Ruminations on TV Shows, Comics, And Music
I was getting some work done the other night, and was playing a variety of albums from my Guilty Pop list (which is all pop, only occasionally guilty). I threw on my Cyndi Lauper album and Comrade started singing along to the occasional song, or announcing "This is a bop. I thought Cyndi Lauper was mostly an actor."
I, too, had a realization a decade or so ago that I kew way more Cyndi Lauper songs than I thought. Yea, Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, yea True Colors, yea Time After Time. After that there were a few songs that if I thought about Cyndi long enough, I'd go "Oh, and..." All Through The Night, She Bop, Money Changes Everything. The rest of the songs on this album I wouldn't have been able to come up with if you asked me to name any Cyndi Lauper songs, but I know most to all of the words.
I had imagined this would be a One Album Discography, as I only heard the occasional uninspired cover song by Lauper after, say, 1989. But that's the fault of either the radio or my friends with poor taste, as Lauper has some interesting country, standards, and blues covers, mostly because her voice is still so unusual, and so passionate. I'll get to that album when I'm more familiar with her later work.
1. Cascading down like synthesized rain, All Through The Night should have been the opening track of the original album. You could argue about opening it with "Girls Just Want To Have Fun" for the hit factor, but otherwise, this is the sensible opener to me. Sure, it's kind of a mid-tempo song, lacking the kick of some of the other tracks, but it's got a catchy chorus and it's simultaneously bright and haunting. It's the perfect weird track for this gorgeous, weird album. You also get a taste of Lauper's voice when it's not So Long Island.
2. In elementary/middle school, there were a trio of somwehat popular kids who had their own dialect of taunt. They used Italian words, and occasional song lyrics as they shook their heads at their targets. Iko Iko was one of their favorite taunts. I have no idea which version of the song they were familiar with but Lauper's was the first one I heard.
3. When my partner, Comrade, first heard She's So Unusual, he asked why I had a Betty Boop song on my playlist. It is a lovely, weird little song. I suppose this is another song you could argue would be an appropriately odd opener for the album. The old 1940s style intro launches into a sort of generic girl-group sounding rock song. I don't mean the song sounds generic. It sounds like the one off-beat song that Bananarama or The Go-Gos released, The track where you could tell they were actually having fun.
4. The Faraway Nearby is a song that I could have only heard when listening to Lauper's True Colors album. I don't ever remember it until it's playing. I've always loved the way she sings "out from the faraway", and I love the way the ending of the song seamlessly transitions to
5. True Colors. One of those rare songs that's not written by the vocalist but becomes the vocalist's song. The lyricist, Billy Steinberg, says that he wrote this song as a gospel piano ballad, passed it along to Lauper who decon and reconstructed it to fit her voice and style. It's one of the most resonant ballads of the 1980s in that you can definitely identify when it was produced and recorded but it still has a timeless emotional appeal. The world has never needed Phil Collins, Ana Kendrick, or Justin Timberlake to cover it.
6. I'm not sure which movie soundtrack I think Change Of Heart should have appeared on. It could be a rom-com, it could be an action movie, it could have been the shopping montage from Pretty Woman. It definitely belongs somewhere. It has such a great upbeat energy. I didn't know until this listenthrough that the backing vocalists are The Bangles, who you'll note, I didn't list as a generic girl group earlier. They're one of the most solid pop-rock groups of the 80s. The video for this was shot in England, and it includes a poster for Nightmare On Elm Street 2, an accidentally gay camp horror. This is so on brand for Lauper that it can't be an accident.
7. Lauper's interpretations of almost any song she voices becomes undeniably hers. It's rare that I listen to one of her songs and think "You could use this exact arrangement and replace her vocals with another famous singer, and it would work perfectly as is." Money Changes Everything, however, could have been a hit for any ambitious New Wave singer from Ric Ocasek to David Byrne to Annie Lennox to Debby Harry to any and all of the vocalists in the B-52s.
8. Do I need to say anything about Girls Just Want To Have Fun? This is the one song Everyone Knows is by Cyndi Lauper. It's one of the most iconic songs and videos from the 1980s. Lauper has had a long career crossing into a variety of genres. Her live shows can pull from anywhere in her extensive catalog, but I think any fan would feel robbed if she didn't sing this bop (as opposed to another upcoming bop) at some point during her performance. This is another of the rare songs I wish I heard the B-52s cover.
9. I earlier disparaged Phil Collins's cover of True Colors. Calm Before The Storm is the most Phil Collinsy song from Lauper's catalog. I'm not sure if it's the production on the drums or the way she holds on to the notes but I could definitely hear this coming off Hello, I Must Be Going. I mean this in the best possible way for both artists.
10. From Phil Collinsish to actually Billy Joel. Code Of Silence is one of the many unexpected duets on Joel's vastly underrated and weirdly unhappy The Bridge. If you really hate Billy Joel, give this album a listen. There are some pretty catchy songs that were never really hits, and he claims to have been absolutely miserable when recording it.
11. My father collected cassettes of old radio shows, which I used to listen to. This gave me some weird associations growing up. For example, I always think of The Shadow episode "Nursery Rhyme Killer" whenever I see Boy Blue, be it little or no. This is the song I least remember, apart from the On the street, kids walkin',/Just a kid walkin', just a kid walkin', just a kid/Where are you/Where are you/Where are you boy blue/Hey, where are you section near the end, which sound like they belong in a low budget Corey Feldman/Corey Haim movie...probably Dream A Little Dream, not that I'd change a single song from that movie.
12. Someone told me what the song She-Bop was about when I was way too young to have any idea what they meant. It was a just a quirky song with that bee-bop-ba-LOOP-she-boppart that everyone loved to sing along to. It wasn't until I heard that certain Divinyls song that I went, Ohhhhh, right, like She-Bop!The synths on this track are so 1984, it's sort of shocking that George Orwell didn't play them.
13. More synth magic sets the mood for When You Were Mine. I love the contrast between the alternating verses, one being a chill multi-track, the next being single track super Cyndi crooning. There's also some killer head voice that pops up here.
14. We close off the album with the classic ballad, Time After Time. This is one of those songs that gets covered frequently, but often by interesting vocalists, even though this is nearly the most mainstream Cyndi's voice ever sounds. Rob Hyman gets props for a basic-ass performance of the melody that make Lauper's harmonies soar. It's almost Simon and Garfunkely in its beautiful simplicity. I also love ending the album on fading whispers.
How To Watch The WWE In A Focused, Fun Manner, Whether You're New Or A Long Time Fan, 7: Ruthless Aggression
The Age of Backstage Shenanigans, Directors Of Authority, and General Managers runs amok across both WWE and, its closest competition, TNA/Impact while Ring Of Honor remains the house of great wrestling and terrible storytelling.
There is a lot of old WCW blood taking power in WWE and TNA as well, as Eric Bischoff co-manages the WWE with Steve Austin, and Dusty Rhodes's run as the Director of Authority in TNA gives way to a ... *prolonged sigh* ... Vince Russo era. There's something awful about even the idea of Vince Russo in a position of power in a company that can't keep the belt off of Honkey Tonk Junior, Jeff Jarrett. But, somehow, by the end of the season, Vince Russo ends up being a ... good ... guy? It ends surprisingly well, considering how terrible the company was when he took over.
As you can tell by the cover photo, this is also the age when The Radicalz really, really got their due in WWE, and AJ Styles becomes the face of TNA.