True Colors (song)

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"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[edit]

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, 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.[4] Years later, Lauper co-founded the True Colors Fund,[5] a non-profit dedicated to eradicating LGBT youth homelessness.

In popular culture[edit]

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.

A choral version of the song was used in a series of TV commercials advertising a variety of Kodak's color photographic film products.

The song has appeared in many compilations, very notably in 1998 UK compilation album series Now That's What I Call Music! 41. The song was included in the 2003 compilation The Essential Cyndi Lauper, the 2003 compilation The Great Cyndi Lauper and as the title track of the 2009 compilation album True Colors: The Best of Cyndi Lauper

In 2009, the song was covered in musical TV series Glee in episode "Hairography" and the compilation album Glee: The Music, Volume 2 performed by Jenna Ushkowitz as her character Tina Cohen-Chang. The song was also, alongside Queen's "Somebody to Love" part of the encore to the 2010 concert series by the cast of the popular television series in their Glee Live! In Concert! tour.

Charts and certifications[edit]

Weekly charts[edit]

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

Year-end charts[edit]

Chart (1986) Position
US Billboard Hot 100 41


Country Certification Sales
Japan 11,240
Canada Gold 50,000[8]
United States Platinum 1,000,000[9]

Chart procession and succession[edit]

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[edit]

  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[edit]

"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 and at number 26 on the UK Singles Chart.

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


Chart (1998) Peak
Dutch Singles Chart 73
German Singles Chart 35
UK Singles Chart 26
U.S. Billboard Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles 12
U.S. Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks 2

Other covers[edit]

The song has been covered by many artists.

  • In 1991, Elaine Paige covered it in her album Love Can Do That
  • In 2003, Australian singer-songwriter Kasey Chambers' cover of "True Colors" became the theme song for the 2003 Rugby World Cup[10] and went on to be the 76th best-selling single in Australia that year[11]
  • In 2004, Kalan Porter, the eventual winner of season 2 of the Canadian Idol and same season eventual runner-up Theresa Sokyrka performed it as a duet in the finale of the season 2 show
  • In 2006, the Japanese recording artist Anna Tsuchiya covered it in her album Strip Me?
  • In 2007, J-Pop artist K covered it in the album The Timeless Collection Vol. 1 his first English cover album. A DVD was also released including clips of live performances of the album songs. K's version was used in Sony Ericsson as a commercial theme.
  • In 2009, the cast of Glee performed it in the programme and it was released as a single "True Colors (Glee Cast Version)". The version was included in the compilation album Glee: The Music, Volume 2 released on December 4, 2009. The single charted on Billboard Hot 100, and reached number 15 in Ireland, number 35 in the United Kingdom,[12] number 38 in Canada,[13][14] and number 47 in Australia.
  • In Spring 2010, Bonnier Amigo Music Group released the Greatest Hits album by Swedish singer Amy Diamond that included her version of "True Colors"
  • In 2012, Karyn White covered it in her album Carpe Diem
  • Also in 2012, American singer songwriter Summer XO recorded it and released it as a single
  • In 2012, Artists Against Bullying (often styled as "Artists Against"), an agglomeration of seven Canadian musicians re-record the song. It was released during Bullying Awareness Week.[15] The project was inspired by the increase in teen bullying and cyberbullying, especially the Amanda Todd case,[16] with proceeds being donated to Kids Help Phone - a Canadian counseling service for children and youth.[16] 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[17] the week it was released.
  • In 2014, Michelle Chamuel, the eventual runner-up of fourth season of NBC's The Voice performed it the Live Playoffs of the show
  • On 27 April 2015, the One Voice Children's Choir under the direction of Masa Fukuda released their version with influences of Indian music. The music video was filmed in front of an Hindu temple during Holi, also known as the festival of colours or the festival of love.
  • On 5 January 2016, Welsh artist Marina and the Diamonds released a cover of True Colors, an unrealesed track from her third album Froot. Her cover has been acclaimed by critics and Lauper herself.


  1. ^ a b "True Colors by Cyndi Lauper". Interview with Billy Steinberg about "True Colors". Songfacts. Retrieved 9 April 2009. 
  2. ^,63973/
  3. ^ Burnett, Richard (2014-04-04). "The true colours of Cyndi Lauper". CurtainsUP. Retrieved 2014-04-21. 
  4. ^ "Cindy Lauper answering audience questions live on CNN". CNN. Retrieved 2014-04-21. 
  5. ^ "Mission Statement". True Colors Fund. Retrieved 2015-08-07. 
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ Hitparadeitalia (1986). "Hitparadeitalia Chart". Hitparadeitalia Charts. Retrieved 2012-02-05. 
  8. ^ Canadian Certification
  9. ^ US Certification
  10. ^ "Various – True Colours: Official Album Of Rugby World Cup 2003". Discogs. Retrieved 10 December 2015. 
  11. ^ "ARIA Charts - End of Year Charts - Top 100 Singles 2003". ARIA Charts. Retrieved 10 December 2015. 
  12. ^ "Chart Stats – Glee Cast". Chart Stats. Retrieved February 25, 2010. 
  13. ^ "Glee Cast Album & Song Chart History". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media. Retrieved February 25, 2010. 
  14. ^ "Glee Cast". Retrieved February 25, 2010. 
  15. ^
  16. ^ a b
  17. ^

External links[edit]