Top 50 Most Popular 80s Singers

top 50 most popular 80s singers


When you take a look at the musicians who flourished and held their ground during the ’80s, you will be forced to admit that they were simply different and that their music buzzed with a manic energy that resonated with most hardcore music lovers at the time.


Needless to say, the best-selling artists of the decade managed to keep up with the changing trends and, consequently, enjoyed astronomical levels of fame and fortune. So, if you wish to go back to the ’80s today, there will be a ton of great artists to get acquainted with.


By filtering the most popular songs and musicians of the era, you can get straight to the cream of the crop. Thus, we have done our best to introduce you to some of the finest artists from the ’80s who used to set the stage on fire with their undeniable presence and talent.


At a time when the atmosphere was populated with social turmoil, flamboyant clothes, and big shoulder pads, generation X’s music strived to offer a lot to its loyal fans; therefore, making the decade a memorable one for music and all those associated with it.


There is a reason why the fashion, music, and pop culture of the ’80s live on. In fact, even the artists of today’s world agree that they have been heavily inspired by the visual, physical, and artistic styles of the decade.




1. Michael Jackson


Michael Jackson


The one and only Michael Jackson was the epitome of a child star, who grew up to become the “King of Pop” and rocketed to international stardom. While he started his musical journey with his brothers in the Jackson Five, he was ready to take the stage on his own at the onset of the 1980s.


Arguably the most popular entertainer to have ever walked the face of the earth, Jackson was one of the most significant global cultural figures of the 20th century. Needless to mention, he inspired thousands of established and inspiring artists to realize their dreams.


The most awarded and followed musical artist in history, MJ is known to have popularized complex dance moves such as the moonwalk and the robot. His album, Thriller, continues to be the best-selling music album of all time.


A recipient of 39 Guinness World Records and 13 Grammy Awards, the unparalleled entertainer has been the top-earning dead celebrity for well over a decade now.




2. Madonna




Hailed as the undisputed “Queen of Pop”, Madonna was arguably the most influential singer and fashion model of the 80s. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to assert that she prompted fans to don blue eyeshadow and wear black plastic pants during her heyday.


An unstoppable girl power figure in the 80s, she is widely recognized for her musical versatility and image reinventions. Most of her projects have gone on to become controversial over the years.


This is probably because they carry themes of contentious topics such as politics, sex, and religion. Even though she is not as active today, Madonna continues to be one of the most significant and well-documented figures in pop culture history.


Her timelessness can be gauged from the fact that there has been an academic sub-discipline (Madonna studies) dedicated exclusively to her name.




3. Prince




Prince Rogers Nelson, better known by his stage name Prince, was a multi-instrumentalist, singer, and songwriter who was as original and creative as they come. Regarded as one of the most talented musicians of his generation, he was signed to Warner Bros. at the age of nineteen.


He found instant fame with the release of his album Dirty Mind in 1980. An accomplished guitar player, pianist, drummer, and vocalist, Prince was also a gifted lyricist and composer, who released his most successful album, Purple Rain, in 1984.


The album won him the Academy Award for Best Original Song Score and spent six consecutive months at #1 on the Billboard charts.




4. David Bowie


David Bowie


One of the most influential musicians of the 20th century, David Bowie was acknowledged by his fans and critics alike for his inventive music. Popular for his reinvention and visual presentation, he achieved much of his fame during the 1970s.


However, he was still considered to be a great musician even during the 1980s. The artist played a massive role in changing the way popular music was perceived by the audience at the time.


During the peak of his career, Bowie continued to experiment with his performance style and music. While he managed to sell over 100 million records worldwide, he was also seen making sporadic film appearances.


Today, he is widely regarded by many as the greatest rock star to have ever lived.



5. Elton John


Elton John


Yet another popular British artist who continued to shine throughout the 1980s is the inimitable Elton John. Nicknamed “Rocket Man” following the release of his 1972 hit single of the same name, the singer, pianist, and composer had a prosperous career during the 1970s and 1980s.


His showmanship and music have been acknowledged by listeners across the globe as he has managed to sell more than 300 million records in his career.


A recipient of five Grammy Awards, John’s 1973 double album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road and his 1974 Greatest Hits compilation album are counted among the best-selling music albums of all time.



