Top 100 Albums Of The '80s (Nos. 1-10)

For this week's Ranked!, we've got one of our most epic editions ever: the Top 100 Albums Of The '80s. Did we get it right? Let us know!

Here are Numbers 1-10:

10. U2, The Joshua Tree

U2's The Joshua Tree was actually the band's fifth album, but it's the one that made U2 one of the biggest bands in rock history. It's practically a greatest hits album now because so many of the songs off the album are so key to the U2 catalogue. It's one of the best selling albums of all time, and deservedly so, because even 25 years later it still holds up. Yes, there are some U2 albums that I like more now, but "Joshua Tree" is the cool old guy that you still invite to dinner.--Archphoenix

9. George Michael, Faith

Faith was Michael's first album post-Wham!, a chance to show the world he could stand on his own two feet. And boy did he show them with six Top 5 hits: "Faith," "Father Figure," "I Want Your Sex," "Kissing A Fool," "Monkey," and "One More Try" (five of which hit #1). How great was the album? We even put up with overzealous radio censors taking 1/4 of the chorus away in "I Want Your Sex" just so we could listen to the song the summer before the album dropped.--Chris

8. Van Halen, 1984

This was Van Halen's final album with its original lineup of David Lee Roth, Michael Anthony, and brothers Eddie and Alex Van Halen. It was also my favorite album from the guys. A lot of people hated the synth that Eddie added to the album, but as a synth player myself, I loved it! From the first time I heard the beginning of "Jump," I was psyched for the band's new direction. In addition to "Jump," the album also boasted the synth-heavy "I'll Wait;" "Panama," which contained one of the greatest opening guitar riffs in rock 'n' roll; and "Hot For Teacher," which had one of the absolute greatest music videos of the MTV era. Who among us didn't want to be David Lee Roth after hearing this album and seeing these videos?--Chris

7. Beastie Boys, Paul's Boutique

This is it. This is why the Beastie Boys are Important with a capital I. Paul's Boutique is assembled from a million bits and pieces of pop culture detritus, phrases and riffs tucked away in the dusty corners of our minds and called forth and recontextualized by the Beasties to create something new and unique yet comfortingly familiar. The density of the samples and references require Cliff Notes (personally I like and would probably be unintelligible to anyone who didn't grow up when we did. Paul's Boutique's funky rhythms and whip-fast rapping tapped into our generation's zeitgeist at its root level and effectively wrote the blueprint for the accelerated, self-referential internet culture that we've become. OK, that may be a little hyperbolic for an album that was initially considered a commercial failure, but listening to songs like "Eggman," "Johnny Ryall," and the absolutely fantastic "Hey Ladies," I can't help but think that it signaled a turning point. It was a once-in-a-lifetime musical achievement (that's literally true; nowadays the licensing and royalties for samples on this scale would bankrupt half the countries in the UN General Assembly) that crossed multiple genres and established the Beasties as more than one-hit wonders. Like Sam the butcher bringing Alice the meat, Paul's Boutique is a musical treat! (Sorry, couldn't help myself.)--CroutonBoy

6. AC/DC, Back In Black

Of course Back In Black is the best album of 1980. I could make a compelling argument that it's the best album ever. It's story plays like a rock and roll fairy tale: the lead singer for an ascendant rock band from Australia drinks himself to death (a Spinal Tapesque "choked on vomit"), leaving his bandmates to pick up the pieces. They hire a British singer with an equally distinctive voice and a love of cars, whose first lyrical contribution to the band is "she was a fast machine, she kept her motor clean, she was the best damn woman that I've ever seen." Months later, the album that emerges is a stunning tribute to their fallen bandmate, leading off with the appropriately funereal "Hells Bells" and ending with a declaration of purpose, "Rock And Roll Ain't Noise Pollution." In between are some of the most dick-punching songs ever assembled, demonstrating once and for all the essence of rock can be distilled down to booze, sex, and three chords. If it weren't for Thriller and Dark Side Of The Moon, this would be the biggest album of all time, but give it another dozen years or so and let's see where we net out.--CroutonBoy

5. The Police, Synchronicity

Talk about going out on top. It all came together for The Police on Synchronicity, a sprawling, ambitious masterpiece that dominated the summer of 1983 for me. The minimalist "Every Breath You Take," effortlessly straddling the line between intensely romantic and intensely creepy, can make a legitimate case for being the best song of the decade, and the other big singles, "King Of Pain" and "Wrapped Around Your Finger," have a similarly dark and lonely feel. It was pop music with a depth and edge that left a huge impression on my thirteen-year-old brain. Every other song on the album would be the best song on any other band's album, particularly "Walking In Your Footsteps," "Miss Gradenko," and "Murder By Numbers," (although I could do without "Mother"... what was that about, Andy?) That the band hated each other and Synchronicity turned out to be their last album just cements its reputation as one of the great swan songs in music history (the Behind The Music on The Police is fantastic) and still leaves me wondering "what if?"--CroutonBoy

4. Prince And The Revolution, Purple Rain Soundtrack

One can't possibly talk about this album without talking about the film "experience." The album is basically the same thing as the movie, except listening to the album, you don't have to experience the doll collection in the basement, Prince talking through puppets, and the awkward chemistry with Apollonia. From the moment you hear the organ and Dearly beloved..., the opening to "Let's Go Crazy", you know this is a ride you will never forget. The album showcases Prince's phenomenal songwriting abilities, especially his range. "Darling Nikki" is playful, "When Doves Cry" is artful and dark. The album only gets better when you see the live performances from the movie. My only gripe is that this soundtrack did not include Apollonia 6's song "Sex Shooter."--Robin

3. Michael Jackson, Thriller

I could go on and on for hours about how this is the greatest pop album of all time. The long and short of it is this: Thriller made Michael Jackson the king of pop. It's a groundbreaking album that continues to set the standard for pop albums and its influences can be heard on the radio today.--Archphoenix

2. Bon Jovi, Slippery When Wet

There is a point in every road trip when there is nothing to do but start belting out Bon Jovi. It's late, it's dark, and more coffee might be more than a human's nerves can handle. But Slippery When Wet will kick you back to life. Who cares about umpteen miles of highway in the middle of "You Give Love a Bad Name?" Road rage can take a literal backseat to "Livin' On A Prayer." Then bring it all home to "Never Say Goodbye."

Slippery was Bon Jovi's big arrival, and twenty-six years later it's an undisputed classic. They gave New Jersey a new claim to cool, and they accomplished something a lot of other eighties bands didn't: they made fun songs that weren't slathered in cheese. You could rock out unashamed. As well you should.--Amanda

1. Guns N' Roses, Appetite For Destruction

From the opening riff of "Welcome To The Jungle" to the closing All I ever wanted was for you to know that I care declaration of "Rocket Queen," Guns N' Roses' debut album, Appetite For Destruction, is not only the best album of the'80s, but one of the greatest albums EVER. While "Sweet Child O' Mine" reached #1 on the Billboard charts, unlikely hits "Paradise City" and "Welcome To The Jungle" joined it in the Top 10. I was seventeen when this album came out, the perfect age for the dozen tracks of gritty rebellion. I wasn't the only one who this album spoke to: to this day, Appetite For Destruction remains the biggest-selling debut album of all time.--Chris

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