The Powerful “Girl Singers” of the 80s

Jun 22, 2014 | 11:08 AM


Happy Birthday, Cyndi Lauper!

Guess who’s having fun today? That’s right, it’s Cyndi Lauper’s 61st birthday!   An icon to feminists everywhere, “Girls just wanna have fun!” Cyndi boldly declared when she hit the music scene in the early 80s– the subtext being, “girls just wanna have fun like boys do— without having to explain it to anyone.”



With her combat boots and funky hair style, Cyndi also let the world know that she dressed to please herself. If men liked it, great. If they didn’t, they could go suck it.


Cyndi was not the first, nor was she the last, female singer of that era to flaunt conventional feminine standards of beauty and show women other ways to present themselves to the world.

Patti Smith 1975 by Robert Mapplethorpe 1946-1989

Patti Smith, photographed by her lover, Robert Mapplethorpe

Some women, like Joan Jett, literally took cliches aimed at women— like the phrase “great knockers!”— and made a joke out of it by wearing actual door knockers over her breasts. In so doing, she was both disempowering the phrase and empowering herself by taking ownership of it.

Joan Jett Knockers

What a great set of knockers, Joan Jett!

Madonna followed suit. Her cone breasts weren’t —as some may have thought– meant to look “pretty.” On the contrary, Madonna let the world know her breasts were weapons, meant to entice and ensnare, and they certainly seem to have empowered Miss Ciccone! They actually empowered her straight to the bank!!!


Good luck messin’ with THIS chick!

Lady Gaga is a great example of a female singer who has taken her cue from the feminists of the 80s. Look at her comment on how women are perceived by media and consumers!

2010 MTV Video Music Awards - Show

Gaga in her famous meat dress

I, for one, am most thankful to these daring and powerful performers. They give us all permission to be whoever we want, whether it be pleasing to others, or pleasing only to ourselves.


They also turn themselves into political billboards; they let us know where they stand, and that’s brave.


And — this is really important, folks, so pay attention— and they push their viewers to think, to feel, and to react— and this, my good readers, is the highest goal an artist can achieve.


Now you tell me: What do you think about these outfits? Who is your favorite female performer from the 80s? Why? For me, it will always be Madonna and Cyndi, but there were a lot of all-stars during that era, from Debra Harry to Tina Turner. Make some noise, readers. Let me hear from you!


As always,



7 thoughts on “The Powerful “Girl Singers” of the 80s”

  1. suzanne aveihle     Reply

    i saw cyndi perform as the opening act for CHER (another AMAZING woman in song) and she wss awesome. she did all her fantastic faves, “girls just wanna have fun”, “time after time”, “true colors” and several more. she didn’t miss a lick and was as beautiful as she always was/is. if you ever get the chance to see her…go for it! you won’t be disappointed. joan jett has always been a fave of mine also. and MADONNA….what can i say. she turned the female vocalists around and what a dancer and performer. i give her every credit she deserves from the get-go. all these women are awesome….and many more!! thank you, isabel, for reminding us of the “80”s!!

    • Isabel Rose     Reply

      I saw that same concert— Cher at the Meadowlands with Cyndi opening. She was so generous and fabulous. I was awed.

  2. Eric Oswald     Reply

    I have seen Cyndi in concert 6 times, including her very first tour. Also got to meet her very briefly during the first weekend of “Kinky Boots” on its pre-Broadway tryout in Chicago. Very gracious – and one of the most talented live performers I have ever seen. Amazing vocal capabilities.

    Have never been a fan of Madonna’s though (I know, unusual for a gay man). To me, her only true talent is the ability to market herself. Vocally she sounds like a goat that inhaled helium, but I guess I’m in the minority when it comes to her singing.

  3. Eric Oswald     Reply

    Oh – and how could I forget the goddess Annie Lennox? Now there is a powerful voice both as a singer and in the statemants she made with her gender-bending fashion!

    • Isabel Rose     Reply

      ANNIE LENOX!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Have you ever heard her sing “Many Rivers To Cross?” Brace yourself.

  4. Eric Oswald     Reply

    YES! I have Annie’s “The Collection”, which includes “Many Rivers To Cross”!

    • Isabel Rose     Reply

      Do we agree that that recording is kind of epic? She’s the real deal, that Annie Lenox…

Leave a Comment