6. Whitney Houston


Whitney Houston


Nicknamed “The Voice” for her unmatched vocals and improvisational skills, the beloved Whitney Houston continues to be one of the best-selling artists of all time with her music selling an estimated 200 million records worldwide.


Any true music fan of the 80s fan can attest that she was the ultimate Diva Queen back in the day. A recipient of numerous accolades, the amazing vocalist has inspired a generation of aspiring singers.


Even though her music and public appearances made a whole lot of money for everyone involved, Houston also attracted her fair share of controversies. Be that as it may, the fact that she is the only artist to have had seven consecutive number-one singles on the Billboard Hot 100 perhaps overshadows the frailty of her life.



7. Freddie Mercury


Freddie Mercury


Hailed by many as one of the greatest artists in the history of rock music, this British singer and songwriter achieved global fame as the lead vocalist of the famous rock band Queen.


Known for his charismatic stage persona and four-octave vocal range, he was often seen interacting with his dedicated audience through his songs while performing live. Queen’s performance at Live Aid in 1985 is considered to be one of the best live performances to have ever taken place in the history of rock and roll.


For his outstanding contribution to music, Mercury was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001, as a member of Queen. He was also inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2003 and the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2004, respectively.


Furthermore, Freddie was voted the 58th greatest Briton to have ever lived in a BBC poll conducted in 2002.



8. Bryan Adams


Bryan Adams


Those who have a fondness for music have surely heard “Summer Of ’69” by Bryan Adams. The Canadian guitarist, singer, and songwriter, who started playing guitar at the tender age of 12, had already made it onto US Top 100 charts by 15.


While his music career took off when he met his writing partner Jim Vallance, it was in the early ’80s that he struck gold with the release of his #1 album Reckless.


The album sold over 12 million copies the world over and allowed Adams to sustain his success throughout his career. Moreover, he continued to gain prominence with multiple #1 albums.


Bryan has been nominated several times for Grammys, with a win for Best Pop Collaboration With Vocals.



9. George Michael


George Michael


Born in North West London, George Michael arrived as part of the Glam-Pop duo Wham during the early 1980s. All thanks to his collaboration with Andrew Ridgeley, he tasted success with songs like “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” and “Last Christmas”, and soon became a “pin-up” character for many young girls.


The duo’s first album, Fantastic, went straight to #1 in the UK in 1983. After having set records everywhere, the duo even went on to become the first Western Pop act to perform in China in the mid-1980s.


The fact that Michael enjoyed a following among the ladies at the time was a tad ironic as he came out as gay in the late 90s. Since both the media and society weren’t as inclusive back then, he was forced to suffer at the hands of the press and the law for his mannerisms and antics.



10. Billy Joel


Billy Joel


“For the longest time”, Billy Joel has been known for his distinctive voice and piano-playing abilities. Often referred to as “The Piano Man”, he has sold about 150 million copies worldwide.


Joel began playing piano at a young age and soon resorted to composing his own songs. He continued to produce chart-topping albums and singles throughout the 1980s. Some of his songs like “It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me”, “Tell Her About It”, and “We Didn’t Start the Fire” rocked the charts during his heyday.


Joel, who has been nominated for 23 Grammy awards (winning five), was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1991.



11. Lionel Richie


Lionel Richie


One of the most famous and memorable singers to have left an impact during the 1980s, Lionel Richie first appeared as a member of The Commodores in the ’70s. While he used to write songs for them and others, he had pretty much outgrown the group by the 1980s.


He started with a bang as his first solo album, entitled Lionel Richie, was released in 1982. Within no time, it reached #9 in the UK and #3 in America and set the ball rolling for the man.


However, the spectacular release of his second album, Can’t Slow Down, managed to establish him as an international entertainer in the true sense of the word, reaching #1 in countries such as the United Kingdom, America, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand, respectively.



12. Cyndi Lauper


Cyndi Lauper


Cyndi Lauper burst onto the scene as a pop icon who had the aesthetic touch of Madonna, but with slightly less edgy compositions. Even though she looked counterculture, her album She’s So Unusual (1983) went on to become the first debut album by a female artist to achieve four top-five hits on the Billboard Hot 100.


