The era when hair touched the skies and “shoulder pads” weren’t considered as cringe worthy, everything seemed cool in the 80s. So, to keep up with the times, we’ve complied a list of the biggest-selling male pop artists of that time. Each of the stellar names on the list below attained equally incredible feats of fortune (and fame).
Besides Michael Jackson, Prince is the only other male pop sensation who dominated the era of the 80s. He consistently released creative albums and solo tracks, and also starred in a blockbuster movie titled Purple Rain. Prince also attracted the world’s attention when he changed his name to a symbol.
2. Elton John
Introducing himself from outside of the United States, Elton managed to give more than twenty North American and UK hits that featured radio staples like I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues, Nikita, and Candle In The Wind. You can’t forget his talent because his tracks even leave people mesmerized in this day and age.
3. Stevie Wonder
Though he wasn’t as seismic as he used to be in the 60s, his hits kept on making their way to the market. The pop sensation had more than 15 hits during that time (all of them found their way to the US hits charts), while “I Just Called to You I Love You” and similar tracks remain worldwide standards.
4. Michael Jackson
It’d be a sin to exclude Michael Jackson from this list because of the aura of his 80’s solo career that makes it easy to forget that he belonged to a group of talented musicians. Because the Jackson Five were major sensations in their own rights, Michael’s efforts are praised for the fact that he gained recognition for his individual contributions to the music industry. The pop star achieved a nearly unmatchable status with his 1982 album “Thriller” – which is also played on Halloween as a testament to its cast.
5. Peter Gabriel
Considered to be a far more mysterious and compelling individual that his Genesis partner, Gabriel was never able to match the popularity of Phil Collins. Even then, he contributed to some defining musical moments by releasing monster albums in So and contributing “In Your Eyes,” which went on to be used in the Hollywood movie Say Anything. In a nutshell, the pop artist ruled music outskirts of this genre as a solo, even though his partner managed to earn traditional, middle-ground popularity.
6. George Michael
While Wham! went a bit short when it came to qualifying Michael as a solo artist, he managed to reach even greater weights with the release of Faith, his masterpiece from 1987. The track topped both R&B and pop charts, cementing George Michael’s status as a pop superstar. The solid foundation of the album ensured that Michael didn’t need to work on more than a single album within the phase of the decade.
7. Huey Lewis
Aspiring wedding planner and an engineering dropout, Lewis and his pop rock band “The News” went out to release some of the top selling pop albums of the decade. One of his most popular works is Sports, the jaunty from 1983. Between fly-fishing and playing golf nearside his home in Montana, he carved an area for himself, showing up on other artists’ albums and playing small roles in movies like Duet, which also starred Gwyneth Paltro and earned Huey a number one song in the shape of “Cruisin.”
8. Weird Al Jankovic
His contributions outlived several one-hit wonders, which is incredible as the artist made a living parodying other artists. His constant effort allowed him to be considered among the only the artists who got a top 40 single after the 80s. Who were the other two artists, you wonder? Michael Jackson and Madonna.Jankovic has also earned four Grammys, which is another reason why he has found a place on our list.
9. Bryan Adams
Adams became a pop-rock sensation in the 80s courtesy of hits like Summer of 69 and Heaven. The Canadian singer also became the go-to person for movie-related soundtracks, with his songs finding a place in more than ten Hollywood movies, ranging from The Guardian to Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. Though he has steadily recorded a variety of tracks, he’s also praised for his humanitarian work.
10. Fab Morvan
This guy deserves a round of applause for even attempting to make a name after MilliVanilli. Both Rob Rilatus and Morvan shot to fame via tracks like Girl You Know It’s True and Blame It On The Rain. And although the other guy’s career ended and he chose a life of crime, Morvan went on to put out another album with one of the guys who sung Vanilli’s vocals.
11. Lionel Richie
This pop-artist’s career hit a high mile in the 80s with the tracks like All Night Long, Hello, and Truly. And even though he was eventually forgotten by the industry, he made a comeback in 2012 with the release of Tuskegee. The album consisted of duets featuring Richie’s greatest hits with other big stars like Willie Nelson, Kenny Chesney and Blake Shelton. In fact, it went on to be the fourth biggest-selling country album of that time.
12. Don Henley
Even though almost everyone associated with The Eagles has contributed to the music industry as a solo artist, Henley turned out to be (by far) one of the most successful individuals in this department. While Frey tried his luck, Henley was the one who was the most consistent as a solo artist who weren’t popular for renegades. Just as Richie and Collins, the solo attempts from Henley resonated with a plethora of artists, and the guy proved himself to be as much talented with acoustic guitars and synthesizers.
Bassist and former frontman of the Police has arguably had one of the divergent and decorated solo career of any of the top male pop stars of the 80s. However, he has been somewhat insistent about straying from his former pop self in favor of global music and jazz stylings. Irrespective of all that, it’s challenging to even question his tunes like Fortress Around Your Heart, which are still remembered by every music lover to this very day.
14. Richard Marx
After releasing a range of hits in the decade of the 80s and becoming the first pop artist to have seven of his single tracks get to the BillBoard’s Hot 100 Top 5, the singer managed to achieve a lot of success as a one-of-a-kind songwriter. With that said, it’s his songs like Right Here Waiting and Hold on to the Night that get people moving.
15. Corey Hart
A part-time painter and a father, Hart achieved two big hits in the shape of Never Surrender and I Wear My Sunglasses At Night. After that, he managed to live out with moderate success, eventually settling in his home in North America.
16. David Bowie
David Bowie is an English singer-songwriter hailed as one of the leading cultural influences of the 20th century owing to the great fame he received during the 1970s and 80s. His career saw ever-evolving musical and visual aesthetics that were classified as eras in his career. During the 80s, Bowie was in his New Romantic era, in which he released his hit single called Ashes to Ashes.
In 1981, he released one of his most popular songs called Under Pressure, which was a collaboration with Freddy Mercury. Bowie reached his peak in 1983 with the release of his album Let’s Dance which has sold over 10 million copies.
17. Boy George
Boy George Alan O’Dowd is a singer, an 80’s pop culture icon, a DJ, photographer, fashion designer, and producer. He was in a band called the Culture Club, in which he was a lead singer. The band rose to fame in the 1980s with the song Karma Chameleon and Do You Really Want to Hurt me. In the late 80s, he pursued more solo activities and released a single titled Everything I Own, which became a top song in the UK.
Boy George is well known for his androgynous appearance and outlandish looks. He dabbled in flamboyant costumes and put on extravagant makeup.
18. Billy Joel
Billy Joel is well known for his piano skills and distinctive voice, making him one of the best-selling musical artists of all time as he has managed to amass 150 million in sales. He is nicknamed the Piano Man after his first single, which is possibly his most famous song.
Throughout the 80s, Joel produced multiple chart-topping albums and singles. Some popular ones include Tell Her About It, It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me, and We Didn’t Start the Fire. He has had a very successful career, as he has been nominated for 23 Grammy awards and has won 5. He was also inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1991.
19. Robert Smith
Robert Smith is an English singer-songwriter best known as the lead singer, founder, and only continuous member of The Cure. He also has a signature look which comprises red lipstick, all-black clothes, messy black hair, and black eyeshadow. This look is strongly inspired by the rise of Goth at that time. Although the band was formed in the late 1970s, it gained popularity in 1982.
That ends our list of the top male pop stars of the 80s. We hope you enjoyed and will reminisce the tracks played by these incredible characters soon in your life. Perhaps by buying an80s concert shirt. That’d be cool.