Mighty D
OK. I'm going to try to be as sane about this as possible. The fact these synthesizer tones and those papery drum machines drive me COMPLETE BONKERS won't be a factor in my opinion of this song. ...Erm. I take that back. IF A SONG MAKES ME GO BONKERS, THEN THERE'S NO REDEMPTION FOR IT! It's such a shame, too, because Lauper's sort of lite-blues-mama vocals are kind of fun. She doesn't have much to sing to, but I suppose she's likable enough for her faithful fans to fool themselves into liking. The songwriting itself is pathetic. It consists of four very, very, very simple chords that repeat endlessly. UUUUUUUURGH! This is going to be a long evening.
Into the Nightlife C-
Oh god, this is going to be a long evening. The only thing keeping this piece above water is the mere fact that it has a chorus. That previous song had me so desperate that I would almost surely have loved anything as long as there was a chorus. And after hearing this horrible thing, my conjecture was proven true. This is your typical sort of teen-beat song with awkward synthesizer sounds, annoying drum machines and dumb vocal effects. (Correct me if I'm wrong, but the whole point of Cyndi Lauper was her voice...... so why did anyone think they need to be doctored?) The melody is so simple a four-year-old could have written it.
Rocking Chair F
Man. It looks like I chose the wrong week to give up abusing prescription medication. Are you really going to torture me like this so early in the album? I tell you, Ms. Lauper, things are not looking up for you. This song is more annoying than Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, but at least that film had artistic integrity. Heck, even “High and Mighty” had artistic integrity compared. Whereas that song had four chords, this song only has two. They try to cover that fact up by dressing it up with some of the most annoying synthesizer beeps and vocal effects imaginable. Another paper-thin drum machine keeps the beat. While it has the gall to actually vary a bit throughout the song, it never once does anything that appeals to me at all. That bit in the middle when Lauper does that series of whiny chanting, droning opera, squeaky scat-singing truly makes me wish I was pushing up the daises. I'm only glad I made it past a quarter-century.
OK. I didn't die. Unfortunately. Now, Cyndi Lauper “treats” us to another retarded song. At least it's not as over-baked as the previous song! And, thankfully for my soul, these songwriters actually knew more than two chords. Yeah! Imagine that! Unfortunately, they only limited this harmonic grace to the chorus. The verses section only uses one chord. It's quite a drone, but somehow it's easier to take considering the only instrumentation in that part is a lone drum machine and some rhythmic, rubbery synthesizers. While I am thrilled that the chorus has a chord progression, that's not to say that it's an amazing chorus. It has a very minor hook to it, but they end up repeating it so much that it's utterly toothless by the end.
Just like Lauper ruined “Cindy,” she ruined “Life.” Did she really think she was doing something worthwhile here? Really, I'm flabbergasted. This is as nasty of a bastardization of R&B (the '80s, '90s and '00s brand, that is) than I've ever thought possible. And, believe me, I have as little respect for that genre as humanly possible. I'm glad that Lauper didn't use this opportunity to sound “urban” or even “streetwise,” because the instrumentation is as plain-vanilla as it could possibly get. It's only appropriate that her vocal performance is as bland as possible. The drum machines are so squeaky clean and stale that it's like touring the house of an obsessive compulsive billionaire. I had no idea that this plastic, over-processed version of R&B could sound this stale.
Same Ol' Story C-
This is actually one of the better songs of the album. The beginning of it, anyway, has a nice club-beat thing going. The songwriter actually had an idea of why harmonies are important, and this helped Lauper find a quasi-compelling vocal melody to sing. Where this song falls short is they tried to extend its two minutes of good ideas to six minutes. You can tell these guys were really hurting for ideas in the middle when they strip away the club dance beat but keep the melody and chord progression. God, I hate it when pop producers do that. They think that changing the instrumentation is enough to keep a song interesting, but it ISN'T. Get a clue.
Raging Storm C
At last, a song that isn't offensive. Or maybe, by now, my brain is so numb that things have to get pretty bad before I realize how annoying it is. At any rate, I'm still utterly depressed. This is yet another club-dance thing with paper-thin drum machines keeping the beat. Luckily, the song producers restrained themselves from choosing awkward synthesizers and just went along with those time-tested synth-bass, calculator synths and pad instruments that proved so popular in the '80s. There were a few very random moments when Lauper's vocals were given processed treatment, but for the most part it sounds like Lauper's real voice. Unfortunately, her real voice is as boring as the processed ones.
