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Music of the 1980s

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  • Alternative Rock: Otherwise known as college or modern rock back in the early days, alternative in this era was more a conglomeration of disparate left field styles (i.e. jangle pop, synthpop, post-punk, noise rock, hardcore, early alternative metal, etc.), all of which nonetheless served as an alternative to the homogeny of mainstream rock and top 40 radio. Steadily became more popular as more bands scored major airplay and started joining major labels as the decade came to a close, first breaking into the American mainstream in 1987 following a number of unprecedentedly successful releases in the genre, helping set the stage for the genre's mainstream dominance the following decade.
    • Grunge, especially at the end of the decade, though it didn't get mainstream recognition until The '90s
    • Hardcore Punk
    • Jangle Pop was born in The '60s, but reemerged as the first identifiable face of alternative rock in 1981.
    • Post-Punk technically predated and was the mother genre to alternative rock itself, starting in the late 70's, but was later conglomerated into the movement as its sister genres New Wave Music and Synth-Pop quickly achieved mainstream success early in the decade.
    • Post-Rock: Has precursors that go as far back as 1967, if not further, but really started to solidify at the end of the decade.
    • Queercore, though it did not really take off until The '90s and never was well known.
  • Electronic Music: Synthesizers became far more accessible to musicians at the end of the 70's, and the result was a massive electronic boom throughout the 80's that would continue to reverberate throughout later decades.
    • Alternative Dance: Got its start at the start of the 80's by mixing Synth-Pop with Alternative Rock, immediately breaking into the UK mainstream and eventually cracking the US in 1987 (alongside alternative rock itself).
    • Disco: Was near-completely annihilated from American popular music at the turn of the decade, but remained big elsewhere, embracing the synth boom and having a huge knock-on effect on the decade's music.
      • Italo Disco: A synth-heavy dance genre that emerged in Italy early in this decade and saw increased commercialization and production quality in the remainder, in addition to songs inspired by Italo produced in other mainland Europe nations with Germany being the lead. Had its roots from (Italian) disco, Europop, and Progressive Rock.
    • Japanese Pop Music: Began in the 70's and had precursors from decades prior, but in the 80's it solidified into what westerners most readily think of when they hear "J-pop" thanks to the success and influence of domestic Synth-Pop giants Yellow Magic Orchestra.
      • By contrast, City Pop is a subgenre of Japanese Pop Music, more influenced by Jazz and Funk that started in the late 70s, but peaked in popularity during the eighties, becoming the mainstream of japanese music for the decade.
    • House Music: Started in the Chicago underground during this decade before becoming a major force in electronic music in the 90's.
    • Synth-Pop: Technically started in the 60's and solidified in the late 70's, but became a major mainstream force from 1981 to 1986 and continued to bleed into the music of the 80's afterward.
    • Techno: Was birthed in Detroit during this decade and continued to grow alongside house.
    • There was a huge wave of synth heavy R&B acts during the early to mid 80's. Usually called Synth Funk, Post-Disco, Electro Funk (or Boogie), or "New Wave R&B". Most of the time R&B would overlap with those aforementioned genres. Especially American artists from The '70s who were trying to stay relevant after the disco backlash like the Whispers and Cameo, who all started out as either Funk, or Soul. This would later lead to Contemporary R&B.
  • Heavy Metal: This decade was major for the genre, with many of its subgenres seeing major development during it.
    • Doom Metal: Bands began expanding upon Black Sabbath's sound during this decade in a very deeply underground scene.
    • Hair Metal: Massively popular, often pop-leaning style possibly best remembered for outrageous fashions and the power ballads.
    • New Wave of British Heavy Metal: In its strongest form in 1980-83, declined due to many egregious cases of Follow the Leader. Left an undeniable legacy and influence in other forms of metal listed here.
    • Power Metal: First saw popularity around the middle of the decade, mostly in Europe.
    • Thrash Metal: Led by the "Big Four" of Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer and Anthrax, a massive underground scene for this sonically violent, punk-infused genre developed as a backlash to hair metal throughout the decade, accumulating in some mainstream success at the very end of it before falling off at the start of The '90s.
      • Black Metal: Got its seeds planted throughout the decade, although didn't reach its best known form until The '90s.
      • Death Metal: Slowly began being codified throughout the later half of the decade.
  • Hip-Hop: Started at the end of the 70's and continued to evolve throughout this decade. The Golden Age of Hip Hop starts late in this decade (circa 88).
    • The hip hop/R&B fusion genre New Jack Swing got its official start in 1987 with Keith Sweat's debut album Make It Last Forever.
  • MTV debuted and had a huge influence on the popularity of acts during this decade.
  • New Wave Music got its start in the late 70's, but really gained mainstream prominence at the start of the 80's, continuing to influence the decade's music.
    • New Romantic: A mostly Anglo-centric offshoot that combined New Wave with the artsier end of Glam Rock.
  • Progressive Rock: Critics already wrote it off by the late 70's, and its first wave would ultimately die out by 1983 save for a few enduring legacy acts; the neo-prog and post-prog offshoots emerged by 1981 and would step up to take first-wave prog's place throughout the rest of the decade and beyond.
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