Lauper, who expressed a kindness that gave her an intriguing look and a softer edge, managed to enter the hearts of fans all thanks to her library of songs. Let’s not forget that Cyndi, at the time, was credited with fetching us “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun,”; a song that turned into an anthem of every girls’ night out.



13. Kenny Loggins


Kenny Loggins


Kenny Loggins is best remembered for the film Footloose, which is firmly rooted in the 80s, with all the hair, fashion, and music of the era to root look forward to.


For the title song of the aforementioned feature film, he got nominated for an Academy Award in 1985. It would be fitting to state that the song went on to become a Gen X symbol of the resistance at the time.


The next year, Loggins landed another chartbuster hit for a mainstream blockbuster film, Top Gun. In fact, his rendition of “Danger Zone” continues to be a fan favorite. Loggins has been a recipient of a Daytime Emmy Award and two Grammy Awards, respectively.



14. Phil Collins


Phil Collins


Phil Collins had been the star drummer for the British Progressive Rock band Genesis, which was formed in the 1960s by Charterhouse school students. Even though he wasn’t an original member, he joined Gabriel along with guitarist Steve Hackett and turned the group into a formidable Progressive Rock line-up.


However, it is imperative to mention that Collins tasted solo success at the onset of the 1980s as his first album, Face Value, reached #1 in the UK and #7 in America.


While he also wrote tracks for movie soundtracks, it was amusingly pointed out that most of his compositions were about his divorces; therefore, making him the only man ever to make money from a marital split. It may or may not be true but he certainly did play on it a fair bit.



15. Bruce Springsteen


Bruce Springsteen


Often referred to as “The Boss”, Bruce Springsteen is a musical force of nature who rocked the 1980s as he should have. There is no denying that he has owned American rock for several decades and that his work has shaped rock history.


In 1984, he released Born In The U. S. A., and then went on to perform in East Germany just four years later. Needless to say, he became a headliner voice for the ’80s.


While he certainly was going strong during the aforementioned decade, he still hasn’t stopped yet. However, one must mention that the vocalist of classic tracks such as “Hungry Heart” has been a staunch critic of American capitalism.



16. Tina Turner


Tina Turner


Anna Mae Bullock, or Tina Turner as we know her, was one of the finest female singers of the 1980s. This statement means a lot considering that she had been out for a while in the bygone decade.


However, her phenomenal rise during the ’80s was seen as her comeback, and with the release of her album Private Dancer in 1984, a lot of things changed for the better.


She followed the success of her aforementioned album with the release of Break Every Rule in 1986 and Foreign Affair in 1989, respectively. Needless to say, Turner was back and hungry for more.



17. Sinead O’Connor


Sinead O'Connor


The amazing Sinead O’Connor, who hails from Ireland, used to set the stage on fire with her unique sound and music in the ’80s. Since she preferred using her platform to speak out and explore ideas, she was often the subject of several political debates.


It is not surprising then that she, in her own way, inspired youngsters to get more involved in their own communities and understand the gravity of global conflicts. Needless to say, this was a refreshing change that was brought about in the music world and, therefore, went on define Sinead’s music in the ’80s.


Her style appealed to fans who wanted to express themselves in many different ways.



18. Gloria Estefan


Gloria Estefan


Named one of the Top 100 greatest artists of all time by both VH1 and Billboard, Gloria Estefan and Miami Sound Machine thrived on the success that they received during the ’70s to dominate the radio waves for much of the ’80s.


Their massive hit “Rhythm Is Gonna Get You” is considered to be one of the top ’80s dance numbers, all thanks to its Latin vibe straight from South Beach. While the band was credited with producing several dance-able songs, it was Estefan’s magnetic appeal that forced the fans to keep coming back to her for more.


The Cuban-American artist is a seven-time Grammy Award winner and a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.



19. Boy George


Boy George


Born George Alan O’Dowd, Boy George made a name for himself as a vocalist and soon established himself as an ’80s pop culture icon. Also known for being a fashion designer, DJ, photographer, and producer, he was the lead singer of the band Culture Club, which rose to fame in the 1980s courtesy of chartbusters such as “Karma Chameleon” and “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?” 


However, he decided to go solo in the late 1980s with his single “Everything I Own”, which went on to hit the top spot in the United Kingdom in no time. Popular for his outlandish appearance, extravagant makeup, and flashy costumes, he was a top-notch fashion icon and influencer.



