10 Best-Selling Artists of the ’80s

So, who were the ten best-selling artists of the '80s? The '80s marked the deaths of John Lennon, Bob Marley and disco music while welcoming the birth of MTV, Live Aid concerts and the Moonwalk. In a decade that spawned a culture of rampant excess and one hit wonders these ten artists dominated the decade with almost 50 number one hits between them, making them the ten best-selling artists of the '80s.

  1. Michael Jackson. It should come as no surprise to see The King of Pop at the top of the list of best-selling artists of the '80s. He practically owned the '80s with an astounding nine number one songs during the course of the decade. The man who revolutionized pop music with songs like “Thriller” and “Billie Jean” started his decade of domination with “Rock With You” in 1980.

  2. Phil Collins. The sultry-voiced drummer helped his band Genesis garner their only number one hit, “Invisible Touch,” but not before Phil Collins had already launched a successful solo career, easily becoming one of the best-selling artists of the '80s. He earned seven number one hits as a solo artist beginning with “Against All Odds” in 1984.

  3. Whitney Houston. Before “The Bodyguard” star ruled the airwaves singing the Dolly Parton penned “I Will Always Love You,” Whitney Houston wore the crown of Pop Princess in the '80s. Her hit “Saving All My Love” in 1985 was the first of seven number ones to close out the last half of the decade.

  4. Madonna. No list of best-selling artists of the '80s would be complete without mentioning the Material Girl. The Michigan native, who tauntingly threw sex in the faces of MTV viewers everywhere, began her chart conquering career with “Like A Virgin” in 1984. All in all Madonna would accrue seven number one songs throughout the decade she helped define.

  5. Hall & Oates. They had been around since the '70s but it wasn’t until the '80s that the dynamic duo of Daryl Hall and John Oates reached pop music prominence, earning a spot among the best-selling artists of the '80s. Their string of hits included a string of five number ones, which kicked off with “Kiss On My List” in 1981.

  6. George Michael. As half of the hit making duo Wham!, George Michael was no stranger to success in the '80s. The twosome most know for their hit “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” officially split in 1986 after the release of “Careless Whisper.” The break-up paved the way for his successful solo career, which included five number ones beginning with “I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)” in 1987.

  7. Lionel Richie. The lead singer of the Commodores gained notoriety as a solo artist, becoming one of the best-selling artists of the '80s, by lending his soulful voice to a string of love ballads that became popular wedding songs during the decade. His first of five number ones, “Endless Love,” was released in 1981.

  8. Bon Jovi. The original Jersey shore star rocked the decade with a string of recognizable hits that included four number one hits. The contagious energy of their first number one in 1986 will prompt you to start singing it in your head as soon as you hear the title, “You Give Love a Bad Name.”

  9. Prince. The Minnesota-born prodigy, named after the jazz group Prince Rogers Trio, is known for his eccentric style and stage antics, as well as his brilliant songwriting and musicianship. “When Doves Cry,” released in 1984, marked his first of four number ones in a decade of hits.

  10. Stevie Wonder. The Motown child star was accustomed to success, having spent almost two decades on the scene before becoming one of the best-selling artists of the '80s. His iconic career was already underway when “Ebony and Ivory,” his first of four number ones, as released in 1982.


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