80's Rock Bands

This article will talk about some of the biggest rock bands of the 80's.
November 11, 2007
You know, a funny thing about this article is that it's my third music article, and even after my first music article I said I'd never make another one, but I'm making more of them anyway, because Retrojunk needs more of these! Okay, now for the real introduction:

The 80's was one of the best decades for entertainment; mainly movies, TV and video games. However, the 80's are often overlooked as a good decade for music. As far as music goes, the 80's were the decade for styles such as synth pop, new wave, and hair metal. Rock music, however, was sort of getting weak. A lot of rock bands who were around and popular in the 60's and 70's seemed to have some difficulties transitioning into the 80's since a lot of their albums didn't do very well, and some even failed to score hit singles. If you don't believe me, check out allmusic.com and check out the low ratings they've been getting on those albums. There were however some rock bands that managed to keep themselves on the high point. In this article, I'm going to talk a little bit about 20 rock bands who have had some pretty big success in the 80's.

Guns N' Roses
What better way to start out than with this band? Guns N' Roses took the world by storm in 1987 when they released their debut album, "Appetite for Destruction", introducing their three biggest hits ever, "Welcome to the Jungle", "Paradise City" and "Sweet Child O' Mine". These guys are most known for their powerful rock anthems and extensive playing mostly thanks to Slash and his killer guitar playing. In 1991, they released the 2-part "Use Your Illusion" album, which showed that they were still going strong. Some of their other strongest hits include "Yesterdays" and the ballad, "November Rain". They even made some rocking covers to Bob Dylan's "Knockin' on Heaven's Door", Paul McCartney's "Live and Let Die", and most recently, the Rolling Stones' "Sympathy for the Devil". The last real album they ever made was 1993's disastrous "The Spaghetti Incident?" Sadly, ever since Slash's departure in 1996, this band was slowly fading away.

Van Halen
Another mighty band. Their self-titled debut in 1978 was one of the strongest debut albums of all time. Since then, the Van Halen brothers, along with the help of David Lee Roth managed to rack up a bunch of strong hits such as "Runnin' with the Devil", "Eruption", "Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love", "Jamie's Cryin'", "Dance the Night Away", "...And the Cradle Will Rock", "Unchained", and covers of "You Really Got Me", "Dancing in the Street" and "Oh Pretty Woman". The band also evolved a lot along with Eddie's insane guitar-playing and Alex's insane drumming. "1984" introduced a new sound for the band with hits like "Jump", "Panama", "Hot for Teacher" and "I'll Wait". After David Lee Roth was replaced by Sammy Hagar, things started going downhill for the band, but they still managed to make some mind-blowing hits like "Best of Both Worlds", "Dreams", "Love Walks In", "Why Can't This Be Love?" and "When It's Love". 1991's "Right Now" was the last real strong hit for Van Halen, and after that, the mighty was gone.

Bon Jovi
Here's a band that came quite a ways. This band, lead by lead singer, Jon Bon Jovi (Ugh! Yet another band named after one of the band member's last names!), started their career in the mid-80's. Delivering hard sounding lyrically insane songs like "Livin' on a Prayer", "You Gave Love a Bad Name", "Wanted Dead or Alive" and more. Jon also showed that the tube was not just for Peter Frampton and Joe Walsh. If you don't like this band, then think about this: We would not have had such incredible bands that followed them had it not been for Bon Jovi.

Okay, Aerosmith was popular in the 70's, but we kinda lost them after 1977. In 1987, however, the band made a huge comeback. Even though there was a different band lineup, they still offered a number of hits. They managed to make people rock out in the late 80's and early 90's with "Rag Doll", "Dude (Looks Like a Lady)", "The Other Side" and more, and they even made some beautiful ballads like "Angel", "What it Takes", "Cryin'", "Crazy" and "Amazing". Having a recent hit like "Jaded" shows that Aerosmith is still going strong.

