Artists With the Most Pop Hits During the '80s

Two teenage girls listening to tapes in the neon eighties
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Some of the names on this list will be entirely unsurprising, linked as they are with the most ubiquitous hit songs of '80s pop. Others, however, may come as at least a mild shock given their association with other eras or genres that seem completely unrelated. These artists displayed the most consistent hit-making prowess over the course of the '80s, and accomplished something special

01
of 10

Kenny Rogers

Country singer-songwriter Kenny Rogers croons onstage in New Jersey in 1982

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Don't ever question the power of crossover success, especially when it comes to the early-'80s phenomenon of country pop. Even without legendary hits like "The Gambler" and "Coward of the County" showing up in his '80s resume, Kenny Rogers racked up 20 Hot 100 showings as either a solo artist or collaborator. The '80s dominion of Rogers was so complete that, for a time, the man with the white beard rivaled Santa Claus in visibility in certain circles. Rogers couldn't top the pop culture exposure he cultivated during the first half of the '80s, but remained a major artist long after the decade ended.

02
of 10

Kool & the Gang

Color coordinated Kool and the Gang onstage in the early '80s

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Kool & the Gang served up "Celebration" in 1980, with an almost impossibly lengthy staying power that lasted through the decade and beyond. The charts don't lie, and thought they may not have had a steady stream of No. 1 his, their ripples of popularity reached the Hot 100 on a regular basis. Earning that distinction 18 times with tracks like "Too Hot," "Joanna," and "Get Down on It," Kool & the Gang are a high quality 1980s mainstay.

03
of 10

Rod Stewart

Rod Stewart serenading the crowd from a dramatic seated position onstage

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    Unlike '80s pop contemporaries Madonna and Prince, British singer-songwriter Rod Stewart had already made his name during the '70s, reinventing himself to keep the streak alive. Stewart's disco-inflected early-'80s work and his adult contemporary-tinged output later in the decade completely left his rocking past behind. The genre-savvy Stewart compiled 21 Top 100 singles over a period that saw its fair share of dips and valleys. Pop genius comes in many forms, and Stewart enjoyed a level of success in his native U.K. comparable to that of his American run.

    04
    of 10

    Hall & Oates

    Hall and Oates singing and playing guitar under red lights

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    Everyone remembers the early-'80s heyday of Hall & Oates, fueled by the brilliance of their unmistakable musical fusion. Hall & Oates amassed 21 hits on the American charts stretching from 1980's "How Does It Feel to Be Back" to 1988's "Downtown Life," with obvious masterpieces like "Private Eyes," "Maneater," and "Kiss on My List" in between. Songs like these prove that this indestructible duo earn a spot among '80s pop culture elite.

    05
    of 10

    Stevie Wonder

    Stevie Wonder in concert, performing at the keyboard

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    In terms of critical regard, Stevie Wonder's '80s career hardly compares to his socially conscious, accomplished, and moving work of the '60s and '70s. Still, with 21 of his total of 64 American pop hits charting in the '80s, Wonder undoubtedly sits among the top of the best-selling musical artists from the age of Prince, Michael Jackson, and Madonna. The unavoidable hit "I Just Called to Say I Love You" cemented the R&B legend's sweeping presence on the era's pop charts, with additional signature songs like the underrated "I Ain't Gonna Stand for It."

    06
    of 10

    Billy Joel

    Billy Joel performing at a piano

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    As a solo artist, Billy Joel made his biggest splash during the late '70s, but the quiet consistency of his '80s catalog places him among the royalty of the era's hitmakers. In fact, he trails frequent recent touring partner Elton John by only one Hot 100 hit. A pop music virtuoso versed in many styles, the singer-songwriter cleverly navigated shifting musical trends to succeed as a ​new wave artist ("Sometimes a Fantasy"), a retro rocker ("It's Still Rock and Roll to Me") and a doo-wop purist ("The Longest Time") in the span of just a few years.

    07
    of 10

    Elton John

    Elton John performing at a white piano

    Dave Hogan / Getty Images

    Through his consistent musical output across a 40-year career, Sir Elton John has amassed an impressive 68 Hot 100 pop hits in the U.S. Twenty-three of these songs—or about one-third of the total—became hits during the '80s. This beloved British pianist, composer, and singer endured personal struggles and an increasingly volatile pop music landscape to stake a solid claim as one of the most successful artists of the '80s. "I'm Still Standing" indeed.

    08
    of 10

    Prince

    Prince plays guitar onstage at the Ritz during his Dirty Mind tour

    Gary Gershoff / Getty Images

    A prominent and established artist who maintained an active pop music career after this most potent period as a hitmaker, Prince co-headlines this list because of his massive showing on the '80s charts. Smash albums churned out nearly endless record sales, press, and jams, and this musical prodigy's quality songwriting and production abilities firmly established major audience recognition and ensured his place at the forefront of pop's glitterati.

    09
    of 10

    Madonna

    Madonna commanding the stage in her classic 80s duds

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    No shock here, the amazing thing about Madonna's string of Top 100 pop hits is how quickly and consistently they came during the confined, 10-year period the singer absolutely ruled. The lone woman on this list had 19 hits that charted in the '80s, with an astounding 17 making the Top 10, a ridiculous and seemingly impossible achievement. The phenomenon of Madonna's tremendous relevance as a cultural touchstone has helped sustain a highly successful career since the '80s.

    10
    of 10

    Michael Jackson

    Michael Jackson is a dynamic onstage presence in his glittery red leather jacket

    KMazur / Getty Images

     

    Where would this ranking by without the King of Pop front and center? Jackson ensured himself pop immortality with the success of 1982's "Thriller" alone, earning an unprecedented seven Top 10 singles from a nine track total. That album's immediate predecessor (1979's "Off the Wall") and successor (1987's "Bad") also blazed an unbelievable trail of superhuman success, which allowed Jackson to pump out hit after hit to maintain position at the top of the pop music mountain. That kind of high percentage indicates a phenomenal precision that few musicians have ever displayed since American pop's inception.

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    Peake, Steve. "Artists With the Most Pop Hits During the '80s." ThoughtCo, Aug. 29, 2020, thoughtco.com/artists-with-the-most-hot-100-pop-hits-during-the-80s-10694. Peake, Steve. (2020, August 29). Artists With the Most Pop Hits During the '80s. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/artists-with-the-most-hot-100-pop-hits-during-the-80s-10694 Peake, Steve. "Artists With the Most Pop Hits During the '80s." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/artists-with-the-most-hot-100-pop-hits-during-the-80s-10694 (accessed January 28, 2021).