20. The Bangles


The Bangles


Formed in Los Angeles, California, in 1981, The Bangles is credited with recording several singles that reached the U. S. top 10 during the 1980s, including “Manic Monday” (1986), “Walk Like an Egyptian” (1986), “Hazy Shade of Winter” (1987), “In Your Room” (1988), and “Eternal Flame” (1989).


As interesting and appealing as their music was, the members of the band also had a long history filled with loads of interesting stories. That said, the ladies made major waves in the ’80s and their several hits rocked the radios for the better part of the decade. Even though their song “Walk Like An Egyptian” wasn’t their favorite, it went on to become an instant favorite among fans.



21. Peter Gabriel


Peter Gabriel


Peter Gabriel rose to fame as the original lead singer of the progressive rock band Genesis, but it can be said that he found further fame after he launched his career as a solo artist in 1975.


While his first single was “Solsbury Hill”, his fifth studio album, So (1986), was certified triple platinum in the UK and five times platinum in the US. Its most successful track was “Sledgehammer”, which won a record nine MTV Awards at the 1987 MTV Video Music Awards.


If you are a fan of the music that prospered in the ’80s, this is a voice you must have on your playlist.



22. Aerosmith




Often called “America’s Greatest Rock and Roll Band”, Aerosmith burst onto the mainstream during the 1980s after having almost dissolved into obscurity. Their collaboration with Run-D. M. C. on “Walk This Way” worked like magic.


Following the success of the aforementioned track, things started to look upward for Aerosmith as they went on to record one hit after another. It was not surprising then that they ended up grabbing a Grammy for “Janie’s Got A Gun.” Their style, which was rooted in blues-based hard rock with elements of pop rock and heavy metal, embraced the glam of the ’80s without giving up the edge of the ’70s.



23. Celine Dion


celine dion


Born in Canada, the charismatic Celine Dion is widely referred to as the “Queen of Power Ballads” and for the right reasons. Known for her technically superior vocal skills, she has been singing from a very young age.


Matter of fact, she turned out to be quite the star in her native land by releasing a series of French-language albums during the 1980s. And, we all know that she turned out to be a global singing sensation after having made her English language debut during the early 1990s.


While the release of the album The Colour of My Love propelled her to stardom, her timeless 1997 song, “My Heart Will Go On”, pretty much ended up making her immortal.



24. Kurt Cobain


kurt cobain


Kurt Cobain went on to make a name for himself through his angst-fuelled songwriting and anti-establishment persona; both of which managed to resonate with his listeners.


He was the co-founder, guitarist, lead vocalist, and songwriter for the rock band Nirvana. Over time, people started regarding him as the spokesperson of Generation X.


Indeed, the people managed to relate to a lot of what he sang and wrote at the time. He formed the aforementioned band with Krist Novoselic in 1987 and they tasted sudden success.


The onset of the ’90s brought further fame to Cobain and his group and a series of hit singles were released.



25. Lata Mangeshkar


Lata Mangeshkar


Arguably the greatest Indian playback singer of all time, Lata Mangeshkar’s contribution to the music industry gained her well-deserved honorific titles such as the “Queen of Melody”, “Nightingale of India”, and “Voice of the Millennium.” While she was awarded India’s highest civilian honor, the Bharat Ratna, France also conferred on her its highest civilian award, Officer of the National Order of the Legion of Honour in 2007.


One of the first Indian playback singers to perform at the Royal Albert Hall in London, UK, Lata recorded songs in over thirty-six Indian languages and a few foreign languages.



26. Kishore Kumar


Kishore Kumar


Notable for his yodeling and ability to sing songs in different voices, Kishore Kumar is widely regarded as one of the greatest and most influential singers in the Indian subcontinent.


While his career peaked in the true sense of the word by lending voice to Bollywood superstar Rajesh Khanna in the late ’60s and throughout the ’70s, he continued to mesmerize his listeners until he passed in 1987.


Awarded the Lata Mangeshkar Award by the Madhya Pradesh government in 1985, Kumar sang in several Indian languages such as Hindi, Bengali, Marathi, Assamese, Gujarati, Kannada, Bhojpuri, Malayalam, Odia, and Urdu.



