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Random Jukebox: Cyndi Lauper’s Into The Nightlife

A Grammy-nominated noughties banger, Cyndi Lauper’s tenth studio album Bring Ya To The Brink summed up all that was great about contemporary electro-pop — crisply smart synths, massive hooks and a complete sense of euphoria that had been largely absent from the genre since the 1980s. Marking her 70th birthday, this is its second single, Into The Nightlife.

Encompassing everything from Neo-soul, Eurodisco, and coruscating club anthems via collaborations with popmeisters Basement Jaxx and Scumfrog, there are several gems on Bring Ya To The Brink, Cyndi Lauper’s tenth LP. 

But it’s the set’s second single, Into The Nightlife, which arguably shines a little brighter than the rest. Co-written with a trio of top Swedes (Max Martin, Peer Åström and Johan Bobäck), the joyous slice of filter disco dispensed with the idea the singer best known for the extremely irritating/overplayed/ubiquitous Girls Just Want To Have Fun was nothing more than a camp, quickly relic and tapped into the club-centric sound sweeping Europe a good year or two before Lady Gaga and Kesha imported it to American states.

“Got this endless itch to ride, into the night,” Cyndi announces with her unmistakeable drawl, over an absolutely filthy sub-bass. “Fortune cookie says I’m right, kung Fu-like.” The homage to hedonism goes on to capture the endorphin machine offered by the humble dance floor. “I’ll take ya ’til ya all spun up, pitter, patter, doesn’t matter what you got,” she belts over an avalanche of synths on an anthemic killer chorus that explodes with a euphoric shower of chunky beats. “I’ll take ya ’til ya all spun up and in love, into the nightlife.” Few offerings of this vintage still sound as fresh and ahead of the curve. But don‘t take my word for it.

A quarter-century since Cyndi and Madonna both dropped debut albums and fought for the leg-warmer love of the burgeoning MTV nation, there weren’t many reasons to compare the two. Yet here they were in 2008, both returning to the same terrain: girder on the dance floor. 

It’s tempting to (over) analyse why Into The Nightlife works so well – the breaking glass effect at the beginning of the chorus is especially ace – but ultimately it’s pretty simple. This is the sort of song that makes you want to jack your body like no-one’s watching you every time you hear it.

Of course, there was hope that Bring Ya To The Brink — and Into The Nightlife, specifically — would prompt a chart comeback à la Cher’s Believe and Blondie’s Maria. And in a just pop world, it would have. Instead, both album and single were roundly ignored by mainstream radio and failed to dent the Hot 100 in either the US or UK, where Lauper last registered a charting 45 in 1997. 

That it got nowhere is either a sad indictment of our musical tastes or of Sony’s thinking-firmly-inside-the-box promotion (basically a half-page ad in Attitude magazine in the UK and little else). Meanwhile, Madonna’s hideous Hard Candy shot to the top of the listings on both sides of the Atlantic just the month before. There’s no accounting for taste then.

You can’t help but think Lauper’s record label really missed a golden opportunity here. Yet Into The Nightlife was embraced by a certain section of the gays. Indeed, it first really registered with me on the May bank holiday of 2009 when the Pet Shop Boys played it and other “personal pop highlights of the last decade” during Wired, their two-hour takeover of Radio 2, along with equally contemporary cuts such as Ladyhawke’s Paris Is Burning, Little Boots’ Love Kills and so forth. 

With that poppers-rush serotoninexplosion, queer awareness did help the glorious banger reach the top spot on the Billboard club charts, however. The tune was also heaped with blog love and gave Cyndi the momentum needed to dabble into everything from soul to country on subsequent albums, of which 2016’s Nashville hoedown Detour is her most recent. Ole Madge? Just a few weeks ago she teased that she‘s working with Max Martin 15 years after Cyndi.

So all’s well that ends well then.

Many happy returns Miss L.

Steve Pafford 

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