Does the '80s Hold the Most Iconic Sounds of any Decade?

The 1980s is one of the most popular decades for music, one which people forever turn to when they want to get their groove on.

This popularity has led many music fans and commentators to declare that the 1980s produced the most iconic sounds of all time. In this guide, we’re going to explore whether that is the case.

We’ll first take a look at music in the 1980s – how it’s defined, the most influential bands and musicians, and how it evolved.

We’ll also look at how you can listen to and enjoy 80s music, particularly when gaming. And we’ll look at whether there were any other decades that could be deemed more iconic that the 80s.

About Music in the 1980s

The 1980s heralded a new age of music. After disco enjoyed its day in the sun, new technologies, particularly synthesizers and music produced using computers and digital recording, became available to musicians.

This changed the course of music as the decade went on, with genres such as electronic dance music (EDM) and new wave (a form of modern rock) rising to prominence. Other genres began to adopt new technologies and that led to the creation of new styles such as:
  • Electro
  • Techno
  • House
  • Eurodance
Some of the stars of the decade, particularly in these types of genres, include Michael Jackson, Madonna, George Michael and Wham!, Prince, New Order and The Police.

But as the decade wore on and with genres such as rock maintaining their popularity, even more genres sprouted up and gained acclaim, such as glam metal, which embraces elements of pop, with lively guitar riffs and upbeat anthems.

Glam metal became one of the largest and more commercially successful in the world toward the end of the decade. Some of the leading bands of the genre include Motley Crüe, Bon Jovi and Hanoi Rocks, who captured imaginations with their clothing and makeup.

The 1980s was also the breeding ground for the genres that continue to dominate the mainstream today, such as R&B, hip hop and rap, which enjoyed mass appeal going into the 90s and 2000s. This contemporary form of rap incorporated many popular genres that came before it, such as soul and jazz.

One of the key developments for these genres came in the mid-1980s, when Janet Jackson released Control, which fused the rhythmic aspects of disco and funk with rap music.

'80s Music and Online Gaming

Online gaming has exploded in popularity in recent years. With more games available than it’s possible to play, and with online platforms such as Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network (PSN) having better quality services and allowing for cross-platform play, there has never been a better time to be a gamer.

But one of the complaints of many modern gamers is that some games can become boring and tedious, with the need for a player to put in many hours or “grind” their way through the game in order to access better rewards.

This extended investment in time can lead some gamers to become bored. But many have spoken of how they use music to counteract the tedium, which just goes to show how broad the influence of music is. EDM is particularly popular among gamers for its upbeat tunes that can uplift and motivate people stuck with boring tasks.

Are There Any Other Influential Decades for Music?

Absolutely. While the '80s heralded the change in music towards a more poppy, electronic style, many decades of music can lay claim to having an iconic sound.

Two of the most celebrated decades are the 1950s and 1960s. These two decades saw the birth of rock ‘n’ roll and its rise to becoming one of the most beloved genres of music of all time.

In the 1950s, we saw Elvis Presley dominate the charts with his hip-swinging blues rock that took the world by storm. From the late 1950s onwards, rock snowballed in popularity. The sounds coming from records and the radio inspired millions of people. Guitar sales surged as everyone tried to emulate their favorite rockers.

The 1960s, however, could make a claim as perhaps the defining decade of music. In 1963, The Beatles emerged and overshadowed stars like Elvis. They guided music away from the rigid world of showbands and concert halls to a liberating and creative place. This then paved the way for the creative music of the 1970s, 80s and beyond.

Headline image courtesy Depositphotos

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