Comprehensive musicology encompassing all genres and styles

The Biggest Pop Music Bands in the Eighties

The 1980s was a decade of excess and pop music was no exception. The period was marked by the dominance of new wave, followed by an explosion of teen pop, or bubblegum, as it's also known. The decade gave rise to some of the biggest pop music bands in history. Let’s take a look at some of the most successful pop bands from the eighties. This list features noteworthy and notable bands in this field with Vocalists from the United States and New Zealand. These musicians are all famous for their contributions to popular culture and may go on to have great careers ahead of them. While this is not a definitive list of famous 1980s pop bands, they are among the best-known representatives of this music category.


The Irish rock band U2 is one of the biggest pop music bands in the world. The group was formed in Dublin, Ireland in 1976 by singers Bono and The Edge, guitarist Larry Mullen Jr., and bassist Adam Clayton. U2 released its first album in October 1980 and was an instant hit, especially in the UK, where it was certified silver. The band’s sophomore album, October 1981’s “October,” was also a success. U2’s third album, 1983’s “War,” was its first real breakthrough, with the band going from pop stardom to having a major impact on popular culture. The album was a critical and commercial success and is credited with helping to bring alternative rock (and even Irish nationalism) into the mainstream. October 1987’s “The Joshua Tree” was U2’s biggest commercial success to date, selling over 20 million copies and producing six hit singles. The band’s next two albums, 1991’s “Achtung Baby” and 1993’s “Zooropa,” were also very successful, both critically and commercially.

Pink Floyd

Pink Floyd became one of the biggest pop music bands in the world in the late 1960s and early 1970s, but declined in commercial success after that. The British rock band was formed in London in 1965 by singer-guitarist Syd Barrett, bassist Roger Waters, guitarist and singer Dave Gilmour, and drummer Nick Mason. The band released its first album, “The Piper at the Gates of Dawn,” in 1967 to critical acclaim, but no commercial success. Pink Floyd’s albums “The Dark Side of the Moon,” “Wish You Were Here,” and “Animals” were all commercial successes and are regarded as pop music classics. The band’s next album, 1979’s “The Wall,” is Pink Floyd’s most commercially successful album, and is often regarded as the band’s magnum opus.

Duran Duran

Popular in the early 1980s, Duran Duran is a British pop music band formed in Birmingham, England in 1978. The group’s line-up has changed a few times over the years and was originally made up of singer and rhythm guitarist Simon Simon, lead guitarist and vocalist Andy Andy, bassist and vocalist Nick Nick, and drummer Roger Roger. The band released its first single, “Planet Earth,” in 1982, and the track was a huge hit. It reached the top spot on the UK Singles Chart, and was also a top ten hit in the US. Since then, Duran Duran has released several albums and tracks that have been hugely successful, and the band is still going strong.


The British duo Wham! was one of the biggest pop music bands of the mid-1980s. The group was formed in London in 1982 by singers George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley, and the pair released a series of hit singles and albums throughout the decade. The first single released by the group, “Young Guns (Go for It!),” reached number one in the UK, and the band’s first album, “Fantastic,” was an instant hit. Wham!’s next album, “Make It Big,” was even more successful, producing three number-one singles, including “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go.” The band continued to enjoy success until the end of the decade but disbanded in 1986. George Michael went on to have a successful solo career.

New Kids on the Block

New Kids on the Block were one of the biggest pop music bands of the late 1980s and early 1990s. Formed in Boston, Massachusetts in 1984, the boy band was originally made up of singers Jonathan and Jordan, bassist Donnie, and guitarist Danny. The group released its first album, “NKOTB,” in 1986 and enjoyed huge commercial success, especially in the US. NKOTB released several more albums throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s, including “Hangin’ Tough” (1989) and “Step by Step” (1991). The band was enormously popular and had many hit singles, but disbanded in 1994. The group has reformed several times since then and still has a huge fan base.


Run-D.M.C. was one of the biggest pop music bands of the late 1980s and early 1990s. The group was formed in Queens, New York in 1981 by rappers Run and D.M.C., and DJ Jam Master Jay. Run-D.M.C.’s first single, “It’s Like That/Sucker MCs,” was released in 1983, and was hugely successful. The track was a top ten hit in both the US and the UK, and the band went on to enjoy enormous commercial success. Run-D.M.C. released a series of highly successful albums throughout the 1980s and 1990s, and continued to be one of the most influential acts in the music industry until D.M.C.’s death in 2002.