The Eighties were undoubtedly a time for iteration and change in the world of popular music as a whole, one that, in the broadest sense, set the foundation for the radical shift in everything from hard rock and metal to alternative, electronica and hip-hop that would occur the following decade.
Heavy metal's identity became truly well-formed, with subgenres like thrash inspiring countless kids across the country to pick up a guitar and not cut their hair. On the flip side, rock music was getting weirder and rejecting the sounds of the past, as musicians started to experiment deeply with the form. It's arguable whether or not it was the best decade for music, but regardless there's a lifetime of gold to be found from it. In that spirit, we asked you to submit your vote for the single greatest band of the Eighties; see what you came up with in the ranked list below.
If you ever need to know how deep an influence the Cure have had on music culture since their formation 40 years ago, watch Trent Reznor's recent induction speech delivered the night they entered the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (and prepare to shed a few heartfelt tears). Wavering between abject darkness and cheekily commercial sounds from album to album, Robert Smith and his cast of immensely talented musicians redrew the landscape of what rock music could sound like in the 1980s and beyond.
Depeche Mode's most popular (and arguably best) album Violator didn't even drop until 1990, but that doesn't stop them from being one of the most uniquely influential bands of the Eighties. With hits like "People Are People" and "Never Let Me Down Again" delivering pop catchiness with a signature charisma drawn out through eclectic layered samples and the rich, sensual vocals of frontman Dave Gahan, the Essex kings of synth pop became one of the best bands of their formative decade and, with over 100 million records sold, remain one of the biggest in the world to date.
Slayer may be finally wrapping up their long and storied career in 2019, but the band's 1980s output remains not just the defining material of their existence — but a cornerstone in the heavy-metal canon at large. Reigning as the most sinister of thrash's Big Four, the quartet weren't afraid to take things a step further in the direction of Hell than their less-evil counterparts on genre-definers like Reign in Blood and South of Heaven — the results of which bred an entire generation of maniacal fans who continue to chant their war cry at any given opportunity with an enthusiastically bellowed "Fucking Slayer!"
It's no understatement to say that Iron Maiden completely changed the game when NWOBHM went global in the Eighties. The band put out seven albums in the decade, each one building off of the last as they added more complexities and variations in their music, delivering absolute hammer singles and long compositions with the same skill. The band is responsible for really pushing heavy metal into the fantastical and otherworldly, and their decade's output indoctrinated a generation of heshers into the heavy metal tribe.
Was there ever a question? Metallica's domination of heavy metal and culture as a whole is all built upon their four perfect albums released in the 1980s: Kill 'Em All, Ride the Lightning, Master of Puppets and ...And Justice for All. In the decades since, teenagers have argued for countless hours over which album reigns supreme, but it's a rare dissenter that will deny the overall significance and importance of those records. Metallica opened the world up to a new kind of heaviness and speed not previously heard in heavy metal. Songs like "For Whom the Bell Tolls" and "One" have ascended past the confines of heavy metal and now live in the consciousness in pop culture. Metallica are who they are because of the 80s, and heavy music at large is forever indebted.