If you were lucky enough to grow up in the ‘80s, you were lucky enough to grow up in the best era of ALLLLLLLLL TIME. Yep, you know it’s true. Things were so much simpler back in the ‘80s. We weren’t overrun with technology (what the heck is an iWatch?), we weren’t stressing about the state of the world (no comment), and we weren’t having to endure the pain of watching awful movie remakes (we had the originals). Instead, the only thing we had to worry about was whether our leg warmers matched our scrunchies.
Yuh-huh, the ‘80s was the best. We spent most of our time perfectly placing Friendship Pins onto our sneakers, playing our favorite Atari games, busting out some epic moves at the roller disco, watching Ferris Bueller take a day off, and wondering whether we could persuade our moms to buy us another Cabbage Patch Doll. However, there was one thing we loved to do more than anything in the ‘80s – and that was listening to music.
Over the course of history, each decade has come with its own style of music. Nowadays, the ‘10s is all about traditional indie instrumentalists such as Mumford and Sons, Lorde and Birdy (and it’s pretty edgy). The ‘00s was all about teen pop and autotune, mixed with an R&B edge from the likes of Beyonce, Usher and Rihanna (remember the umbrella-ella-ella?) The ‘90s was all about grunge, dance-pop and hip-hop, and brought us some of the most iconic boy bands and girl bands of all time (we’re still obsessed with The Backstreet Boys) – but the ‘80s was truly special. This era filled our ears with post-disco dance and pop music and brought us some of the most famous pop stars in history. These guys donned their leg warmers, quaffed their hair, and preened themselves in preparation for their MTV music video debut. This is the ‘80s pop stars – then and now…
Madonna – Then
Madonna is often called the Queen of the ’80s… and rightly so. With her eccentric hair, jewelry and clothes, she epitomized what it meant to be an ’80s pop star. Before the ’80s, Madonna starred in a rock band, before going solo in the 1982 and releasing her first single ‘Everybody.’ Go on, Madge…
Madonna – Now
After the ’80s, Madonna rose to higher and higher heights, becoming one of the most talented and most famous singers of all time. The Material Girl has since sold over three hundred million records and has won seven Grammy Awards. She is still singing, but spends most of her time using her fame for political activism and raising her biological and adoptive children. Could she get any cooler?
Janet Jackson, the youngest of the Jackson family, definitely didn’t miss out on the family’s musical talent. Janet split from her brothers in the ’80s in search of a solo career and signed as a solo artist in 1982, and released her third album in 1986. She is most famous for socially provocative songs and lyrics. Ooooh.
Janet Jackson – Now
Janet Jackson is still singing and touring today, and the world can’t get enough of her. With her trademark big hair, Janet is still selling out arenas and has adoring fans. Jackson has also created her own clothing line, as well as turning her talents to acting. She has appeared in many TV shows and films.
Rick Springfield – Then
Australian-born Rick Springfield took the ’80s by storm. Although he was out and about before the ’80s, he gained international acclaim for his song, ‘Jessie’s Girl’ which topped the charts in both Australia and the United States, and even earned him a Grammy Award. Oh, and if this wasn’t enough, he was a definite ’80s stud.
Rick Springfield – Now
Yes, he is still a stud. As well as being a singer, Rick Springfield has also made a name for himself as an actor, appearing on many Australian and US TV shows, as well as on Broadway. After a bit of a career lull, he appeared in the Dave Grohl Documentary in 2013 which gave him a comeback.
Cyndi Lauper – Then
Cyndi Lauper was the ultimate ’80s style goals. Just look at that hair! Lauper was not afraid of breaking the rules, which made her such a popular pop star. She signed as a solo artist in 1982 and quickly rose to fame with her songs, ‘Girls Just Want To Have Fun’ ‘Time After Time’ and ‘She Bop.’
