Cyndi Lauper: Girls just wanna have fun – and be given their due

By Rebecca Nicholson

Cyndi Lauper is about to get the feature-length documentary treatment, with news that a film about the singer’s life is in production. It will be called Let the Canary Sing and is directed by Alison Ellwood.

Ellwood made the award-winning The Go-Go’s in 2020, which told the story of the LA rock band’s rise to the top and subsequent implosion. From the documentary about Janet Jackson earlier this year to Sheryl, out in the US this weekend, about the long career of Sheryl Crow, more and more films are focusing on women’s careers in music and finally taking it seriously.

Many stories written upon the release of Sheryl have followed a similar vein, in that, despite her huge success, she was never given the credit she was due. In an interview with Crow, in the New York Times, younger artists – from Soccer Mommy to Best Coast – said how much she meant to them. On YouTube, you can watch Waxahatchee and Snail Mail respectfully and beautifully covering Strong Enough, a Crow hit from 1993.

If the credit has always been there, the new film is putting it in its rightful place. Certainly, music history has always been askew about recognizing its female contributors. In 2020, NPR reported that women made up only 8% of inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (bizarrely, Crow has never been nominated), though this year Pat Benatar, Carly Simon, and Dolly Parton joined the club, despite Parton’s initial resistance.

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There is a movement towards documentaries that explore pop culture from the past in the context of today’s more considered attitudes. Many shine a light on the tabloid culture and its treatment of celebrities, from Jade Goody to Paul Gascoigne. So music, too, is getting its revision. As the gatekeepers change, the record is being corrected, at last.


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