True Colors (Cyndi Lauper song)

Last updated

"True Colors"
Single by Cyndi Lauper
from the album True Colors
B-side "Heading for the Moon"
ReleasedAugust 28, 1986
RecordedMarch 3, 1986
Label Epic
  • Cyndi Lauper
  • Lennie Petze
Cyndi Lauper singles chronology
"The Goonies 'R' Good Enough"
"True Colors"
"Change of Heart"
Music video
"True Colors" on YouTube

"True Colors" is a song written by American songwriters Billy Steinberg and Tom Kelly. It was both the title track and the first single released from American singer Cyndi Lauper's second album. It was the only original song on the album that Lauper did not help to write. [1] Released late in the summer of 1986, the song would become a major hit for Lauper, spending two weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming her last single to occupy the top of the U.S. chart. It received a Grammy Award nomination for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.



Billy Steinberg originally wrote "True Colors" about his own mother. Tom Kelly altered the first verse and the duo originally submitted the song to Anne Murray, who passed on recording it, and then to Cyndi Lauper. [2] Their demo was in the form of a piano-based gospel ballad like "Bridge over Troubled Water". Steinberg told Songfacts that "Cyndi completely dismantled that sort of traditional arrangement and came up with something that was breathtaking and stark." [1] Other songs they wrote for Lauper include "I Drove All Night" and "Unconditional Love", the former of which went on to be covered by Roy Orbison and Celine Dion, the latter by Susanna Hoffs.

Music video

The music video for the song, which received heavy rotation on MTV, was directed by American choreographer Patricia Birch. In the video, Lauper sings on a dark soundstage, sitting beside a drum, while a young girl (Catrine Dominique) explores a beach and ends up seeing two women drinking tea on a boat. Lauper appears on the beach in an elaborate jeweled headdress with a shell in her hand. She is then seen lying on a white sheet, which a long haired man (David Wolff) proceeds to pull. They eventually share a kiss. Lauper is then seen walking on the beach with a skirt made of newspaper while she walks past a class of schoolchildren. At the end of the video, she leans over a pool of water, in a scene reminiscent of the album photo cover. The video ends as it began, with Lauper beating on the drum four times, in time with the music.

Reception and legacy

The single reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 on October 25, 1986, beating Tina Turner's "Typical Male" to the top spot. It also peaked at number three in Australia and New Zealand, and number 12 on the UK Singles Chart.

"True Colors" also became a standard in the gay community. In various interviews, Lauper elaborated that the song had resonated with her because of the recent death of her friend, Gregory Natal, from HIV/AIDS. [3] Years later, Lauper co-founded the True Colors Fund, [4] a non-profit organization dedicated to eradicating LGBT youth homelessness.


Lauper embarked on a True Colors Tour in 2007 with several other acts, including Deborah Harry and Erasure. The tour was for the Human Rights Campaign to promote LGBT rights in the U.S. and beyond. A second True Colors Tour occurred in 2008.

Track listings

7-inch single [5]

  1. "True Colors" – 3:45
  2. "Heading for the Moon" – 3:17

European 12-inch single [6]

  1. "True Colors" – 3:45
  2. "Heading for the Moon" – 3:17
  3. "Money Changes Everything" (Live) – 6:04

Credits and Personnel

Charts and certifications

Phil Collins version

"True Colors"
True Colors Phil Collins.jpg
Single by Phil Collins
from the album ...Hits
ReleasedOctober 26, 1998 (1998-10-26) [33]
Label Virgin, Face Value, Atlantic, WEA
Songwriter(s) Tom Kelly, Billy Steinberg
Producer(s) Babyface
Phil Collins singles chronology
"The Same Moon"
"True Colors"
"You'll Be in My Heart"

In 1998, the song was recorded by Phil Collins for his compilation album ...Hits . R&B singer Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds produced and provided backing vocals. The track peaked at number 12 on the U.S. Billboard Bubbling Under Hot 100, number two on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart and number 26 on the UK Singles Chart. It reached the top 40 in Austria, Canada, France, Germany, and Hungary.

In 2004, a live rehearsal version was released on Collins' Love Songs: A Compilation... Old and New album.

