The 1980s were a decade full of musical surprise – from catchy pop hits to rock gems and new electronic sounds.
And some of the singers who emerged in the 80s are still relevant today.
So we’re dedicating today’s article to the best 80s female singers.
From Madonna and Diana Ross to Joan Jett, get ready for a trip down memory lane.
Table of Contents
- 1. Madonna
- 2. Annie Lennox
- 3. Kate Bush
- 4. Stevie Nicks
- 5. Diana Ross
- 6. Whitney Houston
- 7. Tina Turner
- 8. Olivia Newton-John
- 9. Gloria Estefan
- 10. Bonnie Tyler
- 11. Joan Jett
- 12. Celine Dion
- 13. Pat Benatar
- 14. Chaka Khan
- 15. Cindy Lauper
- 16. Chrissie Hynde
- 17. Belinda Carlisle
- 18. Sinead O’Connor
- 19. Janet Jackson
- 20. Aretha Franklin
- 21. Sade
- 22. Cher
- 23. Donna Summer
- 24. Lita Ford
- 25. Gwen Stefani
- 26. Tori Amos
- 27. Debbie Gibson
- 28. Patty Smyth
- 29. Grace Jones
- 30. Joni Mitchell
- 31. Tracy Chapman
- 32. Carly Simon
- 33. Kylie Minogue
- 34. Barbra Streisand
- 35. Dolly Parton
- Best Female 80s Singers – Final Thoughts
Madonna is without a doubt one of the most iconic singers who rose to fame in the 80s.
She helped shape the sound of pop, and broke the barriers with her 80s hits like “Material Girl”, “Papa Don’t Preach”, and “La Isla Bonita.”
Madonna moved to NYC in 1978 to pursue her career in music, and now she’s one of the best-selling music artists of all time.
She’s also proclaimed the greatest woman in music by VH1, and the greatest music video artist ever by MTV and Billboard.
2. Annie Lennox
Annie Lennox is another famous 80s female singer who made a huge impact on the 80s music scene.
The moment she appeared in “Sweet Dreams”, she became a crucial part of music history.
She achieved international success with Eurythmics in the 80s, and embarked on a solo career in the 90s.
Besides being a legendary musician and one of the best female vocalists of all time, Lennox is also a political and social activist.
3. Kate Bush
Kate Bush is probably one of the most popular female singers of the 80s, thanks to Netflix’s Stranger Things.
Thanks to the show’s soundtrack, her 80s hit “Running Up That Hill” climbed the charts again in 2022, and became the most streamed song on Spotify in multiple countries.
But Bush made her mark long before Stranger Things – she was discovered by Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour, who helped produce a demo.
And with her debut single “Wuthering Heights”, she became the first female artist to achieve a UK number one with a self-written song.
4. Stevie Nicks
Stevie Nicks is one of the 80s women singers who influenced the 80s rock scene a lot.
She first became known to the world as a part of the legendary Fleetwood Mac.
But she also made a mark with her solo projects.
Some of her most memorable songs include “Stand Back”, “Edge of Seventeen”, and “Stop Dragging Your Heart Around” (with Tom Petty).
5. Diana Ross
And Diana Ross is one of the 1980’s female singers responsible for some of the best dance and R&B hits.
As the former leader of The Supremes, Diana Ross released a successful debut album in 1970, and her career continued to flourish in the 80s.
Over the years, she has released numerous chart-topping hits including “I’m Coming Out”, “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” and “Upside Down.”
6. Whitney Houston
Nicknamed the Voice, Whitney Houston is regarded as one of the best 80s female artists.
Her songs “I Wanna Dance With Somebody”, “The Greatest Love of All”, and “I Have Nothing” are timeless hits.
And her rendition of “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” is one of the greatest covers of all time.
Houston has also received many accolades throughout her career, including Emmy and Grammy awards.
7. Tina Turner
Tina Turner is also considered to be one of the best female singers of the 80s.
She is referred to as a Queen of Rock n’ Roll, and her impact on many music genres like rock, pop, and soul is undeniable.
She rose to fame with Ike and Tina Turner Revue, one of the most iconic music duos of all time.
Tina Turner’s greatest hits include “I Don’t Wanna Fight”, “What’s Love Got To Do With This”, and “Let’s Stay Together.”
However, she is best known for the song “Proud Mary”, which was actually originally recorded by Creedence Clearwater Revival.
8. Olivia Newton-John
Most people remember Olivia Newton-John from Grease.
But she has also released countless popular hits and number one singles.
She also established herself as one of the best-selling music artists, selling more than 100 million records.
Apart from being a talented and hard-working musician, Olivia was also an environmental and animal rights activist.
9. Gloria Estefan
Another 80s female pop singer who made her mark on popular culture is Gloria Estefan.
She is a Cuban-American singer, but she is also an actress and a businesswoman.
She rose to international fame with her smashing hit “Conga”, and she has released many chart-topping hits since then, including “Rhythm is Gonna Get You” and “Hoy.”
