Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Music Box: Cyndi Lauper

Admittedly, comparing albums by different artists is ultimately a waste of time. But since these words have never been said of Cyndi Lauper -- who, despite my love for her, I must admit has had a spotty 30-year recording career -- would you just indulge me a little? Madonna must be jealous! There, I said it. I'm talking about Cyndi's just-released album, "Bring Ya to the Brink," a nifty, dance-heavy collection of new songs that is so clever and fun that I can't help but think it's what Madonna was shooting for when she recorded "Hard Candy," and, for that matter, "Confessions on a Dancefloor."

Unlike Madonna, who seems preoccupied with sounding current, Cyndi doesn't seem concerned with such trivial things. And it's this very lacking of self-consciousness that gives her the freedom to go on an adventure, sounding fresh, retro, old, new and everything in between all at once. And despite the fact that Ms. Ciccone collaborated with some of today's biggest hitmakers -- Timbaland, Pharrell and Justin "I've only got two albums to my name so why am I collaborating with anyone" Timberlake -- repeated listenings to "Hard Candy" make one thing abundantly clear: someone forgot to bring the hooks. (Ditto for "Confessions," which had to borrow its finest moment from ABBA.) Cyndi, on the other hand, traveled around the world to work with the likes of Scrumfrog, Andreas Kleerup, Axwell, Rich Morel, Basement Jaxx, Dragonette and Peer Astrom of Murlyn, and the dividends were bountiful. From "Set Your Heart," with its Odyssey by way of Candi Station '70s vibe, to the Space Invaders, anti-body-fascism club anthem "Into the Nightlife" (i'll take ya till ya all spun up / fit or fat or doesn't matter what you got / i'll take ya till ya all spun up /and in love / and into the nightlife), to the '80s power pop of "Grab a Hold," "Bring Ya to the Brink" is one memorable track after the next. (Heck, even the Japanese bonus track -- ironically titled "Got Candy" -- is more fun to suck on than any "Hard Candy.")

As my pal Robbie at Chart Rigger put it, "Bring Ya to the Brink" is "just really good stuff. Not the best album ever, but often the ones that stand out are the more subtle records that sideswipe you out of the blue. And make you wanna take a drive." And with this one, you'll wanna drive all night ...


"Set Your Heart"

"I Drove All Night," from the horribly underrated "A Night to Remember"


The Couch Potato said...

your apparent hatred for Madonna is getting a little out of hand -- give her a break, it ruins my image of you.

Anonymous said...

au contraire mon frere. kenny is a HUGE madge fan. i think he, like many others, has been disappointed in her last three studio albums.

Anonymous said...

Could not agree more. Cyndi nailed it with this cd, with the only exception being "Rocking Chair"...which I really cannot get through. The rest of the album makes up for it in spades.

Although I am also a career-long fan of Madonna, I think that Hard Candy will sound embarrasingly 'dated' by this time next year (if not sooner).

Disagree with you on "Confessions" though, I think it is one of Madge's finest moments.

Lady Hooligan Kat said...

I only listened to the first 7 tracks of the cd, and I don't think they're very good. Cyndi sounds SO bored and boring. Now, someone like Kylie Minogue would have been a lot better suited to give those songs some life.