Cyndi Lauper: The Body Acoustic

="Description" CONTENT="Cyndi Lauper, The Body Acoustic (Epic/Daylight)

If you take a 52-year-old former '80s pop star and strip away her huge production values, is there anything left?"

Cyndi Lauper

The Body Acoustic

US Release Date: 2005-11-08
UK Release Date: 2005-11-07
Amazon affiliate

Cyndi Lauper, the '80s pop star whose rise to fame coincided with/was due to the explosion of MTV, burst onto the scene in 1984 with her landmark debut album. She's So Unusual, which featured such '80s defining songs as "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun", "True Colors", and "Time After Time", was paralleled very closely by another hit album that year, Madonna's Like a Virgin, and has since sold nine million copies.

Lauper was neck and neck with Madonna in terms of popularity and infectious pop anthems, and the fact that "Material Girl" and "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" came out in the same year made the ushering in of a new generation of pop stars and hits all too clear and simple. Trouble is, throughout her career Lauper has never even come close to the success of her debut, whereas 20 years on, Madonna continues to be, well, Madonna.

And now Cyndi Lauper is in her 50s, has a handful of greatest hits albums under her belt, and has seemingly disappeared from the mainstream pop radar throughout the last decade and into this one. So, in a move of rejuvenation that still relies almost entirely on the past, we get The Body Acoustic.

The Body Acoustic finds her voice in raspy, beautiful form, being more emotive than it has ever been. The album features two new songs and 10 of her hits (five of which are from her debut), sung and performed in collaboration with such big name artists as Sarah McLachlan, Jeff Beck and Ani DiFranco. The arrangements, as the title suggests, are largely acoustic, sometimes featuring a full backing band and other times merely Cyndi and guitar, making this stripped down, best-of a great listen and a commendable, inventive approach.

And certainly, inventive is a positive adjective, but the problem lies in the fact that if you are in the mood to kick on some Cyndi Lauper, the chances are you don't want to hear a slow, driving, Americana version of "She Bop" (no matter how hard you try to have a dark slide guitar and eerie whistles, the song just ain't a murder ballad). In other words, Lauper's music was very functional in the '80s -- it was pure unadulterated fun, with that wonderfully big and cheesy '80s pop production to go with it. So what happens if you take it too seriously?

Elsewhere, the usually enjoyable "All Through The Night" here features Shaggy and it is, naturally, a complete mess. Shaggy does his Shaggy "I'ma-I'ma-something-hey-ha!!!" throughout and it's as ill-conceived and atrociously executed as you might think. The two new songs for the collection, "Above the Clouds" and "I'll Be Your River", are both straightforward, unremarkable ballads.

"Shine" finds Lauper's phrasing in its best form, and "Sisters of Avalon", featuring Vivan Green and the glorious Ani DiFranco, is the song that best captures the Lauper spirit of undeniable exuberance. The three strong-vocal performances from these three women make this track the embodiment of, ahem, girls having fun.

Many of the older songs do have solid depth that shines in these arrangements, like "Time After Time" and "True Colors", but of course both of those songs have been covered ad nauseum in similar arrangements over the last 20 years on both mainstream records (Eva Cassidy, Phil Collins) and in coffee houses across the country. Meaning, the thunder of this conceptualization and execution was largely stolen from Lauper by a host of other artists. That being said, the "Time After Time" with McLachlan is not only worth the price of admission of this disc but the definitive version of the song.






The 10 Best Experimental Albums of 2015

Music of all kinds are tending toward a consciously experimental direction. Maybe we’re finally getting through to them.


John Lewis, C.T. Vivian, and Their Fellow Freedom Riders Are Celebrated in 'Breach of Peace'

John Lewis and C.T. Vivian were titans of the Civil Rights struggle, but they are far from alone in fighting for change. Eric Etheridge's masterful then-and-now project, Breach of Peace, tells the stories of many of the Freedom Riders.


Unwed Sailor's Johnathon Ford Discusses Their New Album and 20 Years of Music

Johnathon Ford has overseen Unwed Sailor for more than 20 years. The veteran musician shows no sign of letting up with the latest opus, Look Alive.

Jedd Beaudoin

Jazz Trombonist Nick Finzer Creates a 'Cast of Characters'

Jazz trombonist Nick Finzer shines with his compositions on this mainstream jazz sextet release, Cast of Characters.


Datura4 Travel Blues-Rock Roads on 'West Coast Highway Cosmic'

Australian rockers Datura4 take inspiration from the never-ending coastal landscape of their home country to deliver a well-grounded album between blues, hard rock, and psychedelia.


Murder Is Most Factorial in 'Eighth Detective'

Mathematician Alex Pavesi's debut novel, The Eighth Detective, posits mathematical rules defining 'detective fiction'.


Eyedress Sets Emotions Against Shoegaze Backdrops on 'Let's Skip to the Wedding'

Eyedress' Let's Skip to the Wedding is a jaggedly dreamy assemblage of sounds that's both temporally compact and imaginatively expansive, all wrapped in vintage shoegaze ephemera.


Of Purges and Prescience: On David France's LGBTQ Documentary, 'Welcome to Chechnya'

The ongoing persecution of LGBTQ individuals in Chechnya, or anywhere in the world, should come as no surprise, or "amazement". It's a motif undergirding the history of civil society that certain people will always be identified for extermination.


Padma Lakshmi's 'Taste the Nation' Questions What, Exactly, Is American Food

Can food alone undo centuries of anti-immigrant policies that are ingrained in the fabric of the American nation? Padma Lakshmi's Taste the Nation certainly tries.


Performing Race in James Whale's 'Show Boat'

There's a song performed in James Whale's musical, Show Boat, wherein race is revealed as a set of variegated and contradictory performances, signals to others, a manner of being seen and a manner of remaining hidden, and it isn't "Old Man River".


The Greyboy Allstars Rise Up to Help America Come Together with 'Como De Allstars'

If America could come together as one nation under a groove, Karl Denson & the Greyboy Allstars would be leading candidates of musical unity with their funky new album, Como De Allstars.


The Beatles' 'Help!' Redefined How Personal Popular Music Could Be 55 Years Ago

Help! is the record on which the Beatles really started to investigate just how much they could get away with. The album was released 55 years ago this week, and it's the kick-off to our new "All Things Reconsidered" series.


Porridge Radio's Mercury Prize-Nominated 'Every Bad' Is a Wonderful Epistemological Nightmare

With Every Bad, Porridge Radio seduce us with the vulnerability and existential confusion of Dana Margolin's deathly beautiful lyricism interweaved with alluring pop melodies.


​​Beyoncé's 'Black Is King' Builds Identity From Afrofuturism

Beyoncé's Black Is King's reliance on Afrofuturism recuperates the film from Disney's clutches while reclaiming Black excellence.

Reading Pandemics

Colonial Pandemics and Indigenous Futurism in Louise Erdrich and Gerald Vizenor

From a non-Native perspective, COVID-19 may be experienced as an unexpected and unprecedented catastrophe. Yet from a Native perspective, this current catastrophe links to a longer history that is synonymous with European colonization.


John Fullbright Salutes Leon Russell with "If the Shoe Fits" (premiere + interview)

John Fullbright and other Tulsa musicians decamped to Leon Russell's defunct studio for a four-day session that's a tribute to Dwight Twilley, Hoyt Axton, the Gap Band and more. Hear Fullbright's take on Russell's "If The Shoe Fits".

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.