As one of the most successful female singers of all time, Gloria Estefan paved the way for the success of many latin singers.
10. Bonnie Tyler
With her iconic song “Total Eclipse of the Heart”, Bonnie Tyler became a crucial part of music history.
Her distinctive voice charmed many people in the 1980s, after becoming popular in the 70s.
Her debut album The World Starts Tonight was a mix of pop and country music.
Tyler’s musical style is influenced by many genres, but her biggest influences from a young age were Janis Joplin and Tina Turner.
11. Joan Jett
Joan Jett is best known for the songs she made with her band Joan Jett & the Black Hearts.
But she first became famous as a part of the group the Runaways.
She is now regarded as one of the best female musicians of all time, and she is often referred to as a Queen of Rock n’ Roll.
Some of her most popular songs include “Bad Reputation”, “I Hate Myself For Loving You”, and her rendition of “I Love Rock n’ Roll.”
12. Celine Dion
After decades of having a successful career, Celine Dion is still actively performing and touring.
She emerged as a teen star, and eventually became a global superstar and the best-selling Canadian recording artist.
She is best-known for her Titanic song “My Heart Will Go On”, but she has released many hits ever since.
Her musical style revolves around pop, chanson, and soft rock, and all of her songs are recognizable by strong emotion and her powerful, technically skilled vocals.
13. Pat Benatar
In November 2022, Pat Benatar was inducted in the Grammy Hall of Fame.
Her contribution to the rock genre is undeniable, and her approach to music has always been unique.
With her unapologetic lyrics and attitude, Pat Benatar won the hearts of people around the world.
She had her breakthrough with a debut album With the Heat of the Night, but her 1983 hit “Love is a Battlefield” remains her most recognizable song.
14. Chaka Khan
Known as the Queen of Funk, Chaka Khan is widely regarded as one of the most influential 80s female singers.
Her songs “I’m Every Woman”, “I Feel For You”, and “Ain’t Nobody” are timeless classics that inspired many soul and R&B singers.
Throughout her career, Chaka Khan has also collaborated with famous artists such as Ray Charles, Ry Cooder, and Mary J. Blige.
Her career has spanned more than five decades, and she is still active.
15. Cindy Lauper
When you hear Cindy Lauper, you probably think of her iconic outfits and “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.”
Cindy Lauper is indeed one of the most famous 80s singers.
But her career has spanned over 40 years, and she has released many albums over the years.
However, she is best known for her 1983 hit, as well as songs like “True Colors” and “Time After Time.”
16. Chrissie Hynde
Chrissie Hynde is best known for her work with the Pretenders.
She formed the Pretenders in 1978, and she also released a solo album.
But her distinctive vocals are mostly associated with the Pretenders melodies and songs like “Brass in Pocket” and “Middle of the Road.”
Hynde also performed with iconic musicians such as Cher and Frank Sinatra.
17. Belinda Carlisle
“Heaven is a Place on Earth” is a part of every essential 80s music playlist.
Belinda Carlisle’s 1987 song was a big hit when it came out, and it’s still one of the most popular 80s songs.
However, her musical career goes far beyond that one hit, especially when you take her work with the Go-Go’s into account.
The Go-Go’s is considered to be the most successful all-female rock band of all time.
And the band wouldn’t be the same without Belinda’s voice and energy.
18. Sinead O’Connor
Sinead O’Connor’s released her debut studio album The Lion and the Cobra in 1987.
The album charted internationally, but her second album achieved bigger success.
And one of the hits from her album became her signature song – of course, we’re talking about “Nothing Compares 2 U.”
The song was originally written by Prince though, but it certainly helped Sinead O’Connor become one of the most prominent female musicians of the 80s.
19. Janet Jackson
Janet Jackson is the youngest child of the Jackson family, and she undeniably made her mark as a singer and songwriter.
She became known for her innovative and provocative songs.
She also established herself as a fantastic performer, and her choreographed videos as well as live shows have always been on point.
Some of her best hits include “Nasty”, “Rhythm Nation”, and “Feedback.”
20. Aretha Franklin
Although she was a star in the 60s and the 70s, Aretha Franklin also remained one of the most prominent artists in the 80s.
The Queen of Soul released “Freeway of Love” in 1985, for example.
But she will probably be known for many generations to come for her 60s classics “Respect” and “Chain of Fools.”
All in all, Aretha Franklin is simply one of the best female singers of all time.
Sade has many 80s songs that still sound amazing.
“Smooth Operator”, “Your Love Is King”, and “Sweetest Taboo”, just to name a few.
She also became active in the 2020s, and we can’t wait to see what she will create in the future.
Her mesmerizing vocals and charm are timeless and unique, and in a way, her music is a genre of its own.
Cher is without a doubt one of the most iconic female artists.
She achieved peak success in the 90s, but she was also a star in the 80s.
Either way, her phenomenal contralto voice and authentic energy are unmatched, as well as her hits such as “Believe” and “If I Can Turn Back Time.”
