The Most Influential Music of the 80s

The 80s were a time of new traditionalism in society. Materialism and consumerism boomed, yuppies replaced hippies, and technology did wonders for the music industry.

As a result, many genres we know today draw their inspiration from the '80. Let's learn a bit more about this decade and its tunes.

Cultural Background

The 60s and the 70s were a messy age. Between the Vietnam war, the economic crises, and the counterculture movement, people stopped feeling safe.

Crime and inflation killed the American dream, leading the people to adopt more conservative political, social, and economic attitudes. These attitudes then spread all over the anglosphere.

That new outlook led to 'yuppie' culture. Many young people started indulging in the earthly pleasures of fancy cars, technology, and designer clothes.

There was a growth of film franchises in the 80s, especially in science fiction like Star Wars and action. More people were enjoying the joy of content at home, brought by VHS and tape cassettes, which brings us to music.

Genres & Influence

Surprisingly, the commercial nature of entertainment in the 80s didn't weaken the quality of music. On the contrary, the blend of rock subgenres that were all the rage back then influences creators even today.

Among the endless list of the time genres, several stand out for their impact then and now.

College Rock

You'll likely recognise college rock in indie songs today. R.E.M. and U2 were the most recognisable names at the time, with their guitar-centred melodic tunes exuding the punk rock spirit of their predecessors.

Glam Metal

You know them, and your parents loved them. Bon Jovi, Skid Row, Motley Crue, and Def Leppard used to sell out arenas.

They brought the more niche sounds of metal to mainstream audiences, driving greater acceptance of heavy guitar riffs in a lot of music that was to follow.

Heartland Rock

Country and folk are old genres, but Bruce Springsteen and John Mellencamp gave it new life with compelling tunes and highly relatable lyrics. If it weren't for them, many folk-inspired rock and punk bands of today wouldn't exist.

New Wave

The name and sound of New Wave is the most essential part of the 80s. It captured the era's signature style, distilling the spirit of punk rock into a more melodic, comfortable swallow rock.

The Police and Duran Duran are loved even today. Many frontwomen started enjoying significant influence, too - think the Motels and Blondie.


Although it resembles New Wave, post-punk experimented more openly than its relatives. It was emotionally packed, loud, and spoke to the generation unwilling to accept the time's prevalent conservatism.

Forty years later, the successors of these genres are still prevalent. You can hear them in bars, nightclubs, and throwback parties across the globe.

Even casino games incorporate the nostalgia factor in their design. 80s music continues to inspire slots today; two such examples are the Ozzy Osbourne slot and Guns N Roses slot (see a full list of music-themed slots here).

Final Thoughts

As cliched as it may sound, the 80s represented the end of an era and the beginning of a new one. Its fingerprints are all over our lifestyles. Without its music, we wouldn't have many of the pop culture staples that we take for granted today.

19 Oct 2020