The ’80s! If, like me, you grew up in this decade, you know how exciting it was. The colors, the hair, the fashion, but most notably, the music. There were many artists to choose from, as always, but I picked the three most iconic ones. According to me.
1. Michael Jackson (1958-2009)
Born Michael Joseph Jackson in Gary, IN on August 29, 1959, Jackson was the eighth child of the Jackson family and debuted his professional music career at the age of five and his solo career at the age of twelve in 1971. His music videos, particularly “Beat It”, “Billie Jean”, and “Thriller” broke all kinds of racial barriers as well as turning a music video into a medium of art and as a marketing tool. These videos and their popularity put a new TV station called MTV on the map. He continued to break ground throughout the 1990s becoming one of the biggest, if not biggest, solo performer to tour worldwide. He also popularized a number of difficult dance moves including the moonwalk, which he named. Despite his tremendous amounts of success and fame, his personal life was tumultuous, often stirring controversy from several child molestation accusations to two failed marriages to becoming a father to three children without the public really knowing the details of how they were conceived (with medical intervention or natural). Jackson was in the midst of planning his comeback tour, This Is It, when he died of acute propofol and benzodiazepine intoxication on June 25, 2009 after suffering a cardiac arrest. His personal physician was convicted of involuntary manslaughter. Almost five years later, many still mourn his death. (For more, please visit here.)
Michael Jackson’s groundbreaking “Thriller”:
Michael Jackson’s innovative video “Scream”:
2. Prince (1958- )
Prince was born Prince Rogers Nelson on June 7, 1958 in Minneapolis, MN where he developed an interest in music at an early age, and was seven years-old when he wrote his first song. At 17, he recorded several demo tapes that proved to be unsuccessful; however, he persisted. His 1979 album, Prince, went platinum. His next three records, Dirty Mind (1980), Controversy (1981), and 1999 (1982) continued to push him up the success ladder. These albums showcased his trademark of prominently sexual lyrics and setting them to elements of funk, dance and rock music. In a dispute with his record label in the early 1990s, he changed his stage name to an unpronounceable symbol known as “The Love Symbol” only to start referring to himself as Prince again in 2000. He is known for his wide vocal range, as well as his flamboyant stage presence and costumes. (For more, please visit here.)
There wasn’t too much to choose from for Prince; I couldn’t find any video on youtube from his early days. But here’s live footage of him and Sheila E. who is one of his proteges:
Here is Prince singing “The Most Beautiful Girl”:
3. Whitney Houston (1963-2012)
Oh, Whitney, Whitney, Houston…how I love thee! She was born Whitney Elizabeth Houston on August 9, 1963 in Newark, NJ. When she was four, her family moved to East Orange, NJ where she began to sing in the church choir and learn how to play the piano. In 1983, she made her national debut on TV on the Merv Griffin Show. In February 1985, Houston debuted her first album Whitney Houston to great critical acclaim. By 1986, the album turned out hit after hit making it the best-selling debut album by a solo artist at the time. Like Michael Jackson, she also influenced MTV’s programming, breaking barriers for black women musicians, as it began to feature artists such as Janet Jackson and Anita Baker in addition to her. In 1989, she met Bobby Brown at the Soul Train Music Awards and after three years of dating, they married. In 1993, she gave birth to her first, and only, child, Bobbi Kristina Houston Brown. Unfortunately, her drug use created a lot of personal drama and she somewhat dropped out of the spotlight until 2006 when she returned to music, although the glamour wasn’t the same. On February 11, 2012, at the Beverly Hills Hotel, amidst the Grammy Awards’ festivities, she was found unconscious, submerged in a bathtub in her hotel room. Her death was ruled “accidental drowning,” and, as with Michael Jackson, many fans still mourn her death. (For more, please visit here.)
Here is Whitney Houston’s video for “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” which helped break ground for black female musicians on MTV:
Here is Whitney singing “One Moment in Time” from the 1989 Grammy Awards. The song was used in the 1988 Olympics, I believe.
And here is Whitney singing what, I think most people would call, her signature song, “I Will Always Love You” from The Bodyguard soundtrack: