Cyndi Lauper gave the 1980s a blast of fresh air with New York attitude, playfulness and artistry. She left the decade with two albums and 10 million copies sold. She also dominated radio and MTV with some of the ’80s best hit singles: “Time After Time,” “All Through the Night,” “She Bop,” “True Colors” and, yes, “Girls Just Want to Have Fun.”
Lauper, now 53, continues to record, toured with Cher and recently performed on Broadway in the Tony-nominated “Threepenny Opera.” She’s directed a soda pop commercial and recorded a new album (her ninth), called “The Body Acoustic,” with guests Sarah McLachlan, Shaggy and Ani DiFranco.
State Journal: Given your new album, is this an acoustic tour?
Lauper: “Oh, no, no, no, no, no, no. I’ve had the same band for a while. It’s more rocked out versions.”
State Journal: You opened for Cher in Madison a few years ago and the crowd response for you was overwhelmingly positive. Were you surprised by the reaction to your set on that tour?
Lauper: “I don’t give up on anybody. I want communicate with audiences. I never give up and say, ‘It’s one of those nights.’
“That was one of thing on Broadway that I never understood. Some performers were like, ‘There’s no love from the audience tonight.’ I’m a rocker and I opened for the Kinks once. You don’t like me? Who cares? I’m still going to keep working on you, you know.”
State Journal: Tell me about the concert you’ll be doing.
Lauper: “It’s old songs next to new songs. You get to see a body of work. Ever since I did the (2002) ‘Shine’ album, I had been your typical tortured artist, hearing (record company reps) say, ‘Where’s the hook?’ and ‘You can’t start a song with I. It’s gotta be you.’ When you start playing it live, you get a feel for what your work is like and what works in the song.”
State Journal: You were in the music business for several years then, bang, all of a sudden you were a huge hit. How did you handle it?
Lauper: “Yeah, that kind of threw me. When you first become successful, there’s no book on how to deal with fame and how to deal with people when somebody comes up in your face and you haven’t even had your coffee yet. I mean, ‘Give me my coffee and no one gets hurt.’
“It must be more difficult nowadays because there are no clubs to come up through. There are still some theaters, places where you can work small and grow. It’s hard for young artists. What’s the venue now? ‘American Idol.’ I was lucky.”
State Journal: When you were filming the video for “Girls Just Want to Have Fun,” did you realize you were helping essentially launch MTV?
Lauper: “I was thinking about launching the idea of integration. Every color of girl could look at the video and see themselves and know that they’re entitled to have fun. It’s a song about entitlement. That’s what I thought about.
“When my mother agreed to be in the video, we thought it would be good to show a mother and daughter doing this together and it’s kind of funny and we’re having a good time.”
State Journal: Can you name the other nominees for the best new artist Grammy Award that you won in 1985?
Lauper: “No, I don’t live there. I feel if I’m always living in the past I can’t go forward.”
State Journal: That’s a good point. (For the record, she won the Grammy over nominees Sheila E., Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Corey Hart and The Judds.)
Lauper: “I think nowadays people like a familiar melody because it comforts them. To really comfort people, you have to be brave enough to move forward to have the strength and courage of your convictions. Otherwise, how do you handle your soul?”