At first glance, it would seem that when buying 1980s music, a focus should be put on the “new wave” of the early 1980s. While there’s no denying that the “new wave” music was popular, there were also a number of other genres that were also successful during the decade.
When it comes to the “new wave,” probably the biggest act would’ve been Duran Duran. For them, I would recommend the Greatest album, a greatest hits collection that was released in 1998. While this collection does include some of Duran Duran’s material from the 1990s, the bulk of the nineteen songs on the CD come from the 1980s. This CD includes such songs as “The Reflex,” “A View to a Kill,” “Rio,” “Hungry Like the Wolf,” “I Don’t Want Your Love,” “New Moon on Monday,” and “Girls on Film,” among others.
Another “new wave” artist of the 1980s that I would recommend buying would be Depeche Mode. In their case, I would recommend picking up two CDs: The Singles 81 > 85 and The Singles 86 > 98, both of which came out in 1998. While The Best of Depeche Mode Volume 1 was released in 2006, it’s only one CD with eighteen tracks, which means not as much of a focus is on the material from the 1980s. Between the two 1998 releases, you can get such 1980s Depeche Mode songs as “Just Can’t Get Enough,” “Everything Counts,” “People Are People,” “Master and Servant,” “A Question of Lust,” “Strangelove,” “Never Let Me Down Again,” and “Personal Jesus”; and, as a bonus, you would also get “Enjoy the Silence,” which is Depeche Mode’s biggest chart hit ever.
Pop was also very successful during the 1980s. One of the more successful pop artists of the decade was Madonna. Personally, I would recommend all of her 1980s albums: Madonna, Like a Virgin, True Blue, and Like a Prayer. However, this would be a bit much to ask a newcomer to purchase; I would end up recommending The Immaculate Collection. On this collection, you can get such songs as “Lucky Star,” “Like a Virgin,” “Material Girl,” “Into the Groove,” “Live to Tell,” “Papa Don’t Preach,” “Open Your Heart,” “Like a Prayer,” and “Express Yourself,” among others. The only drawback to The Immaculate Collection is that you would end up getting “Justify My Love,” which, in my opinion, is one of Madonna’s weaker songs.
Another pop artist of the 1980s I would recommend is Prince. For him, you should pick up The Hits 1 and The Hits 2. Between the two discs, you can get such 1980s hits as “When Doves Cry,” “Let’s Go Crazy,” “1999,” “Little Red Corvette,” “I Would Die 4 U,” “Raspberry Beret,” “U Got the Look,” and “Purple Rain.” For 1980s pop, I would also recommend picking up Cyndi Lauper’s first two albums, She’s So Unusual and True Colors. With these albums, you would have such songs as “Girls Just Want to Have Fun,” “Time After Time,” “She Bop,” “True Colors,” and “Change of Heart,” among others.
For 1980s rhythmic and R&B music, Michael Jackson’s Thriller is a no-brainer. This was easily one of the biggest selling albums of the 1980s, and includes many of Michael’s biggest chart hits. I would also recommend his sister Janet’s album, Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814. While this one came out during the fall of 1989, and had chart hits that ran until the spring of 1991, I would still consider it an essential 1980s album.
For a 1980s rock album, I would recommend Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the USA. It’s another one of the quintessential albums of the 1980s, and includes many of Bruce’s hits of the 1980s: “Dancing in the Dark,” “Glory Days,” “My Hometown,” and “I’m on Fire,” among others.
You can use these artists and albums as a starting point for purchasing 1980s music. Hopefully, after purchasing and listening to these artists, you can use them as a starting point to discover other 1980s music and albums you want to buy.