The ‘80s wasn’t the greatest decade for music, but these albums from that period still shine through
#5 The Clash- London Calling (1979)
Although this album was released in 1979, it is still considered as one of the best albums of the ‘80s. The Clash had managed to blend England’s finest subcultures—mods, pub rockers, punks, skinheads, teds and skas—and produce a diverse yet harmonic music piece that met everyone’s needs. With Joe Strummer and Mick Jones on vocals, they were able to totally dive into their own new music style, without disappointing the fans of other genres. Their lyrics often deal with heavy political and social issues, which were told through the stories of some fictional and some real characters. From the 19 tracks on this album, “London Calling” stands out as a classic, and can be sung from beginning to end by many young and old. It also features other greats like “Spanish Bombs,” “Jimmy Jazz,” “Train in Vain” and “The Guns of Brixton,” where we hear Paul Simonon on lead vocals for the first time.
#4 Public Enemy- It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold us Back (1988)
If you wanted to know what hip-hop and rap really are, this record is the epitome of those genres. Chuck D has a lot to say and he does it by shooting out words fast. His quick word flow in combination with his aggressive lyricism makes every word count. And let’s not forget Flavor Flav—although he looks more like a comic figure with the huge chains and clocks around his neck—who breaks up the seriousness of the songs by chiming in at the right moments. Each track on this album touches subjects that are still relevant to this day, like “Don’t Believe the Hype,” which is always great advice. Other classics include “She Watch Channel Zero?!” and “Rebel Without a Pause.”
#3 AC/DC- Back in Black (1980)
Back in Black was the first album that AC/DC released after their original lead singer, Bon Scott, passed away. This record shows that if you know how to make good music, you can easily replace a great voice with an equally good one. With Brian Johnson on vocals and the Young brothers handling the writing of the songs, AC/DC produced an album that you have to blast out loud again and again. It contains some of the band’s biggest hits such as “Hell’s Bells,” “You Shook Me All Night Long,” “Shoot to Thrill” and “Back in Black.” Overall, Back in Black is proof that “Rock and Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution.”
#2 Guns n’ Roses –Appetite For Destruction (1987)
Some people place Guns n’ Roses in the hair metal genre, others in the hard rock genre, and some in the sleaze rock genre. Whatever the case, Guns n’ Roses caused chaos with their debut album, Appetite for Destruction. There are two words to describe this record: edgy and dangerous. The band talks about sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll in almost every song, and the music matches that attitude. Throughout the decade, Axl Rose’s performances had every girl in the crowd screaming for him, whereas Slash and Izzy, the two guitarists, unfolded some of the greatest guitar solos. A middle ground between mainstream and underground, Guns n’ Roses produced a mix of heavy rock with blues and country influences. Almost every song on that record is a hit, but “Paradise City,” “Welcome to the Jungle,” “Sweet Child O’ Mine” and “Out ta Get Me” are the ones that stand out.
#1 Michael Jackson- Thriller (1982)
Regardless of your music preferences, no ‘80s list should be taken seriously if it does not contain this record. Yes, Michael Jackson has been one of the most controversial artists of all time, but he has also been one of a kind. Jackson has established his own dance moves, his own dress code, even his own era. His songs are still around and everyone respects the musical legacy he left behind. Thriller contains some of his greatest hits still infectiously danceable today, such as the “The Girl is Mine,” with Sir Paul McCartney in vocals, “Beat it” with Eddie Van Halen on guitar, and “Billie Jean.” Let’s not forget that almost all of his video clips resembled short movies and helped establish him as the icon we still know today.