Honestly, if Rocks Off had been around in the early '80s, we would have been the biggest damned Cyndi Lauper fan in this city. Our second favorite female artist would have been Pat Benatar, because gruff chicks who snap their fingers menacingly at the camera are foxy. Also, Lauper sang about masturbation and Benatar said that hell was for children.
Starting tonight House Of Blues hosts both artists, with Lauper headlining the music hall tonight and Benatar playing with her band Friday. Friday afternoon at HOB's Houston Pavilions neighbor Books-A-Million, Benatar will be signing her brand-new autobiography, Between A Heart And A Rock Place, which chronicles her career and the pitfalls of being a woman in the recording industry. Plus, if we're lucky, it'll have really hot stills from the "You Better Run" video .
Lauper is performing songs off her new blues-inflected album, Memphis Blues, which was recorded with the help of B.B. King, Jonny Lang and Charlie Musselwhite among other scene heavies. She doesn't do the bubblegum stuff anymore of course, but we wouldn't be against hearing a juke-joint version of "She Bop" either.
If we were in the unfortunate shes of a fan who liked both artists but only had to pick one, we couldn't do it. Live, both ladies haven't fallen off so bad - their voices are still as strong as they ever were, even if they probably don't move the way they used to.
Yes, Houston, it's time for a Benatar/Lauper Grudge Match 2010, where we help you decide where to spend your hard-earned scrilla the next two days. Do people still say scrilla?
This Round goes to Lauper almost immediately. Anyone who could command the presence of Captain Lou Albano in the "Girls Just Want To Have Fun" video wins, no contest. True, Benatar had Judge Reinhold and Bill Paxton in "Shadows of the Night," but nothing beats the star of The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!
That exclamation point was actually in the title, but the show was pretty cool and worthy of all exclamatory lauding it has coming. Benatar's videos were pretty one-note, but just like Lauper's, they still stand up as perfect '80s clips.
As a dude, this is almost a tie in Rocks Off's mind. Both women had their own style with Lauper coming with the big multi-colored hair and make-up; Benatar was a tough girl in leather and jeans, for which we have an affinity. Both matured their looks without looking like a cast member from Party Monster, easing straight into outright cougardom.
We would holler at both of them and gladly listen to them talk about their grandkids while ordering them another cranberry and vodka. In the end it's Benatar, though, because she made the world safe for leather pants and pirate shirts.
This is where it gets tricky. Our inner dancing queen likes Lauper's "True Colors" and "Time After Time," but the ball-busting of Benatar's "Heartbreaker" and "You Better Run" never gets old. Benatar's music was just plain tougher, akin to a glossy Joan Jett or Chrissie Hynde. Her body of work is all about empowerment for women, which we can get behind.
Aside from music, both ladies struck out into other enterprises. Lauper did some acting here and there, mostly as herself or as someone not so far removed from her own persona. Benatar was in a film nobody remembers, cares, or has seen, Union City with Debbie Harry. She also was a regular gag guest on most every lame chick sitcom that was aired in the past decade. Sorry, Dharma & Greg sucked.
Who wins? Benatar by default, because her daughter Haley Giraldo is extremely hot.
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Can't a damned day go by where we don't type Lady Gaga's name? For once it makes sense, seeing that Gaga got Lauper's blessing a few months ago in the press. It seems year that goes by it seems that Lauper gets more influential, from her wardrobe and early pop sensibilities. And she wrote music for The Goonies. We think we can rest our case.
On the other hand Benatar brought anger and fire to female rock and roll after the Runaways ran away. She could have just as soon kissed you or punched you in the teeth in all her videos. The closest thing we have seen to Benatar as of late is probably '90s Alanis Morrisette, Amy Lee and - if you count "Since U Been Gone," Kelly Clarkson. The spirit still lurks, it's just hard to find under all the layers of Dutch pop magic.
WINNER: PAT BENATAR