Top 10 Best Bands of the '80s

Let's crank up the nostalgia and take a trip back to the neon-lit, hairspray-soaked decade that was the 1980s. A time when synthesizers reigned supreme, drum machines pounded out infectious beats, and guitars wailed with an intensity that could melt your face off. A time when music videos were a cultural phenomenon, MTV was the hottest channel on cable, and every kid dreamed of rocking out on stage in front of thousands of screaming fans.

But let's be real, the '80s weren't just about big hair and shoulder pads. It was a decade that produced some of the most iconic and influential bands in music history. Bands that pushed boundaries, defied expectations, and created anthems that still resonate with us today.
The Top Ten
1 Queen Queen are an English rock band formed in London in 1970. The original lineup was Freddie Mercury (lead vocals, piano), Brian May (guitar, vocals), Roger Taylor (drums, vocals), and John Deacon (bass guitar, vocals). Before forming into Queen, Brian May and Roger Taylor had played together in a band... read more

There will never be the stage presence, lead vocalist, or charisma that will top Queen. Ever! Their songs are timeless and are constantly played on the radio, at sporting events, and serve as a major influence on musicians that followed. I have an absolute favorite, Bohemian Rhapsody, but there are so many fantastic songs that it makes it difficult to choose just one favorite.

Also, what rock band has had a lead singer also become a number-one opera singer? Freddie Mercury made a duet album that topped the world of opera after being a rock singer. Usually, this process would happen in reverse, if at all. Freddie was on top of the world and is a legend in the world of music. I've never met a person who doesn't love Queen. They are the true test of talent, with songs that live on and outlive their creators.

Queen wasn't just a band. They were true performers and true perfection. You can hear that perfection in every song. Love this band!

2 Duran Duran Duran Duran are an English new wave/synthpop band formed in Birmingham in 1978. They were a successful band of the 1980s and a leading band in the MTV-driven "Second British Invasion" of the US.

They were original from the beginning: music, lyrics, looks. Thirty years later, through all of life's bumps and highs, they are still rocking, writing, creating, and touring! They've created an internet universe for their fans to celebrate together.

They are widely known for their kindness and generosity toward their fans. They've collaborated with everyone from Robert Palmer to Justin Timberlake, successfully! They are right back in the studio after just finishing a grueling world concert tour for All You Need is Now. They epitomize the '80s music scene at its best and have proven over 30 years that they are true artists.

3 Guns N Roses Guns N' Roses is an American hard rock band from Los Angeles formed in 1985. The classic lineup, as signed to Geffen Records in 1986, consisted of vocalist Axl Rose, lead guitarist Slash, rhythm guitarist Izzy Stradlin, bassist Duff McKagan, and drummer Steven Adler. Apart from hard rock they are also... read more

Duran Duran? Really? Guns N' Roses rocked the world. Up until Axl had his mental breakdowns, they were ten times greater in their prime than Duran Duran. Guns N' Roses was so talented that not only did they make their own songs great, they made other bands' songs even greater. "Sympathy for the Devil," "Knockin' on Heaven's Door," "Attitude," "Black Leather" - the list goes on and on. I mean, if a band can make the Stones, Bob Dylan, the Misfits, and the Sex Pistols sound better than they originally were, that's extreme talent.

Just listen to the album "The Spaghetti Incident?" and you'll see. So, in summary: Guns N' Roses has more talent in any one member (Axl, Slash, Dizzy, Steven) than Duran Duran could ever hope to have.

4 Bon Jovi Bon Jovi is a hard rock/pop rock band formed in 1983, which had a streak of successful albums in the late 1980s. The band originally consisted of lead vocalist Jon Bon Jovi, guitarist Ritchie Sambora (left in 2013), bassist Alec John Such (left in 1994), keyboard David Bryan, and drummer Tico Torres... read more

They are just a perfect combination of musicians. Tico on drums provides amazing energy that you can't resist but move your head to. Dave on keyboards is one of the most underrated members of any band ever. His keyboard fills and backing vocals create a positive energy and full sound that you can't get enough of. Then there's Richie on guitar and vocals. He is the power engine of the band. He gives the songs the power they are known for and continues to create those riffs you can't get out of your head.