Lay Me Down F
Have I mentioned that I hate my life when listening to this Cyndi Lauper album? Previous to this, I thought it couldn't get any worse than True Colors, but the Devil's nightmare invariably came true. ...I suppose you, being the cruel person that you are, want me to actually describe this song. That is difficult for me to do considering the brain hemorrhages I am risking by trying to think about it. But I will do my best. Once again, the rhythm section of this song can be described as “paper thin.” Some pulsating synthesizer noises can be heard lightly in the background as well as a scraping sound occurring, literally, once per second. The whole song based on a very uninteresting riff that repeats endlessly. Real musicians would have at least given it a chorus. Good musicians would have even given it a middle-eight. But no. They just repeat that same FREAKING thing the whole time. “Lay Me Down” in my coffin.
Give it Up F
In theory music reviewers ought to enjoy trashing an album just like many movie critics enjoy trashing movies. But movie reviewers have the luxury of not being able to write their stuff while the painful movie is playing. I, on the other hand, actually listen to the songs while I'm writing about them. And I must say, I'm not enjoying this experience one single bit. This song is so offensive that I can hardly come to do anything other than vomit on this keyboard, ruining this beautiful new notebook computer. How dare Cyndi Lauper do this to me! Just to prove that these songwriters were complete idiots, theis song is based on the EXACT SAME CHORDS that “High and Mighty” was. They must think I'm stupid or something. As if it was even possible, the instrumentation is even more annoying. That buzzy bass synthesizer is trying to rattle my brain out of my head.
Set Your Heart D+
Some sources say this song is a medley, but it isn't. Sure, the instrumentation changes, but that chord progression never does. I really don't know what they're talking about. At the very least, this song is much more tolerable than the previous two songs. The beginning of it is nice with a sort of disco-esque vibe to it. The papery drum machine sound might be dull, but it doesn't grow terribly annoying. There are a few points where they strip away that drum machine but still keep the same melody and chord progression. STOP DOING THAT!!!!
Grab a Hold B
I am currently hanging my mouth open, and all the evil, dark vapors are seeping out. Either this is a good song, or I've finally made it to the funny farm. This song actually has the gall to be comparable to one of her '80s songs, or at least one that wasn't on She's So Unusual. Get this: There are actual hooks in the melody. Not great ones, but at least they're present. What's more, there's some actual *oomph* in her vocal performance. In most of the previous songs she didn't sound anything more than some bored millionaire recording an album she didn't give a damn about. Wow. Somebody give me a physical.
Rain on Me C
I think she was deliberately trying to go retro with these last two songs, which explains why they're actually tolerable. You know... it's really no wonder the record companies are having trouble selling albums. It has nothing to do with P2P networks. It's that the '00s style of pop music has been so worthless... Entities like Madonna and Lauper might try to mess with '00s music as much as they like, but they're invariably better when they just stick to their time-tested formulas from the '80s. That said, there is nothing terribly special about the song. I like that the synthesizer groove recalls the synth-pop days from the Eurythmics, and those pad-synths in the background are right out of Alphaville's “Forever Young,” but the song itself is terribly bland. I'd probably award this a lower rating if it was on a better album, but as it stands, this is one of Bring Ya to the Brink's undisputed highlights.
Memphis Blues (2010)
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Just Your Fool A-
As far as the blues go, this sort of thing has been done 8.8 billion times. Heck, I'm the amount of times this song itself has been covered probably extends into the hundreds. But how can I deny it? I like this! The bluesy rhythm is smokey and crunchy; I don't think Lauper and her producers spared any expense getting the right instrumentalists to produce that proper, R&B sound. There's who I'm presuming to be Charlie Musselwhite playing a really mean harmonica throughout this, just blaring away as though he were the baddest thing on earth. (I don't know Musselwhite too well... but if Wikipedia is correct who says that he was the inspiration for The Blues Brothers, then he must be pretty bad-ass.) But the most important reason this song is enjoyable is because of the singing. I don't think I tend to care too much about vocal performances, but I kind of have to here, because that's the main appeal to these songs. The guy who wrote the All-Music Guide review of this says that Lauper's vocals are too 'reedy,' or something. But 'reedy' can sing the blues!
Shattered Dreams A-
That hiccup Lauper does with her voice at the very beginning if this is very endearing to me for some reason. Otherwise, she's giving a very solid and surprisingly convincing soulful performance throughout this song. But make no doubt the matter, what gives this song its backbone is Allen Toussaint's keyboard playing. All those trills he's playing! And of course, the rhythm section is crunchy and genuine, and I like that full horn section, too.
