Top 20 Albums Of The '80s (Nos. 11-20)

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 11-20:

20. Madonna, Like A Prayer

Rolling Stone hails this one "as close to art as pop gets." The range on the this album really is incredibly done by this icon. Even close to twenty years later, everyone understands the power of Madonna. Tracks like "Express Yourself" empower us, while videos for songs like "Like A Prayer" make us think (or riot, depending on what side of the fence you're on). The tour that followed, The Blonde Ambition Tour, is even still hailed as one of the best ever. Madonna can do so much right and wrong and still achieve so much greatness, there's no way an album of hers can be left off of a top list!--J-Hawke

19. Bruce Springsteen, Born In The U.S.A.

Bruce Springsteen had this whole other famous life before Born In The U.S.A., but I had no idea. For me, "Dancing In The Dark" was my introduction to The Boss. But even though his album contained a few '80s pop songs, it also had The Boss's trademark stories and statements. ("Born In The U.S.A." is not quite the pro-America anthem it appears to be.) Born In The U.S.A. was my gateway to Springsteen and I'll always dig it for that.--Daddy Geek Boy

18. Jane's Addiction, Nothing's Shocking

Jane says... this album rocks hard. Between Perry Farrell's trademark yowl and Dave Navarro's sinuous guitar, Nothing's Shocking never loses energy. That energy is the driving force behind songs like "Ocean Size" and "Had A Dad". In contrast is the almost childlike "Summertime Rolls," which sounds like a summer night spent stretched out on the hood of a car, staring up at the sky. But the quieter moments are never too quiet, and "Pigs In Zen" proves that the album holds together even when it's spinning out of control. This is how you make a statement.--Amanda

17. Spinal Tap, This Is Spinal Tap

I'm a big fan of the game Rock Band. In fact, I'm an absolute junkie when it comes to downloadable content for the game. For the first couple of years after its release, I thought of Tuesday as New Song Download Day. I was always excited to see what songs we'd get a chance to rock out to next. But no downloadable song pack has ever gotten me as excited as the day they released all of the songs from the movie This Is Spinal Tap. (Well, the re-recorded versions. But that's almost as good.)

In my opinion, there's never been a "mockumentary" as good as This Is Spinal Tap. The movie is hilarious: pure comedy genius that still holds up almost 30 years after its release. But the music in the movie is what really puts it over the top. The lyrics are ridiculously funny parodies of '80s metal songs set to some rock riffs that are really very good. It's all even more impressive when you realize that the songs were written and played by the actors themselves. They've toured a couple of times, but I've never had the chance to see them live. I'd go in a second; this soundtrack and its two follow-up albums, Break Like The Wind (1992) and Back From The Dead (2009) remain high on my playlist to this day.--Dave

16. Journey, Escape

Something I respect about Journey is that they put out an album every year from 1975 through 1981, not something you see very often. Escape, or E5C4P3 as the cover stylizes it, came out in the heat of summer of 1981, and gave us the best of the best in classic rock. It garnered a game (Atari 2600), top ratings, and the most classic karaoke song that there is - sing it with me now - "Don't Stop Believin'." The band's tracks are just perfect pinnacles of rock, from the fun through the ballads ("Open Arms" will always be a guilty pleasure slow-song favorite of mine). Everything from start to finish here is just right. And this album can only ever be played loudly and sang to at the top of your lungs. Now go hit up a karaoke bar and pay homage!--J-Hawke

15. Madonna, Like A Virgin

Madonna followed up her self-titled debut album a year later with Like A Virgin. The album has Madonna classics like "Like a Virgin" and "Material Girl," but also has lesser-known but excellent songs like "Love Don't Live Here Anymore," and" "Dress You Up," and proved that Madonna had no sophomore slump. Instead, it cemented her place in the pantheon of '80s superstars.--Archphoenix

14. Beastie Boys, Licensed to Ill

This was a legendary release and I'm not just saying that because of the untimely death of Adam Yauch. Licensed To Ill was the first hip hop album to chart on Billboard, and the fastest-selling debut record Columbia has ever released. This brought us three of our favorite white rappers at a time when this genre was making a real resurgence in the world. A minor crossover was seen, using Kerry King of Slayer for the infamous "No Sleep 'Til Brooklyn" (which I still personally think of just about every time I cross into the borough), just slightly allowing a spoof on glam metal, which had certainly had its place throughout the decade. And of course the band still has us fighting for our right to party, over twenty years later, even if we may or may not have already won! The album is just an iconic piece of hip hop history, and one that will always provide a great soundtrack to our Saturday night binges.--J-Hawke

13. Peter Gabriel, So

So is the only Peter Gabriel album I own. Like so many artists, I first heard Gabriel in the '80s. In his case, it was a combination of MTV videos ("Big Time" and "Sledgehammer") and John Cusack movies ("In Your Eyes"). I was thrilled at the time to find out that all three of those songs were on the same album. I was even more thrilled to find out that every song on the album was good, not just the singles. The weird thing is that, as much as I like So, I never bothered to explore any of Peter Gabriel's other albums, earlier or later. Not sure why, because I'd definitely consider So one of the best albums of the mid '80s.--Dave

12. Nine Inch Nails, Pretty Hate Machine

Most of the synthetic sounds that dominated the '80s were neatly packaged pop. But towards the end of the decade of decadence that was the '80s, a darker undertone began to emerge. Like the ocean just before a tidal wave, one of the earliest signs of the next wave of music was Nine Inch Nails, who took the melodic synth sounds and drum machines from pop music and dirtied them up with overdubs, feedback, and a healthy dose of angst and anger to create something entirely new. Trent Reznor's Nine Inch Nails were a revolution through your earphones--a sonic signal of how music was going to evolve.--Daddy Geek Boy

11. Duran Duran, Rio

Duran Duran exploded in 1982 in an inferno of raw sexuality, androgyny, eye makeup, and some pretty impressive pop masterpieces. The band embraced pop music as an art form unto itself, not just as a commercially viable product. "Rio" and "Hungry Like The Wolf" are some of the most memorable and universally-regarded singles from the eighties, and it's physiologically impossible not to appreciate the energy and production. Despite lead singer Simon Le Bon's high visibility, keyboardist Nick Rhodes was the main creator of the sound, and also realized the importance of putting time into music videos, thus making Duran Duran an essential part of the success of MTV. To this day, I still can't watch the video for "Hungry Like The Wolf" without getting a little hot under the collar.--Robin

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