The 80s was an important decade for music, and some of the most famous female singers of the 1980s, despite their success in other decades, will forever be linked to the 80s.
It was a fascinating era. So, let’s get straight to it and take a closer look at the first famous 1980s female singer in my rundown…
Top 7 Most Famous Female Singers Of The 1980s
What would the 80s have been without the “Material Girl”? If ever there was a female singer synonymous with the 80s, then it has to be Madonna. Madonna began her career in 1979. And, once she got her lazy backside into the recording studio in 1982 (just kidding!), it was hit after hit.
Her first album was released in 1983 and was self-titled Madonna. She then released a further three albums in the 80s – Like a Virgin in 1984, True Blue in 1986, and Like a Prayer in 1989.
Except for compilation albums and the 1998 release Ray of Light, the four albums of the 1980s were her most successful.
So, why is that?
Frankly, they were better, and it’s as simple as that. If you look more carefully at the content of any of those four albums, you’ll see why. Songs like “Pappa Don’t Preach,” “Like a Virgin,” and her biggest hit, “Into The Groove,” all came from this period.
These were all amazing and well-written Pop songs that were catchy and beautifully well-produced. She was a force of nature, and we couldn’t get enough of her. But then came the constant re-inventions and changes of style, and some would say, changes in attitude.
As she constantly evolved…
She kept losing more and more of her audience. Why she did this is a mystery, but it ultimately seems to have harmed rather than helped.
In contrast, consider artists like Dolly Parton and Olivia Newton-John. They retained their image throughout their long careers but kept their popularity and loyal fanbase in the process.
Good luck to Madonna…
But I, for one, just couldn’t keep up with it all. I did buy a couple of her albums, for which I’m sure she’ll forever be grateful. Just my small contribution to the other 300 million albums she sold. Incidentally, that makes her the most successful 80s female singer, and in history. Nice.
Kylie Minogue is as Australian as kangaroos and boomerangs, and we love her. She was born in 1968, and the first thing most people remember about her is her appearances in the Australian TV show “Neighbours.”
She played the character of Charlene Robinson, one of the central roles, between 1986 to 1988. During the series, she was best known for her relationship with the on-screen character, Scott Robinson, played by Jason Donovan.
During her time on “Neighbours”…
Kylie released her debut single in 1987, “The Loco-motion.” She followed that in 1988 with “I Should Be So Lucky” and “Especially For You,” which was recorded with Jason Donovan. In 1988, she also released her debut album, the self-titled Kylie.
The TV series proved the perfect springboard to launch her music career. Once she left her life as a TV actress, she released her second album, Enjoy Yourself, in 1989.
In the early days…
Kylie was often heavily criticized in the media for her seemingly lightweight Pop/Dance and even Disco style. Frankly, the media seemed to completely miss the point that songs can be fun, but the general public completely got it.
Contrary to the vitriol and snide comments from the press, she was adored by her fans. Not only because of the music but also because she always came across as a decent, kind, and humble human being.
After more than 30 years…
This image has never been tarnished, and even in her 50s, she’s still loved and still referred to as “The Princess of Pop.” What is particularly interesting is the support and love shown to her throughout her career by the gay community. It’s a bit of a puzzler, but Kylie is genuinely a gay icon.
Kylie has a great voice, spanning three octaves. Happily, she’s also as good live as on recordings. Something she’s repeatedly demonstrated on a succession of long world tours. Her shows are regular sellouts which is hardly surprising because they are fun, entertaining, and spectacular.
She has had an incredible career that shows no signs of slowing down…
To date, she has sold 80 million albums, making her the most successful Australian singer of all time. She has also become the only female in UK history to have a #1 album in five separate decades. These include Enjoy Yourself in 1989, Greatest Hits in 1992, Fever in 2001, Aphrodite in 2010, and Disco in 2020.
Phenomenal! No wonder she is one of the most famous female singers of the 1980s.
I was lucky enough to see Tina Turner live in 1990. She was coming hot off what was arguably her best decade, the 80s. In 1990, she was sensational. And, I can tell you from personal experience, what a voice, what a performance, and oh, what big hair. Not bad for a lady who was then 49 years old.
It’s well documented that Tina Turner had a torrid time in her personal life. This was mostly at the hands of her first husband, Ike Turner, who repeatedly beat her during their marriage.
