The 1980s Playlist

The 1980s brought us Madonna’s seductive cheese, New Wave synthesizers, disco jams and dance-floor anthems from Guns N’ Roses; Boy George and Culture Club blended new wave with pop, reggae and even country music into something truly iconic.

Prince received heavy MTV airtime for Little Red Corvette, leading to his immensely popular Purple Rain album and movie. Additionally, this decade saw the birth of both Britney Spears and Whitney Houston as stars of their own right.

Hip Hop

The 1980s were an amazing decade! New styles proliferated across popular music. Glam metal brought thundering noise to Sunset Strip clubs while New Romantic synth-pop and hip hop became voice of young America on MTV and hip hop became voice for young America in general – suddenly making pop world all that much louder, crazier and messier!

Hip hop originated as a cultural movement during the late 1970s in response to socioeconomic conditions in African American neighborhoods, and included more than just music – it included graffiti art, street dancing and fashion as well as deejaying (DJing), rapping and beatboxing. Hip hop music saw massive popularity growth throughout the 1980s with artists like Run-D.M.C bringing hip hop music mainstream while Public Enemy and LL Cool J pushed rap into new directions – especially gangsta rap which focused on violence within inner city youth communities – it even saw Run-D.M.C bring hip hop music mainstream!

Salt-n-Pepa and Queen Latifah brought female voices into hip hop. Meanwhile, artists like Beastie Boys’ LL Cool J pushed it in an increasingly aggressive direction, while Public Enemy and MC Hammer advocated political ideology through rhymes. Furthermore, digital sampling technology like boombox helped hip hop become one of the top selling music genres during this era.

Hip hop soon gained international influence, with artists like Freestyle Fellowship and Pharcyde making waves across North America and Europe. Furthermore, its cultural and musical revolution inspired an entire generation of emcees to develop their own sounds.

The 1980s witnessed the emergence of neo soul, featuring singers like Lauryn Hill, Erykah Badu and Jill Scott; nu metal took its cue from hip hop’s distorted guitars and rapid vocal delivery; all three genres blended together in the 80s to create one of music’s enduring genres: hip hop. R&B. and pop – together forming what is today known as hip-hop/R&B/pop. These timeless classics continue to influence artists of all genres who continue their timeless melodies or continue influencing artists of all kinds today – truly timeless classics!


R&B music became one of the defining styles of the 1980s alongside hip hop. Also known as soul music, R&B draws its roots from blues and jazz while being distinguished by vocal harmonies in doo-wop style. R&B first emerged onto urban music scenes in New York, Chicago, Detroit, and Philadelphia during WWII and would continue evolving over time into influencers such as The Temptations, Anita Baker, and Luther Vandross.

At this point, R&B started to merge with other genres like rock, jazz and dance, producing a sound known as Neo Soul. Neo Soul saw even greater popularity during the early 1990s with artists like Maxwell and D’Angelo popularizing this subgenre of R&B; hip hop also played an influential role, leading to cross-pollination between styles as they crossed over more seamlessly than before.

Modern R&B music features vocalists at its center and draws heavily from modern sounds – from funk, dance and hip hop productions, as well as new jack swing subgenre of hip hop for rhythmic inspiration.

R&B continued its musical development during the 2000s, due to artists such as Mary J Blige and SWV becoming popular. This iteration of R&B shares more similarities with hip hop than rock music, yet continues to expand into an array of sounds and subgenres.

At one point, R&B music consisted of vocalists and groupings such as The Oak Ridge Boys and Statler Brothers; these groups featured both gospel-inspired country-pop styles as well as R&B elements. However, by the 2000s it was becoming more focused on solo artists; one example being Melvin Lindsey’s Quiet Storm radio show which targeted older middle class suburban Black audiences while still catering for R&B artists such as Anita Baker and Luther Vandross who contributed.


Pop music is an umbrella genre encompassing various sounds and styles, yet distinguished by universal themes and catchy melodies that resonate across age demographics, cultures, and generations. While some may dismiss its shallow appeal or commercial nature, pop remains an influential genre that continues to influence today’s musicians.

In the 1980s, pop music was an influential force in culture. Iconic artists such as Michael Jackson and Madonna left an immeasurable legacy that continues to resonate today, from fashion trends to music videos. Their memorable songs and boundary-pushing performances inspired millions of young fans to embrace their individuality through musical expression.

Origins of 80s pop can be traced back to the late 70s when disco began its decline and a new sound emerged combining elements from disco, funk and rock music characterized by synthesizers, electronic drums and upbeat rhythms. Artists such as Blondie, ABBA and Donna Summer were early pioneers of this style which soon became associated with pop music of the 80s.

Pop music stands out from its peers with its catchy melodies and accessible structures, often dealing with love, relationships, or self-discovery – easily understood lyrics that speak directly to listeners across genres. Most pop songs also come equipped with accompanying videos which enhance their appeal while giving listeners access to artists they enjoy listening to.

As pop music became more and more popular throughout the 1980s, various boybands and girl groups such as Spice Girls and Take That became internationally acclaimed acts with infectious tunes that appealed to global audiences. Furthermore, these groups created opportunities for female solo artists by opening doors for them to become internationally famous due to their talent and charisma.

Pop music has evolved into an international phenomenon that continues to reflect both societal shifts and technological innovations. Today, major record companies distribute the genre worldwide via various media outlets such as television and radio broadcasts; some artists like Lady Gaga use pop as a form of social activism by encouraging acceptance and equality through their music and image; streaming platforms are shaping the future of this industry.


The 1980s witnessed an extraordinary shift in musical styles and genres. New wave music emerged out of punk rock from the 70s and was helped to define by bands like Devo, Blondie, and The Cars to define this decade’s sounds. New wave combined disco funk rock elements with catchy melodies synthesizers and electronic drum machines to form its distinctive pop sound; Prince Madonna Cyndi Lauper also used this style of music during this era to shape their respective careers.

The 1980s was also an era for big hair bands, alternative rock music and hip hop culture – with artists such as Bon Jovi and Guns N’ Roses dominating in their respective industries and helping push rock and roll music back into the mainstream where it remains today.

80s pop music was also marked by its desire for transformation and escape from daily routine. Artists used songs as means to empower themselves and their audiences – as evidenced by songs like A-Ha’s Together in Electric Dreams or Madonna’s Borderline that focused on yearning for something worthwhile in life.

No pop music list would be complete without including Michael Jackson, commonly referred to as the “King of Pop.” His reinvention and success during this era left an indelible mark on music industry that continues to influence contemporary stars such as Taylor Swift and Carly Rae Jepsen.

While it can be easy to dismiss music of the ’80s as corny, it is important to remember that pop music transcends production values or songs themselves and instead centers around how each song affects us emotionally, while connecting us all.

So the next time someone criticizes pop music from the ’80s as being dull, remind them it was actually so good!