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1980s Music - My Top 10

Updated on October 3, 2019
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As a life-long music enthusiast I have acquired a very eclectic taste. Join me on a journey through my top ten albums of the 1980s!

Rock and Roll!

Keith Richards and Ron Wood, 1982
Keith Richards and Ron Wood, 1982 | Source

The Rolling Stones - Tattoo You

This album was constructed using a selection of previously unrecorded tracks from the Rolling Stones, some reaching back to the early 1970s. Split into a fast and a slow side, the album reached number one in the USA and number two in the UK. The band accompanied the album with a world-wide tour.

According to the 100 Best-Selling Albums of the 80s, Tattoo barely made the list at the 99th spot yet it is my favorite Stones album.

Sales were more than four million and there were no Grammy awards for this one.

Rolling Stones - Waiting On A Friend

Peter Gabriel - So

It was the stop-action animation video Sledgehammer which brought this album more into the mainstream. The album is sophisticated pop and expertly produced with Gabriel and Daniel Lanois.

The song remained on the Billboard Hot 100 in the USA for 21 weeks and reached number fourth position on the UK hit list. More than 5 million copies sold and no Grammies awarded.

Peter Gabriel - Sledgehammer

U2 - Rattle And Hum

The majority of this album was recorded live and while on tour, to accompany the documentary film of the same name. As U2 paid tribute to America with the tour they also paid tribute to the artists who came before them with cover of The Beatles’ Helter Skelter, and Bob Dylan’s All Along the Watchtower. They collaborated with B.B. King on Love Comes to Town, and recorded Angel of Harlem in the legendary Sun Studio as tribute to Billie Holliday.

The album sold more than six million copies and received a Grammy for Best Rock Performance By A Duo or Group for the song Desire.

U2 - Desire

Michael Jackson - Thriller

Michael Jackson’s Thriller holds the top spot of all 1980s albums based on the number of platinum and multi-platinum sales as certified by the Recording Industry Association of America and the British Phonographic Industry.

This is the album that had it all, rock, soul, and pop. Top it off with Jackson’s star power and it is no wonder the album featured seven tracks that went on to become top ten hits in the USA.

It is not surprising that Thriller did well at the Grammy Awards, winning Album of the Year; Record of the Year for Beat It’; Best Male Pop Vocal Performance for Thriller; Best Male Rock Vocal Performance for Beat It; Producer of the Year; Best Male R&B Vocal Performance for Billie Jean; Best R&B Song for Billie Jean; and Best Video Album.

Michael Jackson - Thriller

U2 - The Joshua Tree

The Joshua Tree was so anticipated that it sent a new record by going platinum in just 28 hours of its released.

U2 worked with Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois, and brought back Steve Lillywhite to mix four of the songs. With more than eleven million sales The Joshua Tree was well received at the Grammy Awards winning Album of the Year; Best Rock Performance By A Duo Or Group with Vocal; Best Performance Music Video.

U2 - I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For

The Police - Synchronicity

This was the final studio recording for The Police and was followed by a world tour before announcing that the band members were parting.

The album held the top position of the UK charts for two weeks and was a number one in the USA for 17 weeks. More than eight million copies sold, Synchronicity won two Grammy Awards for Best Pop Performance By A Duo or Group and Best Rock Performance By a Duo or Group.

The Police - Every Breath You Take

Bruce Springsteen - Born In the USA

An album for the America working classes. Although the album failed to produce any number one hit singles, seven tracks went on to become top ten hits in the USA and the album remained on both the American and UK charts for more than two years.

With more than 15 million albums sold, Born in the USA won a Grammy for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance for Dancing in the Dark.

Bruce Springsteen - Dancing In the Dark

Dire Straits - Brothers In Arms

Much of the albums success came from the track Money For Nothing, which was supported by cutting-edge computer animation.

The single reached number one in the US and number four in the UK and went on to win a Grammy for Best Music Video, Short Form. Selling more than 12 million copies the album won a second Grammy for Best Rock Performance By A duo or Group With Vocal.

Live Aid - Dire Straits with Sting - Money For Nothing

Original Motion Picture Soundtrack - Dirty Dancing

The popularity of the album had a lot to do with the song, (I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life, a duet with Jennifer Warnes and Bill Medley.

The single reached number one in the US, selling more than 36 million copies and won a Grammy for Best Pop Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal, and won an Academy Award for Best Song. The album sold more than 12 million copies.

(I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life

Original Motion Picture Soundtrack - Footloose

Wrapping up the Top 10 with another soundtrack, Footloose.

The soundtrack topped the US charts and was nominated for a Grammy which it didn’t win. It also had two nominations for an Academy Award for the songs Footloose and Let’s Hear It For the Boy. More than nine million copies were sold of the album.

Original Motion Picture Soundtrack - Footloose

What Do You Think?

Which of my favorite albums of the 1980s do you enjoy most?

See results

Resource Consulted

Resources consulted:

100 Best-Selling Albums of the 90s

Amber Books,

London, UK



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