Of all the rotten things to happen in music world, the death of Cyndi Lauper's pop queen status ranks pretty high. The impact of her She's So Unusual singles arguably paved the way for Madonna to follow, but I shall try not to 'go there' as I think some Cyndi fans concentrate far too much on this. Cyndi's mistakes were already evident on album number two: culling the pop hits for MOR ballads did her a lot of damage, but she just about got through it well enough to forge on to album number 3. However, her concession for this argument, a knee-jerking song called Hole In My Heart (All The Way To China), stalled at number 54 (whilst songwriting all the way in Russia) despite its engagingly manic scramble. Lauper was not in the country to promote it, radio weren't playing it either, and so it seems likely the decision was made for Lauper to record radio-friendly hits that weren't desperate cariacatures of her debut album. However, her third album A Night To Remember was still very much desperate with only a clutch of songs that frustratingly might have saved her ass had they have been released with vultures such as Susannah Hoffs only to eager to re-record Lauper's overlapses. Lauper singing generic big-pop would not be my favourite era, even if 20 years later her distinctive hair suddenly came into council estate fashion.
A Night To Forget: Let's get the worst of it out the way first:
I was actually going to review the 'bad' and the 'ugly' on this album but really can't as it's such a frustrating album in that respect, so shall focus on the good.
Sensual rocker I Drove All Night might have been recorded by Roy Orbinson first, but cynce Cyndi released it first it's fair to say her version is the original. Again, radio ignored it but she still managed what would be her final US top ten hit to date. In the UK she faired better on the airwaves, scoring her first UK top ten in 5 years, and this success propelled the album into the charts at number 9 (to date her only UK top 10 studio album).
Sadly overlooked as a single, the romantic ballad Unconditional Love was hunted down by The Bangles singer Susanah Hoff's who later recorded her own version (look out for a forthcomin g post on Hoffs coming soon), and expressed her rueful jealousy to writer Billy Steinberg who told her they would 'write something better' together, and that they just did with Eternal Flame. It's so strange to hear something from Lauper in that calibre - it's a hit single and would have been regardless of who sang it. This is ripe late 80s American chart topper fodder par excellence. Bittersweet pleasure I guess.
Once again, on the title track Lauper sings in a lower key than what people were used to and still sounds unmistakably Lauper, perhaps Midler-esque, but divine in her own right nonetheless. It's a bit of a joy to hear her sing this, toying with a shyness and untamed angst even within the same line. My favourite is the way she delivers "I hear your voice...haunting me" as if completely unconsious of how vampish she sounds. I wish she'd go there again. This song was in fact released as a single, with a gorgeously iconic cheap video to accompany it.I sort of grudgingly include the Bette Midler-identified I Don't Want To Be Your Friend in this bad album's good section. It's still a rotten tomatoe, sounding like the way a crying person, who needs to blow their nose, gives an account of something in a hysterical fashion. Lauper drastically re-worked the arrangement of the song written by Diane Warren and the story goes that Warren found out the song was set to be the second single and personally put a stop to its release. It's a really devastating story, and I still don't understand - if true - why someone would do that. Sure, I have already stated what my suggestion for a single would be, but this is a big bit better than both the ghastly My First Bight Without You and the contrived mess of Heading West.