Hat Full Of Stars

Cyndi Lauper

Epic, 1993


REVIEW BY: Mark Millan


When Cyndi Lauper’s third album, 1989’s A Night To Remember, bombed, it hit her pretty hard. She took some time away from the cutthroat industry she had so much wanted to succeed in.  Time was spent reevaluating her career and the direction that she wished for it to head in, and tentative plans were put in place to begin work on album number four, which Epic were desperately awaiting. 

This time around, Lauper went about a complete overhaul of her sound. The record would cross many a genre and she wrote about much more serious issues, making it her most socially-conscious work to date. This fact is reflected by the black and white cover shot, which was in stark contrast to the bright colors of previous covers. Unfortunately for Lauper, though, all of this hard work and newly found ambition was not to pay off: my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Hat Full Of Stars sunk without a trace, barely recording enough sales to even recoup its costs.

In the aftermath of the second straight bomb of her career, Lauper must have been at a loss to figure out what was going wrong. But now, with hindsight, she has cast a subjective eye over the project and highlighted a few flaws. Lauper’s main gripe with the record today is her singing, which she felt was not “sharp enough.” She even went so far as to re-record some of these songs for a Japanese only release years later, called Shine. I can see what Lauper is on about as far as her singing is concerned, but I tend to think it was just about time and place as to why this record bombed because the material here isn’t half bad at all. 

With Madonna pushing boundaries where few had dared (the SEX book, the sublime Erotica album and the dreadful poor man’s “Basic Instinct,” Body Of Evidence), Lauper chose to give up competing in the pop market and create much more serious and urban inspired music. The fact that the public didn’t buy it says that maybe they only saw Lauper as light and fluffy and abandoned her when (as the kids say today) shit got serious. But it matters not anymore. Like I said, this record does contain some very good songs.

Most notably, these include “That’s What I Think” (a blunt social commentary if ever there was one), the heart wrenching “Sally’s Pigeons” (on which Lauper tackles abortion) and “A Part Hate,” which is a pretty straightforward song about racism. “Lies” takes on the issue of incest with a stern confidence and “Broken Glass” is a powerful song aimed at offenders of domestic violence. 

The mood is lightened with the R&B flavored “Who Let In The Rain” and “Feels Like Christmas,” which both find the Lauper of old creeping through. Lauper closed out the album superbly with the piano ballad “Hat Full Of Stars,” which is my favorite track on the record because of her beautiful vocal performance.

So despite the fact that this album was a bomb with no hit singles, Hat Full Of Stars is far from a dud album. The material holds up pretty well considering the state of pop music in 2014.

Rating: B

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