To top it off, Jon's clear but energetic vocals make almost any song they produce unforgettable. Besides the musical quality, there's a true, positive, and rebellious note to their lyrics that evokes every cell in you to raise your head and live life to the fullest. Now, I've got to go get my dose of Bon Jovi for the day.

5 Metallica Metallica is an American Heavy/Thrash Metal band formed in 1981. The original lineup was James Hetfield (Vocalist and Rhythm guitarist), Dave Mustaine (Lead Guitar), Lars Ulrich (Drums), Ron McGovney (Bassist). The group came into mainstream from their Self-Titled album and the hit single "Enter Sandman"... read more

Metallica in the 80s was a great band, if not the greatest band of that era. The four albums they released during that era are elite from start to finish. They had some of the best musicians that have ever graced this earth: Burton and Mustaine, prior to their departure, drove this band into greatness. Burton had much more influence than Dave, but his impact is not overlooked by me.

Sadly, when the real artists disappeared, so did the great music. The chump fans never appeared until Metallica went soft in the 90s, producing commercially accepted music.

6 U2 U2 are an Irish rock band from Dublin. Formed in 1976, the group consists of Bono, the Edge, Adam Clayton, and Larry Mullen Jr. U2's early sound was rooted in post-punk but eventually grew to incorporate influences from many genres of popular music. Throughout the group's musical pursuits, they have... read more

I like all the bands on this list, of course, some more than others. The first time I experienced art through music was with U2. Heartbroken and depressed from the end of a relationship with my high school sweetheart, I sought help. My friends and family couldn't alleviate the suffering, but the song "With or Without You" did. I felt the art of that song. Somehow it eased my suffering. Each note and lyric phrase captured exactly how I felt.

U2's ability to make the impersonal very personal is an art few bands can achieve. The best bands can do that. They can empathize and heal in ways ordinary words can't. It's truly the magic of the artist. U2 has an innate deep understanding of the human spirit and the love, joys, and triumphs, along with the challenges, failures, and darkness that all people experience. Through their art, they heighten our appreciation or disgust for those experiences.

My first concert experience with U2 changed me, and I would imagine many fans really seared their love for them "live". U2 is the best band in the world for me because it's often more than just ear candy that I hear. Much love, respect, and deep appreciation I have for them. Now, if only I can see them live with front row seats will my life truly be complete!

7 Journey Journey is an American arena rock band that formed in San Francisco in 1973, composed of former members of Santana and Frumious Bandersnatch.

In my humble opinion, Journey is the best band of all time, and Steve Perry's voice is the best voice I have ever heard. They have written so many classics, beautiful love songs such as Patiently and Sweet And Simple, and rock songs such as Mother Father, Line Of Fire, and Edge Of The Blade.

The vocals are always incredibly impressive, and unlike most rock singers, Perry can sing in a rock style while still making the music beautiful. This is something I enjoy immensely, since the point of music is beauty.

8 Iron Maiden Iron Maiden are an English Heavy Metal band formed in Leyton, East London, in 1975 by bassist and primary songwriter Steve Harris. The most critically acclaimed period for the band was from 1983-1989. With vocalist Bruce Dickinson, bassist Steve Harris, lead guitarist Dave Murray, rhythm guitarist Adrian... read more

One of the biggest reasons metal was in its golden age during the '80s was Iron Maiden. Along with Metallica, Iron Maiden defied the odds by not getting much airplay on the radio. They avoided the temptation of going the pop route, while consistently releasing thought-provoking material that was always top-notch during that decade.

None of their albums from this time period are anything less than great, and they're all different and distinguishable from one another. They either represent natural progressions of a previous album or take things in a new direction. Usually, having this kind of artistic ambition is costly to a band's popularity or critical acclaim, but these guys were always relevant, and their music still holds up beautifully today!

9 Van Halen Van Halen was an American hard rock band formed in Pasadena, California, in 1972. From 1974 until 1985, the band consisted of guitarist Eddie Van Halen, vocalist David Lee Roth, drummer Alex Van Halen, and bassist Michael Anthony.

Only a musically illiterate teen would think that a band like Duran Duran is the number one '80s band. Of course, Van Halen is number one! It's not really for Diamond Dave or Michael Anthony, but for Eddie Van Halen. He is one of the greatest guitarists in the world, with one of, if not the greatest, solos ever made/played (Eruption).