Early In the Mornin' A
Another terribly endearing song. This time, Lauper has a duet with none other than B.B. King. There's a really crunchy, sort of marching drum beat as Lauper and King sound like they're having *a lot* of fun together. This song is infectious, too. I can't say I've ever heard this song before, but it's been around since 1947, so it's been around the block. Toussaint is also featured on this, and I'd imagine he was the one who's keeping those awesome keyboards in my left ear. All in all, excellent song choice, and great performances all around.
Romance in the Dark A
No special guest stars on this one. It's just Lauper by herself, as usual. Except she's singing another really good song. If Lauper's exuberant singing is one reason why these songs are a ton of fun, the other reason is that these songs were a ton of fun to begin with. This time, she's singing a soulful ballad like I would expect one of the superstars of the '50s or '60s to have sung. You can fairly say that Lauper isn't nearly as good as a Dione Warwick, but maybe she's not as out-of-that-league as you might assume. The instrumentation is just about what you would expect... a brassy horn section and pure sounds of an electric organ. Yes, we've heard it before, but it's all wonderfully put together.
How Blue Can You Get? A-
Featuring Johnny Lang. I was listening to this song and thinking that I should probably know who he is, because he sounds like he's a hardened blues vet. ...And then I find out that he's 30 years old! Well, talent comes in all ages, I suppose! This is an old song that was a concert favorite of B.B. King's (thanks, Wikipedia!) and Lauper delivers it with such verve that it surprises me. I mean, she belts it out and actually sounds like a seasoned soul vet. I know I'm not really a blues fan, so I'll have to defer to someone who is, but I really enjoy listening to her!
Down Don't Bother Me A-
So Charlie Musselwhite must be the one with the harmonica. (I suck at listening to the blues! I spend way too much time listening to synth-pop to know that Musselwhite plays a mean harmonica like that.) But anyway, here's another great song choice, and Lauper sounding like she's singing her utter heart out and I'm enjoying it in the process. The instrumentation has some real bite to it, which shows that she's making so many good decisions here! I mean, for once in her career!
Don't Cry No More A-
I'm just going to give all these songs the same rating. They're all kind of the same thing, but with different songs. And yet I always seem to be enjoying myself. This song is more fast paced, so you might be able to dance to it if you feel like it, and Lauper really picks up some dust with that singing. I have no idea who's playing that saxophone in the instrumental interlude (probably some hidden session musician), but it's a lot of fun to hear. The full horn section is here, also, and it keeps the experience punchy.
Rollin' and Tumblin' A-
This starts out like it's going to be a little dull with Lauper and Ann Peebles singing a cappella, but then a full-scale, snarly blues-rock guitar comes in and starts to give things attitude! This is counted as yet another fantastic song choice, since the melody is infectious and they do it right by making the performances lively. Although singing next to a seasoned vet as Peebles, it's pretty evident that Lauper still has a way to go before matching her blues prowess! However, she's still pretty good, and it's a lot of fun listening to them.
Down So Low A-
Once again, the song selection is phenomenal. I'm not really a blues-nut so I can't recall I've heard this before, but at least I can recognize it's a very good song as I'm listening to it right now! Lauper's singing by her lonesome, this time, and this shows—as usual—that she shines by herself. Her vocals are volumnous and not only shows a lot of skill... but it almost seems like she's feeling those bluesy lyrics. (Could she have man problems?) Now, if only she had great songs to sing like this all the time!
Mother Earth A-
A Sparks cover? ...Oh no, that was “Never Turn Your Back on Mother Earth.” Can't you just picture that song as a soul ballad? (Not really.) But anyway, this is another soul song with Allen Toussaint, who tickles the ivories in a bluesy fashion and sultry horn section swings around a little bit before Lauper comes in like an old-timey nightclub singer and... sounds pretty good! Don't you think she would have been a superstar in that era, too? I'm giving these songs all A-minuses. How could I not? They don't blow my mind, but they're fun to listen to!
Yet another song I haven't heard of. (...OK, I'm not that dense! Cream covered it!) Do you think that Lauper's version of it can be any better than Cream's. I don't think so! But they get a nice, slow, sweaty gruffy pace going with a couple of mean and verrrrrrrry fuzzy guitars pumping a long. Johnny Lang and his old-man vocals are back, and he sounds like he's having fun singing with Lauper. ...Well, wouldn't you? If I could sing like a blues superstar, wouldn't you think I'd have passed up the chance to guest star on this album? No sir!
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