27. Axl Rose


Axl Rose


Next on our list is the sensational lead singer and frontman for the hard rock band Guns and Roses. Axl, who is often hailed as one of the greatest rock singers of all time, gained fame during the ’80s for his rather distinctive tone and impressive vocal range.


Guns and Roses managed to find fame with the release of their very first album, Appetite for Destruction. It banked heavily on the classic song “Sweet Child O’ Mine” to strike a chord with the listeners.


The very next year, Rose and the team also released G N’ R Lies, which went on to become another best seller; thus, opening the door to worldwide fame for the band.



28. Tone Loc


Tone Loc


Tone Loc is known for his raspy voice which allowed him to sing several popular party numbers at the time. His hit songs “Wild Thing” and “Funky Cold Medina” are ones that clubgoers loved to sing along to.


Some of his songs, especially the latter one, were an ode of sorts to the party culture of the 80s that was a very real thing that had its own charm.


He continued to taste success with the release of his album Lōc-ed After Dark in 1989. In the United States of America, it has been certified 2× platinum.



29. Don Henley


Don Henley


Don Henley may not be very popular today but he was one of the lead singers and the drummer of The Eagles during their prime. There was a period when the band was fighting each other and everyone else in sight.


Surprisingly, Henley made some of his most notable solo albums at the time. His first solo album, I Can’t Stand Still, was released in 1983 with the wonderful single “Dirty Laundry.” Its success encouraged him to come up with his best solo album to date, titled Building The Perfect Beast, comprising the excellent single “The Boys Of Summer.” 


While his reach somewhat dwindled during the ’90s, he managed to release some really good albums that affirmed his place as one of the main singers of the 1980s.



30. Janet Jackson


Janet Jackson


Noted for her innovative, socially conscious and sexually provocative records, Janet Jackson quite successfully proved that her beloved brother Michael wasn’t the only talented person in the family. Janet, who had a successful solo career in the ’80s, was sometimes seen teaming up with MJ for songs and stage shows.


However, that does not negate the fact that she served as a pop R&B icon in her own right. Her song “Nasty” won Favorite Soul/R&B Single at the American Music Awards in 1987.


She went on to deliver many hit MTV videos and, subsequently, win awards for her excellent songs during the ’80s. In fact, it must be mentioned that her sound and choreography became a catalyst in the growth of MTV.



31. Soft Cell


Soft Cell


A rather unique group to make it to our list, Soft Cell’s ticket to fame was their cover of a ’60s song, which had their distinct flavor. The cover became so popular that it allowed the band to define a whole subgenre of ’80s music.


This bold move became a movement of sorts and pushed the English synthpop duo to the cusp of stardom in the early 1980s. Comprising vocalist Marc Almond and instrumentalist David Ball, the band had four top-20 albums between 1981 and 1984.



32. The Police


The Police


An English rock band formed in London in 1977, The Police are mostly remembered for their primary songwriter Sting, Andy Summers, and Stewart Copeland. The band, which became globally popular in the late 1970s and early 1980s, is best recognized for the contribution of Sting, who not only wrote songs and played bass but also sang for it through the ’70s and ’80s.


By the time the group released “Every Breath You Take,” Sting had more or less become the face of the band. Needless to mention, he soon kicked off his solo career in 1985.



33. Huey Lewis


Huey Lewis


Huey Lewis sings lead and plays harmonica for his band, Huey Lewis and the News. Though the band failed to make an impression initially, their 1983 album Sports reached the top ten in the Billboard Top 100.


Lewis released his single “The Power Of Love” in 1985 which hit #1 in the US in no time. The song’s popularity went beyond the roof after it was featured in the movie Back To The Future that same year.


It was also the time when Lewis was seen gaining acclaim and attention as a harmonica player by featuring on other artists’ tracks.



34. Robert Smith


Robert Smith


The founder, lead singer, and only permanent member of the rock band The Cure, this English singer-songwriter is best known for his signature look which comprised red lipstick, black eyeshadow, disheveled black hair, and all-black clothes.


It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to state that his appearance had a strong influence on the rise of the Goth sub-culture at the time. When the group was first formed, Smith was the backup guitarist, but he soon started writing and singing songs for the band when they started touring with Siouxsie and the Banshees.


The release of their album Pornography in 1982 helped him consolidate his position within the music industry. Furthermore, he released a total of seven albums throughout the ’80s.



