The Most Successful Albums of the '80s

Michael Jackson Thriller - Original Album Some rights reserved by Carolinado

You swore you’d never do it… You promised yourself that you would never turn the radio on and complain about the music that ‘kids listen to these days’. That was what your parents did when you were a kid and you hated it, but now you can’t stop yourself from doing the same.

The music in the charts is either all the same or just some silly song from a TikTok video and you don’t like it! In your mind (and ours) the greatest decade of music was and still remains the 1980s, when pop was catchy, ballads were emotional and rock bands could entertain as well as sing and play guitar.

With all of that warm, tingling nostalgia in mind we decided to cast our mind back to that golden decade and profile the most successful albums of the 1980s.

Michael Jackson Thriller

Released: 1982 - Sales: 47.3 million

The King of Pop was undoubtedly the biggest star of the 1980s thanks to his moonwalking and catchy songs.

In 1982 though he truly excelled himself by working with legendary producer Quincy Jones to create his sixth studio album – Thriller. The 9 song album that starts with "The Girl is Mine" and finishes on the iconic horror-styled song "Thriller" with great hits like "Beat it" and "Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin" sandwiched in between.

Thriller is not only the bestselling album of the 1980s, but it is the bestselling album of all-time with a recorded sales total of just under 50 million. Estimates suggest however that there have been closer to 70 million sales of the album with many unrecorded and black market sales taking place.

Such is the longstanding popularity of the album that it has been used commercially by companies to further the appeal of their products. Virgin Games for example, one of the biggest online slots providers in the UK have a themed Michael Jackson on their site to attract Thriller fans!

Angus Young (concept), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
AC/DC Back in Black

Released: 1980 - Sales: 29.6 million

In 1973 two Scottish born brothers Malcolm and Angus Young set up a band in their new homeland of Australia. That band was known as AC/DC and it would go on to become one of the biggest and best bands of all-time.

Their first two albums High Voltage and T.N.T. were initially released in just Australia, but after news of the bands quality spread far and wide they decided to re-release their first album worldwide. It was a commercial and critical success that helped to catapult the band to worldwide fame. In 1980, on the back of the hugely successful Highway to Hell album the band released Back in Black.

It was a hugely emotional and pivotal album for the band as in 1979 lead singer Bon Scott died from alcohol poisoning after a drinking binge. Instead of folding the band decided to carry on with Brian Johnson of Geordie as their lead singer. The band was praised for their response to tragedy with the album itself being widely regarded as one of, if not the best rock albums of all-time.

Bon Jovi Slippery When Wet

Released: 1986 - Sales: 28 million

Jon Bon Jovi formed his band in 1983 and just 3 years later he had one of the bestselling albums of all-time with Slippery When Wet. It has been credited as the album that turned heavy metal into a radio friendly format and features some of Bon Jovi’s most popular and best-known songs including, "You Give Love a Bad Name" and "Livin’ on a Prayer."

The album went to number 1 in the US and UK and didn’t just fall away in popularity a couple of months after its release. In fact it would go on to become the bestselling album of 1987 in the US a full year after its initial release.

Amongst some critics the album was panned for being ‘too clichéd’ and ‘watered down’ but the band would argue that is what helped to make it such a mainstream success.

Phil Collins No Jacket Required

Released: 1985 - Sales: 25 million

When we talk about the music of the 1980s one artist that is criminally overlooked is Phil Collins, formerly of Genesis. The English drummer, singer and songwriter was a household name in the 1980s and has sold an estimated 150 million records worldwide.

No Jacket Required was the third solo album released by Collins and it is a truly sensational album that has stood the test of time. There are backing vocals from Helen Terry, Peter Gabriel, and Sting to enjoy along with some really, really good singles like "Sussudio," "One More Night" and "Take Me Home."

If you’re looking for an easy-listening album to put you in a great mood, put on No Jacket Required, close your eyes and enjoy!

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