Getting a sense of the decade’s diverse sounds is easier by classifying 1980s music according to some of its most important genres and styles. Some of the most popular pop and rock music categories of the era are listed here.
Arena Rock is a band.
1980s music would have been very different without arena rock, and contrary to popular belief, that change would not have been for the better. The ’80s mix of progressive rock, radio-friendly pop/rock with big hooks, and hard rock was a deserving mainstay of the decade’s musical cuisine despite its commercial orientation. Journey, R.E.O. Speedwagon, Pat Benatar,38 Special, and Night Ranger are some of the most well-known musicians. We’ll also argue for including Van Halen, whose final outstanding record with David Lee Roth at the helm was released in 1984. ‘ When Roth returned as lead singer in 2012, he was joined by the other original members, including Eddie Van Halen’s son Wolfgang, on bass. )
“Indie rock” (also known as “college rock” in the United Kingdom) was characterised by a great eclecticism that was united by a simple commonality: They were found and aired on college radio stations, which is where most of the bands started. Even though R.E.M. and the Replacements, among others, were initially regarded as outsiders, the genre eventually became accepted as a popular ’80s style, such as U2. What unites these bands is a love of quirky, guitar-driven music that emphasises both melody and an independent attitude influenced by punk rock.
Rock and Roll
Hairbands like Bon Jovi, Def Leppard and Dokken sold-out arenas with tens of thousands of fans who sported Aqua-Netted hairdos and bandanas that choked them to the ground to the point where they couldn’t move their legs. The phenomena of hair metal sometimes referred to as pop-metal or glam metal, reduced heavy metal and hard rock to a pop music formula that worked. For its look, the form borrowed from the glam rock of the ’70s while at the same time slathering on ’80s pop production at will.
Rock ‘n’ Roll from the Midwest.
Jack and Diane, John Cougar Mellencamp’s best-known song, came out in 1982, and unless you were living in a cave in the middle of nowhere, you couldn’t have missed it. Early 1980s heartland music was still running strong, fusing plain rock and roll with other popular American styles like country and folk with deftness. Songs by Tom Petty, Bob Seger and Bruce Springsteen capture the joys and sorrows of everyday life in the United States.
New wave, the decade’s most instantly recognisable musical subgenre (both in terms of sound and nomenclature), was a major influence on several of the decade’s most iconic fashion trends. Above all, though, this pop music distillation of punk rock’s rebellious spirit gave rise to great guitar rock and a forceful synth-pop subgenre (Devo, Gary Numan, Spandau Ballet).
The B-52s, the Cars, Culture Club, The Police, and Duran Duran are just a few artists to feature in this list. Female performers like Cyndi Lauper, the Pretenders, the Motels, and later-era Blondie all established themselves as capable frontwomen during the New Wave movement, which was defined by focusing on having a good time.