80s Idols

Roaring Voices: Top Singers Who Defined the ‘80s

Aretha Franklin once said about her mission as a singer, “Me with my hand outstretched, hoping someone will take it.” When an artist reaches out to you through their music, it creates a bond that goes deep. That’s the vibe we’re celebrating.

We’ve dug through all the chart-toppers and music legends from back in the day, so you don’t have to. Sure, it would be a disservice to assume that a list of just ten artists could cover all the incredible talent of the decade. But for now, here’s the absolute cream of the crop:

1. Madonna

Madonna is hailed as the Queen of Pop, and her career has been marked by constant reinvention and innovation, challenging societal norms and artistic boundaries. 

Initially, some considered her a lighter-than-air vocalist rather than a heavyweight talent. But Madonna’s singing style stands out from typical pop vocalists. She adds subtext, irony, and vocal idiosyncrasies similar to legendary artists like John Lennon and Bob Dylan. 

2. Kate Bush

Kate Bush achieved her first UK number one hit with Wuthering Heights. Over the years, she produced a string of UK Top 40 singles and top-charting albums, including Hounds of Love, Never for Ever, and The Whole Story.

Her singing style is distinct, blending British, Anglo-Irish, and southern English accents. Music critics label her music as surreal, and even in her more cheerful pieces, you’ll find traces of melancholy. 

3. Michael Jackson

King of Pop Michael Jackson was a cultural phenomenon. Starting with the Jackson 5, he rapidly rose to solo stardom, with his album Off the Wall marking a turning point.

His transition from boy soprano to lyric tenor was evident between 1971 and 1975. By the ‘80s, he received recognition for his mature vocal abilities and earned a comparison to the likes of Stevie Wonder. Thriller marked a shift to an adult voice.

4. Bryan Adams

Bryan Adams began his career at just 15, and by the age of 20, he had already released his eponymous debut album. Adams swiftly gained recognition with hits like Cuts Like a Knife and Straight From the Heart from his 1983 album.

Bryan Adams’ distinctive growling and raspy voice is his sonic signature. This quality is particularly prominent in some of his most iconic songs — Summer of ‘69 and Run to You.

5. Elton John

Elton John’s impact on popular music and culture has been immense, with a career spanning several decades. His awards and recognitions are numerous, including Grammy Awards, Brit Awards, Academy Awards, Golden Globes, and a Tony Award. Quite notably, he has received a knighthood.

In Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Elton John’s incredible vocal range shines, while Someone Saved My Life Tonight showcases a powerful and cathartic high point.

6. Diana Ross

Diana Ross became famous as the lead singer of The Supremes, Motown’s most successful act. After leaving the group, Ross embarked on a solo career filled with smash hits like Ain’t No Mountain High Enough and Endless Love.

Her voice goes from a deep, smoky tone in the lower range to a lighter, warm midrange. Experts say that her chest voice is clear and extends up to A5, thanks to her technique.

7. Whitney Houston

Whitney’s early albums, including Whitney Houston and Whitney, were massive hits, as were her iconic songs like How Will I Know and I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me).

Houston’s incredible improvisation skills and gospel influences in pop music set her apart. She achieved 11 Billboard Hot 100 number-one singles, a record seven consecutively. Her other achievements include eight Grammys, 16 Billboard Music Awards, two Emmys, and 28 Guinness World Records. 

8. Tina Turner

Tina Turner’s career began with Ike & Tina Turner. In the 1980s, she staged an incredible comeback with an album Private Dancer featuring What’s Love Got to Do With It. Her chart success continued with Better Be Good to Me, The Best, and GoldenEye.

Turner’s voice is a force of nature, and it’s characterized by raw, untamed power. It’s a voice that commands attention and leaves a lasting impression.

9. George Michael

George Michael formed the iconic pop duo Wham! with Andrew Ridgeley in 1981. Their first two albums, Fantastic and Make It Big, rocketed to number one on the UK Albums Chart and the US Billboard 200. Michael’s solo career took off with Careless Whisper in 1984. 

The artist had a special talent for taking songs originally sung by others and making them his own. That’s because he gave them a unique George Michael twist. 

10. Annie Lennox

Annie Lennox started gaining attention in the late 1970s. But thanks to her collaboration with Dave Stewart in the 1980s as Eurythmics, songs like Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) and There Must Be an Angel (Playing With My Heart) made her a phenomenon. Her lower notes carry a solid, dark, and male-like timbre, which provides a strong foundation for her to create layered harmonies.

And there you have it, a glimpse into the unforgettable artistic landscape!

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