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Music Review: Cyndi Lauper – “True Colors”

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In the Fall of 1986, Ronald Reagan had just signed the Goldwater-Nichols Act into law, making official the largest reorganization of the United States Department of Defense since the Air Force was made a separate branch of service in 1947. The music scene was dominated by Whitney Houston, Janet Jackson, and Madonna. But the hottest female singer of 1984, Cyndi Lauper, was about to make her return.

“True Colors” was released to radio stations in late summer of 1986 and it took some time for the song to take off. By the end of October of that year, Cyndi Lauper would score yet another number one single on Billboard’s Top 100. This would be her last number one single, but definitely not her last great recording. The song has gone on to be remade several times and has been featured in different commercials.

“True Colors” was written by the songwriting team of Billy Steinberg and Tom Kelly, who also wrote Madonna's "Like A Virgin," Heart's "Alone," and Lauper's "I Drove All Night." The song is about looking below the surface to see what a person is really like. It has a slow, magical beat with incredible vocals. Cyndi sings, “But I see your true colors shining through / I see your true colors and that’s why I love you / So don’t be afraid to let them show /” This single reminded the public why they fell in love with Cyndi in the first place: her girlish (but beautiful) voice.

The “True Colors” video, unfortunately, features the same clichés as Cyndi’s other videos: elementary special effects (then again, this is the '80s); outrageous hair; her mom; her boyfriend (now husband), etc. But don’t let that take away from the brilliance of this song. Download (but by all means, please pay!) the song, turn the lights off, close your eyes, and let this magical number take you to Dreamland.

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About Daryl D

  • Matthew

    Actually, that was her boyfriend in the video, but did not turn out to be her husband. That was David Wolff in the video, also her manager as well as her boyfriend. They were engaged, but called that off in 88. In 91, she married actor David Thornton. Same first name, but TOTALLY different people.

  • Yeah, That was her ex boyfriend. He was too much about makin her famous and not letting her explore her creativity. I always wondered what was the video when they kissed and for some reason there was like this nuclear flash. I loved the song, the video, but Cyndi’s new stuff is by far the best. I love Above The Clouds.

  • Pablo

    “I Drive All Night.”

    The correct title is “I drove all night” and it was written by Roy Orbison.

  • daryl d

    Thanks, Pablo. I meant “I Drove All Night”..trust me, it was a typo because “I Drove All Night” is one of my favorite songs of the late eighties. Now, as for the songwriters, I’m sure I’m correct. Roy Orbison bight have recorded it first but I’m 99.9999 percent sure of the songwriters, Tom Kelly and Billy Steinberg.

  • Tom

    Interestingly both Cyndi and Roy’s versions are original, yes Roy recorded a Demo of the song but then he died, so Tom and Billy gave it to Cyndi she changed it a bit and her version popularized the song (going to # 6 on the billboard charts) Then 2 or 3 years later
    Roy’s Demo of the song was released as a bonus song on a greatest hits compilation,

    I consider both version original neither Cyndi was covering Roy (his version wasn’t released yet) and obviously Roy wasn’t covering Cyndi either, Roy recorded the Demo, but Cyndi first popularized the song, etc, so they are both original as far as I’m concerned.

  • Pablo

    Daryl, you’re 100% right about the song. I agree with Tom 😀