10 best albums of the 1980s

The decade produced lots of excellent albums.
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There are days when it is worth just spending your time listening to the music of the 1980s. The decade was filled with brilliance and the evolution of some subgenres such as grunge. The 1980s began with New Wave and post-punk but also included hair metal.

There are a lot of great albums to choose to listen to from the decade. There are 10 listed here, of course, but even within the catalogs of some of the artists that follow there are fantastic records. Many artists not included in the top 10 here still have several albums one must listen to.

All of the albums that follow here, however, are statements of excellence from a great decade.

The 10 greatest albums of the 1980s

No. 10 - R.E.M. - Murmur (1983)

There would certainly be R.E.M. albums with a fuller sound, but a band that did not seem to fit in with their Athens, Georgia contemporaries, such as the B-52s, and borrowed more from the 1960s and the Velvet Underground, immediately had a niche with their debut record. They formed smart songs that people could have misunderstood to be college guitar rock without much hope of evolving. The underlying depth of Murmur's tracks, though, deserved more of a deep dive.

R.E.M. never set out to be a pop band and Murmur is not a pop album. But through a thick forest of lyrics, the primitive sound of a band that would become so popular was different than anything else. This begins with the first song on the record, the brilliant "Radio Free Europe."

No. 9 - Pixies - Doolittle (1989)

Many things might sound like Doolittle now, but at the time the Pixies second full-length record was sonically different with the loud-quiet-loud again structure. This would heavily influence such bands as Nirvana and the Smashing Pumpkins. But while the Pixies could be as punk as any other group, they could also come up with pop jingles like "Here Comes Your Man."

Somehow, everything fit on the record. The absolute rage of "Tame" sits among the same collection as "La La Love You" and there is nothing inorganic about the juxtaposition. The brilliance is in the songwriting with Black Francis doing a lot of the heavy lifting, but the production by Gil Norton is elite.