The Top Electronic Music Artists of the 80s

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

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


Looking for a blast from the past? Check out our list of the top electronic music artists of the 80s! From Depeche Mode to Erasure, these acts defined a decade of danceable hits.


The 1980s saw the rise of electronic music and the birth of some of the genre’s most iconic artists. This was a decade of great innovation and creativity, and many of the artists who emerged during this time went on to have hugely successful careers. Here are just a few of the top electronic music artists of the 1980s.

Depeche Mode

Formed in 1980, Depeche Mode is one of the most influential electronic music groups of all time. The band’s unique blend of synth-pop and new wave has inspired countless other artists, and their popularity has only grown in recent years. With hits like “Enjoy the Silence” and “Personal Jesus,” it’s easy to see why Depeche Mode is still so beloved by fans around the world.

New Order

New Order is an English rock band formed in 1980 by Bernard Sumner, Peter Hook, and Stephen Morris. The band plays a blend of post-punk, synth-pop, and new wave. They were one of the most popular bands of the 1980s and their music has had a lasting influence on popular culture. New Order’s hits include “Blue Monday”, “Confusion”, and “Bizarre Love Triangle”.

The Cure

The Cure is a British rock band formed in 1976. The band members have varied over the years, but the founder, singer and songwriter Robert Smith, has been the band’s only constant member. The Cure rose to prominence in the late 1970s with their debut album Three Imaginary Boys (1979) and as part of the post-punk movement, they became one of the leading alternatives to mainstream rock music of the time. In 1982, they released Pornography, which was dark and danceable all at once and topped the UK album charts. They followed this up with The Top in 1984, which saw them break into the US market with their first top ten album. Dozens of live albums and compilations followed throughout the 1980s and 1990s, solidifying The Cure’s place as one of electronic music’s most influential artists.

The Smiths

The Smiths were an English rock band formed in Manchester in 1982. The group consisted of lead singer Morrissey, guitarist Johnny Marr, bassist Andy Rourke, and drummer Mike Joyce.

The Smiths had a unique sound that was a fusion of rock and roll, pop, and electronica. Their music was characterized by its catchy melodies, jangly guitars, and Morrissey’s distinctive vocal style.

The band was extremely successful in the United Kingdom, where they had nine Top 40 singles and four Top 10 albums. They also gained a large following in the United States, but were less commercially successful there.

The Smiths disbanded in 1987 due to creative differences between Morrissey and Marr. Nevertheless, they remain one of the most influential bands of the 1980s, and their music continues to be popular among fans of alternative rock.


Erasure was one of the most popular and successful electronic artists of the 80s. Formed in London in 1985, Erasure was fronted by singer/songwriter Andy Bell and keyboardist/composer Vince Clarke. The duo had a string of hits throughout the late 80s and early 90s, including “Sometimes”, “Oh L’amour”, “Chains of Love”, “A Little Respect” and “Always”. Erasure’s music was a mix of synth-pop, dance-pop and new wave, with simple, catchy melodies and Bell’s powerful vocal performances. The duo was one of the few electronic artists to find mainstream success in the 1980s, and they continue to be popular today.

Pet Shop Boys

Pet Shop Boys are an English synthpop duo, formed in London in 1981 and consisting of Neil Tennant (lead vocals, keyboards, guitar) and Chris Lowe (keyboards, vocals). They are considered a leading example of the UK pop/new wave style of music.

The duo’s name was inspired by friends who worked in a pet shop in Ealing, west London, and often joked about conducting “pet shop boys” instead of business. After a number of hit singles and albums during the 1980s and early 1990s, including 1987’s “It’s a Sin” and 1991’s “Personally”, they became one of the best-selling music artists worldwide.

In 1996, they were honored with the Brit Award for Outstanding Contribution to Music. In 2004, Rolling Stone magazine ranked them Number 33 on their list of the “100 Greatest Artists of All Time”.

Duran Duran

Duran Duran was an English new wave and synth-pop band formed in Birmingham in 1978. The band were one of the most successful bands of the 1980s and a leading act in the MTV-driven “Second British Invasion” of the United States. They achieved 14 singles in the top 10 of the UK Singles Chart and 21 in the US Billboard Hot 100, and their debut album Duran Duran (1981) reached number four in the UK and number 17 in the US. It sold more than 4 million copies worldwide.

The group was noted for its striking visual aesthetic which featured constantly changing fashion and hairstyles, as well as elaborate stage shows. They became one of the first bands to sign with MTV, and their music videos helped to establish the channel as a key platform for promotion of popular culture.

The band achieved further success with their second album, Rio (1982), which reached number two in both the UK and the US and produced several hit singles, including “The Chauffeur”, “Hungry Like the Wolf” and “Rio”. The album’s accompanying video album had heavy rotation on MTV, cementing Duran Duran’s status as teen idols.

With their next release, Seven and the Ragged Tiger (1983), they followed up with more hits including “Union of the Snake”, “New Moon on Monday” and “The Reflex”. This album saw them embrace a more art rock direction, introducing elements of classical music into their sound. The album peaked at number one in both Britain and America.

Soft Cell

An English synthpop duo who came to prominence in the early 1980s, Soft Cell consisted of singer Marc Almond and instrumentalist David Ball. The duo are principally known for their 1981 hit single “Tainted Love” and their widely acclaimed album Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret.


Yazoo was a British synth-pop duo from Basildon, Essex, England, consisting of vocalist Alison Moyet and musician Vince Clarke. They formed in early 1982 and had several hits in the United Kingdom before splitting up in May 1983. Their most successful singles were “Only You”, “Don’t Go” and “Situation”.

Yaz’s debut album Upstairs at Eric’s was an important release in the synth-pop genre, reaching number two on the UK Albums Chart and selling more than one million copies worldwide.

Similar Posts