Cyndi Lauper – Now
Lauper has definitely not lost her fashionista status as she’s grown older. She is still singing today, and has sold over 20 million singles and 50 million records during her career. She also composed the Broadway musical, Kinky Boots, which has won so many awards we can’t even keep count…
Paula Abdul – Then
Abdul started off her career as a cheerleader for the L.A Lakers (erm, that’s seriously cool!) and rose to fame in the ’80s for being a bad-ass choreographer. She was highly sought after and used this fame to break into the music industry. She then went on to become a pop diva, and release hits such as ‘Straight Up’ and ‘Opposites Attract.’
Paula Abdul – Now
After her success in the ’80s, Paula Abdul became a household name and TV personality. She is most known for her appearances in eight seasons of the popular talent show, American Idol, as well as the American X Factor and So You Think You Can Dance. As well as this, she is still touring and performing as a singer.
Bryan Adams – Then
Canadian pop star, Bryan Adams rose to fame in Canada in 1983, and then worked his way across the pond towards international success. His most famous hits in the ’80s were ‘Summer of ‘69’ and ‘Run to You.’ Bryan was notorious for being a hard-worker and played his guitar til his fingers bled…in the summer of ‘69.
Bryan Adams – Now
Throughout his career, Adams has won many awards to celebrate his musical career. After a steady career, Adams released a new album in 2015 along with his humanitarian work. Adams has created The Bryan Adams Foundation which aims to enhance learning and education across the world. Talented and a humanitarian? Marry us?
Bonnie Tyler – Then
Welsh pop star Bonnie Tyler (along with her backcombed hair) gained a record deal in the 70’s, but after limited success decided to change her musical style. In 1983, Tyler recorded the song ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’ and a year later released the song ‘Holding Out For A Hero,’ and, well, the rest is history…
Bonnie Tyler – Now
After the ’80s, Bonnie Tyler continued with her successful musical career. As she has gotten older, Tyler has taken a more steady approach to touring and performing, but still performs regularly for her fans. In 2013, Tyler represented the UK in the Eurovision song contest, but in true UK form… they didn’t do too well. But when do they?
Elvis Costello – Then
British-born pop-punk icon Elvis Costello was by far one of the most varied of the ’80s pop stars. Costello loved to experiment with genres, and experiment with his music – making him a lovable pop star for anyone and everyone. His music has often been referred to as an encyclopedia of pop… if you want to listen to a certain genre or style; you’ll be sure to find it on Costello’s albums.
Elvis Costello – Now
After Costello’s initial success, he has found three of his albums on the Rolling Stones’ Greatest Albums of All Time. Not bad, eh? As a lover of music, Costello married a fellow musician – in Elton John’s house no less! He is also the father of twin sons.
Lionel Richie – Then
Hello… is it Lionel Richie you’re looking for? Lionel’s music career began in the late ’60s when he was a member of the band, the Commodores. In 1982, Richie decided to take his musical career to a solo direction, and his debut album skyrocketed to the top. In 1984, Richie released his most famous song, ‘Hello’ and even co-wrote the Michael Jackson charity song, ‘We Are The World’ in 1985.
Lionel Richie – Now
Nowadays, the Richie name and legacy has been passed down to his daughters – with their adoptive daughter, Nicole, becoming a Hollywood socialite, and their biological daughter, Sofia, becoming a famous model. Career-wise, Lionel is still performing as much as he can.
Phil Collins – Then
As well as being the lead singer and drummer in the band, Genesis, Phil Collins also had a hugely successful solo career in the ’80s. During the decade, Collins scored seven US number one singles, and had more US Top 40 singles than any other singer or songwriter during the ’80s. Considering he isn’t American, that’s a pretty good feat…
Phil Collins – Now
Collins retired from the music industry in 2011 to focus on his personal life and his family, but still continued to write music – which came in handy when he returned to the industry in 2015. He performed a European tour in the summer of 2017, the first time he had performed live for ten years. Lucky Europe.
