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 The 1980s were a decade of an extreme creative output of many great albums.

This list features the albums that resonated throughout the decade and became classics, not only of the 1980s, but of all time.Record sales, hit singles and similar stats are not always the best criteria for choosing the best albums of a decade.

Michael Jackson – Thriller (1982)

Miracles happen sometimes and an album comes along that everyone simply has to agree upon. Released in November 1982, “Thriller” not only transcended musical genres, but also racial, gender as well as any other barrier, steadily remaining the best-selling album of all time to this day.

Produced by Quincy Jones, the album also features an array of the best people in their businesses, such as Rod Temperton, Paul McCartney, Eddie Van Halen and Vincent Price delivering the memorable, horror rap on the title track. Featuring such classic cuts as “Billy Jean”, “Beat It”, “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin”, “Human Nature” and “Thriller”, followed by some of the most elaborate and the best music videos ever made, the legacy of “Thriller” can never be ignored. If Michael Jackson was The King of Pop then this album was his crown.

 

Duran Duran – Rio (1982)

Although their first album contained a string of hit singles in “Planet Earth,” “Girls on Film” and “Is There Something I Should Know,” it was really Rio that made Duran Duran into true stars, teen idols and MTV heroes. In so many ways, Rio was the highlight of the decade. Smart, polished and original sounds came out wrapped up in Nagel’s iconic cover art in 1982. The rest is history.

 

Prince – Purple Rain (1984)

Released as the soundtrack for his 1984 film, “Purple Rain” features an incredible scope of brill, ranging from metal-funk-rock (“Let’s Go Crazy”) to synth-soul-pop (“I Would Die 4 U”). It rarely happens that musical genius and glory come at the same time, but it was this album that made Prince a star. Some of his most brilliant songs are featured on this album, showcasing his ability to combine any type of music and truly make it his own.

 

Paul Simon – Graceland (1986)

Paul Simon’s Gracelandis most definitely one of the most influential albums ever released. Initially lauded as Simon’s comeback record, it turned out bigger than anyone could have imagined. The album was not the first one to feature eclectic mixture of Western and non-Western styles, but it was the first one to merge all those different styles and traditions into a solid, transitional work. Even now, almost 30 years later, the album still sounds fresh and original.

 

Echo & The Bunnymen – Ocean Rain (1984)

It seemed that a full orchestra would be the last thing any British post-punk band would like included on their record until Ocean Rain came out. The fortified, mysterious and new sound of the string arrangements combined with post-punk’s innocence provided the perfect scenery for the band’s metaphysical lyrics. Cleverly disordered, the album represents a true sonic journey from darkness to delight in 9 brilliant tracks.


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