What did Madonna have that Cyndi Lauper didn't?

Since this thread was current, I saw Cyndi live at Kansas City’s Midland Theater, a 3000 seat venue, a very respectable draw for a “nostalgia act”. So it’s not as if she has a hard time earning a living. She put on an amazing show, and if her voice has degraded from her peak, she hid it well.

How many of those ‘constant worldwide hit singles’ get the airplay of the 3 Lauper songs? To be perfectly blunt about it, I really can’t name any Madonna songs, but I can pick out Time After Time on the radio at least a couple times a week, and I actually heard Girls about 20 minutes ago. Last I remember of Madonna honestly was some stupid ass book with that puffer fish lipped lesbian friend of hers pawing her in public, and Like a Virgin being done by Weird Al as a parody. I see pictures of a funktastically ugly looking Madonna on cheezeburger occasionally as well. She looks like a freakshow if you ask me, all flash and no substance going for publicity.

I find that odd. I’ll have to keep a mental tally of Madonna vs Cyndi, but I definitely hear Madonna much more often, but that may be skewed from going to a lot of weddings where “Like a Prayer” (especially) is played often. I also hear “Express Yourself,” “Beautiful Stranger,” “Vogue,” “Like a Virgin,” “Papa Don’t Preach,” “Borderline,” etc., fairly regularly. I prefer Lauper (though I’m a sucker for “Like a Prayer” and “Express Yourself”), but I’d be surprised if she gets more airplay than Madonna.

So, is anybody going to go see the musical Cyndi’s been working on, Kinky Boots, when it transfers to Broadway!?

Anyway, aside from that, she’s also recently had a memoir published, which I thought was very interesting and revealed quite a lot about her. I commented briefly about it here.

Whenever I hear someone claim that Lauper’s voice isn’t up to snuff, I have to play them her Gene Pitney cover of “I’m Gonna Be Strong”.

I can name a whole bunch, and I’m not a fan of Madonna’s. She’s not all gimmick, but she does market herself well. She doesn’t write (does she? she didn’t write her own stuff early in her career), but she picks good songs. She realizes a ‘vision’ for each song.

Lauper has more range and a stronger voice, but that’s not everything in pop.

She wrote or co-wrote many of her hits. She has songwriting chops.

Wait, aruvqan, you can’t name any of Madonna’s songs, but then you go on to mention “Like a Virgin” later in the very same post?

OK, that’s only one song, singular, but that still seems significant when compared with a mere three songs for Lauper.

I used to ask myself the same question, but here we are decades later and my perspective is somewhat different. Last night Cyndi Lauper won her first Tony award for writing the broadway score to ‘Kinky Boots’ which also won best musical. The music for the show is fantastic. She one of only 20 artists in the history of the American entertainment awards to achieve GET status for winning a grammy, an emmy and a tony, and is 1 award away from an EGOT (add an oscar to the GET list). Madonna was prolific and a master of marketing herself. Cyndi was a far superior vocalist but didn’t achieve the same level of commercial success as Madonna. However, maybe it’s time to reverse the question. What does Cyndi Lauper have that Madonna doesn’t? I would argue the answer is the hearts of the public. People have genuine affection and love for Cyndi Lauper. She touches people’s souls in a deep and profound place. They recognize her inner beauty as a human being and have a heartfelt soft spot for her. I don’t think I could say the same about Madonna.

Sort of just like what happened when The Jimi Hendrix Experience opened for The Monkees on tour? I think when booking an opening act, one might want to consider the preferences of the audience who are coming to see the main act. Though I suspect many opening acts are hungry enough to take any gig they can get.

Congrats to Cyndi; she’s always been a huge talent and this productivity and recognition are great.

Madonna will do just fine - she has been a cultural icon for longer than Lauper. Madonna just needs to reposition herself in some sort of elder stateswoman sorta way. Trying to mix it up with EDM etc isn’t working. Christie Hynde, Bonnie Raitt seem to be doing it better…

To the point of Madonna successfully reinventing… remember that “Madonna vs. Cyndi Lauper” is already basically Madonna 2.0. I mean, “Madonna vs. Debbie Gibson” predated that, and you wouldn’t think to compare Debbie Gibson to Cyndi Lauper.

Cyndi Lauper had that one big album, and then really nothing.

While I like that one big album a lot better than everything Madonna’s done put together, the reality is that Madonna had a couple decades’ worth of hits, as well as one hell of a talent for self-promotion.

If “Kinky Boots” wins a wide following with the general public, maybe that’ll change. But so far that’s their relative track record.

What does Cyndi have that Madonna doesn’t? A TONY!!
What does Cyndi have that no other woman has (so far?) A solo Best Score Tony!!


Madonna and Cyndi both predate Debbie - by the time Out of the Blue came out in 1987, Madonna had 3 albums (Madonna, Like a Virgin, and True Blue) and Cyndi 2 (She’s So Unusual and True Colors).

By the time Debbie hit the stage, Cyndi’s time as a chart-topper in the US (ie: any sort of a rival to Madonna) had already ended, and Madonna was way past being a rival of this kid. (Debbie’s media-rival was Tiffany.)

Two. She’s So Unusual and True Colors both reached charted high (checking, both reached #4) and had multiple hit singles.

Cyndi also has an Emmy to go with her Tony and her Grammies. It would delight me to no end if she also wins an Oscar, thus giving her an EGOT. I love me some Cyndi Lauper.

You’re right. I misremembered… I was putting Tiffany/Debbie Gibson before Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, but I was wrong there.

I saw her recently on either TDS or Colbert, doing a promo for Kinky Boots. She was funny, intelligent and personable. I always detested Madonna; her voice was/is weak and her material forgettable pop. She sold sex in the form of her videos and concert performances, and made millions off of teen girls by appealing to their angst. Nothing wrong with any of that, but as a “voice”, she never had it. I’ll take Lauper any day, or the likes of Annie Lennox, Ann Wilson, or Linda Perry.

The Tony for Kinky Boots will probably earn Cyndi more money than Madonna has made in her entire career. Seriously.

The “grand rights” associated with musical theater utterly dwarf the songwriting and mechanical copyright earnings of records, radio airplay, live performance, you name it. Cyndi’s percentage of the show depends on her negotiating skill, and all that was negotiated long before the show opened. She gets paid for every single performance anywhere in the world. And a Tony-winning, audience pleasing show like this will spawn touring productions and probably half a dozen semi-permanent productions (might have already happened).

Cyndi is set for life.

Here’s an interview that Howard Stern did with her a while back. I’ll have to listen to it again when I have a chance. I remember thinking it was pretty good, although there was one part where I thought she went a little off the rails (just drawing a blank on where).