The 80’s was an important decade for female artists. Not only for lead singers, but also for solo artists and all women bands. Some of the icons of pop music like Madonna and Janet Jackson got their start in the 80’s. These pioneering female artists are at least partly to blame for the “girl power” movement that gave us the Spice Girls, Pussycat dolls, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera and more recently, Rihanna, Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry and Lady Gaga.
Once the idea of successful female pop and rock artists that appealed to the “bubblegum” set of teen girls had taken hold, there was no turning back. What had been screaming hysteria for the Beatles, Stones, and other all male bands in the 60’s and 70’s, became emulation and hero worship of female artists and bands. There were also plenty more merchandising opportunities for record companies, as young girls were likely to change their “boy” bands for newer models, but proved fiercely loyal to the female equivalent.
Apart from Madge and Janet, there was (in no order) Siouxsie Sioux, Martha Davis, Annie Lennox, Sinead O’Connor, Gloria Estefan, Pat Benatar, Sade, Tina Turner, Nena, Bonnie Tyler, Kim Wilde, Stevie Nicks, Kim Karnes, MC Lyte, Donna Summer, Bette Midler, Juice Newton, Lita Ford, Joan Jett, Madonna, Belinda Carlisle, Taylor Dayne, Olivia Newton-John, Sheena Easton, Alison Moyet, Paula Abdul, Laura Branigan, Deborah Harry, Whitney Houston, Tiffany Debbie Gibson, Chaka Khan, Patti LaBelle, Dolly Parton, Barbara Streisand, Kate Bush, Dionne Warwick, Gladys Knight and Cyndi Lauper. These girls all had Top 10 hits in the 80s AND have been successful since then as artists. Plenty of them had been taking a run-up at the market since the 60’s, but only broke clear in the 80’s. It was a decade when female rock artists came into their own in what had been very much a boys club.
Besides the solo artists, there were also the all girl bands; Waitresses, Expose, The Go-Go’s, Heart, Bangles and Bananarama to make the men drool.
The list is long and I doubt it is complete.
With such a large list, how would you choose the best 80’s female artists? An obvious one is Madonna who with iconic songs like “Like a Virgin” and “Material Girl” is the ultimate example of the 80’s girl. In fact, she has dominated the music scene so effectively the last 30 years it is hard to remember that in the 80’s she was just one of crowd of female artists trying to make their mark in history.
What about Whitney Houston with her seven consecutive number one hits in the 80s, or Cyndi Lauper, who’s debut album “She’s So Unusual” was the first album in history to have four Top 5 singles by a female artist? Lets also not forget Bananarama who, until the Spice Girls, had sold more records than any all female band in music history and still hold the Guinness World Record for the most chart entries by a girl band.