Not to mention, he wrote all the tunes! Duran Duran is the One Direction of the '80s. Sorry, but they kind of suck. I mean, "Hungry Like the Wolf"? Really? I sit and talk with my friends, just bashing Duran Duran. Yes, they're that bad.

Van Halen is a top 3 band without question. They have chart-topping albums, sold-out concerts, and the best guitarist ever. They also had two great eras with two great frontmen, not to mention Michael Anthony's backing vocals.

I like the '80s one-hit wonders, but there is absolutely no way they should be ahead of the great Van Halen. One-hit-wonder bands shouldn't be on the list because they don't have the long-standing history of bands like Van Halen.

10 AC/DC AC/DC are a Australian hard rock band, formed in November 1973 by brothers Malcolm and Angus Young, who continued as members until Malcolm's illness and departure in 2014 . They were fronted by Bon Scott until his untimely death due to alcohol poisoning in 1979, after which they hired Brian Johnson... read more

My all-time favorite band is AC/DC. I'll love them until their last breath. Angus and Malcolm have come far in their careers.

I was at the Thunderstruck concert in 1988, and it was amazing! I also went to their last tour concert in 2014. Yes, they have aged, but they still produce absolutely fabulous music and creative lyrics. They're just a little slower than before.

AC/DC would be, without a doubt, number one if Highway to Hell had been released a year later. Still, I believe they should be number one. Back in Black, For Those About to Rock, Fly on the Wall, and Flick of the Switch are all great albums. Duran Duran shouldn't even be in the top ten.

The Contenders
11 The Police The Police were an English rock band formed in London in 1977. For the majority of their history, the band consisted of Sting, Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland. They are most known for their songs "Message In A Bottle", "Don't Stand So Close To Me", "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic", "Roxanne",... read more

The Police have a unique blend of punk, reggae, and a bit of jazz. None of their songs are bad. Each one is either extremely good, good, or okay. Lyrics of their popular songs are mostly based on subtle dark themes mixed up with the tunes. Sting, before his solo career, shows his stellar vocals and incredible creativity with songwriting. Andy Summers can arguably be on the list of top five underrated guitarists. His riffs are an integral part of The Police's work. Stewart Copeland is on the list of top four drummers of all time, no doubt. He is even responsible for some of their early songs' songwriting.

In their working time, they released five albums, which collectively have sold over 75 million records. Had they stayed together and calmed themselves down to remove the creative tension they had with each other, they would have probably surpassed all of the rock bands on this list. Even without a lot of years, they are still top five for me.

12 Motley Crue Mötley Crüe is an American metal band formed in Los Angeles, California on January 17, 1981. The group was founded by bassist Nikki Sixx and drummer Tommy Lee, lead vocalist Vince Neil and lead guitarist Mick Mars.

Mötley Crüe is the best representation of that "Glam Metal" era, in which many bands like Poison were a part. However, Mötley Crüe, in my opinion, takes the prize. This is mainly because they have the best drummer (Tommy Lee), a great guitar player who plays with powerful harmonics (Mick Mars), the best bass player (Nikki Sixx), and an awesome lead voice (Vince Neil).

Mötley Crüe was absolutely the best back in the '80s. They started in the early punk phase with Too Fast for Love, which they originally produced themselves. They then moved on to Shout at the Devil, followed by the more commercial Theatre of Pain and Girls, Girls, Girls, ending with Dr. Feelgood.

They kicked ass and maintained their debauchery with booze, drugs, women, and have the tattoos to prove it!

13 Tears for Fears Tears for Fears are an English pop/rock band formed in 1981 by Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith. Founded after the dissolution of their first band, the mod-influenced Graduate, they were initially associated with the new wave synthesizer bands of the early 1980s but later branched out into mainstream rock... read more

Tears for Fears is an amazing band that has written, and still writes, so many very meaningful songs. They are beautiful inside and out. They deserve to be the best. Not just because they want to rule the world, but because they have written songs out of painful truths that touch so many.

Don't let me forget to mention they were kind of cute in the '80s. I haven't had the chance to see them live, but when I do, I will be crying because of the beauty of their music, not because I am a giddy schoolgirl who loves their looks. TFF always.

14 The Cure The Cure are an English post-punk/gothic rock band formed in Crawley, West Sussex, in 1978. The band has experienced several line-up changes, with vocalist, guitarist and principal songwriter Robert Smith being the only constant member.

