As the 1970s ended and the 80s began, disco music was on its way out. In place of the large horn sections of the disco bands was the distinctive synthesizer sound of 80's new wave music. 80's new wave brought together various aspects of 70's disco, rock, punk, and funk music. Bands like The Cars, The Police, Blondie, Talking Heads and Joy Division started gaining popularity in the late 70s and were major players in early 80's new wave music.
The early 80s pop music scene was dominated by arena bands. Rock bands like Styx, Genesis, Queen, Journey, REO Speedwagon and Foreigner had a lot of success in the early 80s. The arena bands were so named because of the massive number of people that these popular bands could pull in for a concert. The concerts often took place in sports stadiums and usually had large sets with laser light and pyrotechnic shows.
MTV Music Television started broadcasting music videos in 1981. 80s pop music was heavily influenced by this fledgling music television network. The first major pop singer of the 1980s used music videos to take his career to superstardom.
Michael Jackson's popular videos for songs like Billy Jean and Beat it, helped make his album Thriller a huge success in 1982. Thriller was the #1 album of the decade and spawned 7 top ten singles.
In 1983, Duran Duran used heavy MTV rotation of it's videos for the songs Hungry Like The Wolf and Rio to launch their album, also called Rio, to the top of the US Billboard Charts. The Rio album stayed on the 80s pop music charts for 129 weeks!
In 1985, 80s pop music was dominated by the female counterpart to Michael Jackson. Madonna, born Madonna Louise Ciccone, shot to stardom partly based on the huge popularity of the music video for her song Like A Virgin. The Like A Virgin album was released in late 1984 and contained 4 top ten hits whose videos were played continuously on MTV for most of 1985.
Bruce Springsteen was at the top of the 80s pop music scene. Springsteen developed a large following in the 70s and early 80s with songs like Born to Run and The River, but it was his Born in the USA album that sold 14 million copies and shot him to superstardom. The album matched Michael Jackson's Thriller with 7 top ten singles.
Prince first gained success in the early 80s with the hit singles Little Red Corvette and 1999, but he hit the jackpot with his 1984 album Purple Rain. The Purple Rain album brought Prince to the top of the 80s pop music scene. It featured two number one hits in When Doves Cry and Let's Go Crazy. The album was the soundtrack to the autobiographical movie by the same name.
U2 is a band from Ireland that gained popularity with hit songs like Sunday Bloody Sunday and Pride (In The Name of Love) in 1984. They became superstars in 80s pop music with the release of the Joshua Tree album in 1987. The singles Where The Streets Have No Name, I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For, and With Or Without You were all huge mega-hits.
80s pop music was taken over by teenagers in the mid to late eighties. Artists like Tiffany and Debbie Gibson and Bands like New Kids on the Block and New Edition ruled the charts. Gibson became the youngest female singer to write, produce, and perform a #1 hit single with her 1988 single Foolish Beat.
By the end of the decade, 80s pop music had been taken over by the pop metal bands, also later referred to as "Hair Metal Bands" because of their over the top hair styles. Bands like Bon Jovi, Poison, Def Leppard, and Warrant all had top ten singles on the Billboard charts.
Hip Hop music became a major player on the 80s pop music scene with the release of the Run D.M.C. single Walk This Way. Run D.M.C. teamed with Steven Tyler and Joe Perry on the cover of the song originally done by Aerosmith in the 70s. The song and video were a huge success and resulted both in the increased popularity of rap music and the resurrection of Aerosmith's career.
Soon more rap music acts were climbing the 80s pop music charts. By the late 80s, the music of artists like MC Hammer, Young MC, and Salt-N-Pepa was being played regularly on MTV and pop music radio stations.