Personnel and credits

Credits adapted from the US promo CD liner notes. [34]


Kasey Chambers version

"True Colours"
True Colours by Kasey Chambers.jpg
Single by Kasey Chambers
ReleasedApril 2003
Label EMI Music
Songwriter(s) Tom Kelly, Billy Steinberg
Producer(s) Nash Chambers
Kasey Chambers singles chronology
"If I Were You"
"True Colours"

In 2003, Australian singer-songwriter Kasey Chambers' recording of "True Colors" became the theme song for the 2003 Rugby World Cup. [51] The song peaked at number four, was certified gold and went on to be the 76th best-selling single in Australia that year [52]

Track listing

  1. "True Colours"
  2. "If I Could" (Live)
  3. "Lonely"


Chart (2003)Peak
Australian Singles Chart (ARIA) [53] 4

Other versions

The song has been recorded by many artists.

In 2001, "True Colors" was recorded by Sarina Paris and included on her self-titled debut album. Released on May 22, the album was composed of songs co-written by Paris, with the exception of this cover. The album reached number 167 on the Billboard 200 in the U.S.

In 2009, Jenna Ushkowitz performed it on the television program Glee , and it was released as a single, billed as "True Colors (Glee Cast Version)". This version was included on the compilation album Glee: The Music, Volume 2 , released on December 4, 2009. The single charted on the Billboard Hot 100 in the U.S. and reached number 15 in Ireland, number 35 in the United Kingdom, [54] number 38 in Canada [55] [56] and number 47 in Australia.

In 2012, Artists Against Bullying (often styled as "Artists Against"), an agglomeration of seven Canadian musicians, re-recorded the song and released it during Bullying Awareness Week. [57] The project was inspired by the increase in teen bullying and cyberbullying, especially the Amanda Todd case, [58] with proceeds being donated to Kids Help Phone, a Canadian counseling service for children and youth. [58] The artists involved in the recording were Lights, Pierre Bouvier (from Simple Plan), Jacob Hoggard (from Hedley), Fefe Dobson, Kardinal Offishall, Alyssa Reid and Walk Off the Earth. The song entered the Canadian Singles Top 100 chart at number 10 [59] the week it was released.

In 2014, Shane Filan of Westlife released it as a promotional single for his debut album You and Me .

In 2016, Justin Timberlake and Anna Kendrick performed a new version of the song for the animated film Trolls and its accompanying soundtrack. Park Hyung-sik and Lee Sung-kyung sang the Korean version for the Korean dubbed version of the film.

In 2020, Peter Gallagher performed "True Colors" in the first-season finale of NBC's Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist . [60]

Related Research Articles

Cyndi Lauper American singer, songwriter, actress and activist

Cynthia Ann Stephanie Lauper is an American singer, songwriter, actress and activist. Her career has spanned over 40 years. Her album She's So Unusual (1983) was the first debut album by a female artist to achieve four top-five hits on the Billboard Hot 100—"Girls Just Want to Have Fun", "Time After Time", "She Bop", and "All Through the Night"—and earned Lauper the Best New Artist award at the 27th Grammy Awards in 1985. Her success continued with the soundtrack for the motion picture The Goonies and her second record True Colors (1986). This album included the number one single "True Colors" and "Change of Heart", which peaked at number three. In 1989, she had a hit with "I Drove All Night".

She Bop 1983 single by Cyndi Lauper

"She Bop" is a song by American singer-songwriter Cyndi Lauper, released as the third single from her debut studio album She's So Unusual. It reached number three on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart in September 1984. Worldwide, the song is her most commercially successful single after "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" and "Time After Time", and reached number 46 on the UK Singles Chart and number 6 on the ARIA Singles Chart. "She Bop" was her third consecutive Top 5 on the Hot 100.

<i>Shes So Unusual</i> 1983 album by Cyndi Lauper

She's So Unusual is the debut studio album by American singer and songwriter Cyndi Lauper, released on October 14, 1983, by Portrait Records. The album was re-released in 2014 to commemorate its 30th anniversary, and was called She's So Unusual: A 30th Anniversary Celebration. The re-release contains demos and remixes of previously released material, as well as new artwork.

Girls Just Want to Have Fun 1983 single by Cyndi Lauper

"Girls Just Want to Have Fun" is a song written by American musician Robert Hazard. It is known as a single by American singer Cyndi Lauper, whose version was released in 1983. It was the first major single released by Lauper as a solo artist and the lead single from her debut studio album She's So Unusual (1983). Lauper’s version gained recognition as a feminist anthem and was promoted by a Grammy-winning music video. It has been covered, either as a studio recording or in a live performance, by over 30 other artists.