In the media, she is often referred to as the Goddess of Pop – and we understand why.
23. Donna Summer
Donna Summer is also one of the most influential female singers from the 1980s.
Her musical repertoire is very versatile, but she is best known for her pop and disco hits.
After all, she was known as the Queen of Disco in the 1970s, and she rose to fame during the disco era.
However, she also released many 80s hits, including “She Works Hard For the Money” and “Love is in Control.”
24. Lita Ford
In the late 1970, Lita Ford was the lead guitarist for the famous Joan Jett’s rock band the Runaways.
But she hit the peak of her career in the 1980s, after deciding to pursue a solo career.
The glam metal singer was also married to Ozzy Osbourne, and she released a duet “Close My Eyes Forever” with him in 1989.
The duet climbed the charts and remains Ford’s most successful song.
25. Gwen Stefani
Gwen Stefani’s group No Doubt was formed in the 80s, and that’s why we decided to include her on this list.
After all, she is one of the most successful pop singers of all time, and her career entails the release of countless hits.
She achieved success with No Doubt as well as a solo artist, and she also gained popularity as the coach on The Voice.
26. Tori Amos
And the same goes for Tori Amos – maybe you don’t associate her with 80s music, but she began her career in the 1980s.
In the beginning, she was the lead singer of the pop group Y Kant Tori Read, and she embarked on a solo career in the 90s.
Her songs revolve around different topics, but they are mostly based on topics like politics, religion, and feminism
Tori Amos’ most recognizable songs include “Crucify”, “Silent All These Years”, and “Cornflake Girl.”
27. Debbie Gibson
In 1987, Debbie Gibson released her debut single “Only In My Dreams.”
So in a way, she does belong on this list.
After all, her music was heavily influenced by 80s music, but at the same time her music was refreshing.
Nevertheless, Debbie Gibson’s voice will always be remembered and associated with her late 80s breakthrough.
28. Patty Smyth
Patty Smyth was a creative force in the 80s.
She was a lead singer of the rock band Scandal, and her charisma and outfit choices definitely stood out in the 80s music scene.
Her career continued to flourish in the 90s, when she got both Grammy and Academy award nominations for her work.
29. Grace Jones
Grace Jones is all about powerful vocals, unique presence, and mesmerizing music.
She was truly one of the most prominent figures of pop culture in the 80s.
Besides being a Bond villainess in in “A View To A Kill”, she is best-known for her songs “I’ve Seen That Face Before” and “Slave to the Rhythm.”
Her 1981 album Nightclubbing was her breakthrough album.
30. Joni Mitchell
Rolling Stone called Joni Mitchell ‘one of the best songwriters ever’ – and we agree.
She is one of the best vocalists of her era, and some of her studio albums became an important part of music history and culture in general.
Her album Blue is iconic, but she also released great albums in the 1980s.
Wild Things Run Fast is one of her 80s albums, and it includes some of Mitchell’s most unique work.
31. Tracy Chapman
Tracy Chapman released her debut album in the late 80s, but she definitely deserves a place on this list.
She is arguably one of the best songwriters of all time, and her songs are still relevant today.
And although she hasn’t been very active lately, her hit song “Fast Car” can often be heard on the radio in the Jonas Blue remix.
But she is also widely known for her songs “Give Me One Reason” and “Talkin’ Bout a Revolution.”
32. Carly Simon
Carly Simon rose to fame in the 1970s with multiple chart-topping hits.
Her signature song “You’re So Vain” earned her three Grammy nominations, but she also released many successful songs in the 1980s.
Her best-known 80s songs include “Coming Around Again” and “All I Want is You.”
In 2022, Carly Simon was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
33. Kylie Minogue
Often referred to as a Princess of Pop, Kylie Minogue also deserves a spot on our best 80s singers list.
She gained prominence in the late 80s, and continued to make dance pop hits throughout the 90s.
She eventually became the highest-selling female Australian artist of all time.
And she is still active and making music.
34. Barbra Streisand
With a career spanning over six decades, Barbra Streisand is hands down one of the best singers of all time.
She influenced many generations of musicians, and her impact on the music and culture in general is undeniable.
She released her best-selling album Guilty in 1980, and sold 150 million records worldwide throughout her career.
35. Dolly Parton
Dolly Parton achieved peak success in the 1970s, but she was also an influential figure in the 80s.
She is best-known for her songs “9 to 5”, Jolene”, and “Island in the Stream.”
And besides being a popular and talented musician, she also had successful projects as an actress and businesswoman.
All in all, it’s fair to say that Dolly Parton is one of the most versatile and successful artists in the music industry.
Best Female 80s Singers – Final Thoughts
There are many more female singers who were popular in the 80s, but it’s time to wrap it up.
It wasn’t easy to make this list, but all of the singers we included were a crucial part of the 80s music scene.
Also, their music still inspires musicians around the world, even though some of them aren’t active anymore.
There’s no doubt about it – the 1980s were a decade of musical legends.