What did Madonna have that Cyndi Lauper didn't?

Dio, please avoid presenting your opinions as blanket statements of fact.


twickster, Cafe Society moderator

Here is an interview with Jason Corsaro the mix engineer for “Like a Virgin.” The article covers mostly technical details of the recording but the section I quoted below provides some good insight into Madonna’s personality. Not many inexperienced singers would have had the confidence to confront an established producer like Nile Rodgers (producer of Chic and Bowie’s “Let’s Dance”) and take control of the recording session.


**AnalogSignal **- that is a very insightful quote. From a professional musician’s perspective, that makes it clear that Madonna had a clear vision she was looking to make happen. A person can choose not to like the result, but dismissing Madonna as a hack who jumped on the lastest trend is simply NOT accurate.

And that vision and management of her career is a key component of her success vs. Cyndi Lauper. Folks have stated that Cyndi didn’t “want” a mega-star career and has garnered ongoing respect as a musical talent. To be clear, Cyndi is a true musical talent and the longevity of her career is a testament to that. But being successful at Madonna’s level requires FAR more than just musical talent - the ability to build supportive relationships within the business and articulate YOUR musical and career vision - both are essential and very, very hard to do well - especially if you are an eccentric musical genius with limited people skills. Based on many discussions with folks with first-hand knowledge of Cyndi, the latter is a reasonable description of her.

So feel free to prefer Cyndi’s musical talent, but there’s no need to trash Madonna for the skills she has used very, very well to manage her own career…

This forum and this thread are full of people stating opinions as facts. Since when is that against the rules and why aren’t you jumping on everyone else for it?

Exactly. There is space on my iPod for both artists. A pet peeve of mine is pitting female musical artists against one another, Highlander style “There can be only one!” I can prefer a particular singer without trashing another singer. I can dislike a musician’s work on its own lack of merits.

I thought you might stop by with such a post. I got you, papa!

Hm. I like Cyndi’s accent. In that song even. But I’ve had time to get used to her accent over the decades.

Madonna is a music video legend. Without MTV, Madonna wouldn’t be where she is now. That’s what separates her from all the women performers before her.

Don’t get me wrong, though. I have read from multiple sources that the woman works extremely hard, and I think the effort shows in what she has put out. People put down the art of performance, and I always wonder why. It requires just as much talent as any other artform. It’s kind of like detracting points from Michael Jackson because he was a performance genius instead of a musical genius. Why weigh one more than the other? Both require hardwork, talent, and loads of guts.

I have nothing but love for Cyndi. Musically speaking, Madonna isn’t even in the same dimension as Cyndi. But during the 80s and 90s, she just wasn’t as prolific as Madonna was at churning out “hits.” We live in times when, if you don’t get your mug on TV every five minutes, people think you’ve fallen off the face of the Earth or something. Sad but true.

Has a Madonna song ever been covered by anyone? I’m sincerely asking 'cuz I don’t know. Seems like at least “Cherish” or “Borderline” could be done by someone…those are timeless. I do know of several Cyndi Lauper covers, though. So it may be that when it’s all said and done, Cyndi will leave a more last impression than Madonna will.

But I loves them both.

Popular sex appeal, and the willingness to utilize it…

Although, I have to admit that I found Cyndi much more interesting and fun which at least outpaced Madonna in my fantasy department


“Like a Virgin” was covered by Jim Broadbent in the movie Moulin Rouge. One of the funniest musical things I’ve ever seen in my life.

Do we have to let Dio derail yet another music thread?

Ummmm…Mae West? This was far from new.


But let’s not pretend that Cyndi wouldn’t love more pop success, maybe not Madonna level, but I bet her career is somewhat disappointing to her. I tend to think that serious music fans underestimate the desire most artists have for pop success (which probably explains the anger many fans have when “their” artists become too popular).

There have been many, including a few high profile ones. The Flaming Lips - ‘Borderline’, Sonic Youth - ‘Into The Groove’, Marilyn Manson - ‘Justify My Love’, Kelly Osbourne - ‘Papa Don’t Preach’, Boy George - ‘Bad Girl’, Sia - ‘Oh Father’, Natasha Bedingfield - ‘Ray Of Light’, Darren Hayes - ‘Dress You Up’ and then there’s the Glee covers album, etc. etc.