<i>True Colors</i> (Cyndi Lauper album) 1986 studio album by Cyndi Lauper

True Colors is the second studio album by American singer Cyndi Lauper, released on September 15, 1986. The album produced several commercially successful singles as "True Colors", "Change of Heart", and "What's Going On" reached the top twenty of the Billboard Hot 100, with the first two becoming top 5 hits. The album was produced by Lauper herself together with Lennie Petze. The singer also composed all the songs of the album.

"I Drove All Night" is a song written and composed by American songwriters Billy Steinberg and Tom Kelly and originally intended for Roy Orbison. Orbison recorded the song in 1987, the year before his death, but his version was not released until 1992. Cyndi Lauper recorded the song and released it as a single for her A Night to Remember album. Her version become a top 10 hit on both sides of the Atlantic in 1989. Lauper still regularly performs the song in her live concerts. The song has also been covered by Canadian singer Celine Dion, whose version topped the Canadian Singles Chart and reached number 7 on the U.S. Adult Contemporary chart in 2003.

<i>The Bridge</i> (Billy Joel album) 1986 album by Billy Joel

The Bridge is the tenth studio album by American singer-songwriter Billy Joel, released on July 9, 1986. It was the last studio album produced by Phil Ramone as well as the last to feature Joel's long-time bassist Doug Stegmeyer and rhythm guitarist Russell Javors. The album yielded several successful singles, including "A Matter of Trust", "Modern Woman", and "This Is the Time".

You Cant Hurry Love 1966 single by The Supremes

"You Can't Hurry Love" is a 1966 song originally recorded by The Supremes on the Motown label.

You Keep Me Hangin On 1966 single by the Supremes

"You Keep Me Hangin' On" is a song written and composed by Holland–Dozier–Holland. It was first recorded in 1966 by American girl group the Supremes, reaching number one on the Billboard Hot 100. American rock band Vanilla Fudge released a cover version in June of the following year, which reached number six on the Billboard Hot 100. English singer Kim Wilde covered "You Keep Me Hangin' On" in 1986, bumping it back to number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in June 1987. In the first 32 years of the Billboard Hot 100 rock era, "You Keep Me Hangin' On" became one of six songs to reach number one by two different musical acts. In 1996, American country singer Reba McEntire's version reached number two on the US Billboard Hot Dance Club Play chart. The BBC ranked the Supremes' original song at number 78 on The Top 100 Digital Motown Chart, which ranks Motown releases by their all-time UK downloads and streams.

Whats Going On (Marvin Gaye song) 1971 single by Marvin Gaye

"What's Going On" is a song by American singer-songwriter Marvin Gaye, released in 1971 on the Motown subsidiary Tamla. Originally inspired by a police brutality incident witnessed by Renaldo "Obie" Benson, the song was composed by Benson, Al Cleveland, and Gaye and produced by Gaye himself. The song marked Gaye's departure from the Motown Sound towards more personal material. Later topping the Hot Soul Singles chart for five weeks and crossing over to number two on the Billboard Hot 100, it would sell over two million copies, becoming Gaye's second-most successful Motown song to date.

Time After Time (Cyndi Lauper song) 1984 single by Cyndi Lauper

"Time After Time" is a 1983 song by American singer-songwriter Cyndi Lauper, co-written with Rob Hyman. It was the second single released from her debut studio album, She's So Unusual (1983), with Hyman contributing backing vocals. The track was produced by Rick Chertoff and released as a single on January 27, 1984. The song became Lauper's first number 1 hit in the U.S. The song was written in the album's final stages, after "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun", "She Bop" and "All Through the Night" had been written. The writing began with the title, which Lauper had seen in TV Guide magazine, referring to the science fiction film Time After Time (1979).

<i>Hits</i> (Phil Collins album) 1998 greatest hits album by Phil Collins

Hits, released in 1998 and again in 2008, following the success of "In the Air Tonight" on the Cadbury advertisement campaign, is the first greatest hits album by English drummer and singer-songwriter Phil Collins. The collection included fourteen top 40 hits, including seven American number one songs, spanning from the albums Face Value (1981) through Dance into the Light (1996). One new Collins recording, a cover of Cyndi Lauper's "True Colors", also appeared on the collection and was a popular song on adult contemporary stations. Hits was also the first Phil Collins album to include four songs originally recorded for motion pictures as well as his popular duet with Philip Bailey, "Easy Lover".