Patti Labelle – Then
Patricia Louise Holt-Edwards – or Patti Labelle – began her career before the ’80s as a member of the band Patti LaBelle and the Bluebelles. However, after splitting from the group, LaBelle rose to solo stardom in the ’80s and released famous songs such as ‘On My Own,’ ‘If Only You Knew’ and ‘New Attitude.’
Patti Labelle – Now
Since the ’80s, LaBelle has used her fame to branch out into TV presenting, as well as appearing in programs such as American Horror Story and Dancing With The Stars. She has also created her own brand of Sweet Potato Pies. Yummy, can we try?
Billy Ocean – Then
Billy Ocean was the R&B/Pop collaboration that everyone needed during the ’80s. He first sprung to fame in the UK and then made his way across the pond to achieve three number one US singles in the ’80s. In ‘85, Billy Ocean won a Grammy Award for his song, ‘Caribbean Queen.’
Billy Ocean – Now
In 2002, Billy Ocean was awarded an honorary doctorate in music from the University of Westminster in London – Dr. Billy Ocean, cool, huh? He spends a lot of his time touring and performing, as well as holding seminars on music.
Tina Turner – Then
On a list of Pop stars, we couldn’t miss out Tina Turner could we?! Turner’s musical influence in the ’80s – as well as her style, which was, err… bold – was second to none. Her hit single, ‘What’s Love Got To Do With it’ won her, not one… not two… but three Grammy Awards!
Tina Turner – Now
Tina is still performing today, with as much gusto as she always has. She has often been named as the Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll and dubbed one of the most successful solo artists of all time. She has also turned her hand to acting. In 2013, Turner gave up her US citizenship and now lives in Switzerland.
Blondie – Then
Blondie, or more specifically, Debbie Harry, started off her career in the ’70s with Chris Stein as the band, ‘Blondie.’ However, they started off in the underground scene, and only really came to prominence in the ’80s. They scored hit singles such as ‘Heart of Glass,’ ‘Call Me’ and ‘Rapture.’
Blondie – Now
Since the start of their career, Blondie has sold over 40 million singles worldwide, and are still touring and performing today. Debbie Harry also prides herself on being a big figure in philanthropy and uses her fame and money to get involved in charities that help fight cancer and endometriosis.
Olivia Newton-John – Then
Grease is the word! Olivia Newton-John is most famous for her role as Sandy in the movie, Grease, but she has also had a successful solo career. In 1981, Newton-John released her most famous album, Physical. The title track was a huge hit, as well as her songs ‘Make a Move on Me’ and ‘Landslide.’
Olivia Newton-John – Now
Everyone’s famous Sandy still tours today, but not to the extent that she did back in the ’80s and ’90s. Newton-John now focuses more on her personal life and health, after being diagnosed with breast cancer. She was in remission, but has recently been told there has been a recurrence. Newton-John is now dedicating her life to charity work and fundraising.
Stevie Nicks – Then
Stevie Nicks is famous for her role in the hit band, Fleetwood Mac, as well as her solo career. The style and pop icon recorded and released her first solo album away from the band in 1981. The album reached number one on the Billboard chart., so you could say she did pretty well…
Stevie Nicks – Now
Stevie Nicks is still performing for her and Fleetwood Mac’s fans. She is noted as one of the biggest icons in terms of fashion, music and performing, and won many awards. Nicks is also an ordained minister and has created a charity to help wounded soldiers. The legend… Stevie Nicks.
Cher – Then
Cher has often been referred to as the Goddess of Pop… and it’s clear to see why. In the ’80s, Cher returned back to music for the second time after having two children. She entered into the pop-disco genre and proved a big hit, earning her a residency show in Las Vegas for two years – at a whopping $300,000 a week salary. We wouldn’t say no to that!
Cher – Now
Cher is still recognized as one of the most famous pop icons of all time, but has also appeared in many films such as Burlesque and Mermaids. She also prides herself on being a humanitarian and political activist.
Paul McCartney – Then
Paul McCartney is notably known as one of the members of the band, The Beatles, alongside John Lennon, Ringo Starr, and George Harrison. In the late ’70s and ’80s, McCartney took to his solo career as a singer and songwriter, releasing his own songs as well as writing songs for the likes of Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder. So he was pretty big time.