I really strongly disagree with this. Madonna is an icon on such a huge scale that barely any popstar will leave and has left as much of an impression on the industry as she has, let alone Cyndi Lauper. Cyndi, whom I must stress that I absolutely love, cannot even come close.

I do agree that ‘Time After Time’, ‘True Colors’ and ‘Girls Just Want To Have Fun’ are as highly regarded as some of Madonna’s legendary singles, but three classics vs. almost 30 years of constant worldwide hit singles?

Me too. They’re so different in so many ways that it’s funny their supposed rivalry still lives on after all these years. Both have done so well for themselves and it’s not like Madonna went on to huge fame and Cyndi now works at Burger King, judged without comparison to Madonna Cyndi’s career has been amazing - and she’s more famous and way more successful now than many other eighties stars could ever dream of being.

Cyndi Lauper did the theme song for Pee-Wee’s Playhouse as well as the Goonies soundtrack. I think it’s obvious she has more cultural significance than Madonna.

Lest you think I was slagging Ms. Lauper for, I dunno, insufficient sex bomb-ness, let me point out that I’ve bought four of her albums over the years and have yet to purchase any by Madonna (I may make an exception for “I’m Breathless,” though). I love 'em both for very different reasons.

I think that nobody has pointed out the obvious: Madonna is cuter. She is also non-threatening. Cyndi is hot, hot, hot, but, she always looked like she would throw you out of bed in a second if she didn’t like something, and go pick up with a guy with a safety pin through his cheek. Madonna, OTOH, appeared to be younger, which she is, IIRC, and if she wasn’t happy with you, she’d at least give you a chance, and she would fool around behind your back before giving you the boot.

Hmmm, what else…
Oh, yes, Madonna, as a friend of mine pointed out, acted as if she invented sex, which is something that is in sync with her target market.
Of course, Madonna couldn’t sing as well as Cyndi, but, singing talent wasn’t what was being sold/bought.

Best wishes,

I recall reading a mini-interview with Cyndi Lauper during the height of the so-called Madonna-Lauper rivalry and Lauper attributed all of that 100% to the media. She said that she and Madonna were friendly and not rivals, and that she wasn’t trying to compete with Madonna at all and they were both just having fun doing their own thing.

I imagine that in that back of Lauper’s mind it might be nice to have all the success that Madonna’s had, but I don’t think she was ever all that interested in trying to acheive it. For example, I sometimes think it would be nice to have Donald Trump’s success, but at the same time I’m not the least bit interested in living the way Trump does. We simply have different interests, goals, and ideas of how we want to spend our time. So, even though I might think it would be nice to have a couple billion bucks, I wouldn’t want to have to live a Trumpian life in order to get 'em. And I think the same holds true with Madonna and Lauper. Lauper’s ambitions were simpy different than Madonna’s. Madonna wanted to be a multi-faceted superstar and Lauper simply wanted to be a singer. And then there’s the fact that Lauper simply didn’t have the goods (the right kind of look, guts (gall?), marketing savvy, etc.) to become the superstar Madonna became, and I think she would have realized and accepted that even if she had harbored a Madonna-esque kind of ambition.

In the final analysis, Madonna couldn’t have hacked it with only her pipes the way Lauper has, and Lauper couldn’t have hacked it as a multi-faceted, trend-setting superstar the way Madonna has. So all things considered, I think they each have the kind of career they wanted, realized was possible, and strove for.

Lauper hitched her wagon to professional wrestling, which was (is) kryptonite to her target audience.

You gotta remember. Cyndi Lauper was the biggest female pop star at the time before Madonna came along. First female artist to have 4 songs from an album chart in the top 5 of the pop charts. She was also the new face of MTV, which was still a baby at the time. Madonna’s debut album was doing OK, but she really didn’t blow up until the her 2nd album. Image wise, they were almost similar; some people even accused Madonna of copying Cyndi’s look. But Madonna added some sexuality to her image that Cyndi lacked. And while Madonna was everywhere, Cyndi kind of disappeared and didn’t resurface until 1986. By then, Madonna was the biggest thing in the world.

Furthermore, Cyndi was kind of doing the things on her 1st album that Madonna got a lot of credit for later in her career. Her 1st single was a female-empowerment anthem, she did a somewhat racy Prince cover (“When U Were Mine”), and sang about masturbation (“She Bop”). She even had a song that suggested her boyfriend might be gay (“He’s So Unusual”).


No, wait, that was Michael Jackson.

I got nuthin’.