The Best of 80s Electronic Music

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


From New Wave to Hip Hop, Industrial to Techno, these are the best 80s electronic tracks that will get you dancing.


The 1980s saw the advent of electronic music and the rise of some of the genre’s most iconic artists. This decade was a golden age for electronic music, with groundbreaking new styles and sounds being developed every year. From classic synth-pop to cutting-edge techno, the 1980s produced some of the most influential and popular electronic music ever made.

In this article, we will countdown the best of 80s electronic music, highlighting the most important tracks and artists from this unforgettable decade.

The Birth of Electronic Music

The best of 80s electronic music cannot be complete without a little bit of history. Electronic music has its origins in the 19th century, with early pioneers such as Thaddeus Cahill and Leon Theremin. However, it was in the 20th century that electronic music really took off, with the introduction of new technologies such as the synthesizer.

The first half of the 20th century saw a number of important developments in electronic music, with composers such as Erik Satie, Edgar Varèse, and Karlheinz Stockhausen all creating notable works. However, it was in the 1950s that electronic music really began to take off, with the advent of musique concrete and the first commercial synthesizers. This new wave of electronic music continued to grow in popularity throughout the 1960s and 1970s, with artists such as Kraftwerk and Giorgio Moroder helping to popularize the genre.

The 1980s was a golden era for electronic music, with artists such as Depeche Mode, New Order, and Tears for Fears all achieving huge success. The decade also saw the rise of house and techno music, with artists such as Frankie Knuckles and Juan Atkins helping to pioneer these new genres. The best of 80s electronic music is truly a diverse and rich body of work that still sounds fresh and exciting today.

The First Wave of Electronic Music

In the early 1980s, a new form of music known as electronic dance music (EDM) began to emerge. This new style of music was influenced by a number of different genres, including disco, house, and techno. EDM quickly became popular in nightclubs and on the radio.

By the mid-1980s, EDM had evolved into a new genre known as acid house. This new style of music was characterized by its use of synthesizers and drum machines. Acid house was incredibly popular in the UK, where it gave birth to the “ rave ” culture of the late 1980s and early 1990s.

In the United States, EDM became known as “ techno ” in the late 1980s. Techno was characterized by its heavy use of synthesizers and drum machines. It quickly became popular in Detroit, where it emerged from the city’s underground club scene.

As EDM continued to evolve in the late 1980s and early 1990s, new subgenres began to emerge. These new genres included trance, jungle, and drum & bass. All of these genres would go on to become extremely popular in their own right.

The Second Wave of Electronic Music

In the 1980s, electronic music became more popular and mainstream with the advent of synth-pop, new wave, and industrial music. This was the second wave of electronic music, and it was led by bands like Depeche Mode, Kraftwerk, New Order, Duran Duran, and Tears for Fears. These bands were able to find success in the mainstream thanks to their use of synthesizers and other electronic instruments.

The Third Wave of Electronic Music

The Third Wave of Electronic Music is the name given to a period in the 1980s when electronic music artists began to experiment with synthesizers and samplers to create new, innovative sounds. This period is often considered the golden age of electronic music, as it spawned numerous subgenres and gave birth to some of the most influential artists in the genre.

Some of the most popular subgenres that emerged during this time include house music, techno, acid house, dubstep, and trance. These genres would go on to dominate the electronic music landscape for decades to come. Many of the artists who helped pioneer these sounds are still active today, and their influence can still be felt in the music of today.

The Fourth Wave of Electronic Music

In the early 1980s, a new wave of electronic music began to emerge. This fourth wave built upon the sound of previous waves, but with a more polished production style. The result was a sleek and polished sound that dominated the charts in the 1980s.

The best-known artists of this fourth wave include Depeche Mode, New Order, Kraftwerk, and Duran Duran. These groups took advantage of new technologies to create a sound that was both cutting-edge and accessible to a wide audience. The result was a sound that defined an entire decade.

Depeche Mode was one of the most successful groups of the 1980s, selling over 100 million records worldwide. The group’s signature sound was a blend of electronic music and pop sensibilities, which proved to be a winning formula for commercial success.

New Order was another hugely successful group from the 1980s, selling over 30 million records worldwide. The group’s sound was influenced by post-punk and disco, giving their music a unique blend of styles. Their biggest hit single, “Blue Monday,” is one of the best-selling singles of all time.

Kraftwerk were pioneers of electronic music, and their influence can be heard in the work of many subsequent artists. The group’s innovative use of technology helped to shape the sound of popular music in the 1980s.

Duran Duran were one of the most popular bands of the 1980s, thanks in part to their sophisticated use of electronic instruments. The group’s catchy melodies and catchy rhythms helped them to achieve widespread commercial success.

The Fifth Wave of Electronic Music

The Fifth Wave of electronic music began in the early 1980s and reached its peak in the late 1990s. This wave is characterized by a return to the use of synthesizers and drum machines, as well as a renewed interest in dance music styles such as house and techno. This wave also saw the rise of digital audio technologies, which led to the development of new genres such as IDM and breakbeat.

The Sixth Wave of Electronic Music

The Sixth Wave of Electronic Music (or post-disco) was a particularly fertile and innovative period in the history of electronic dance music, with a great deal of cross-pollination between different genres leading to the birth of numerous new sounds and subgenres. This period also saw the rise of the first true superstars of electronic dance music, with artists like Madonna, Michael Jackson, Prince, and Whitney Houston becoming global icons.

The sixth wave is often considered to have begun with the release of Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love” in 1977, which was one of the first disco songs to make extensive use of synthesizers. The track was produced by Giorgio Moroder, who would go on to be one of the most important figures in electronic dance music during the 1980s. “I Feel Love” was followed by a string of other influential disco tracks that made use of synthesizers, including Chic’s “Le Freak” (1978), MFSB’s “Love Is the Message” (1979), and Diana Ross’ “Upside Down” (1980).

The advent of synth-based disco led to a new wave of electronic music producers emerging in the early 1980s who were influenced by both disco and Kraftwerk. These include Italian producer Giorgio Moroder, who worked extensively with Donna Summer; American producer Nile Rodgers, who founded Chic; German producer Klaus Dinger, who co-founded NEU!; and British producer Trevor Horn, who would go on to form The Buggles and produce hits for Frankie Goes to Hollywood and Grace Jones.

The early 1980s also saw the start of the synth-pop genre with singles like Gary Numan’s “Cars” (1979), Icehouse’s “Great Southern Land” (1982), and Duran Duran’s “Planet Earth” (1981). Synth-pop would go on to be one of the most successful genres of the 1980s, with artists like Depeche Mode, Kraftwerk, Pet Shop Boys, Erasure, Yazoo, and A-ha achieving global fame.


In conclusion, the 80s was a great decade for electronic music. Many new genres and sub-genres were born and the music continues to influence artists today. If you’re a fan of electronic music, be sure to check out some of the songs and albums from this decade.

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