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3 Key Artists 1980s Pop Music

3 Key Artists 1980s Pop Music

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Published by Michelle O Faith

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Published by: Michelle O Faith on May 05, 2012
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If you were designing your own pop music class, which three artistswould you use to illustrate the 1980s, and why do you think theyare representative of that decade?
The artist I believe to be most representative of the 1980s is Michael Jackson. Referred to as the Kingof Pop, Jackson is recognised as the most successful entertainer of all time by Guinness WorldRecords, and during the 1980s, he attained a level of celebrity and success that remains unparalleled.The
Thriller 
album, released 1982, saw Jackson seamlessly fuse Funk, Soul and Disco with thecommercial-pop sound of the time, thus transcending genre, race, creed and gender to make him
the first real pop “crossover”,
and bringing black music back to mainstream radio. The album earnedJackson a record-breaking twelve Grammy award nominations in 1983. It won eight, making him themost awarded in one night in the
ceremony’s
history.
Thriller 
is also the best-selling album of all timeworldwide, shifting an estimated 110 million copies to date.
1
With his music
video for the album’s
title track,
Thriller,
Jackson pioneered the medium, transforming it from a mere promotional toolinto an art form. T
he video’s heavy rotation on MTV
also significantly boosted viewership of the thenfledgling network. A performance of 
Billie Jean
on
Motown 25
saw Jackson première his signaturedance move, the
Moonwalk.
Actually taught to him three years prior by a thirteen year-old SoulTrain dancer, the now iconic step became an overnight dance craze, and sealed
Jackson’s
reputationas a dance legend
.
Released soon after, t
he song’s video
made Jackson the first black artist to beplayed on MTV. Teenagers everywhere began to sport a single white, rhinestone-studded glove,along with white socks tucked into black, patent leather shoes. Although not selling as well as its
predecessor, Jackson’s 1987
Bad 
album is
still one of the world’s best
-selling of all time, spawningfive number-
one singles on America’s
Billboard Hot 100
, and earning Jackson another record forartist with most number-one singles on the chart from one album.
1
Michael Jackson Photo Gallery. BBC China. http:// www. bbc. co. uk/ china/ learningenglish/ specials/ 1430 _ jackson_photo/page7.shtml. Retrieved 16
th
July 2009.
 
The second artist I would have to mention is Madonna. Revered for managing to continuouslyreinvent both her music and image, Madonna achieved global recognition after the release of hersecond studio album
Like a Virgin
, in 1984. The title track, "Like a Virgin", topped the
Billboard 
Hot100 chart for six consecutive weeks,
2
and attracted the attention of family organizations, whocomplained that the song and its accompanying video promoted premarital sex and underminedfamily values. Madonna further came under fire when she performed the song at the first MTVVideo Music Awards where she appeared on stage atop a giant wedding cake, wearing a weddingdress and bridal veil, adorned with her characteristic "Boy Toy" belt buckle. The performance, inwhich Madonna simulated masturbation, is noted by scholars and by MTV as an iconic performancein MTV history.
3
This pushing of sexual boundaries both lyrically and image-wise was to become a
defining feature of Madonna’s artis
try. It was a feature seen again in her music video for
Like APrayer 
, which featured a dream about making love to a saint, (alongside many Catholic symbols suchas stigmata and burning crosses), leading the Vatican to condemn the video. Like Jackson,
Madonna’s image
quickly catapulted her to fashion icon status. Her style, consisting of lace tops,skirts over capri pants, fishnet stockings, jewelry bearing the crucifix, bracelets, and bleached hair,became a female fashion trend of the 1980s. By the end of the 1980s, Madonna was named as the"Artist of the Decade" by media such as MTV,
Billboard 
and
Musician
magazine.
4
According to Robert Larsen in his book,
History of Rock and Roll 
, Prince is "one of the most talentedand commercially successful pop musicians of the last 20 years", producing ten platinum albums andthirty Top 40 singles during his career.
5
It is true that one cannot deny
Prince’
s talent, him havingwritten, self-produced, and played most, if not all, of the instruments on his recordings. So great is
Prince’s song
-writing ability that he has written for other artists including Chaka Khan, The Bangles,
2
 
Madonna
– 
Charts & Awards
– 
Billboard Singles
. www.allmusic.com/artist/madonna-p64565/charts-awards/billboard-singles. Retrieved 24/02/2010
3
Vena, Jocelyn (12/08/2009).
Can Lady Gaga Top These Iconic MTV VMA Performances? 
www.mtv.com/news/articles/1618580/20090812/lady_gaga.jhtml. Retrieved 12/01/2010
4
Taraborrelli, Randy J. (2002).
Madonna: An Intimate Biography 
. Simon and Schuster. P 217.
5
Larsen, Thomas.
History of Rock and 
Roll. P 243. Siegel, Robert.
 
and Sinéad O'Connor, (for whom he wrote the 1990 worldwide number one,
Nothing Compares toYou
).
Prince’s third album
Dirty Mind,
released 1980, was produced, arranged, and composedprimarily by Prince. The album is testament to Prince as a true innovator, seeing him blend rock androll with New Wave elements in an exciting new fusion. As in the case of 
Jackson’s
Thriller 
and
Bad 
albums,
Dirty Mind 
seamlessly fused black and white musical styles, and showed that like Madonna,Prince was not afraid to push boundaries sexually, (as well as musically). After Tipper Gore heard her12-year-old daughter listening to Prince's song
Darling Nikki 
, she founded the Parents MusicResource Center
6
, which eventually lead to the mandatory use of a warning label ("ParentalAdvisory: Explicit Lyrics") on the covers of records judged to contain language or lyrical contentunsuitable for minors. Along with
Billie Jean
,
Little Red Corvette
from
Prince’s 1982 album
1999
wasone of the first two videos by a black artist played in heavy rotation on MTV.
7
Prince's 1984 album
Purple Rain
sold more than thirteen million copies in the U.S. and spent twenty-four consecutiveweeks at #1 on the Billboard 200 chart. At one point in 1984, Prince simultaneously had the numberone album, single, and film in the U.S., marking the first time a singer had achieved this feat.
8
The
album’s title track peaked at number two on the
Billboard Hot 100
, and won Prince won theAcademy Award for Best Original Song Score.
Word Count = 800
6
 
Tipper Gore and Family Values: NPR Music. www.npr.
org. Retrieved
18/07/2009.
 
7
Buckley, Peter.
The Rough Guide to Rock.
2003. Rough Guides Ltd. P 819.
8
Gulla, Bob.
Icons of R&B and Soul: An Encyclopedia of the Artists who Revolutionised Rhythm.
2008.Greenwood Press. P 419.

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