30 famous 80s singers: most iconic music artists of the era

30 famous 80s singers: most iconic music artists of the era

Music in the 80s was fascinating, especially pop music, which many people were embracing. During the decade, many singers emerged with timeless songs that have stood the test of time. Interestingly, some of the 80s singers are still big names in today.

80s singers
Singers Tina Turner, Lionel Richie, and Whitney Houston. Photo: @tinaturner, @lionelrichie, @whitneyhouston on Instagram (modified by author)
Source: UGC

The 80s was a significant period for world music as it saw the rise of many singers whose songs are still enjoyable tunes today. The 80s singers not only influenced the style of music but also fashion, making them famous personalities. The decade’s iconic singers have left an indelible mark on music and have inspired many top musicians today.

Popular 80s singers

Music has changed over the years, but the 80s is an exceptional period as it is known for music that has entertained generations. Here are some of the famous singers in the 80s who gained prominence during the decade due to their music.

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Famous 80s male singers

Many male singers in the 80s stood out due to their powerful vocals and captivating lyrics. They displayed incredible talents, and some of them won coveted music awards. Here are some of the male iconic 80s singers worth recognising.

1. Michael Jackson

Famous singers in the 80s
Michael Jackson performs in concert circa 1986. Photo: Kevin Mazur
Source: Getty Images

Michael Jackson is among the greatest musicians ever and was nicknamed the King of Pop. He began his music career in 1958 as a member of the Jackson 5. He went solo in 1971, and his career peaked in the 1980s after releasing a series of major hits. He won 13 Grammy Awards.

2. Bryan Adams

Famous singers from the 80s
Musical guest Bryan Adams performs. Photo: Todd Owyoung
Source: Getty Images

Adams is a Canadian singer and songwriter regarded as one of the best-selling artists ever. Bryan started music at a young age and became a band member when he was 15. He found fame after releasing the album Cuts Like a Knife in 1983. His hits during the decade include No Way to Treat a Lady, It's Only Love, Another Heartache, and Somebody.

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3. Elton John

80s singers
Sir Elton John performs on the Pyramid stage during day 5 of Glastonbury Festival 2023 at Worthy Farm, Pilton, in Glastonbury, England. Photo: Jim Dyson
Source: Getty Images

Elton John is an award-winning British singer, pianist, and composer. He rose to prominence in the 1970s, and his musical success continued until the 1980s. Some of Elton John's songs released in the 80s include I Guess That's Why They Call It the Blues, I'm Still Standing, Sad Songs, Nikita, and Sacrifice. Elton has won five Grammy Awards.

4. George Michael

Popular singers in the 80s
British singer-songwriter George Michael, of Wham!, in a Sydney hotel room during the pop duo's 1985 world tour. Photo: Michael Putland
Source: Getty Images

George Michael was an English singer, songwriter, and record producer who lived between 25 June 1963 and 25 December 2016. His 80s songs, such as Careless Whisper, One More Try, and A Different Corner, remain favourites among music lovers. He is among the best-selling musicians of all time, with over 100 million records sold.

5. Phil Collins

Popular 80s singers
Phil Collins from Genesis performs at U Arena in Nanterre, France. Photo: David Wolff-Patrick
Source: Getty Images

The British singer began his career as a drummer for the rock band Genesis before becoming its lead singer. He achieved three UK and seven US number-one singles as a solo artist between 1983 and 1990. His 80s songs are In the Air Tonight, On More Night, Tow Hearts, and Take Me Home.

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6. Lionel Richie

Iconic 80s singers
Lionel Richie performs at Chase Center in San Francisco, California. Photo: Steve Jennings
Source: Getty Images

Richie was born Lionel Brockman Richie Jr. and is one of the 80s singers who are big names in music today. He made a name for himself in the 1980s after releasing popular hits like All Night Long, Endless Love, Hello, and Stuck on You. Richie is a four-time Grammy Award winner.

