Arguably being one of the best decades for music, the 1980s had some incredible bands and even more unforgettable songs. We ranked some unofficial favorites. Did yours make the list?
Since 10 years is a lot of time and a lot of bands, we broke down the list by genre.
Favorite 80s Bands by Genre
Disclaimer: There are some bands that didn’t make this list that were prominent in the 70s AND 80s. Bands who made this list began or rose to their fame during this particular decade of music. Individual artists and musicians, like the king and queen of the 80s, Michael Jackson and Madonna, will have a list of their own. This list focuses on groups of 2 or more.
The biggest and loudest names in heavy metal came from the 1980s.
British royalty when it comes to the metal genre, Judas Priest is no stranger to topping charts or favorites lists. A 2018 Las Rageous headliner but always a revered band, the English group and their music transcends time and traverses continents.
Back amidst the amber waves of grain, Metallica began their epic rise in heavy metal rockdom in 1981. One of the first bands to appeal to mainstream audiences and not just the metal heads, the collective still carries their mantel proudly with a world-wide 2019 tour.
West Coast kings of metal, Megadeath, is well known for their thrash metal tracks and complex chord-choreography.
Another UK band born in the 70s that raged in the 80s, Iron Maiden helped make what metal is today. With an extensive discography and influence, the band often sell out shows and fills grand arenas fit only for metal giants.
Before they were classic rock, these bands just rocked.
Part new wave, part heavy metal, Def Leppard sailed from Britain to the top of the charts and numerous movie soundtracks with 80’s classics “Pour Some Sugar on Me” and “Love Bites.”
Guns N’ Roses
Not your garden-variety LA band, Guns N’ Roses released their first album in 1986. With the vocal stylings of Axl Rose and resounding riffs from lead guitarist Slash, the rock band is also known for performing the “third-highest-grossing concert tour of all time.”
Juke Box Heroes, Foreigner, first formed in New York City in the 70s. Their hits “Juke Box Hero” and “I Want To Know What Love Is” rose the ranks in 1984 and 1981. Their anthems, of course, are still adored today.
Lead by renowned singer Jon Bon Jovi, band Bon Jovi started their career in New Jersey. They soared to new heights with their karaoke dynamite, “Livin on a Prayer,” released in ‘86.
Another Brit band not to take for granted, The Smiths became important pillars in the genre. Rolling Stones even ranked one of their albums as one of “500 Greatest Albums of All Time.”
Probably one of the more popular genres of the decade, 80s pop brought the synth and songs many still sing today.
Born in Birmingham, England, Duran Duran has been argued as one of the most successful bands of the 80s. With noteworthy songs like “Hungry Like a Wolf,” this band fed many audiophiles of the day.
London’s Culture Club, led by Boy George, also substantially influenced the era of music. Considered a cross between soft rock and new wave, Culture Club has a variety of musical accolades, including Favorite pop band in 1985 and 1987 by the American Music Awards and top pop album by the Billboard Music Awards in‘83.
See the gallery for when they came to DLVEC.
Flock of Seagulls
Synth-pop band Flock of Seagulls first formed at the turn of the decade with the Score brothers, Frank Maudsley, and Paul Reynolds.
Among the synth sounds and power ballads, the punk genre brought about fierce artists and legendary anthems.
Social Distortion formed in Fullerton California. While their rise to infamy didn’t occur until the late 80s and early 90s, this band is still considered an 80’s punk rock favorite.
Come see them perform with Flogging Molly at DLVEC.
Recent headliners of the 21st Annual Punk Rock Bowling, Descendants initially became popularized by their “Milo Goes to College” album.
Formerly known but not well known as Manic Subsidal, The Offspring sprung to life in 1984.
The Offspring is no stranger to Vegas, having toured with 311 in the summer of ‘18.
Another headliner at the annual Punk Rock Bowling weekend, Suicidal Tendencies is often called the “the fathers of crossover thrash.”
See the full 2019 Punk Rock Bowling gallery.
Another band that may have formed in the late 70s and became popular later, their well-known hit “What I Like About You” wasn’t released until 1980 on their self-titled album. This is one song you’ll recognize time and time again as it’s been one of the most covered songs of the decade.
The New Wave genre first emerged in the late 70s that proceeding decade’s talented musicians made popular.
Co-headlining with Culture Club at DLVEC, the B-52’s brought the 80’s love back with their popular hits “Love Shack” and “Private Idaho.”
“Yellow bell” in Chinese, Wang Chung commenced their new wave career in 1980. A frequent favorite at Lost 80’s Live, the London trio is touring this year, bringing back top hits like “Everybody Have Fun Tonight” and so much more.
One of the original bands from England to popularize electronic music and new wave, Depeche Mode has had 50+ songs on the UK Singles Chart and one number album in the US. They continue to tour worldwide.