Change of Heart (Cyndi Lauper song) 1986 single by Cyndi Lauper

"Change of Heart" is the second single released by American singer Cyndi Lauper from her second album, True Colors on November 11, 1986. The single went gold in the US and peaked at No. 3 in the Billboard Hot 100.

Easy Lover 1984 single by Philip Bailey and Phil Collins

"Easy Lover" is a song performed by Philip Bailey, of Earth, Wind & Fire, and Phil Collins, of Genesis, and jointly written and composed by Bailey, Collins, and Nathan East. The song appeared on Bailey's solo album, Chinese Wall. Collins has performed the song in his live concerts, and it appears on both his 1990 album, Serious Hits... Live!, and his 1998 compilation album, ...Hits. It is Bailey's only US Top 40 hit as a solo artist.

Typical Male 1986 single by Tina Turner

"Typical Male" is a song recorded by American singer Tina Turner. It was written by Terry Britten and Graham Lyle and produced by the former for Turner's studio album Break Every Rule (1986).

Cyndi Lauper discography

American singer Cyndi Lauper has released eleven studio albums, six compilation albums, five video albums and fifty-one singles. Worldwide, Lauper has sold approximately 50 million albums, singles and DVDs.

"All Through the Night" is a folk rock and pop song written and recorded by Jules Shear for his 1983 album Watch Dog. It is was produced by Todd Rundgren.

Same Ol Story 2008 single by Cyndi Lauper

"Same Ol' Story" is a song by Cyndi Lauper, released as a single from her 2008 album Bring Ya to the Brink. It was written and produced by Lauper and New York City DJ Richard Morel. The song reached #1 on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play chart, becoming Lauper's first single to top the chart since her 1983 hit "Girl Just Wanna Have Fun".

Both Sides of the Story 1993 single by Phil Collins

"Both Sides of the Story" is a song performed by Phil Collins and was released in 1993 as the lead single from his fifth album Both Sides, released the same year. The song reached number seven on the UK Singles Chart but only reached number 25 on the US Billboard Hot 100. It charted the highest in Canada, peaking at number two on the RPM Top Singles chart. Although not a major commercial success, it won acclaim from some critics.

Everyday (Phil Collins song) 1994 single by Phil Collins

"Everyday" is a ballad song by Phil Collins released as the second single of his fifth studio album, Both Sides. It was also released as the seventh track on the 2004 compilation album, Love Songs: A Compilation... Old and New. The single achieved success mostly in North America in the spring of 1994.


