True Colors (Cyndi Lauper song)

"True Colors"
Single by Cyndi Lauper
from the album True Colors
B-side "Heading for the Moon"
Released August 25, 1986
Recorded March 3, 1986
Genre Pop
Length 3:46
Label Epic
Certification Platinum (RIAA)
Gold (Music Canada)
Cyndi Lauper singles chronology
"The Goonies 'R' Good Enough"
"True Colors"
"Change of Heart"

"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 write.[1]

"True Colors" spent two weeks in the number one spot on the Billboard Hot 100, and was the last single from Lauper to occupy the top of the chart. It received a Grammy Award nomination for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.

Song information

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 a form of 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", of which the former went on to be covered by Celine Dion, the latter by Susanna Hoffs.

It reached number 1 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, 3 in Australia and New Zealand, and 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] While not directly promoted as a song defending LGBT rights, Lauper is pleased that her song was adopted by that community. Years later, Lauper co-founded the True Colors Fund,[4] a non-profit 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 US and beyond. A second True Colors tour occurred in 2008.

Charts and certifications

Weekly charts

Chart (1986) Peak
Australia (Kent Music Report)[5] 3
Ö3 Austria Top 40[6] 12
Canadian Singles Chart 1
French Singles Chart[7] 49
German Singles Chart[8] 18
German Airplay 6
Ireland Singles Chart 6
Italy Singles Chart[9] 4
Japan Hot 100 59
Netherlands Singles Chart[10] 14
New Zealand RIANZ Singles Chart[11] 8
Norway Singles Chart[12] 10
Swedish Singles Chart 4
Swiss Singles Chart[13] 17
UK Singles Chart[14] 12
US Billboard Hot 100[15] 1
US Cash Box 1
US Billboard Adult Contemporary[16] 5
Chart (2008) Peak
Norway Singles Chart 17

Year-end charts

Chart (1986) Position
US Billboard Hot 100 41


Country Certification Sales
Japan 11,240
Canada Gold 50,000[17]
United States Platinum 1,000,000[18]

Chart procession and succession

Preceded by
"When I Think of You" by Janet Jackson
Billboard Hot 100 number one single
October 25, 1986 - November 1, 1986
Succeeded by
"Amanda" by Boston
Preceded by
"The Lady in Red" by Chris de Burgh
Canadian RPM Singles Chart number one single
November 8, 1986
Succeeded by
"Human" by The Human League
Preceded by
"Typical Male" by Tina Turner
Cashbox Top 100
November 1, 1986
Succeeded by
"Amanda" by Boston

Official versions

  1. Album Version
  2. Juniors 12" Vocal Mix
  3. Junior's 7" Mix
  4. Junior's Gay Pride '98 Mix
  5. Junior's Main Pass Mix Edit
  6. Junior's Reprise Mix
  7. Junior's Romantic Love Mix
  8. Juniorverse Mix

Phil Collins version

"True Colors"
Single by Phil Collins
from the album ...Hits
B-side "Don't Lose My Number"
"Take Me Home"
Released 26 October 1998
Format CD
Genre Pop Rock, smooth jazz, R&B, blue-eyed soul
Length 4:34
Label Atlantic, Virgin, WEA
Writer(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 covered by Phil Collins for his compilation album ...Hits. The version was a smooth-jazz-influenced version compared to the original. R&B singer Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds produced and provided backing vocals.

The track peaked at number 2 on the U.S. Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks chart[19] and at number 26 on the UK Singles Chart.[20]

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


Chart (1998) Peak
Dutch Singles Chart[21] 73
German Singles Chart 35
UK Singles Chart[22] 26
US Billboard Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles[23] 12
US Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks[24] 2

Other covers

The song has been covered by many artists.


  1. 1 2 "True Colors by Cyndi Lauper". Interview with Billy Steinberg about "True Colors". Songfacts. Retrieved 9 April 2009.
  3. Burnett, Richard (2014-04-04). "The true colours of Cyndi Lauper". CurtainsUP. Retrieved 2014-04-21.
  4. "Mission Statement". True Colors Fund. Retrieved 2015-08-07.
  5. 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 19 June 1988.
  9. Hitparadeitalia (1986). "Hitparadeitalia Chart". Hitparadeitalia Charts. Retrieved 2012-02-05.
  17. Canadian Certification
  18. US Certification
  25. "Various – True Colours: Official Album Of Rugby World Cup 2003". Discogs. Retrieved 10 December 2015.
  26. "ARIA Charts - End of Year Charts - Top 100 Singles 2003". ARIA Charts. Retrieved 10 December 2015.
  27. "Chart Stats – Glee Cast". Chart Stats. Retrieved February 25, 2010.
  28. "Glee Cast Album & Song Chart History". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media. Retrieved February 25, 2010.
  29. "Glee Cast". Retrieved February 25, 2010.
  31. 1 2
  33. Feeney, Nolan (5 January 2016). "Hear Marina and the Diamonds' Stunning Cover of Cyndi Lauper's 'True Colors'". Time. Retrieved 23 May 2016.

External links

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