The Cure doesn't sound like they belong in any decade. Their music is unique, timeless, and constantly alternative to what is happening in the music scene.

For this reason, it's hard to describe them as an '80s band. They just happened to be the best band that existed in the '80s. Robert Smith has more genius in his crow's nest bonnet than any of his so-called contemporaries.

U2, The Cure, Depeche Mode, and A-Ha are great bands - you'll understand only if you really listen to them. For example, consider Rolling Thunder and their record in Rock in Rio, their live shows in the '90s, etc. The Smiths suck all the way. Disintegration is on the same level as Joshua Tree. The Cure were the opposite of U2. U2, Depeche Mode, The Cure, and A-Ha are the best and most influential bands from the '80s.

15 Poison Poison is an American glam and hard rock band that achieved great commercial success in the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s.

Poison has made amazing songs and amassed millions of fans all over the world. They have a great, inspiring guitar player for those who play the instrument, a good drummer, a cool bass player, and a great lead singer.

They all serve as an inspiration for those who want to be in a band or create one. They treat each other almost like family, which can inspire other bands that are falling apart. I am one of their number one fans, and they inspire me!

Poison has many great songs. They were the number one band played on MTV, right along with Motley Crue and Bon Jovi. Every Rose Has Its Thorn was one of their best songs, and it really makes me feel good to hear that song.

They may not be as high up there as Motley Crue, but I think with all of their great songs and how quite a few made it on the charts, they should have a higher rating than this. I am not saying it because they are my favorite band. I mean it.

16 Depeche Mode Depeche Mode are an English electronic and synth-pop band formed in 1980 in Basildon, Essex. The group's original line-up consisted of Dave Gahan, Martin Gore, Andy Fletcher, and Vince Clarke.

No one had even dared to have a concert at the Rose Bowl. The promoters warned the band that they wouldn't fill the stadium and it would be a negative mark against them. They went forward with the decision to have a concert there. The concert sold out in hours, and they were the first group since the Beatles to sell out the stadium!

This group deserves to be in the top 5 of the '80s, along with U2 and The Pet Shop Boys. They weren't just a group with a successful album. They had album after album that were huge! They were the kings of "alternative" or "new wave" music during the '80s and into the '90s.

17 INXS INXS were an Australian rock and pop band, formed as The Farriss Brothers in 1977 in Sydney, New South Wales.

It is absolutely ridiculous that this band is listed at 28 on this list. Was the person who made this list alive and a teenager in the 80s? If not, that explains it. If so, I'm not sure what rock they were living under.

It didn't get much bigger than INXS during their "Kick" phase. And Michael Hutchence... go back and watch his performances. One of the best front men of all time then and always. Any list that doesn't have them AT LEAST in the top ten is a joke.

Looking back now, I see such similarities that Michael Hutchence had in common with Jim Morrison. Additionally, the keyboard player wrote most of the melody.

Musically, both are really far apart from each other. You have to recognize that they made an impact, especially during the time when the '80s alternative wave of music came from overseas to the United States. I have to put them at number 3 behind U2 and Duran Duran.

18 Rush Rush was a Canadian progressive rock band that was formed in 1968. The band has had an iconic lineup since 1975, which included Neil Peart (Drums, Percussion), Geddy Lee (Vocals, Bass, Keyboards), and the guitarist, Alex Lifeson. Peart passed away after a 3 year battle with brain cancer in January of... read more

My favorite band of all time, no contest. It's such a shame that they are no longer touring. Neil Peart, probably the greatest lyricist of our time, combined with the guitar genius Alex Lifeson and vocal guru Geddy Lee, are the best trio to grace the stadiums of the globe. They get my vote.

I've partied with Rush. I am a former neighbor of Geddy Lee. Yes, they sure do know how to party.

They are some of the greatest musicians of all time! Nobody does it better. Rolling Stones? Nope. KISS? (As cool as they are) Not quite. Even The Beatles? They just do not match up to the quality and talent that is Rush.

19 Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band The E Street Band is an American rock band, and has been musician Bruce Springsteen's primary backing band since 1972. The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2014.

One of the best lyricists there's been. See the Nebraska album. One of the best showmen and performers there's been - three-hour-plus energetic gigs, reaching four hours on the last tour. He can still sell out some of the biggest stadiums in Europe and was the highest ticket-selling band of 2016.

