The Greatest Musical Artists of the '80s

Over 39.4K Ranker voters have come together to rank this list of The Greatest '80s Musical Artists
Voting Rules
Only bands and musicians from the 1980s.
Latest additions: Don Dokken, Diana Ross, The Boomtown Rats
Most divisive: George Michael

We're ranking the greatest and most prolific artists of music's most colorful decade, the 1980s, below, with the order decided by fans internationally. This list is based solely on the singers' and groups' work throughout that decade. Although many of these featured musicians released even better music post-1990, such as George Michael, RHCP, Sade, and Sting, or before 1979 (i.e. Queen and Billy Joel), we will acknowledge each artist's impact made during the '80s. Which rockstars wrote or performed the biggest 1980s hit singles? Who do you think were the greatest musical artists of the '80s? And which singing groups were responsible for the worst songs of the 80s, as well as the greatest '80s one hit wonders?

From synth pop, to hair metal, to the rise of punk rock, to the fall of disco, and even to the birth of hip-hop, all genres are recognized below. Are you superfans of the King and Queen of Pop, Michael Jackson and Madonna? Or do you prefer '80s rock bands over the radio's Top 40 from that era? And which popular '80s duos would no '80s party music playlist be complete without?

Vote up all of your favorite famous 80's bands and artists who transformed the music scene from 1980 to 1989, and feel free to check out their popular songs and albums discography pages afterwards.

Ranked by
  • Queen
    11,572 votes

    Undoubtedly, Queen ruled the world of rock music throughout the '80s with their captivating stage performances and larger-than-life anthems. Spearheaded by the inimitable Freddie Mercury, Queen's innovative sound, featuring dizzying guitar solos and grandiose vocal harmonies, left an indelible mark on the music landscape. Showcasing a remarkable ability to transcend genres, this iconic band brought elements of opera, disco, and pop to the forefront. Their legendary Live Aid performance in 1985 sealed their fate as one of the most influential bands of the decade, forever leaving a legacy that continues to inspire musicians worldwide.

  • Fleetwood Mac
    4,334 votes

    Fleetwood Mac's eclectic blend of rock, pop, and blues served as a remarkable testament to their enduring creative spirit and musical prowess during the '80s. Anchored by the vocal talents of Stevie Nicks and Christine McVie, along with the songwriting mastery of Lindsey Buckingham, this distinctive group navigated the challenges of the changing music scene with grace and intrigue. Striking a delicate balance between emotional vulnerability and powerful instrumentation, their unforgettable songs captured the raw essence of life, love, and heartache. Fleetwood Mac remains a steadfast example of the incredible impact a group can have when passion and unity guide their artistic vision.

  • Journey
    7,009 votes

    Solidifying their status as titans of arena rock, Journey captivated audiences throughout the '80s with soaring vocals and anthemic melodies that resonated with fans from all walks of life. With their heart-on-their-sleeve lyrics and electrifying solos, the talented band members fused together to create a sound that evoked the true spirit of rock 'n' roll. Recognized for their unparalleled live performances, Journey's role in shaping the archetypal rock concert experience cannot be overstated. The resounding influence of their melodic prowess and true musicianship has left an indelible mark on the music world, standing as a testament to their exceptional talent.

  • AC/DC
    7,238 votes

    AC/DC's explosive fusion of blues-inspired rock and high-voltage energy catapulted them to international stardom in the '80s, firmly establishing their place as one of the era's most influential bands. Driven by the powerhouse rhythm section of brothers Malcolm and Angus Young, this Australian ensemble's foot-stomping guitar riffs and thunderous drum beats laid the foundation for countless future rock acts. Embodying the chaotic essence of rock 'n' roll, their electrifying stage presence and seemingly limitless energy set the bar for concertgoers worldwide. Unapologetically raw and uncompromising in their approach, AC/DC's indomitable spirit continues to influence generations of musicians.

  • Van Halen
    6,702 votes

    Van Halen burst onto the music scene in the '80s with their innovative blend of hard rock and exceptional musicianship, accompanied by an unrivaled stage presence. Led by the charismatic David Lee Roth and the guitar virtuoso Eddie Van Halen, they continually pushed the boundaries of the hard rock genre. Their signature guitar licks and riffs became instantly recognizable and their propulsive rhythm section drove crowds wild. As one of the most successful and enduring rock bands of the decade, Van Halen helped define the sound of the '80s and inspired countless bands to follow in their footsteps.

  • The Eagles
    4,141 votes

    With their impeccable harmonies and masterful storytelling, The Eagles stood tall as one of the most formidable bands of the '80s, beautifully balancing their country-rock roots with infectious pop hooks. Their timeless songs displayed a genuine sense of sincerity, painting vivid pictures of love, loss, and the human experience. Each band member contributed their unique talents, resulting in a sound that was both versatile and aesthetically pleasing. As a cornerstone of American music, The Eagles' influence continues to reach new heights, transcending generations and delighting fans of all ages.