One of pop's great female voices turns to standards, with starry guests

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Cyndi Lauper – At Last

Bear with me on this one: one listen to Cyndi’s heartrending cover of Prince’s “When U Were Mine” from her ’83 debut She’s So Unusual should convince you?she is simply pop’s most undervalued singer. After two decades of patchy material, she’s hit what’s often seen as the last refuge of the scoundrel (hello, Rod) and made a mixed bag of pop and jazz standards. While the world doesn’t need another version of “Unchained Melody”, her tremulous, beaten-black-and-blue take on “Walk On By” could have come straight off Laura Nyro’s New York Tendaberry?high praise indeed. Unfortunately there’s also the Tony Bennett duet (“Makin’ Whoopee”) and a near-unlistenable romp through “On The Sunny Side Of The Street”. Was it too much to hope she might push out to the wracked limits of her remarkable voice and make a bleak torch song classic?