What a magnificent band. When they started in the mid-70's, they were still looking for their signature sound, but they found it in 1978 on their breakthrough album, "Infinity", and they proved it better in 1981's "Escape". With numerous hits like "Don't Stop Believin'", "Open Arms", "Who's Cryin' Now?", "Seperate Ways", "Faithfully", "Any Way You Want It" and "Only the Young", Journey wins a place as one of the biggest rock bands of the 80's.

Motley Crue
In the 80's, Motley Crue was one of the many bands that defined what hair metal was all about. If you're a fan of this band, then you'll surely want to crank up the volume when listening to "Dr. Feelgood", "Girls, Girls, Girls" and "Smokin' in the Boys Room". There's more to this band than their looks; it's their bad ass style!

Even progressive rock bands can prove they've got what it takes in the 80's. The Canadian prog-rock band, Rush, made quite a scene in the 80's. 1981's "Moving Pictures" is one of the greatest rock albums of all time, especially with the band's signature song, "Tom Sawyer". With mighty synthesizers, progressive techniques, and the greatest drummer in the world, how can you go wrong? If you want to know what I'm talking about, then check out "Spirit of Radio", "Freewill", "Red Barchetta", "YYZ", "Limelight", "Subdivisions", "New World Man", "Time Stand Still" and "The Big Money" to hear what Rush had to offer us that decade!

Judas Priest
One of the most influential metal bands of all time. This British band became famous taking their gothic gloom and hard rock and fusing it all together. Even though they did start out in the 70's and were quite popular then, they managed to continue into the 80's quite successfully with songs like "Breaking the Law", "You've Got Another Thing Coming" and the song that speaks for itself, "Living After Midnight". These guys are all things metal. Unlike most metal bands, Judas Priest remained strong at a vitally important place atop the kingdom of metal.

The Scorpions
The strange thing about this band is that they've been around since 1969, and their breakthrough album wasn't released until 1979. From that point on, the German hard rock band, the Scorpions, managed to rock people out with their signature anthem, "Rock You Like a Hurricane", their hit ballad, "Wind of Change", as well as other hits like "No One Like You" and "The Zoo". It's no wonder they're called the Scorpions; they're music will sting you!

Foreigner, led by Lou Gramm, is more known for their arena rock style. They started out in 1977, and made a successful self-titled debut album that introduced a new usage for the synthesizer. Even though most of their albums weren't extremely successful, they still managed to score some awesome hits. Such include "Cold as Ice", "Hot Blooded", "Double Vision", "Head Games", "Dirty White Boy", "Waiting for a Girl Like You", "Urgent" and "I Want to Know What Love Is". I suggest you check these guys out.

The Cars
When New Wave was making the scene in the late 70's, this British band proved themselves to be one of the greatest bands of the genre. Their 1978 self-titled debut album had countless hits like "Just What I Needed", "My Best Friend's Girl", "Good Times Roll" and "You're All I've Got Tonight". Later on, they got people on their feet to "Let's Go", "Shake It Up", "You Might Think" and "Magic", but they showed their softer side too with songs like "Drive". The band's disastrous final album lead to the band's break-up in 1987.

Def Leppard
This is a band that truly defines what Arena Rock is all about! All the power in their songs from their masterpiece albums, "Pyromania" and "Hysteria", are sure to blow people away. These guys, to me, are like a mixture between Boston and Van Halen. What? You've never heard these guys? Here's some advice. Listen to their music! Songs like "Pour Some Sugar On Me", "Photograph", "Foolin'", "Rock of Ages" and "Love Bites" are surely in the bag.

Talking Heads
Here's another band that strongly influenced New Wave. Talking Heads have given some big New Wave hits in the late 70's and throughout the 80's like "Burnin' Down the House", "And She Was" and "Take Me to the River", and, of course, who could ever forget "Once in a Lifetime"? It's amazing how many people have been quoting that song all these years by saying, "This is not my beautiful house! This is not my beautiful wife!" Ah, what an influential band those Talking Heads were.

While this band didn't do much in the 80's, they still had a couple strong efforts. Their 1981 album, "Paradise Theater", took America by storm, even though it wasn't quite as strong as Rush's "Moving Pictures". The music they've done in the 80's still managed to get people jumping and singing along. Styx also happens to be my favorite band of all time. While most bands have one main lead singer and one main songwriter, Styx has three (kinda like the Beatles), each with his own unique song style.

