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Senior Year

Senior Year, 1985: Material Girls vs. Unusual Girls

by Rachel Devitt

Senior Year, 1985: Material Girls vs. Unusual Girls

About this playlist

If you were a pop fan (or just a preteen) in the early '80s, you most likely experienced a moment when you had to make a weighty, serious, life-defining choice: Madonna or Cyndi Lauper?

Though both ladies, who remain two of pop's grandest dames, haven't followed remotely similar career trajectories since, they were subject to many comparisons and contrasts when their respective breakthrough albums were released (Lauper's '83 effort She's So Unusual and Madonna's '84 hit Like a Virgin). But while the Madonna vs. Cyndi debate ultimately didn't make much more sense than Michael Jackson vs. Prince, it did help to codify a moment in pop music history.

By '85, when She's So Unusual and Like a Virgin had become well-established hits, the charts were dominated by both pristinely glamorous pop princesses (e.g. Whitney Houston) and spunky, punky New Wavers and punk chicks who had a way with both a hook and an alterna-snarl (e.g. Annie Lennox). In other words, it was the Material Girls vs. the Unusual Girls (even if the former were often proffering critiques of conventional femininity, and the latter were sometimes just after a big mainstream hit).

In other words, it was the '80s. Enjoy.