Cyndi Lauper: How She Redefined Pop Music in the ’80s

When you think of pop music in the 1980s, it’s impossible not to think of Cyndi Lauper. With her vibrant hair, quirky fashion, and unmistakable voice, Lauper didn’t just fit into the pop landscape of the decade—she reshaped it. Her unique style and groundbreaking approach to music and music videos set her apart from her contemporaries, making her an enduring icon in the music industry.

Early Life and Musical Beginnings

Cyndi Lauper was born Cynthia Ann Stephanie Lauper on June 22, 1953, in Brooklyn, New York. From a young age, she was exposed to a variety of musical genres, thanks to her mother’s eclectic taste. This early exposure sparked her love for music, and by her teen years, Lauper was already experimenting with songwriting and performing.

Lauper’s journey into the music industry wasn’t a straightforward one. She faced numerous challenges, including vocal cord damage that almost ended her career before it began. However, her determination and passion for music saw her through, leading to the formation of the band Blue Angel in the late 1970s. Although the band didn’t achieve significant commercial success, it paved the way for Lauper’s solo career.

Breakthrough with ‘She’s So Unusual’

Cyndi Lauper’s big break came with the release of her debut solo album, She’s So Unusual, in 1983. The album was a commercial success, peaking at number four on the Billboard 200 and spawning several hit singles, including “Girls Just Want to Have Fun,” “Time After Time,” “She Bop,” and “All Through the Night.” Lauper’s eclectic style and distinctive voice captured the hearts of millions, establishing her as a formidable force in pop music.

Iconic Style and Image

One of the most memorable aspects of Cyndi Lauper’s career is her unique and flamboyant fashion sense. With brightly colored hair, mismatched clothes, and bold makeup, Lauper’s style was a refreshing departure from the norm. Her look not only made her a fashion icon but also inspired countless fans to embrace their individuality and express themselves freely.

Pioneering Music Videos

Cyndi Lauper’s impact on the music video era cannot be overstated. Her creative and visually engaging videos played a significant role in the success of her singles. The video for “Girls Just Want to Have Fun,” for instance, was a groundbreaking piece of visual storytelling that resonated with audiences worldwide. Lauper’s innovative approach to music videos helped to define the MTV era and set new standards for visual creativity in the music industry.

Empowering Anthems

A recurring theme in Cyndi Lauper’s music is empowerment. Songs like “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” and “She Bop” encouraged listeners to embrace their true selves and live life unapologetically. These anthems became rallying cries for various movements, including feminism and LGBTQ+ rights, cementing Lauper’s status as not just an entertainer but a cultural icon and advocate for social change.

Collaborations and Influences

Throughout her career, Cyndi Lauper has collaborated with numerous artists, enriching her musical repertoire and expanding her influence. Her duet with Roy Orbison on “Crying” and her work with artists like Billy Joel and Stevie Wonder showcased her versatility and ability to cross genres. Lauper’s influence can be seen in the work of countless musicians who followed in her footsteps, drawing inspiration from her fearless creativity and distinctive sound.

Acting and Other Ventures

Cyndi Lauper’s talents extend beyond music. She has made a name for herself in the acting world, with notable roles in films like Vibes and Life with Mikey. She also made a significant impact on Broadway with her work on the musical Kinky Boots, for which she composed the music and lyrics. The musical was a critical and commercial success, earning Lauper a Tony Award for Best Original Score.

Philanthropy and Activism

Beyond her artistic achievements, Cyndi Lauper is a dedicated philanthropist and activist. She has been a vocal advocate for LGBTQ+ rights, co-founding the True Colors Fund, which works to end homelessness among LGBTQ+ youth. Her commitment to social causes is a testament to her character and her desire to make a positive impact on the world.

Awards and Accolades

Cyndi Lauper’s contributions to music and culture have been recognized with numerous awards and accolades. She has won Grammy Awards, MTV Video Music Awards, and a Tony Award, among others. These honors reflect her talent, creativity, and enduring influence in the entertainment industry.

Continued Relevance

Even decades after her debut, Cyndi Lauper remains a relevant and influential figure in music. She continues to release new music, tour, and perform, delighting fans old and new. Her recent projects, including her involvement in various television shows and continued advocacy work, demonstrate her ability to evolve while staying true to her artistic vision.

Legacy in Pop Music

Cyndi Lauper’s impact on pop music is undeniable. Her innovative approach to music and fashion, combined with her powerful messages of individuality and empowerment, has left a lasting mark on the industry. Contemporary artists like Lady Gaga and Katy Perry have cited Lauper as an influence, highlighting her enduring legacy.

Critical Reception

Critics have consistently praised Cyndi Lauper for her originality and artistry. Her albums have received positive reviews, with particular acclaim for her vocal performance and songwriting. While not all of her projects have been commercial hits, her willingness to take risks and push boundaries has earned her respect and admiration in the music world.

Personal Life

Cyndi Lauper’s personal life has also influenced her music. Her experiences, from her struggles in the early days of her career to her triumphs as an artist and activist, have shaped the themes and emotions in her songs. Lauper’s authenticity and relatability have endeared her to fans around the globe.


Cyndi Lauper redefined pop music in the 1980s with her unique style, groundbreaking music videos, and empowering anthems. Her influence extends beyond music, impacting fashion, culture, and social movements. Lauper’s legacy is one of creativity, resilience, and unwavering individuality, making her a true icon of her time and a lasting inspiration for future generations.


What are Cyndi Lauper’s most famous songs? Cyndi Lauper’s most famous songs include “Girls Just Want to Have Fun,” “Time After Time,” “She Bop,” and “True Colors.” These hits remain popular and continue to be celebrated for their catchy melodies and empowering messages.

How did Cyndi Lauper influence fashion in the ’80s? Cyndi Lauper influenced fashion in the ’80s with her eclectic and colorful style. Her bold fashion choices, including mismatched clothes, vibrant hair, and unique accessories, inspired fans to embrace their individuality and experiment with their own looks.

What causes does Cyndi Lauper support? Cyndi Lauper is a passionate advocate for LGBTQ+ rights and has co-founded the True Colors Fund to end homelessness among LGBTQ+ youth. She is also involved in various charitable causes, using her platform to promote social justice and equality.

Has Cyndi Lauper won any Grammy Awards? Yes, Cyndi Lauper has won several Grammy Awards, including Best New Artist in 1985. Her contributions to music have been recognized with numerous awards throughout her career.

What is Cyndi Lauper doing now? Cyndi Lauper continues to make music, tour, and perform. She is also involved in various creative projects, including television appearances and advocacy work. Her recent activities reflect her ongoing commitment to her artistry and her causes.

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