35. David Byrne


David Byrne


Best known as the lead singer of the new wave band Talking Heads, David Byrne is a songwriter, producer, actor, writer, music theorist, and filmmaker who made his striking presence felt during the 1980s.


The band was best known for blending elements of punk and funk, aiming to give birth to a new style of music; one that pretty much helped in defining the sound of New York City in that era.


All thanks to the release of their landmark album Remain In Light, the band’s popularity peaked in the early 1980s. Even though Byrne collaborated with several artists, he is known to have released several successful solo albums as well.


He was deservingly inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2002.



36. Morrissey




Smiths, a groundbreaking British rock band, was home to the English singer-songwriter Morrisey, who burst onto the mainstream in style. While the band released a string of classic albums in the 1980s, their debut album, The Smiths, reached #2 on the UK charts when it was released in 1984.


The album featured singles such as “What Difference Does It Make?” and “Hand in Glove” and its success helped the group’s next album rock the charts once again as their follow-up album, Meat Is Murder, reached #1 on the UK charts.


Morrissey played a massive role in the band’s success and his voice and distinctive stage presence made him one of the most iconic frontmen of his generation. Even when the band disbanded, he continued to have a successful solo career.



37. Stevie Wonder


Stevie Wonder


Okay, maybe Stevie was not as seismic during the 1980s as he was in the ’60s and ’70s, but the hits sure kept coming. Credited with being a pioneer and inspiration for musicians across a range of genres, he was best known for his use of synthesizers and other electronic musical instruments during his best days.


Two of his most popular chartbusters that were released during the ’80s were “Ebony And Ivory” and “I Just Called To Say I Love You”, both of which continue to appeal to music fans of the era.


Wonder’s fame continued to remain intact with the release of several hits during the 1980s.



38. Eurythmics




The British pop duo consisting of Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart released their first studio album, In the Garden, in 1981. While it only managed to find little success, the duo soon went on to achieve global acclaim when their second album, Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This), was released in 1983.


Its spectacular title track did not only reach #2 on the UK Singles Chart and #6 in Australia but it also topped the list both in Canada and the US Billboard Hot 100.


Needless to mention, it allowed Eurythmics to release a string of hit singles and albums throughout the decade before splitting up in 1990.



39. Hall & Oates


Hall & Oates


The many-times-platinum-certified collaboration of this pop-rock duo owned the 1980s with songs like “Meaneater” and “I Can’t Go for That (No Can Do).” Formed in Philadelphia in 1970, the group comprised Daryl Hall and John Oates, who were the lead vocalist and the electric guitarist respectively.


The two wrote most of the songs they performed. While they shot to fame during the mid-1970s itself, they continued to hold their ground until the late-1980s, all thanks to their successful fusion of rock and roll, soul music, and rhythm and blues.



40. Belinda Carlisle


Belinda Carlisle


Belinda Carlisle rose to prominence as the lead vocalist of the Go-Go’s, which is widely considered to be the most successful all-female rock band of all time. However, she went on to have a prolific career as a solo artist as well courtesy of songs like “Heaven Is a Place on Earth”, “I Get Weak”, and “Mad About You.” Before the group parted ways in the mid-1980s, their chart-topping debut studio album Beauty and the Beat had helped usher in a new wave of music in the United States of America.



41. Debbie Gibson


Debbie Gibson


Debbie Gibson released her debut album Out of the Blue in 1987, and it went on to become a bonafide hit, therefore, allowing her to be a chart mainstay in the late 1980s.


The success of the album spawned several international hits, and it was later certified triple platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America. The single, “Foolish Beat”, made her the youngest female artist to write, produce, and perform a Billboard Hot 100 number-one single.


Also, Gibson is the sole songwriter on all of her singles to have reached the top 20 of the Billboard Hot 100, and that speaks volumes about the success she achieved in little time.



42. Pet Shop Boys


Pet Shop Boys


Pet Shop Boys are an English synth-pop duo formed in London in 1981. Comprising primary vocalist Neil Tennant and keyboardist Chris Lowe, the duo has sold more than 50 million records worldwide.


Referred to as the most successful duo in UK music history in the 1999 edition of The Guinness Book of Records, they have achieved 42 top 30 singles since 1984.