Metallica is a mega favorite band to many heavy metal fans. Their extensively long heavy sounding songs can easily blow people away (except for heavy metal haters, of course). Their 1986 album, "Master of Puppets", is one of the greatest metal albums of all time, and if you want to get an idea of what metal is all about, then you gotta check out that album! Their fifth album, 1991's "The Black Album", is sadly the last great album they've ever done (with mega hits like "Enter Sandman", "Nothing Else Matters" and "The Unforgiven"), but for some reason, a lot of Metallica fans hate that album giving us this whole "beggining of the end" business. Regardless, hard core fans of Metallica will definately appreciate them for anything they do.

The Police
Yet another band that was big in British New Wave. This trio started out as a Reggae band, and through their career, they've evolved through a world of various kinds of musical styles. Some of their biggest songs include "Roxanne", "Message in a Bottle", "Don't Stand So Close to Me", "Every Little Thing She Does is Magic" and "Every Breath You Take". They had it strong for a while until they decided to break up in the mid 80's, and from that point on, Sting went solo and showed some more sophisticated rock and smooth jazz along with third world rhythms. The Police still stands out as a strong band for the rock lovers.

REO Speedwagon
REO Speedwagon is similar to Def Leppard only not as arena-sounding. Although they weren't quite as strong in the 80's as they were in the 70's, most of their most memorable tunes are from the 80's. Such include "Can't Fight This Feeling", "Take It On the Run" and "Keep On Loving You". If you're a fan of bands like Styx, Boston, Def Leppard, Van Halen, or Journey, then you are sure to love REO Speedwagon. They're worth checking out.

Dire Straits
Not a band that did very much, but Mark Knopfler is really the person who made this band. Their 1985 album, "Brothers in Arms", was a really big album for the year. How can you go wrong with "Money for Nothing" or "Walk of Life"? It's really Knopfler's songwriting and guitar-playing that really get to people when they listen to this band.

Genesis started out as a band of five British folk. In the early 70's, they were a progressive rock band. Peter Gabriel left the band around 1975, and Steve Hackett left around 1977. The three remaining members still continued. The new leader, Phil Collins, turned Genesis more into a pop band for the 80's. Fans of the progressive Genesis may not appreciate the sound they gave in the 80's, but this kind of music was made for new age Genesis fans. If you listen to hits like "Turn it On Again", "Misunderstanding", "Abacab", "No Reply at All", "That's All", "Invisible Touch", "In Too Deep" and "Throwing it All Away", you'll think, "This is a cool band." Sometimes, it's hard to believe that Phil Collins can rock out so much.

What better way to end this article then with this band? If you were to ask any hard core rock and roll fan what the best rock band of the 80's was, a majority of them will say, "U2". Every decade had it's single best artist. Elvis Presley was the 50's, the Beatles were the 60's, Pink Floyd was the 70's, but U2 was the 80's. While they're not really a hard-rocking band, they definately have a unique sound. Anyone can plainly recognize U2 by hearing The Edge's unique guitar playing and Bono's wailing vocals. This Irish band had a good number of hits throughout their career. They also made a lot of huge-selling albums, especially their 1987 masterpiece, "The Joshua Tree". There's no way anyone can go wrong with the many hits they delivered in the 80's like "I Will Follow", "Sunday Bloody Sunday", "New Years Day", "Two Hearts Beat as One", "Pride (In the Name of Love)", "Where the Streets Have No Name", "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For", "With or Without You", "Bullet the Blue Sky", "Desire" and "Angel of Harlem". Even after the 80's, U2 still managed to keep themselves on top delivering numerous hits, and they're still growing strong today.

Well, there's your added value for you. Those were amongst some of the strongest rock bands of the 80's. Hopefully, I pleased a lot of hardcore fans of these bands. Also, please don't give this article a thumbs down just because I left something out or that I confused you with my use of imagery. Just keep this in mind...the 80's rocked!
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