Paul McCartney – Now
And Paul McCartney is still pretty big time. He is still touring the world and performing in sold-out arenas. He has recently collaborated with Jay-Z, Kanye West, and Rihanna and appeared in the 2017 film, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales. Anything else you want to add to your incredible repertoire, Paul?
Diana Ross – Then
Diana Ross first came to fame in the ’60s for her big hair and her role within the band, The Supremes. In the late ’70s, Diana embarked on her solo career and her ’80s album, Diana, landed at number two on the US Billboard chart and included famous hits such as ‘I’m Coming Out.’
Diana Ross – Now
Diana Ross is still a household name… for her music and her big hair. In 2016, Billboard named her as the 50th most successful artist in history, as well as being awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by then-President Obama.
Kim Carnes – Then
Kim Carnes began her musical career in the ’60s, but claimed true pop star status in the ’80s. In 1981, her single ‘Bette Davis Eyes’ spent nine weeks at number one in the US charts and was a huge international hit, and became the biggest-selling single of the year.
Kim Carnes – Now
Kim now lives in Nashville and is still recording music while bringing up her three sons. She has collaborated with artists and even provided the music for films, as well as releasing a Greatest Hits album for her fans.
Simply Red – Then
British soul and pop band, Simply Red were headed up by lead singer, Mick Hucknall. In 1985, Simply Red released their first song ‘Money’s Too Tight (To Mention)’ which became an immediate hit, not only in the UK, but in the European and American charts.
Simply Red – Now
Simply Red disbanded in 2010, but Mick is still performing and touring as the last remaining member of the band. Since the ’80s, the band has sold over 50 million records worldwide. I don’t think money will be too tight for him, now…
Rickie Lee Jones – Then
Rickie Lee Jones is another pop icon who mixed and experimented with musical genres in her career. Beginning in the ’70s, Jones’ fame came from her dedication to her songwriting, and with the help of Rolling Stone magazine, who gave Rickie two front covers over the space of two years. Can’t complain about that…
Rickie Lee Jones – Now
In 2015, Rickie created her own record label and spends most of her time working on this, as well as releasing her own original music. Jones still performs today, and has won two Grammy Awards during her career.
Deniece Williams – Then
Deniece Williams sprung to the public’s attention in the late ’70s and took the world by storm in the ’80s with her hit singles such as ‘Let’s Hear It For The Boy’ ‘Silly’ and ‘It’s Gonna Take A Miracle.’ ‘Let’s Hear It For the Boy’ reached the number one top spot on the Billboard chart, and was even featured on the soundtrack to the film, Footloose.
Deniece Williams – Now
After her pop success in the ’80s, Deniece turned to her true passion – gospel music. Today, she is still a recording artist, mostly writing and recording gospel music. Gospel has gained an amazing voice, that’s for sure…
Lyle Lovett – Then
Country-pop singer, Lyle Lovett began his career in the ’80s. Although classed as a country singer, Lovett dabbled his sweet tones in many musical genres, making him a huge hit around the world.
Lyle Lovett – Now
As well as continuing with his music career, Lovett has also appeared in films and TV programs such as The New Guy, and Castle. In 2010, Lovett was awarded an honorary degree as a Doctor of Humane Letters from the University of Houston.
Toni Basil – Then
Oh, Mickey, you’re so fine! Toni Basil sprung to fame in the ’80s for her true ’80s hit, ‘Mickey.’ The song was a cover of a 1979 song called ‘Kitty. ’ The original song didn’t have the song’s famous chant, as Basil added this on afterward. Toni also came to the forefront of the world’s attention for her wacky outfits and character.
Toni Basil – Now
Basil is still an international figure as a singer and choreographer…and still carries her wacky style. In 2010, Basil choreographed Bette Midler’s Las Vegas show… If that’s not a success, then we don’t know what is!