The Best 80s Soul and Funk Music

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

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


This blog is dedicated to the best 80s soul and funk music. FromAretha Franklin to Marvin Gaye, we’ll be talking about all the greats that made this decade so special.


The 1980s was a decade of change for soul and funk music. With the advent of new technology, such as synthesizers and drum machines, many artists began to experiment with different sounds and production techniques. This led to the development of new styles of soul and funk, such as electro-funk and boogie.

During the 1980s, many traditional soul and funk artists continued to enjoy success, while others, such as Michael Jackson and Prince, achieved superstardom. In addition, a number of new artists emerged, including Whitney Houston and Janet Jackson.

Here are ten of the best soul and funk songs from the 1980s:

1. “Ain’t Nobody” – Chaka Khan (1984)
2. “Billie Jean” – Michael Jackson (1982)
3. “I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)” – Whitney Houston (1987)
4. “Let’s Get Serious” – Jermaine Jackson (1980)
5. “On Our Own” – Bobby Brown (1989)
6. “Poison” – Bell Biv DeVoe (1990)
7. “Sledgehammer” – Peter Gabriel (1986)
8. “Super Freak” – Rick James (1981)
9. “The Glamorous Life” – Sheila E. (1984)
10. “When Doves Cry” – Prince (1984)

The Birth of Funk

Funk is a music genre that originated in the mid-1960s when African American musicians created a rhythmic, danceable new form of music through a mixture of soul music, jazz, and rhythm and blues (R&B). Funk de-emphasizes melody and chord progressions and focuses on a strong, groove-based rhythm.

One of the earliest examples of funk can be heard in James Brown’s 1966 hit “I Got You (I Feel Good)”. Brown’s style – which featured immediate stops, starts, syncopated rhythms, and dynamic vocal deliveries – was influential on other funk musicians.

Other important early Funk musicians include Sly and the Family Stone, whose hits “Dance to the Music” (1968) and “Everyday People” (1968) helped to popularize the genre; as well as George Clinton’s Parliament-Funkadelic collective, whose groundbreaking albums Funkadelic (1970) and Maggot Brain (1971) expanded the possibilities of what funk could be.

The ’80s were a particularly fertile period for funk music, with many classic albums and songs being released. Some of the best ’80s funk artists include Prince, Rick James, Earth, Wind & Fire, Parliament-Funkadelic, Kool & the Gang, James Brown, Maceo Parker, and Bootsy Collins.

The Funk of the 80s

When it comes to 80s funk, the sound is characterized by a strong bass line, synths, electric guitars, and drums. The music is often associated with parties, dancing, and good times. Some of the most popular 80s funk artists include James Brown, Parliament-Funkadelic, Prince, and Earth Wind & Fire. If you’re looking for some funky tunes from the 80s, check out this playlist.

The Best of 80s Funk

The 80s was a decade of change, and that is reflected in the music of the time. There was a wide variety of genres and styles that emerged during this decade. One of the most popular genres was funk. Funk music was a blend of soul, R&B, and psychedelic rock. It was a style that was smooth, groovy, and fun. Let’s take a look at some of the best funk songs of the 80s.

George Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic

As the mastermind behind some of the most celebrated Funk groups ever, including Parliament and Funkadelic, George Clinton has been a pioneer in the genre since the 60s. Though his music has been covered by everyone from OutKast to Red Hot Chili Peppers, Clinton’s inimitable style has been hugely influential – particularly in Hip Hop. His group Parliament released their debut album in 1970, with Funkadelic following a year later; both bands achieved huge success throughout the decade. In the 80s, Clinton’s popularity continued to grow, with Parliament’s “Flash Light” becoming one of the biggest dance tracks of all time. As well as being a highly successful recording artist, Clinton has also worked as a producer and songwriter – helping to shape the sound of Funk as we know it.

Bootsy Collins

Bootsy Collins (born October 26, 1951) is an American musician and singer-songwriter. Collins is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, inducted in 1997 with 15 other members of Parliament-Funkadelic. Returning to Cincinnati, Ohio, he started out as a guitarist with James Brown’s band in 1970. He then entered the world of Parliament-Funkadelic as a bassist under the leadership of George Clinton.

James Brown

No one did it quite like James Brown. The “Godfather of Soul” was a legendary figure in music, and his influence is still felt today. He was a master of funk and soul, and his music still gets people on the dance floor. If you’re looking for a funk fix, there’s no better place to start than with James Brown.

Sly and the Family Stone

The legendary group Sly and the Family Stone rose to fame in the late 1960s, with their unique blend of soul, funk, R&B, and psychedelic rock. The band’s first album, ‘A Whole New Thing’, was released in 1967 to critical acclaim, followed by the release of their second album, ‘Dance to the Music’, in 1968. The band’s third album, ‘Stand!’, was released in 1969 and is regarded as one of the greatest albums of all time.

