The 1980s saw the emergence of pop, dance music and new wave. Rock music continued to enjoy a wide audience. Sub-genres such as new wave, soft rock, and glam metal became very popular. For the early part of the 80s, RAP made a large impression on the Billboard R&B charts, but failed to break into the mainstream, but by the second part of the 80’s, many RAP artists and their songs became very popular. The 1980s are commonly remembered for an increase in the use of digital recording, associated with the usage of synthesizers.
The 1980s saw the reinvention of Michael Jackson, Tina Turner and Billy Joel, the superstardom of Prince and the emergence of Madonna, Whitney Houston, Cyndi Lauper, and Janet Jackson, —who were all the most successful musicians during this time. Madonna was the best-selling female artist of the decade and Michael Jackson was the best-selling male artist. Prince was one of the decade’s most prolific artists, not just by being the top-charting artist but for discovering new artist (Sheila E.) and writing many songs for other artists (Manic Monday).
Beginning in 1983 and peaking in success in 1986-1990, the decade saw the resurgence of hard rock music. Bands such as AC/DC, Queen, Def Leppard, Kiss, Mötley Crüe, Bon Jovi, Quiet Riot, Scorpions, Ratt, Twisted Sister, Poison, Whitesnake, and Cinderella were among the most popular acts of the decade. The 1980s saw the emergence of wildly popular hard rock band Guns N’ Roses and the successful comebacks of Aerosmith. The success of hard rock act Van Halen spanned throughout the entire decade, first with singer David Lee Roth and later with Sammy Hagar. Heavy metal was also extremely popular throughout the decade, with Ozzy Osbourne achieving success during his solo career; bands like Iron Maiden and Judas Priest.
In the latter half of the 1980s, teen pop experienced its first wave, with bands and artists including Exposé, Debbie Gibson, Tiffany, New Edition, Stacey Q, The Bangles, New Kids on the Block, Laura Branigan, Boy George and others becoming teen idols.
During the 1980s, the hip hop genre started embracing the creation of rhythm by using beatbox and rapping. Popular hip hop artists of the 1980s include Kurtis Blow, Run D.M.C., Beastie Boys, NWA, LL Cool J, Public Enemy, Kid N Play, Salt N Pepa, and Ice-T and MC Hammer, among others.
As the 1980s dawned, pop-influenced country music was the dominant style, through such acts as Kenny Rogers, Ronnie Milsap, T.G. Sheppard, Eddie Rabbitt, Crystal Gayle, Anne Murray and Dolly Parton.
Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the U.S.A., AC/DC’s Back in Black, Def Leppard’s Hysteria, and Bon Jovi’s Slippery When Wet were some of the decade’s biggest-selling albums on the Billboard Top 200 chart.
The 1980s was a decade of revolutionary changes on the music scene. The two major developments were the advent of MTV and the compact disc.
The decade ended with Milli Vanilli winning best new Artist, which was later revoked due to the discover the duo lip syncing their songs.