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The Ladies Who Shaped the Pop Music Charts of the 80s – The Genesis of Girl Power
The 80s were an important decade for female artists. Not only for lead singers, but also for solo artists and all female bands. Some of the icons of pop music like Madonna and Janet Jackson started in the 80s. These pioneering female artists are at least partially to blame for the “girl power” movement that gave us the Spice Girls, the Fussette Dolls, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera and, more recently, Rihanna, Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry and Lady Gaga.
Once the idea of successful pop and rock artists turning to the “Bubbles” girl group, there was no going back. What would have screamed hysteria for the Beatles, Stones and other male bands in the 1960s and 1970s became emulation and hero worship of female artists and bands. There were also more merchandising opportunities for the record companies, as young girls might change their “boy” bands for newer models, but proved fiercely loyal to their female counterparts.
Besides Madge and Janet, there were (in no order) Siouxsie Sue, Martha Davis, Annie Lennox, Sinead O’Connor, Gloria Estefan, Pat Benatar, Syed, Tina Turner, Nana, Bonnie Tyler, Kim Wilde, Stevie Nicks, Kim Kearns, MC Lyte, Donna Summer, Bette Midler, Joss Newton, Lita Ford, Joan Jett, Madonna, Belinda Carlyle, Taylor Dayne, Olivia Newton-John, Sheena Easton, Alison Moyet, Paula Abdul, Laura Brannigan , Deborah Harry, Whitney Houston, Tiffany Debbie Gibson, Chaka Khan, Patti LaBelle, Dolly Parton, Barbra Streisand, Kate Bush, Dionne Warwick, Gladys Knight and Cyndi Lauper. These girls all had top 10 hits in the 80’s and have been successful artists ever since. Many of them have had a run on the market since the 1960s, but only came to light in the 1980s. It was a decade where female rock artists came into their own in what was very much a boys’ club.
Besides the solo artists, there were also all-girl bands; Waitresses, Expose, The Go-Go’s, Heart, Bangles and Bannerama to make men drool.
The list is long and I doubt it is complete.
With such a large list, how would you choose the best female artists of the 80s? One 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 for the past 30 years that it’s hard to remember that in the 80s she was just one of a crowd of female artists trying to make their mark on history.
What about Whitney Houston with her seven consecutive No. 1 hits in the 1980s, or Cyndi Lauper, whose debut album “She’s So Unusual” was the first album in history to have four Top 5 singles by a female artist? Let’s also not forget Bananarama who, until the Spice Girls, sold more records than any female group in music history and still hold the Guinness World Record for the most chart entries by a girl group.
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