Open main menu

True Colors (Cyndi Lauper song)

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

"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.


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", of which the former went on to be covered by Roy Orbison and Celine Dion, the latter by Susanna Hoffs.

Reception and legacyEdit

The single reached number one on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, three 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] 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 certificationsEdit


Country Certification Sales
Japan 11,240
Canada Gold 50,000[24]
United States Platinum 1,000,000[25]

Official versionsEdit

  1. Album Version

Phil Collins versionEdit

"True Colors"
Single by Phil Collins
from the album ...Hits
ReleasedOctober 26, 1998
LabelAtlantic, Virgin, WEA
Songwriter(s)Tom Kelly, Billy Steinberg
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. 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 12 on the US Billboard Bubbling Under Hot 100, number two on the Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks chart and number 26 on the UK Singles Chart. It reached the top 40 in Austria, Canada, France and Germany.

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


Weekly chartsEdit

Chart (1998–1999) Peak
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[26] 20
Belgium (Ultratip Flanders)[27] 6
Canada Top Singles (RPM)[28] 40
Canada Adult Contemporary (RPM)[29] 3
France (SNEP)[30] 33
Germany (Official German Charts)[31] 35
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[32] 73
Scotland (Official Charts Company)[33] 35
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[34] 26
US Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles (Billboard)[35] 12
US Adult Contemporary (Billboard)[36] 2

Year-end chartsEdit

Chart (1998) Position
Canada Adult Contemporary (RPM)[37] 24
Chart (1999) Position
Canada Adult Contemporary (RPM)[38] 27

Kasey Chambers versionEdit

"True Colours"
Single by Kasey Chambers
ReleasedApril 2003
LabelEMI 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.[39] The song peaked at number four, was certified gold and went on to be the 76th best-selling single in Australia that year[40]

Track listingEdit

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


Chart (2003) Peak
Australian Singles Chart (ARIA) [41] 4

Other versionsEdit

The song has been recorded by many artists.

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

In 2009, Jenna Ushkowitz performed it in the television program Glee, 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,[42] number 38 in Canada,[43][44] 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. It was released during Bullying Awareness Week.[45] The project was inspired by the increase in teen bullying and cyberbullying, especially the Amanda Todd case,[46] with proceeds being donated to Kids Help Phone - a Canadian counseling service for children and youth.[46] 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[47] 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.


  1. ^ a b "True Colors by Cyndi Lauper". Interview with Billy Steinberg about "True Colors". Songfacts. Retrieved April 9, 2009.
  2. ^ "Cyndi Lauper". 26 October 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. ^ 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 19, 1988.
  6. ^ Hung, Steffen. "Cyndi Lauper - True Colors".
  7. ^ "Cyndi Lauper - True Colors". Retrieved 2019-05-30.
  8. ^ RPM 100 Singles, November 8, 1986.
  9. ^ RPM Adult Contemporary, November 8, 1986.
  10. ^ Hung, Steffen. "Cyndi Lauper - True Colors".
  11. ^ Hung, Steffen. "Cyndi Lauper - True Colors".
  12. ^ Hitparadeitalia (1986). "Chart". Hitparadeitalia Charts. Retrieved February 5, 2012.
  13. ^ Hung, Steffen. "Cyndi Lauper - True Colors".
  14. ^ Hung, Steffen. " - Cyndi Lauper - True Colors".
  15. ^ Hung, Steffen. "Cyndi Lauper - True Colors".
  16. ^ "SA Charts 1965–March 1989". Retrieved 5 September 2018.
  17. ^ Hung, Steffen. "Cyndi Lauper - True Colors -".
  18. ^ "CYNDI LAUPER - full Official Chart History". Official Charts Company.
  19. ^ a b "Cyndi Lauper - Chart history". Billboard.
  20. ^ "Forum – ARIA Charts: Special Occasion Charts – Top 100 End of Year AMR Charts – 1980s". Hung Medien. Archived from the original on October 6, 2014. Retrieved December 27, 2016.
  21. ^ "RPM Weekly - Top Singles of 1986". Library and Archives Canada. December 26, 2017. Archived from the original on November 23, 2015. Retrieved 26 December 2016.
  22. ^ Billboard Top 100 Hits of 1986.
  23. ^ Cash Box Year-End Charts: Top 100 Pop Singles Archived 2016-12-26 at the Wayback Machine, December 27, 1986.
  24. ^ Canadian Certification Archived November 15, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  25. ^ US Certification Archived June 26, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  26. ^ " – Phil Collins – True Colors" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40. Retrieved August 31, 2019.
  27. ^ " – Phil Collins – True Colors" (in Dutch). Ultratip. Retrieved August 31, 2019.
  28. ^ "RPM 100 Hit Tracks – February 22, 1999" (PDF). RPM. Vol. 68 no. 18. February 22, 1999. p. 2. Retrieved August 31, 2019.
  29. ^ "Top RPM Adult Contemporary: Issue 6993." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved August 31, 2019.
  30. ^ " – Phil Collins – True Colors" (in French). Les classement single. Retrieved August 31, 2019.
  31. ^ " – Phil Collins – True Colors". GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved August 31, 2019.
  32. ^ " – Phil Collins – True Colors" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved August 31, 2019.
  33. ^ "Official Scottish Singles Sales Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved August 31, 2019.
  34. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved August 31, 2019.
  35. ^ "Phil Collins Chart History (Bubbling Under Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved August 31, 2019.
  36. ^ "Phil Collins Chart History (Adult Contemporary)". Billboard. Retrieved August 31, 2019.
  37. ^ "RPM's Top 100 Adult Contemporary Tracks of '98". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved August 31, 2019.
  38. ^ "RPM 1999 Top 100 Adult Contemporary". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved August 31, 2019.
  39. ^ "Various – True Colours: Official Album Of Rugby World Cup 2003". Discogs. Retrieved 10 December 2015.
  40. ^ "ARIA Charts - End of Year Charts - Top 100 Singles 2003". ARIA Charts. Retrieved December 10, 2015.
  41. ^ Hung, Steffen. "Kasey Chambers - True Colors". australian charts.
  42. ^ "The Official Charts Company – Glee Cast". Official Charts Company. Retrieved February 25, 2010.
  43. ^ "Glee Cast Album & Song Chart History". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media. Retrieved February 25, 2010.
  44. ^ "Glee Cast". Retrieved February 25, 2010.
  45. ^ "November 12, 2012 Archives". Archived from the original on July 16, 2015 – via
  46. ^ a b 12, News Desk More from News Desk Published on: November; 12, 2012 | Last Updated: November; Est, 2012 5:48 Pm (12 November 2012). "Artists Against remake True Colors".
  47. ^ "True Colors by Artists Against Bullying - Music Charts".

External linksEdit