Phil Collins had three UK number-one singles in the 80s, seven US number-one singles, another with Genesis, and when his work with Genesis, his work with other artists, as well as his solo career is totaled, Collins had more top 40 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 chart during the 1980s than any other artist. His former Genesis colleague, Peter Gabriel, also had a highly successful solo career, which included a US number-one single and three top ten UK hits (including a duet with Kate Bush). Genesis guitarist Mike Rutherford also enjoyed the several UK and US hits with his project Mike + The Mechanics, which included a US number-one single. David Bowie saw much greater commercial success in the 1980s than he had in the previous decade, scoring four UK number one singles, including “Let’s Dance” which proved to be his biggest ever hit. He had a total of ten UK top ten hits during the decade, two in collaboration with other artists.
Boy George and his band Culture Club had immense success in both the UK and US charts with major hits like “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me”, “Time (Clock of the Heart)” and “Karma Chameleon”. As well as Boy George having his own UK number one with his cover of Bread’s “Everything I Own”, he is considered a major icon of this era. Liverpool band Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s initially controversial dance-pop gave them three consecutive UK number ones in 1984, until they faded away in the mid-1980s. Dead or Alive, also from Liverpool, was another popular dance-pop band in the mid-1980s. It was fronted by lead singer Pete Burns. Probably the most successful British pop band of the era were the duo Wham! with an unusual mix of disco, soul, ballads and even rap, who had eleven top ten hits in the UK, six of them number ones, between 1982 and 1986. George Michael released his debut solo album, Faith in 1987, and would go on to have seven UK number one singles. The 1985 concert Live Aid held at Wembley Stadium would see some of the biggest British artists of the era perform, with Queen widely regarded as stealing the show.
Bonnie Tyler had major hits with “Total Eclipse of the Heart” and “Holding Out for a Hero”, while Robert Palmer’s had two iconic music videos for “Addicted to Love” and “Simply Irresistible”. The Bee Gees 1987 single “You Win Again” reached number one, making them first group to score a UK #1 hit in each of three decades: the 1960s, ’70s, and ’80s. Other British artists who achieved success in the pop charts in the 80s included Paul McCartney, Elton John, Culture Club, Kim Wilde, The Fixx, Joe Cocker, Rod Stewart, Kate Bush, Billy Idol, Paul Young, Elvis Costello, Simple Minds, Billy Ocean, Tears for Fears, UB40, Madness and Sade.
In 1988, Irish singer Enya achieved a breakthrough in her career with the album Watermark which sold over eleven million copies worldwide and helped launch Enya’s successful career as a leading new-age, Celtic, World singer. Dutch band Tambourine received some notoriety in The Netherlands and Belgium toward the end of the decade.
Synthpop emerged from new wave, producing a form of pop music that followed electronic rock pioneers in the 1970s like Kraftwerk, Jean Michel Jarre, and Tangerine Dream, in which the synthesizer is the dominant musical instrument. The sounds of synthesizers came to dominate the pop music of the early 1980s as well as replacing disco in dance clubs in Europe.
Other successful synthpop artists of this era included Pet Shop Boys, Alphaville, Soft Cell, Depeche Mode, New Order, Gary Numan, The Human League, Thomas Dolby, Howard Jones, Yazoo, Art of Noise, Heaven 17, A Flock of Seagulls, OMD, Japan, Thompson Twins, Visage, Ultravox, Kajagoogoo, Eurythmics, a-ha, Telex, Real Life, Erasure, Camouflage, London Boys, Modern Talking, Bananarama, Yellow Magic Orchestra.