Three-time Brit Award winners and six-time Grammy nominees, they also had five US top ten singles in the 1980s.



43. Billy Ocean


Billy Ocean


The most popular British R&B singer-songwriter of the early to mid-1980s, this recording artist had a string of R&B international pop hits in the 1970s and 1980s. While Billy Ocean’s 1985 hit “When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Going” reached No. 1 in the UK and No. 2 in the United States, he also won the Grammy Award for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance for his worldwide hit “Caribbean Queen (No More Love on the Run)” in the same year.


A member of the Rastafari movement, Ocean continued to deliver tracks that went on to become worldwide hits during the 1980s. Two of his most popular numbers in the second half of the decade were “Get Outta My Dreams, Get into My Car” and “There’ll Be Sad Songs (To Make You Cry).”



44. Pat Benatar


Pat Benatar


Pat Benatar shot to fame right after the release of her debut album, In the Heat of the Night, which thrived on singles such as “Heartbreaker” and “We Live for Love.” While she has two multi-platinum albums, five platinum albums, and 15 Billboard top 40 singles in the United States, in Canada, she had eight straight platinum albums.


A four-time Grammy Award winner, she has sold over 35 million albums worldwide and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in November 2022.



45. Paula Abdul


Paula Abdul


Paula Abdul began her career in the entertainment industry as a cheerleader for the Los Angeles Lakers at the age of 18. But, she shot to fame in the true sense of the word following the release of her debut album, Forever Your Girl, in the late 1980s.


The album, which comprised songs like “Straight Up” and “Opposites Attract” set sales and chart records and, eventually, went on to become one of the most successful debut albums at the time.


Abdul, who was one of the original judges on the television series American Idol, has also served as a judge on various other shows. While she may have excelled as a vocalist, she won accolades as a choreographer as well.



46. Richard Marx


Richard Marx


It wouldn’t be hyperbole to assert that in the late ’80s and early ’90s, the adult contemporary and pop rock singer-songwriter Richard Marx had become a mainstream of pop music.


The artist, who has sold over 30 million copies worldwide, is best remembered for songs like “Endless Summer Nights” and “Don’t Mean Nothing.” Marx’s self-titled debut album went triple-platinum in 1987, and he is the only male artist in history to have his first seven singles reach the top 5 of the Billboard charts.



47. Depeche Mode


Depeche Mode


This English electronic band was formed in Basildon in 1980 and released their debut album Speak & Spell in 1981; therefore, bringing themselves onto the British new wave scene. The band’s final albums of the 1980s, Black Celebration and Music for the Masses, played a key role in establishing them as a force to be reckoned with in the electronic music scene.


One of the band’s highlights was their concert at the Pasadena Rose Bowl in June 1988, which managed to draw a crowd of about 60,000 people.



48. Laura Branigan


Laura Branigan


Many consider Laura Branigan to be a one-hit wonder, but she certainly was much more than that. The song that people often associate with her is the platinum-certified 1982 single “Gloria”, which surprised one and all by staying on the U. S. Billboard Hot 100 for 36 weeks – a record for a female artist at the time.


However, Branigan didn’t stop there as she reached number one in Canada and Germany with the U. S. No. 4 hit “Self Control” which was released in 1984. While her chart success began to wane by the end of the 1980s, the artist seemed to have enjoyed her time recording several hits during the decade.



49. Dolly Parton


Dolly Parton


Known primarily for her decades-long career in country music, Dolly Parton is a Tennessee legend, who established herself as one of the top music stars of the ’70s and ’80s.


In fact, her appearances in feature films such as 9 to 5 and The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas only seemed to have added to her popularity. While her sales and chart peak came during the 1970s and continued into the 1980s, her albums didn’t sell as well in the ’90s.


Described by many as a “country music legend”, she has sold over 100 million records worldwide.



50. Toni Basil


Toni Basil


Toni Basil is a singer, dancer, actress, and director, whose contributions as a choreographer can be seen in several motion pictures through the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s. Her recording career began in 1966 and scaled new heights of success when her song, “Mickey”, topped the charts in the US, Canada, and Australia and hit the top ten in several other countries.


Basil, who has appeared as an actress and featured singer/dancer in many television shows, has also been invited to sit as a guest judge on seasons four and five of So You Think You Can Dance?



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