This article includes an overview of the major events and trends in popular music in the 1980s.
The 1980s saw the emergence of dance music and new wave. As disco fell out of fashion in the decade's early years, genres such as post-disco, Italo disco, Euro disco and dance-pop became more popular. Rock music continued to enjoy a wide audience. Soft rock, glam metal, thrash metal, shred guitar characterized by heavy distortion, pinch harmonics and whammy bar abuse became very popular. Adult contemporary, quiet storm, and smooth jazz gained popularity. In late '80s, glam metal became the largest, most commercially successful brand of music in the United States and worldwide.
The 1980s are commonly remembered for an increase in the use of digital recording, associated with the usage of synthesisers, with synth-pop music and other electronic genres featuring non-traditional instruments increasing in popularity. Also during this decade, several major electronic genres were developed, including electro, techno, house, freestyle and Eurodance, rising in prominence during the 1990s and beyond. Throughout the decade, R&B, hip hop and urban genres were becoming commonplace, particularly in the inner-city areas of large, metropolitan cities; rap was especially successful in the latter part of the decade, with the advent of the golden age of hip hop. These urban genres—particularly rap and hip hop—would continue their rise in popularity through the 1990s and 2000s.
Michael Joseph Jackson (August 29, 1958 – June 25, 2009) was an American singer, songwriter, record producer, dancer, actor, and philanthropist. Called the "King of Pop", his contributions to music, dance, and fashion along with his publicized personal life made him a global figure in popular culture for over four decades.
The eighth child of the Jackson family, Michael made his professional debut in 1964 with his elder brothers Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, and Marlon as a member of the Jackson 5. He began his solo career in 1971. In the early 1980s, Jackson became a dominant figure in popular music. His music videos, including those of "Beat It", "Billie Jean", and "Thriller" from his 1982 album Thriller, are credited with breaking racial barriers and transforming the medium into an art form and promotional tool. The popularity of these videos helped bring the television channel MTV to fame. Jackson's 1987 album Bad spawned the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 number-one singles "I Just Can't Stop Loving You", "Bad", "The Way You Make Me Feel", "Man in the Mirror", and "Dirty Diana", becoming the first album to have five number-one singles on the Billboard Hot 100. He continued to innovate with videos such as "Black or White" and "Scream" throughout the 1990s, and forged a reputation as a touring solo artist. Through stage and video performances, Jackson popularized a number of complicated dance techniques, such as the robot and the moonwalk, to which he gave the name. His distinctive sound and style has influenced numerous artists of various music genres.
Thriller is the best-selling album of all time, with estimated sales of 65 million copies worldwide. Jackson's other albums, including Off the Wall (1979), Bad (1987), Dangerous (1991), and HIStory (1995), also rank among the world's best-selling albums. He is recognized as the Most Successful Entertainer of All Time by Guinness World Records. Jackson is one of the few artists to have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice, and was also inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Dance Hall of Fame as the only dancer from pop and rock music. His other achievements include multiple Guinness World Records, 13 Grammy Awards, the Grammy Legend Award, the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, 26 American Music Awards—more than any other artist—including the "Artist of the Century" and "Artist of the 1980s", 13 number-one singles in the United States during his solo career—more than any other male artist in the Hot 100 era—and estimated sales of over 350 million records worldwide.[Note 1] Jackson won hundreds of awards, making him the most awarded recording artist in the history of popular music. He became the first artist in history to have a top ten single in the Billboard Hot 100 in five different decades when "Love Never Felt So Good" reached number nine on May 21, 2014. Jackson traveled the world attending events honoring his humanitarianism, and, in 2000, the Guinness World Records recognized him for supporting 39 charities, more than any other entertainer.
Aspects of Jackson's personal life, including his changing appearance, personal relationships, and behavior, generated controversy. In 1993, he was accused of child sexual abuse, but the civil case was settled out of court for an undisclosed amount and no formal charges were brought. In 2005, he was tried and acquitted of further child sexual abuse allegations and several other charges after the jury found him not guilty on all counts. While preparing for his comeback concert series, This Is It, Jackson died of acute propofol and benzodiazepine intoxication on June 25, 2009, after suffering from cardiac arrest. The Los Angeles County Coroner ruled his death a homicide, and his personal physician, Conrad Murray, was convicted of involuntary manslaughter. Jackson's death triggered a global outpouring of grief, and a live broadcast of his public memorial service was viewed around the world. Forbes ranks Jackson as the top-earning dead celebrity, with yearly earnings of $825 million in 2016, the highest ever recorded by the publication.