7. Billy Ocean

Best singers of the 80s
Billy Ocean performs at Uptown Festival 2023, partnered with Magic Radio, at the Blackheath Common in London, England. Photo: Lorne Thomson
Source: Getty Images

Leslie Sebastian Charles, professionally known as Billy Ocean, is one of the greatest ever black singers. He is a British singer and songwriter whose music career peaked between 1976 and 1988 when he released some of his best hits. His notable songs during the period include The Colour of Love, Loverboy, Caribbean Queen, Are You Ready, and Bitter Sweet.

8. Stevie Wonder

80s male singers
Stevie Wonder performs onstage during the 65th GRAMMY Awards at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles, California. Photo: Kevin Mazur
Source: Getty Images

Stevland Hardaway Morris, famous as Stevie Wonder, is a respected American singer who rose to stardom in the 1980s. He sings multiple song genres, including R&B, soul, jazz, and pop. His popular songs of the decade are Part-Time Lover, Master Blaster, I Just Called to Say I Love You, and Lately.

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9. Billy Joel

Famous singers in the 80s
Billy Joel performs at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Photo: Myrna M. Suarez
Source: Getty Images

Billy was born William Martin Joel and earned the nickname Piano Man after releasing his 1973 signature song of the same title. He achieved fame in the 1970s and was still a big name in the music industry in the 1980s. His decade's top songs are We Didn’t Start the Fire, Uptown Girl, and The Longest Time.

10. David Bowie

Famous singers from the 80s
David Bowie performing at Giant Stadium at the Meadowlands in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Photo: Ebet Roberts
Source: Getty Images

David Robert Jones was an iconic singer and is among the most influential musicians of the 20th century. The 1980s was a significant period in his music career as he released several studio albums, such as Let’s Dance, Never Let Me Down, and The Best of Bowie. He passed away on 10 January 2016.

11. Peter Gabriel

80s singers
Peter Gabriel performs at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, Michigan. Photo: Scott Legato
Source: Getty Images

Gabriel is a British singer, songwriter, and record producer who gained prominence as one of the founding members of the progressive rock band Genesis. He went solo in 1975 and had a prosperous music career in the 80s with singles such as Don’t Give Up, Turn It On Again, and many more.

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12. Steven Tyler

Popular singers in the 80s
Steven Tyler of Aerosmith performs at UBS Arena in Elmont, New York. Photo: Kevin Mazur
Source: Getty Images

Steven Tyler, nicknamed the Demon of Screamin, is the lead singer of the rock band Aerosmith. He has a distinct, powerful vocal range and high screams. He has released multiple albums and songs with the rock band since its inception in 1970. Some of their top songs are Walk This Way and What It Takes.

13. Eddie Money

Popular 80s singers
Eddie Money performing at the US Festival at the Devore California. Photo: Larry Hulst
Source: Getty Images

Eddie Money’s real name was Edward Joseph Mahoney. He enjoyed fame in the music industry in the 1970s and 1980s. Some of his greatest hits were featured in the Top 40 songs in the two decades. His 80s popular tracks are I Wanna Go Back, Take Me Home Tonight, Walk on Water, and The Big Crash.

14. Prince

Iconic 80s singers
US singer Prince performs at the Grand Palais in Paris. Photo: BERTRAND GUAY
Source: Getty Images

Prince Rogers Nelson is featured among popular singers in the 80s. He is regarded as one of the best musical artists of his generation, and he received multiple awards, including winning seven Grammy Awards. He died on 21 April 2016.

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15. Billy Idol

Best singers of the 80s
Billy Idol of Generation Sex performs at The Halls Wolverhampton in Wolverhampton, England. Photo: Lorne Thomson
Source: Getty Images

William Michael Albert Broad is a British-American singer, songwriter, and actor. He first gained prominence as the lead singer of the rock group Generation X before launching his solo career, leading to a peak career in the 80s. He is recognised for songs such as White Wedding, Eyes Without a Face, Rebel Yell, and Hot in the City.

Famous 80s female singers

Female singers were also among the big names in the 80s music industry. Here are the best female singers of the 80s you should add to your playlist.