  1. 1 2 "True Colors by Cyndi Lauper". Interview with Billy Steinberg about "True Colors". Songfacts. Retrieved April 9, 2009.
  2. "Cyndi Lauper". October 26, 2011.
  3. Burnett, Richard (April 4, 2014). "The true colours of Cyndi Lauper". CurtainsUP. Retrieved April 21, 2014.
  4. "Mission Statement". True Colors Fund. Retrieved August 7, 2015.
  5. "Cyndi Lauper – True Colors (1986, Pitman Pressing, Vinyl)". Retrieved April 25, 2021.
  6. "Cyndi Lauper – True Colors (1986, Vinyl)". Retrieved April 25, 2021.
  7. Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (Illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 173. ISBN   0-646-11917-6. N.B. The Kent Report chart was licensed by ARIA between 1983 and June 12, 1988.
  8. " – Cyndi Lauper – True Colors" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40.
  9. " – Cyndi Lauper – True Colors" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50.
  10. RPM Adult Contemporary,, November 8, 1986.
  11. RPM 100 Singles,, November 8, 1986.
  12. 1 2 "Cyndi Lauper - True Colors". November 28, 2003. Archived from the original on November 28, 2003. Retrieved April 23, 2020.
  13. " – Cyndi Lauper – True Colors" (in French). Les classement single.
  14. "Chart Track: Week 48, 1986". Irish Singles Chart.
  15. "Nederlandse Top 40 – Cyndi Lauper" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40.
  16. " – Cyndi Lauper – True Colors" (in Dutch). Single Top 100.
  17. " – Cyndi Lauper – True Colors". Top 40 Singles.
  18. 1 2 " – Cyndi Lauper – True Colors". VG-lista.
  19. "SA Charts 1965–March 1989" . Retrieved September 5, 2018.
  20. " – Cyndi Lauper – True Colors". Singles Top 100.
  21. " – Cyndi Lauper – True Colors". Swiss Singles Chart.
  22. "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company.
  23. 1 2 "Cyndi Lauper - Chart history". Billboard.
  24. " – Cyndi Lauper – True Colors". GfK Entertainment Charts.
  25. Kimberley, Christopher. Zimbabwe Singles Chart Book: 1965-1996.
  26. "Cyndi Lauper". Retrieved April 25, 2021.
  27. "Kent Music Report No 650 – 29 December 1986 > National Top 100 Singles for 1986". Kent Music Report, via Retrieved October 13, 2020.
  28. "RPM Weekly - Top Singles of 1986". Library and Archives Canada. December 26, 2017. Archived from the original on November 23, 2015. Retrieved December 26, 2016.
  29. "Top 100 Hits of 1986/Top 100 Songs of 1986". Retrieved April 25, 2021.
  30. Cash Box Year-End Charts: Top 100 Pop Singles Archived December 26, 2016, at the Wayback Machine , December 27, 1986.
  31. "Canadian Certification". Archived from the original on November 15, 2011. Retrieved April 25, 2021.
  32. "US Certification". Archived from the original on June 26, 2007. Retrieved April 25, 2021.
  33. "New Releases: Singles" (PDF). Music Week . October 24, 1998. p. 43. Retrieved July 6, 2021.
  34. True Colors (US promo CD liner notes). Phil Collins. Atlantic Records, Face Value Records. 1998. PRCD 8686.CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  35. " – Phil Collins – True Colors" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40. Retrieved August 31, 2019.
  36. " – Phil Collins – True Colors" (in Dutch). Ultratip. Retrieved August 31, 2019.
  37. "RPM 100 Hit Tracks – February 22, 1999" (PDF). RPM . Vol. 68 no. 18. February 22, 1999. p. 2. Retrieved August 31, 2019.
  38. "Top RPM Adult Contemporary: Issue 6993." RPM . Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved August 31, 2019.
  39. "Eurochart Hot 100 Singles" (PDF). Music & Media . Vol. 15 no. 46. November 14, 1998. p. 10. Retrieved March 6, 2020.
  40. " – Phil Collins – True Colors" (in French). Les classement single. Retrieved August 31, 2019.
  41. " – Phil Collins – True Colors" (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved August 31, 2019.
  42. "Top National Sellers" (PDF). Music & Media. Vol. 15 no. 48. November 28, 1998. p. 15. Retrieved March 6, 2020.See LW column.
  43. " – Phil Collins – True Colors" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved August 31, 2019.
  44. "Major Market Airplay: Poland" (PDF). Music & Media. October 3, 1998. p. 27. Retrieved July 23, 2021.
  45. "Official Scottish Singles Sales Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved August 31, 2019.
  46. "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved August 31, 2019.
  47. "Phil Collins Chart History (Bubbling Under Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved August 31, 2019.
  48. "Phil Collins Chart History (Adult Contemporary)". Billboard. Retrieved August 31, 2019.
  49. "RPM's Top 100 Adult Contemporary Tracks of '98". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved August 31, 2019.
  50. "RPM 1999 Top 100 Adult Contemporary". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved August 31, 2019.
  51. "Various – True Colours: Official Album Of Rugby World Cup 2003". Discogs. Retrieved December 10, 2015.
  52. "ARIA Charts - End of Year Charts - Top 100 Singles 2003". ARIA Charts. Retrieved December 10, 2015.
  53. Hung, Steffen. "Kasey Chambers - True Colors". australian charts.
  54. "The Official Charts Company – Glee Cast". Official Charts Company . Retrieved February 25, 2010.
  55. "Glee Cast Album & Song Chart History". Billboard . Nielsen Business Media . Retrieved February 25, 2010.
  56. "Glee Cast". Retrieved February 25, 2010.
  57. "November 12, 2012 Archives". Archived from the original on July 16, 2015.
  58. 1 2 12, News Desk More from News Desk Published on: November; 12, 2012 | Last Updated: November; Est, 2012 5:48 Pm (November 12, 2012). "Artists Against remake True Colors".CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  59. "True Colors by Artists Against Bullying - Music Charts". Retrieved April 25, 2021.