It wasn’t until she left him and divorced in 1978 that she eventually began to get her life back on track which she did in the 80s and then some.
Her debut solo album…
And her first in the 80s was Private Dancer. It ended up being her best-selling album, chalking up nine million in sales. It was also the album that changed her fortunes and truly resurrected her career.
Two more albums followed in the same decade. These were Break Every Rule in 1986, which sold three million copies, and Foreign Affair in 1989, which sold four million copies.
Tina Turner released seven singles from the album, including “Private Dancer.” Plus, the best performing and subsequently best-selling singles of her career, “What’s Love Got To Do With It.” “Let’s Stay Together” was also released from the same album.
From this springboard…
Tina Turner went on to release a total of 18 albums, and in the process, she sold over 100 million albums. Additionally, she managed to reverse her dire financial situation following her divorce to a point where she has now accumulated $250 million in wealth.
It’s a great turn-around story. But what is far more important is that she has finally found happiness with her new husband, Erwin Bach. She married in 2013 after a 27-year relationship. Tina’s a wonderful well-liked lady who deserves every second of her happiness. Without question, one of the most famous female singers of the 1980s.
Kate Bush is a British singer-songwriter who began her musical career in 1975 at just seventeen years of age.
She was discovered by the music giant David Gilmour, Pink Floyd’s insanely gifted guitarist and vocalist. He helped her produce a demo tape, and not surprisingly, record companies were falling over themselves to sign her.
EMI won this particular lottery, and she subsequently released her first album, The Kick Inside, in 1978 at just nineteen years old. The album sold over a million copies in the UK and charted well in Europe. However, like much of her subsequent releases, few were sold in the US.
Throughout her career…
Kate never made a huge impact in the US. She sold a total of seven million records, with only 500,000 of those in the US. The fact is that outside of Europe, until recently, she’s not been especially well known, which is a shame.
One thing that has changed this somewhat is the inclusion of one of her songs, “Running up That Hill,” in season four of the Netflix series, “Stranger Things.” This has exposed Kate Bush to a whole new generation of fans. Consequently, it resulted in renewed interest in her music.
Originally, “Running Up That Hill” was released in 1985 from the album, Hounds of Love. The song went to #1 in the UK, and this was one of the songs that also did well in the US, peaking at #3 on the Billboard 100. The album sold over a million copies globally.
It’s fair to say…
The 80s were her most productive period. Kate Bush released a total of six albums in the 80s, including her biggest seller, The Kick Inside, and a compilation album, The Whole Story, released in 1986.
With the renewed interest, it remains to be seen if the 80s will still be her golden decade. I hope that it isn’t because her beautiful four-and-a-half octave soprano voice is a joy to listen to. She’s a super-talented singer-songwriter and producer who is well worth the time spent listening to.
At 78, Diana Ross is edging towards a truly staggering 70 years of performing, and she is still going strong. It’s very difficult to choose a specific standout decade in her long career. The 60s, 70s, and 80s were all incredibly successful. Even today, she draws large audiences wherever she goes.
During the 60s, she’ll forever be associated with Motown and as the lead singer of the amazing all-girl group The Supremes. The 70s marked the start of her solo career but didn’t mark the end of her time with Motown.
Dian Ross continued with the recording giant into the early 80s. It was during this period that she had both her biggest hit single and album.
She released “Endless Love” as a duet with Lionel Richie from the movie soundtrack of the same name. The single sold three million copies globally and was nominated for five Grammy awards.
Her best-selling album was Diana, which was released a year earlier in 1980. This featured the incredible hits “I’m Coming Out,” “My Old Piano,” and “Upside Down.” The album sold over ten million copies globally. Diana was one of her last albums with Motown.
The following year she signed with RCA, and the hits continued. Possibly the biggest of the RCA era was “Why Do Fools Fall in Love,” which was a single taken from the album of the same name.
During her long career…
She has sold over 100 million albums, has won several major music awards, including a Grammy, and has been inducted into the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame. She has released 25 studio albums as well as 116 singles.
All of this has been achieved mostly through having one of the best female voices of all time. The rest is down to hard work and her dazzling on-stage performances and persona. The result was one of the most successful female singers of the 80s.
I bought a couple of Gloria Estefan albums. The first one was in the 1980s, and the second was just a couple of years later, in the 1990s.
