Artists who made a big splash in the 80s, then were gone as quickly as they came


There were so many new acts in the 80s and some made an impact but then were gone as quickly as they came. Either they broke up or simply lost popularity - nobody interested in any of their future albums. A pity... well in most cases anyway. 



Alison Moyet


Coming from Yazoo, a mildly successful band. She hit the big time ever so briefly with a couple of hit albums, but then faded in to oblivion soon after.






One of the few successful all-girl groups of the 80s, who had a string of hits in a short period of time and never had another hit album after the 80s.


The Bangles


The Bangles should have been huge… well they were huge but for only a short time.


In 1984 they came on the scene. They had the great 80s look and the great 80s sound, however egos got in the way and they had dissolved by the end of the 80s. Few cared about their solo albums.


They got back together ten years later and tried to make a comeback, but nobody but the Germans cared. 







A much revered band even though it only had 2 really successful albums and 2-3 big hit singles. Their hit song “Take my Breath away” was particularly memorable as it was one of the theme songs for the movie Top Gun. 


Billy Idol


Billy hit the big times with his album “Rebel Yell” in 1983 and with his follow up 3 years later “Whiplash Smile”. He was really good at remaking crappy old 60s songs and giving them a real rock edge. Shortly after "Whiplash Smile", he never had another hit single. 






Billy Ocean


Where did this guy go to after having a string of hits in the 80s? Absolutely nowhere. From hit albums in the 80s to nobody seeming to care. 



Christopher Cross


Chris wasn’t the greatest looking guy in music. In fact, he was a rather unattractive, overweight guy, but his voice was amazing. He had some big hits in the early 80s, including the theme for "Arthur", but after two hit albums disappeared from the charts. 

Culture Club

Boy George has certainly hit headlines many times since the 80s, but Culture Club were purely an 80s band and not much more. From 1982 they had a brief 3-year period of huge success, winning many awards and selling millions of albums, before things went quickly downhill for them. Drugs and internal conflict caused their demise. 

Frankie Goes to Hollywood

Believe it or not these guys only had 2 albums but came out with some huge hits, including the controversial “Relax”. They have had many compilation albums since, although I’m not quite sure how 2 albums and 5 hit songs warranted that. 


Irene Cara


She came to fame starring in the movie Fame in 1980 and even had a hit with the title song. Then she got even bigger with her hit song “Flashdance – what a feelin”, winning multiple awards for it. However after that nobody seemed to care and her musical career went nowhere.  What went wrong?

Laura Branigan

Laura had an amazing voice and some great hits like “Gloria” and “Solitaire”, all within a 2 year period, however faded into oblivion after that. My personal opinion as to why she never had any further success (after listening to her later albums), is that they relied too much on the power of her voice while not focussing enough on backing vocals and musical instruments.



Level 42 


Another band that briefly made their mark with some cool hit songs, but then lost their popularity by the beginning of the 90s.



Mel & Kim


When these two came onto the scene, they gained immediate popularity. Sadly Mel died of cancer while they were still big stars and that was the end of the duo. 

Men at Work


When this Aussie band hit the charts in 1981 with their biggest hit “Down Under” it seemed they could do no wrong, even with a butt ugly lead singer like Colin Hay. However nobody seemed to care about their 3rd album “Two Hearts” in 1985 and shortly after that they split.


Milli Vanilli


Probably the most infamous band of the 80s due to the fact that the two pretty boys were lip synching their hit songs. The band was put together by Frank Farian who ironically had already put together a band with lip-synching back in the 70s. Boney M!  That’s right!  The deep voice in that band? No it wasn’t the black guy, it was Frank himself – a white guy. Nobody seemed to care back then, but they sure did in the 80s when it came to Milli Vanilli!





Nik Kershaw


Some sources class Nik as a one-hit wonder but he had at least two with “Wouldn’t it be Good” and “The Riddle”. Plus he had a handful of other minor hits too. He had 2 multi-platinum albums in 1984 but despite releasing several albums after that never had any further success.

Paula Abdul


Paula had her debut album "Forever your girl" in 1988 and it was huge and she was delightful. Then two albums later that was it for some reason. At least we eventually got to see her again on TV as an American Idol judge. 

Paul Young


This guy’s first album “No Parlez” became an instant monster hit with multiple songs being released. He even got to sing twice in Band Aid’s “Do they know it’s Christmas time”.  However after 3 hit albums and the end of the 80s, he never saw any real success again. 



Rick Astley


Nobody wanted to admit to liking this guy after his brief entry into stardom. Even now people treat him as a joke. 



Tears for Fears


A band that came from tragic beginnings, but which left a lasting impression with a handful of great hits. Conflict between the duo resulted in them breaking up at the end of the 80s. Fortunately, 14 years later, they patched things up and are giving us all a happy ending. 


Thompson Twins


This duo… or actually trio… who by the way weren’t related by blood, got off to a slow start in the 80s, but in 1983 that all changed. They had a hit album. Then straight after that they had their biggest album “The Gap”. Their 3rd one was great too.


Then suddenly they weren’t popular anymore.  They were looked down upon as an 80s embarrassment for some unknown reason. In fact, even the Thompson Twins themselves seemed to be embarrassed so spent most of the 90s trying to distance themselves from the Thompson Twins by changing their name twice and going more alternative.  It never did them any good.  


Now Tom Bailey spends his time producing other bands. 



George Michael went on to have a hugely successful solo career, but his partner Andrew Ridgely faded into obscurity. This band that many loved and just as many hated, never did reform, not even for a reunion concert. Sadly it never will. 




Others worthy of mentioning


Australian Crawl

Eddy Grant


Go West

Johnny Hates Jazz

Mr Mister

Orchestral Maneoevres in the Dark

Talk Talk

Taylor Dayne

The Proclaimers

Wang Chung


Actors who had hit songs


Yes, there were quite a few of them. Too many I say:


Bruce Willis

Dennis Waterman

Don Johnson

Eddy Murphy

Jason Donovan (Neighbours)

John Schneider (Dukes of Hazzard)

Kylie Minogue

Patrick Swayze

Tracey Ullman 


There were others, but those were the ones that actually got airplay.




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