Treats fans with huge respect. Will come on stage hours before the concert begins to play a few acoustic tunes for those who've turned up early. He really is one of the finest performers and songwriters there's been - Thunder Road is a fine example. Undoubtedly up there with the greats who've come from America in the past four-plus decades.

20 R.E.M. R.E.M. was an American alternative rock band from Athens, Georgia, formed in 1980 by lead singer Michael Stipe, lead guitarist Peter Buck, bassist/backing vocalist Mike Mills, and drummer Bill Berry.

I don't love this list. Queen was an amazing band but had very little that was worthwhile from the '80s. They were a great '70s band and a great band overall, but when it comes to the 1980s, R.E.M. was easily the greatest band. They're probably the most influential band on this list. This is because they were one of the very first bands to play alternative rock, and they were definitely the best to play that genre during this decade.

I think the Pixies were a great band too and are, in my opinion, the second-greatest band of the '80s. However, I see them more as an indie rock band. R.E.M. had an addictive, revolutionary new sound in their 1980s period that no other band had done before. As a result, they pioneered and began the genre we know and love: alternative rock.

If you listen to this genre, then you have to listen to R.E.M. Once you've listened to Murmur and Document, you will love R.E.M. as much as I do. If you like alternative rock, then you have to put these guys at number one. They're the greatest.

21 Blondie Blondie is an American rock band founded by singer Debbie Harry and guitarist Chris Stein. The band was a pioneer in the early American new wave and punk scenes of the mid-late 1970s.

Because they were more of a '70s band than an '80s band?

22 The Smiths The Smiths were an English rock band formed in Manchester in 1982. The band consisted of vocalist Morrissey, guitarist Johnny Marr, bassist Andy Rourke and drummer Mike Joyce.

I can completely understand anyone who says they don't like The Smiths. They're a hard band to like. However, those who do appreciate them understand just how good a band they were and how extensive their catalogue of music is, despite only being around for five years and releasing just four studio albums. Plus, there's their cult following that keeps on growing.

All of their songs had an indescribable, brilliant quality. Their albums were structured near enough to perfection, and the music itself is fantastic. Morrissey's witty and powerful lyrics place him among the best lyricists of all time. Johnny Marr and Andy Rourke produced some of the best pop and bass riffs ever - seriously, listen to This Charming Man or How Soon Is Now? for examples. Mike Joyce essentially laid the foundations for every alt-rock drum beat since the late '80s.

I can't think of any other band that has had such a mix of styles or range of music. The Smiths aren't just the best band of the '80s. They're one of the best bands of all time.

23 New Order New Order are an English rock band formed in 1980, currently comprising Bernard Sumner, Stephen Morris, Gillian Gilbert, Phil Cunningham and Tom Chapman.

Before New Order, rock and dance music were distinct and separate. New Order showed how they could be melded to create a very influential body of work.

Thirty-three years after releasing the number one best-selling 12" single of all time, they are still putting out killer records and selling out arena tours worldwide, where half the setlist is recent material. Regardless of what this survey returns, New Order is the most influential band of the 1980s.

After the unfortunate death of Ian Curtis, who was the lead singer of Joy Division, the remaining members decided to continue the band under the newly titled "New Order." Their music has become so unique and catchy over time with hits like Bizarre Love Triangle, Perfect Kiss, Temptation, and Blue Monday.

Even though they aren't as popular today, their music is great.

24 Devo Devo is an American rock band from Akron, Ohio formed in 1973. Their classic lineup consisted of two sets of brothers, the Mothersbaughs and the Casales, along with Alan Myers. The band had a No. 14 Billboard chart hit in 1980 with the single "Whip It", the song that gave the band mainstream popularity... read more

Are we not men? Why on earth is this band not at the top of the list? Nothing says the '80s like the Spuds!

25 Judas Priest Judas Priest are a British heavy metal band that formed in Birmingham, England, in 1969. They are often referred to as one of the greatest metal bands of all time, and are even commonly called “The Metal Gods”, after one of the songs on their 1980 album “British Steel”... read more

The founding fathers of heavy metal...

Undoubtedly, the best rock/metal ever. Most of the others are only a shadow of the greatest band ever.

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