1. Madonna

Iconic 80s singers
Madonna speaks onstage during the 30th Annual GLAAD Media Awards New York at New York Hilton Midtown in New York City. Photo: Jamie McCarthy
Source: Getty Images

Madonna Louise Ciccone is an American singer and songwriter nicknamed the Queen of Pop. She started her solo music career in 1982 after being signed by Sire Records and released her first album in 1983. Her famous hits include La Isla Bonita, Material Girl, Like a Prayer, and Crazy for You. She has won many accolades, including seven Grammy Awards.

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2. Kate Bush

80s female singers
Rock musician Kate Bush during a promotional event at Greenwich Village's Tower Records, New York, New York. She was there signing copies of her 'Hounds of Love' album. Photo: Gary Gershoff
Source: Getty Images

Catherine Bush, a British singer, became a top singer when she was 19, with her debut song Wuthering Heights topping the UK music charts. Her career peaked in the 1980s when she launched about nine studio albums. Some of her greatest hits during the period are Running Up That Hill, This Woman’s Work, and Hounds of Love.

3. Diana Ross

Famous singers in the 80s
Diana Ross performs onstage at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures 2nd Annual Gala presented by Rolex at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles, California. Photo: Kevin Mazur
Source: Getty Images

Diana Ross gained prominence as a member of the music group The Supremes. She commenced her solo career in the 1970s and became an outstanding singer, having released multiple studio albums and songs. Her famous hits of the 80s are Missing You, Upside Down, Chain Reaction, All of You, and It’s My Turn.

4. Whitney Houston

Famous singers from the 80s
Singer Whitney Houston is seen performing on stage during the 2004 World Music Awards at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo: Kevin Winter
Source: Getty Images

Whitney Elizabeth Houston, nicknamed the Voice, was undoubtedly one of the most gifted singers. She was named the second-greatest singer of all time by Rolling Stone in 2023. She started singing at a young age but got her major break in 1983 after attracting the attention of top record labels. Her songs include How Will I Know, Memories, All at Once, and You Give Good Love.

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5. Tina Turner

80s singers
Tina Turner performs at Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, California. Photo: Tim Mosenfelder
Source: Getty Images

Tina was known as the Queen of Rock 'n' Roll. Her most famous song is The Best, released at the peak of her musical journey in 1989. Her other pieces of the 80s are I Don’t Wanna Lose You, Private Dancer, Better Be Good to Me, and Typical Male.

6. Annie Lennox

Popular singers in the 80s
Annie Lennox attends The Time For Change Event at the Colosseum in Rome, Italy. Photo: Franco Origlia
Source: Getty Images

Annie is a Scottish singer and songwriter who rose to fame in the 1970s as part of the group Tourists. She formed Eurythmics with co-singer Dave Stewart in 1980 and gained international prominence. Her top songs during the decade are Paint a Rumour, Who's That Girl? This City Never Sleeps, Shame, and Heaven.

7. Dolly Parton

Popular 80s singers
Singer Dolly Parton attends the Academy of Country Music (ACM) Awards at Ford Center at the Star in Frisco, Texas. Photo: SUZANNE CORDEIRO
Source: Getty Images

Dolly Rebecca Parton is one of the singers who dominated the 1980s. She has been in the music industry since the 1950s, and her success has continued over seven decades. She is a ten-time Grammy Award winner. The country music artist is famous for Starting Over Again, Think About Love, and Don’t Call It Love.

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8. Belinda Carlisle

Iconic 80s singers
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Belinda Carlisle, singer and founding member of The Go-Go's, performs onstage at Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills, California. Photo: Scott Dudelson
Source: Getty Images

Belinda, an American singer, was the lead singer of the all-female rock band The Go-Go’s. After leaving the group, she started a solo musical career in the 1980s. Her famous hits of the decade include Head Over Heels, I Get Weak, Heaven Is a Place on Earth, and Circle in the Sand.

9. Debbie Gibson

Best singers of the 80s
Debbie Gibson attends The Global Lyme Alliance GLA Gala at Cipriani 42nd Street in New York City. Photo: Michael Ostuni
Source: Getty Images

Deborah Ann Gibson is an American singer and record producer. She commenced her musical journey in the 1980s and released her first album, Out of the Blue, in 1987. Songs that made her a prominent artist of the 80s are Foolish Beat, Lost in Your Eyes, Electric Youth, and We Could Be Better.

