You may not have been around during the ’80s and ’90s in which case you missed strange, wonderful decades of teased bangs, replacing videocassettes with DVDs, discovering what email was…and Mariah Carey. She’s still around and going strong, as are these other singers who made it into the spotlight back in the day and managed to stay in it. The ones who made this list aren’t just relegated to a reality show cameos or selling used cars in Gary, Ind. Here are 10 singers from the ’80s and ’90s who’ve still got it.
She was really an ’80s girl who “just wanted to have fun.” And she’s certainly reappearing, “time after time!” (I slay myself). Her Grammy-winning, Billboard-snatching debut album, “She so Unusual” (1983) solidified Cyndi Lauper as a formidable presence in the 80s. The 90s were up and down for Cyndi. “Hat full of Stars” was critically acclaimed, but sold no more than 120,000 albums. She came back in force in 2010 with her Grammy-nominated album, “Memphis Blues,” and in 2012-2013 celebrated her creative musical-lyrical force behind the Broadway show “Kinky Boots” with a slew of Tony awards.
The boys from Oxfordshire — Thom Yorke and his gang — released “Pablo Honey” in 1993, and the song “Creep” was played on practically every radio in the world that year. Albums like “The Bends” (1995), “OK Computer” (1997), “Kid A” (2000) and “Amnesiac” (2001) established Radiohead as a powerful international presence, redefining electronic music and bringing it into the mainstream. Their concerts were also a sound-and-light experience to behold. Radiohead eased into the new millennium with “Hail to the Thief” (2003), and “In Rainbows” (2007). Their last album, “The King of Limbs” (2011) was released independently. In April, guitarist Jonny Greenwood announced that a new album was in the making.
The baby doll with a voice that could break soundproof glass — angelically so — has been front and center since her first self-titled album smashed onto the scene in 1991. She was 22 at the time. Notches on her belt include albums “Emotions” (1991), “Music Box” (1993), and her smash hit Christmas album of 1994. She released albums like “The Emancipation of Mimi” (2005) while proving her onscreen chops in serious roles such as the guidance counselor in the film “Precious.” Collaborating with artists like Justin Bieber and John Legend in the last few years, she also had a stint on “American Idol.” Her latest album, “Me…I am Mariah…The Elusive Chanteuse” was released just weeks ago.
Trent Reznor is Nine Inch Nails, in case you ever wondered who the other band members were. He composes, strums, beats, sings, and then mixes it all together to produce beautiful, dark albums like “The Downward Spiral” (1994) and “The Fragile” (1999). He has an enormous fan base. Serious drug issues led Reznor to rehab in the early 2000s. He rose out of the ashes with subsequent albums such as “With Teeth” (2005). However, his greatest current-day successes have been with Atticus Ross, writing the score for David Fincher films “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” and “The Social Network.” He won an Oscar for the latter.
“Holla back, girl!” Gwen Stefani is doing that still. When No Doubt’s album, “Tragic Kingdom” was released in 1995, the world went nutty over tracks such as “Spiderwebs” and “Don’t Speak.” In between the band’s hiatuses, band co-founder and lead singer Stefani released hits such as “Let me Blow ya Mind” and Grammy-winning “Hey Baby” and “Underneath it All.” Her debut solo album, “Love. Angel. Music. Baby.” (2004) was an unprecedented success, with “Hollaback Girl” downloaded legally by millions of listeners worldwide. Her “Sweet Escape” world tour was a prelude to No Doubt’s newest album, “Push and Shove,” released in 2012. Stefani appeared at this year’s Coachella Festival with Pharrell Williams, and she plans to be a coach for season seven of “The Voice.”
Not too many musicians of the ’80s and ’90s can sell out an entire NFL arena like these dudes from Dublin. Bono and U2’s first album, “Boy,” was released way back in 1980. When “War” was released in 1983, the politically serious single, “Sunday Bloody Sunday” solidified the group as an international presence in both music and activism. Their shows at Live Aid concerts since 1985 have proved their commitment to human rights, and subsequent albums such as “The Joshua Tree” (1987) and “Achtung Baby” (1991) carried them through the decades. Though they faltered a bit in the 2000s, not really producing chart-topping hits, they still commanded the concert scene. The U2 360° Tour of 2011 was the highest-grossing tour in musical history. With 22 Grammy wins, campaigning for human rights internationally and Bono’s net worth of hundreds of millions of dollars, he and U2 are still the kings.
Seriously, who’s cooler than the Chili Peppers? The boys from SoCal have been tearing it up since their entrance into the music scene in the early ’80s. Funk and psychedelic rock are their forte, and wild onstage (often nude) antics, their jam. They struggled to be heard in the ’80s with drug addictions and such, but their 1989 album, “Mother’s Milk,” is now certified platinum. “Blood Sugar Sex Magik” came out in 1992, winning a Grammy for the legendary song, “Give it Away.” After lead guitarist John Frusciante got clean of heroin and returned to the band, they released in 2001 “By the Way,” a thoughtful and successful album. More songs and concerts followed. Forbes listed them on its World’s 25 Highest-Paid Musicians for 2012. Anticipation is rising as they keep dropping hints of a new album to be released this year.
This guy’s got multiple irons in the fire at all times. Who knew the curly-haired teen from ‘N Sync would go on to become a fabulous film star, producer, comedian, and solo performer? The “Bye Bye Bye” and Britney Spears years led to a man coming into his own, and when the album “Justified” hit the stores in 2002, everything changed, including his mantle. It gained two Grammies. “FutureSex/LoveSounds” hit No. 1 on the Billboard 200 album chart in its first week in 2006. He’s essentially a cast member of Saturday Night live. His latest film, “Inside Llewyn Davis” and his back-to-back album pair, “The 20/20 Experience and 2 of 2” prove he’s just simply got this.
Love her or leave her, she basically owns your soul. Well, no, she’s not Oprah. But she’s probably the most commanding presence in the music industry in the last 20 years. Consistency, shrewd business decisions, and constant image revolutions have lent to the alchemy of Her Madgesty. The timeline, basically, goes from “Material Girl” to “Like a Virgin,” “Ray of Light” to “Music,” makin’ the people come together; from “Evita” to at least trying to be a film director, to her humanitarian work and her ability to still stir up the pot. Madonna is still the top-touring female artist of all time, and still generates billions of dollars in sales. She’s a legend through and through.