80s Music

Britney Chen, Staff Writer

The time of power ballads and glam metal, 80s music was as colorful and fun as its clothing. After the 70s disco craze died down, rock, pop, hair metal, and new wave became the popular music genres of the new decade.

Rock was a music staple in the 1980s. Arena rock, one of rock’s subgenres, had huge commercial success. It had combinations of pop and hard rock that made it radio-friendly and its catchy hooks made bands like Journey or Foreigner very popular. Arena rock also popularized the power ballad, featuring strong vocals and guitar solo.

Hair metal or glam metal was also an 80s phenomena. It drew influences from rock, pop and heavy metal. Hair metal bands like Motley Crue and Poison capitalized on its image with their large curly hair, black eyeliner, and spandex clothing.

Out of all the genres, new wave was distinctly 80s. It was a softer version of pop punk and included synthesizers and electronic instruments. Popular new wave bands included Talking Heads, Culture Cure, and The Cure. New wave didn’t last forever though. About Entertainment said, “While the music video age initially proved favorable for new wave acts, the popularity of MTV ultimately led to their demise”. While this new wave artists were photogenic, the “in your face” image of hair metal bands ultimately edged out them out.

A trend with 80s music was the emphasis on on branding and image. The creation of MTV made music videos, and visuals in general, an important part of an artist’s success. The 80s was a time when music could get huge commercial success and the invention of the Walkman and boombox made music more portable. No one did branding better than 80s pop stars. Superstars like Michael Jackson, Madonna, Whitney Houston, and Prince reached a level of popularity and success not seen since Elvis Presley or The Beatles. According to the Billboard Hot 100, in the 1980s, Michael Jackson had 9 number one hits and a total of 27 weeks at number one. He was by far the biggest star of the 80s.

80s music was fun and full of catchy tunes. The rock and metal bands were iconic to the decade as neon and leg warmers.