The band continued to enjoy success throughout the 1970s with hits such as ‘I Want to Take You Higher’, ‘Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)’, and ‘Everyday People’. However, personal problems and drug addiction began to take their toll on the band, and they officially disbanded in 1983.

Despite their relatively short career, Sly and the Family Stone were one of the most influential groups of their era, and their music continues to be popular today.

The Best of 80s Soul

The 80s were a great decade for soul and funk music. With artists like Prince, Michael Jackson, and Whitney Houston releasing some of their best work, it’s no wonder that the 80s are often thought of as the golden era of soul and funk music. In this article, we’ll be counting down the best 80s soul and funk tracks.

Marvin Gaye

Marvin Gaye was an American singer, songwriter and record producer. He helped to shape the sound of Motown in the 1960s, first as an in-house session player and later as a solo artist with a string of hits, including “Ain’t That Peculiar”, “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)” and “I Heard It Through the Grapevine”. As an artist, Gaye recorded songs in a wide variety of genres including soul, R&B, funk, doo-wop, pop and rock.

He began his career as a member of the doo-wop group The Moonglows in the early 1950s. He later joined Berry Gordy’s Motown Records in 1961 as a session musician before recording his own material for the label. Gaye’s early hits for Motown were suitable for both pop and R&B audiences, but later he developed a distinctly African-American sound that made him one of the most popular artists on radio stations catering to black listeners. His work with producer Norman Whitfield on songs such as “Ain’t That Peculiar”, “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” and “Too Busy Thinking About My Baby” established him as a prolific solo artist.

In 1971, Gaye released What’s Going On, an album reflecting his feelings about inequality and injustice faced by African Americans; its title track was one of his most successful singles. The album and its success established him as one of Motown’s major artists and shifted focus from the Pop charts to more socially conscious themes.

During the 1980s, he wrote songs for several films including [“The Big Chill”](, [“Running scared”]( [“Cotton Club”]( As a result of his film work, Gaye became interested in exploring different genres such as jazz and Latin music. He released several crossover hits including [“Sexual Healing”](, which revived his career after several years of personal turmoil and creative decline.

Various artists have cited Gaye as an influence including Michael Jackson,[8] Stevie Wonder,[9] Prince,[10] Smokey Robinson,[11] Marvin Sapp,[12] Usher,[13] Maxwell,[14] Snoop Dogg,[15] Rick Ross[16]and Frank Ocean.[17][18][19]

Aretha Franklin

Aretha Franklin is one of the most influential and important figures in soul music history. Possessing one of the greatest voices of all time, Aretha was dubbed “The Queen of Soul” and rightly so – she has won 18 Grammy Awards, sold over 75 million records and has been placed number one on Rolling Stone’s list of the Greatest Singers of All Time. As a pioneer for female artists in general, Aretha opened up opportunities for many women in music and helped to shape the sound of soul and R&B for generations to come.

Stevie Wonder

While many consider Marvin Gaye the greatest soul artist of the 80s, there’s no denying that Stevie Wonder was also at the top of his game during this decade. He released a string of classic albums including Hotter Than July, In Square Circle and Characters. Wonder also continued to churn out amazing hits like “I Just Called to Say I Love You”, “That’s What Friends Are For” and “Part-Time Lover”. If you want to experience some of the finest soul music of the 80s, then you need to check out Stevie Wonder.

Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson’s Contributions to Black Music

The late, great Michael Jackson was one of the most successful and important pop stars of the 20th century. He was also a proud African American man who made important contributions to black music throughout his career. From his early days as a member of the Jackson 5 to his groundbreaking solo albums, Jackson helped to shape the sound and style of black music in the 1980s and beyond.

The Jackson 5 were one of the first black groups to achieve widespread popularity in the mainstream pop world. Their catchy tunes and soulful harmonies caught the attention of fans around the globe, helping to break down racial barriers in the music industry. As a solo artist, Jackson achieved even greater success with hits like “Billie Jean” and “Beat It.” He also broke new ground with his innovative music videos, which were some of the first to receive heavy rotation on MTV.

Jackson’s contributions to black music went beyond simply creating catchy tunes. He was also a skilled dancer and choreographer, who helped to popularize dance styles like moonwalking and roboting. His unique style inspired other black artists like Usher and Chris Brown, who have gone on to achieve massive success in their own careers. In addition, Jackson’s signature look—including his sequined gloves and fedora hats—influenced fashion trends among black people both in America and abroad.

Michael Jackson may be gone, but his legacy will live on forever. He was a true pioneer in black music, who helped to break down barriers and pave the way for future generations of artists.


In conclusion, the 1980s was a great decade for soul and funk music. There were many talented artists and bands who released some truly fantastic music. While there are too many to mention them all, we have highlighted some of the best 80s soul and funk music in this article. So, if you are looking for some great music to listen to from this era, then be sure to check out the artists and tracks mentioned above.

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