Besting the silly rich cougar
Why Cyndi Lauper is a truer artist than Madonna
Their debut albums came out within mere months of each other in 1983, yet the careers of fashionista/diva/boy toy Madonna and multi-colored, pop-punk Cyndi Lauper couldn't have evolved any more differently over the past 27 years.
Where Madonna has gone on to sell more than 300 million albums worldwide, Lauper has had to "make due" by becoming only moderately filthy rich by selling close to 30 million albums globally.
(That's still a hell of a lot of records but, for those trying to do the math on your fingers and toes, it's still only about 10 percent of what Madonna has moved which makes Ms. Like A Virgin stupid-rich by any measure.)
Still, Lauper metaphorically turned a few tricks that not even Lady Madonna could manage in those early days. Here's a list to take into consideration as Lauper gets ready to play The House of Blues Thursday night.
1) The monumental success of Lauper's debut album, She's So Unusual, made her the first female singer to have four Top 5 songs from the same album ("Girls Just Want To Have Fun," "Time After Time," "She Bop" and "Money Changes Everything").
In fact, as Lauper and Madonna hits did battle up the charts from 1983-85, it's likely that Lauper — with a a little help from Michael Jackson's Thriller — was the primary force keeping Madonna from grabbing that title (Madonna would later trump Lauper with five Top 5 hits from True Blue a couple years later).
2) Beginning with the early lace undies and jelly bracelets, Madonna was always a fashion icon boasting a wealthy, society fan base.
Lauper had a neon, multi-length head of hair and a garage sale wardrobe handed down from Punky Brewster and was listened to by young girls in pigtails that grew into working-class moms.
Even worse, Lauper had early ties to wrestling manager Captain Lou Albano (he appeared as her father in the "Girls Just Want To Have Fun" video) and The Goonies that she had to successfully shake before they ruined her career.
Most importantly is...
3) Lauper did it all without the benefit of sex as a weapon.
People squawk about how Madonna has evolved through the years as if she's gone from cave woman to superhero.
Truth is all she did was go from young, desperate skank to filthy rich cougar.
From the time Madonna declared herself "like a virgin," to when she got all S&M in public in the "Justify My Love," video and right up to when she was playing tonsil hockey with Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera at the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards ... Madonna has always used a certain level of skankiness to sell her songs.
It is actually Lauper who has truly had a metamorphosis from a garbage can-kicking bag lady at age 30 into a beautiful torch singer at age 57.
For new album, Memphis Blues, Lauper enlists the help of legends from the genre — including Allen Toussaint and Charlie Musselwhite — to create one of the most scintillating interpretations of blues by a pop singer in recent memory.
One listen to Lauper pining through Robert Johnson's "Crossroads," (with the help of guitarist Jonny Lang) makes it immediately clear that the music she is making today is far more lasting than any of the techno-pop Madonna has produced in the last decade.
Let's hear it for the not-so-popular girl getting the last laugh.
Cyndi Lauper, 8 p.m. Thursday at House of Blues