The first album I bought was Cuts Both Ways, which was released in 1989, her debut solo album. It got to #1 in the UK and #8 in the US. It also went on to be her most successful studio album notching up five million in sales.
The second album I bought was 1991’s Into The Light. It made it to #2 in the UK and #5 in the US. It became her third best-selling English studio album, with three million copies to its name.
Pushing into the mid-90s…
I discovered House music and forgot about Gloria Estefan. However, the general public didn’t. They continued to buy her albums and singles right up until the present day. Her latest and fourteenth studio album was released in 2020 and features songs in both English and Spanish.
But let’s return to 1977…
That’s because before she embarked on a solo career, she was the lead vocalist for the popular group, The Miami Sound Machine.
It was during this period that the band released their first international single, “Dr. Beat.” It charted well in the US and Europe and gave the band and Gloria Estefan their first big break.
She also released nine albums with the band, including six in the 80s. In 1987, the band was then renamed Gloria Estefan and The Miami Sound Machine for just one album, Let It Loose.
Gloria Estefan has sold over 75 million records…
She has been one of the few Latin artists to successfully cross over into the English-speaking world. Despite this Cuban American singer predominantly releasing English language songs, she still has an impressive number of Spanish songs and albums to her name.
The most famous is Mi Terra, which was released in 1993 and sold almost four million copies globally. Additionally, it became one of the most successful Latin albums in American history.
It’s fair to say that even today, Gloria Estefan is the “Queen of Latin Pop.” We can also say she is one of the most famous women singers of the 80s.
Cher has been one busy lady over the last 60 years. She started in the business at just 16 years old. Originally, she worked in dance clubs in Hollywood and took the opportunity to introduce herself to as many music and TV producers as she could.
Very early on, she made contact with Sonny Bono and Phil Spector. She would go on to work for Spector as a backup singer on hits including “Be My Baby” and “You’ve Got That Loving Feeling.” She went on to marry Sonny Bono in what can only be described as an abusive relationship.
Her breakthrough came performing with Sonny as a double act, namely Sonny and Cher. They released their first single, “I Got You,” in 1966. It was taken from their debut album, Look at Us. The single went to #1 on the US Billboard charts and sold over a million copies in the US alone.
At just nineteen years of age…
Cher was on her way to future fame and stardom. Her success was far from easy, as she faced a series of setbacks on her rise to the top. As musical tastes changed, she faced an uphill battle as her Pop/Folk style, unfortunately, fell out of fashion.
However, she staged a series of comebacks and became more involved in film and TV. Additionally, following her divorce from Sonny Bono in 1975, she increasingly moved away from Pop to Rock.
The 80s rolled in, and with it, two of her top-selling singles…
In 1987 she released “I Found Someone,” which sold a million copies. And in 1989, she released “If I Could Turn Back Time,” which sold two million copies.
Since “If I Could Turn Back Time” and the eighties hit, Cher has been giving it a good go at turning back as much time as she possibly can. She seems to have done a pretty good job of it. And Beverley Hills surgeons have been a huge help in that regard.
During her career, Cher has released 41 albums and 103 singles. Having sold over 100 million albums, she’s one of the most successful female artists of all time in truly deserves her title as the “Goddess of Pop.”
Looking for More Famous Singers?
If so, have a look at our detailed articles on the Most Famous Female Singers Of The 1970s, the Most Famous Mexican Female Singers, the Most Famous Musicians From Hawaii, the Most Famous Alto Singers Of All Time, and the Most Famous Singers Of The 1950s for more amazing artists.
Of course, you need to hear them. So, check out our in-depth reviews of the Best Noise Isolating Earbuds, the Best Sound Quality Earbuds, the Best Bass Earbuds, the Best iPhone Earbuds, and the Most Comfortable Earbuds you can buy in 2023.
Most Famous Female Singers Of The 1980s – Final Thoughts
So, there you have it. That was a lot of fun. And it did make me smile that nearly all of the most famous female singers of the 80s on my list had massive hair. I should also probably mention that a lot of the male singers had pretty big hair too.
More seriously, this is an incredible group of female musicians whose contribution to music over the last 50 years or more has been immense. It was a blast listening to them all the first time around, and I hope you enjoyed this trip down memory lane.
Until next time, happy listening.