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The 80s was a decade of outrageous hair, oversized shoulder pads and undeniably great music. Plenty of bands or artists who made their name in the 80s are still going strong today, but even where that’s not the case these highly influential artists have shaped the cultural landscape we live in today.
Whilst we’re by no means going to compile a comprehensive – not to mention highly subjective – list of ‘the best’ 80s artists, the following star names are surely beyond reasonable debate. In no particular order, here’s Blackpool Grand’s magnificent seven….
Bruce Springsteen’s rough and hugely distinctive voice on Born in the USA couldn’t be more symbolic of the 80s if it tried, and this smash hit album yielded no less than 7 US hits! “The Boss” is renowned for keeping filler songs on his albums to an absolute minimum, and songs such as Hungry Heart, The River, and Atlantic City typify the ‘urban class’ grit that he’s known for. At the end of 2018, Springsteen announced that another new release was on the cards.
He of the 13 consecutive Top 10 hits. Lionel Richie’s genre-spanning sound thrilled people throughout the 80s and has continued to do so. A master of pop singles, tunes such as Endless Love are karaoke mainstays, and All Night Long is probably one of the best party songs that we’ve ever come across. Richie also co-wrote We Are The World for Michael Jackson (who is another artist who, let’s be honest, could have easily made this list).
The most successful female star of the decade and a name who’s practically synonymous with the 80s, Madonna’s title of “Queen of Pop” is not easily disputed! In fact, she’s probably the best known 80s legend of all. Like a Virgin topped Billboard charts for 6 weeks in 1984, and songs like Material Girl and Like a Prayer displayed a musical development (not to mention controversy) that never failed to make the headlines and get people talking.
Phil Collins was never far from the 80s charts, whether that was as a result of his own solo work, or with Genesis. If you take just the singles from the album No Jacket Required, you have over a year’s worth of Top 40 hits! When you factor in all of the collaborations Collins forged with other artists in the 1980s, he has more US Top 40 singles to his name than any other artist. His Not Dead Yet Tour is currently ongoing, concluding in June 2019.
Prince spent a record-breaking 378 weeks within the US Billboard Hot 100, and his magnum opus Purple Rain held Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the USA at second place for a grand total of 18 weeks. This album also served as the soundtrack to the film of the same name and scooped the Oscar for Best Original Song Score in 1985. From his stage presence to his decision to use an enigmatic symbol as a stage name, Prince is a sorely missed 80s icon.
Formed in 1970, Queen nevertheless helped to define the 80s. Although they’d already taken the world by storm with We Are The Champions, We Will Rock You and Bohemian Rhapsody, 80s Queen were very possibly the biggest band in the world. Evolving their classic stadium rock sound to produce albums like The Game, the 1980s also yielded a superb collaboration with David Bowie in the form of Under Pressure. Need we say more?
Topping the US Billboard charts no less than 7 consecutive times in the 80s, arguably this decade was Whitney Houston’s peak period. Houston was a master at blending elements of soul into contemporary pop ballads, as evidenced upon songs like You Give Good Love and Saving All My Love for You. Her aptitude and technique as a singer were plain for all to see, but in the 80s Houston also composed some of her deftest and most memorable melodies.
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