10. Laura Branigan

80s female singers
Laura Branigan circa 1982 in New York City. Photo: Images Press
Source: Getty Images

Laura Ann Branigan was an American singer and songwriter recognised for her song Gloria, which stayed on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 for 36 weeks. The singer’s other hits are Power of Love, Self Control, Forever Young, and The Lucky One. She reportedly died on 26 August 2004.

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11. Gloria Estefan

Famous singers in the 80s
Gloria Estefan speaks onstage during The Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis’ 38th Annual Great Sports Legends Dinner, at the Marriott Marquis. Photo: Roy Rochlin
Source: Getty Images

Gloria Estefan is a multi-awarding winning musician, featuring among the best singers ever. She gained prominence after releasing her first studio album, Cuts Both Ways, in 1989, with songs such as Get On Your Feet, Here We Are, and Don’t Wanna Lose You.

12. Tracy Chapman

Famous singers from the 80s
Tracy Chapman attends Cirque du Soleil "Kurios" - Opening Night - San Francisco, CA at AT&T Park in San Francisco, California. Photo: Trisha Leeper
Source: Getty Images

Tracy Chapman is among the famous singers from the 80s. She was signed by Bob Krasnow in 1987 and attracted the attention of many people with her singing prowess. Her 1980s hits are Fast Car, Baby Can I Hold You, Takin’ Bout a Revolution, and Across the Lines.

13. Cyndi Lauper

80s singers
Cyndi Lauper attends the "Let the Canary Sing" premiere -during the 2023 Tribeca Festival at Beacon Theatre in New York City. Photo: Theo Wargo
Source: Getty Images

With over a four-decade-long career, Cyndi Lauper is recognised as one of the best musicians. She started her career as a vocalist with different cover bands and formed the Blue Angel band in 1978. Her famous tracks of the 80s are Girls Just Want To Have Fun, True Colors, I Drove All Night, and Money Changes Everything.

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14. Pat Benatar

Popular singers in the 80s
Pat Benatar performs onstage during the 2023 iHeartRadio Music Awards at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California. Photo: Monica Schipper
Source: Getty Images

She is a rock music singer and songwriter from the United States. She boasts a successful music career spanning over 30 years. She released about six studio albums in the 1980s, and some of the hits in the albums made her famous. Her songs include Love Is a Battlefield, We Belong, Invincible, and Shadows of the Night.

15. Chaka Khan

Popular 80s singers
Chaka Khan speaks onstage at the Prince Paisley Park Celebration 2023 at Paisley Park in Chanhassen, Minnesota. Photo: Kevin Mazur
Source: Getty Images

Yvette Marie Stevens started music as the lead singer of the band Rufus in the 1970s. She has been in the music industry for over five decades and has released 13 studio albums. Her well-known hits are Through the Fire, I Feel for You, Got to Be There, and Papillon.

The music of the 1980s is enjoyable regardless of your age. It was a significant period for many singers as their careers peaked. The above 80s singers are some artists who stood out during the decade. Some of them are still thriving today.

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Legit.ng recently published a list of the best 2000s rappers. Hip-hop music has transformed over the years, with the 2000s being a significant period. During the decade, top rappers emerged, many people embraced the music, and other sub-genres emerged.

Who are the rappers that dominated the 2000s? A long list of male and female rappers defined the course of hip-hop in the period. Find out which rappers found fame in the decade.

Source: Legit.ng

Authors:
Muhunya Muhonji avatar

Muhunya Muhonji (Lifestyle writer) Muhunya has been a writer for more than three years. He graduated from Egerton University in 2014 with a degree in Agricultural Economics. He is also a certified public accountant and tax expert. Muhunya joined Legit.ng in July 2021 and writes about various topics such as entertainment, technology, business, and biographies. In 2023, Muhunya finished the AFP course on Digital Investigation Techniques. In March 2024, he completed the Google News Initiative course. Email: muhunyah@gmail.com

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