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What Type Of Music Was Popular In The 1980s?

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Are you looking for some good old tunes from the 80s? Well, you’ve come to the right place! In this article, we’ll take a look at the history of the 1980s music era, its top artists, and some of the top hits during this decade. 

bundles of cassette tapes in the 1980s music era

The 1980s Era Of Music

The 1980s was a time of great change in the music industry. As the decade progressed, new technologies emerged and changed the way musicians created their music. 

For example, the advent of MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) allowed musicians to create electronic instruments using computers instead of real ones. This led to the creation of synth pop, house, techno, and other genres. 

As the decade came to a close, hip hop became the dominant genre. Artists such as Run DMC, LL Cool J, Public Enemy, and NWA helped define the sound of the 80s.

Top Artists From The 1980s Era Of Music

As we mentioned briefly above, the 1980s was an exciting time for music. Many talented musicians rose to stardom during that period. Here are some of the most popular artists who made a mark on the world of music during the 1980s:

Michael Jackson

He is considered one of the greatest singers of all time. His song “Billie Jean” is still played today.


He is known for his unique style of music and his virtuoso skills on the piano.


She’s best known for her hit singles like “Material Girl”, “Like A Virgin”, and “Crazy For You”.

pretty lady wearing expensive jewelries

Cyndi Lauper

She’s best known as the lead singer of the girl band Kajagoogoo. Her biggest hits include “Time After Time” and “Girls Just Want To Have Fun”.

Bruce Springsteen

He’s probably the most successful musician of the 1980s. He has sold over 100 million records worldwide.

Whitney Houston

She had several number-one hits including “I Will Always Love You”, “How Will I Know?”, and “Greatest Love Of All”.

Lionel Richie

He’s best known for his hit single “All Night Long”.

Billy Joel

He wrote many hits including “Piano Man”, “We Didn’t Start The Fire”, and “Uptown Girl”.

Elton John

He’s best known as the pianist and vocalist in the rock band Rocket Man. He also released two albums with his brother Bernie.

David Bowie

He’s best known now for his album Let’s Dance which featured the classic hit “Let’s Dance.”


They’re best known for their hit single “With Or Without You” off of their album War.

What Type Of Music Was Popular In The 1980s (1)

What Are Some Of The Top Songs From The 1980s?

“We Are The World”

Released in 1985, We Are The World is considered by many to be one of the best charity singles ever recorded. 

It features popular singers like Michael Jackson, Lionel Richie, Tina Turner, Cyndi Lauper, Kenny Rogers, Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder, Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, Paul McCartney, Elton John, and Whitney Houston. 

The song raised over $60 million for famine relief in Ethiopia.

“I Will Survive”

Released in 1987, I Will Survive is Gloria Gaynor’s biggest hit single. The song reached number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and won two Grammy Awards.

“Dancing Queen”

In 1986 ABBA released Dancing Queen, which featured vocals from Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus along with lyrics written by Tim Rice. The song topped the charts around the world and sold over 40 million copies.

“Take On Me”

In 1988, Take On Me is a hard rock song performed by Ozzy Osbourne from his album No Rest for the Wicked. The song peaked at 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

“Billie Jean”

Released in 1983, Billie Jean is an R&B/disco song by Michael Jackson. The song has been certified diamond by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). The video for the song earned the MTV Video Music Award for Best Male Video in 1984.

“Beat It”

Released in 1984, Beat It is a pop-punk song by Michael Jackson. It was the lead single from Thriller and it went platinum three times. You don’t need to be familiar with this era of music to have heard this song – it’s a true classic!

“Eternal Flame”

Released in 1985 Eternal Flame is a power ballad by Journey. The song was the first single off the band’s fifth studio album Infinity.

“Girl Just Wanna Have Fun”

Released in 1981, Girl Just Wanna Have Fun is a disco song by KC & The Sunshine Band. The song topped the US Billboard Hot 100 chart for four weeks.

two ladies dancing and having fun listening to 80s music on their headphones

“Don’t Stop Believing”

Released in 1982, Don’t Stop Believing is a pop-rock song by Journey. The song peaked at 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart. It was re-popularized in recent times thanks to the popular TV show Glee.

“Say You, Say Me”

In 1985, Say You, Say Me was a pop-rock song by Tiffany. The song reached number 3 on the US Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart.

“Can’t Get Enough”

In 1986 Can’t Get Enough was a dance-pop song by Donna Summer. The song was her last Top 10 hit on the US Billboard Hot Dance Club Play chart.

“The Final Countdown”

In 1987, The Final Countdown was a heavy metal song by Europe. The song was the title track from the band’s third studio album.

“Never Gonna Give You Up”

In 1989 Never Gonna Give You Up is a pop-rock ballad by Rick Astley. The song was the second single off his debut solo album, Whenever You Need Somebody. Like the other songs on this list, it is still a classic today. 

Wrapping Up

The 1980s was a very prominent decade for music. Many artists rose to fame during that time period, including Madonna, Prince, Michael Jackson, George Michael, and more. 

Some of the genres that were popular include new wave, synth-pop, punk, alternative rock, heavy metal, glam metal, rap, hip hop, house, techno, electro, industrial, grunge, nu-metal, pop-rock, reggae, and ska. 

We hope that this article has given you a better insight into what type of music was popular during this period of time!