The Goonies weren't good enough for Cyndi Lauper.
Oh, sure, she's on record stating the opposite. But for the better part of 30 years, the iconic, baby-voiced singer of "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" has all but disavowed "The Goonies 'R' Good Enough," the movie's theme song, which she wrote and performed. She's called the song "terrible" in interviews, and for a long time refused to include it on any of her greatest-hits compilations, or play it live. That's pretty harsh treatment for a top-10 single, one whose Technicolor pop sound fits comfortably among Lauper's other megahits of the era.
Nonetheless, "Good Enough," as it was originally titled, remains a significant appendage ofThe Goonies' legacy. It plays at various points throughout the film, including the end credits. It's been covered several times, and digitized for video games. The two-part video—a truly wackadoo 12-minute epic bringing together a cadre of pro wrestlers, much of The Goonies' cast, a then-unknown band called the Bangles and, in a fourth-wall-shattering cameo, Steven Spielberg—functions essentially as a Bizarro World sequel. But the song's lasting associations are with The Goonies and not Lauper herself, which might explain why she's largely forsaken it.
At the time, it must have seemed like she was doing Warner Bros. a favor. Yeah, the movie had Spielberg producing and Richard Donner, the director of Superman, at the helm. But Lauper was coming off one of the most successful debut albums of all-time, 1983's She's So Unusual, a 16-times-platinum smash whose four major singles still get airplay in the world's collective unconscious. She didn't need the exposure. But what the producers thought the film needed was a real-life star who could embody The Goonies in the flesh.
"It was an important music project for us in the sense that there were kids involved," says Joel Sill, the film's music supervisor. "We started to figure out, who would be the best candidate that reflected The Goonies? Or at least the word 'Goonies.'"
With her rainbow-colored hair and self-consciously kooky image, Lauper emerged as the ideal choice to sing an anthem for a group of misfit heroes. But "Good Enough" was not written for the movie. At the time Warner Bros. came calling, Lauper and her producer, Lennie Petze, were in the early stages of gathering material for the follow-up to She's So Unusual. One of the first songs they received came from songwriters Arthur Stead and Stephen Broughton Lunt. With its synthesized marimba riff (which, according to Stead, was extracted from an unused song he intended for Kiss guitarist Ace Frehley) and fluttering flutes, the music conveyed a vague sense of adventure. And while the song might not reference any plot points—it's really more about clinging to a fraying relationship—the general sentiment fit the film's premise: The Goonies aren't perfect. They're not superheroes. But they're good enough. When Petze played the demo for executives, "they went crazy for it," he says.
The title, though, needed work. Spielberg wanted the song to tie back to the movie in some way, and if Lauper wasn't going to alter the lyrics, the best way he saw to do that was to cram "The Goonies" into the name. "I think she felt it was an infringement on her creativity, which I agreed with," Sill says. "But all of us had a bigger responsibility to the movie. It was a big investment we all had in utilizing the music to sell the film, and the film would then sell the music."
Lauper relented, though not without a fight. "I wasn't in that meeting," Petze says, "but I think she may have said, 'You're out of line, Steven.'"
It wasn't her only clash with Spielberg. When it came time to do the video, he and Lauper met for a brainstorming session. It was an ambitious project, to be divided into two parts, so it made sense to have the guy behind Indiana Jones in the director's chair. Spielberg presented his ideas, and according to Sill, Lauper "just dismissed them, in a way that was not really considerate of Steven's creativity."
Donner ended up directing. The video's plot, as best can be surmised, involves Lauper attempting to save her family's gas station (and her, uh, vegetable stand) from creditors who want to turn it into a Benihana. In the first half, Lauper, who was then in a partnership with the World Wrestling Federation, is pursued through a familiar-looking cave by a gaggle of WWF heels—simultaneously playing the creditors and a crew of pirates—and finds herself cornered on a bridge. She calls out for Spielberg's help, who's shown sitting in an editing bay and, perhaps as a wink toward their earlier disagreements, admits to being out of ideas. Eventually, the action returns to the gas station, where Andre the Giant appears from a cloud of smoke and chases "Rowdy" Roddy Piper into the street. Then everybody dances.
Maybe it was the contentious video shoot, or the creative concessions she was forced into, but by the end of the '80s, Lauper, who also declined an interview for this piece, was content to pretend "Good Enough" never existed. In the last decade, though, her stance has softened a bit. In 2003, the song finally appeared on an album bearing her name, The Essential Cyndi Lauper. Giving in to fan demand, it's also popped up in her live sets again. And in 2012, she recorded a parody of the song, titled "Taffy Butt," for an episode of Fox's Bob's Burgers paying homage to The Goonies. For Lauper, that version is more than good enough. "Oh, it's a classic too," she told Entertainment Weekly. "Very funny and in poor taste. My son finally thinks I am funny!"