Top-Selling Soul Albums of the 80s: A Nostalgic Trip Down Memory Lane

Mar 20, 2024By Neil Greaves
Neil Greaves

Do you remember the soulful tunes that ruled the airwaves in the 80s? It was an era filled with smooth melodies, heartfelt lyrics, and unforgettable vocal performances. Let's take a trip down memory lane as we revisit some of the top-selling soul albums of the 80s that continue to captivate music lovers to this day.

The Rise of 80s Soul Music

The 1980s marked a significant period for soul music, with artists infusing R&B, funk, and pop elements into their sound. This fusion gave birth to chart-topping hits and timeless classics that still resonate with audiences across generations.

Michael Jackson 5 billboard during nighttime

Iconic Albums That Defined the Decade

One standout album from the 80s is Michael Jackson's "Thriller," which showcased the King of Pop's unparalleled talent and became the best-selling album of all time. With hits like "Billie Jean" and "Beat It," Jackson's influence on the soul genre was undeniable.

Another legendary release was Whitney Houston's self-titled debut album, featuring soul-stirring tracks such as "Greatest Love of All" and "Saving All My Love for You." Houston's powerful vocals and emotional delivery solidified her status as a soul icon.

Timeless Hits That Transcend Decades

One cannot discuss 80s soul music without mentioning Prince's "Purple Rain" album, which delivered an eclectic mix of rock, funk, and soul. The title track, along with "When Doves Cry," became anthems of the era and continue to resonate with listeners today.

Furthermore, Lionel Richie's "Can't Slow Down" album dominated the charts with singles like "All Night Long" and "Hello," showcasing Richie's soulful voice and songwriting prowess.

a cassette player with headphones attached to it

The Enduring Legacy of 80s Soul

As we reflect on the top-selling soul albums of the 80s, it's evident that these releases have left an indelible mark on the music industry. Their influence can be heard in contemporary artists who draw inspiration from the soulful sounds of the past.

Whether you're a devoted fan of 80s soul music or discovering these albums for the first time, their enduring legacy continues to resonate with audiences, transcending time and musical trends.

Let's celebrate the artistry and impact of these iconic albums that have stood the test of time, reminding us of the soulful magic that defined an unforgettable era in music.

top 20 best-selling soul music albums from the 1980s. These albums have left a lasting impact on the music industry and have been cherished by fans worldwide. Here is a compilation of some of the most iconic and successful soul albums from that era:

Michael Jackson - "Thriller" (1982): Arguably the most famous album of all time, "Thriller" by the King of Pop, Michael Jackson, broke numerous records and remains a classic in the soul genre.

Whitney Houston - "Whitney" (1987): Whitney Houston's second studio album was a massive success, featuring hits like "I Wanna Dance with Somebody" and "Didn't We Almost Have It All."

Prince - "Purple Rain" (1984): Prince's soundtrack album for the film of the same name is a blend of rock, pop, and soul that captivated audiences and earned critical acclaim.

Tina Turner - "Private Dancer" (1984): This album marked Tina Turner's comeback and included hits like "What's Love Got to Do with It" and "Private Dancer."

CD case lot

Lionel Richie - "Can't Slow Down" (1983): Lionel Richie's second solo album won multiple Grammy Awards and spawned hits like "All Night Long" and "Hello."

Stevie Wonder - "Hotter Than July" (1980): Stevie Wonder's album featured singles such as "Master Blaster (Jammin')" and "Happy Birthday" and showcased his musical versatility.

Aretha Franklin - "Who's Zoomin' Who?" (1985): The Queen of Soul's album featured the iconic hit "Freeway of Love" and reaffirmed her status as a music legend.

Sade - "Diamond Life" (1984): Sade's debut album blended soul, jazz, and R&B, with hits like "Smooth Operator" and "Your Love Is King."

George Benson - "Give Me the Night" (1980): George Benson's album combined elements of jazz, funk, and soul, featuring the popular title track and "Love X Love."

Earth, Wind & Fire - "Raise!" (1981): This album by the legendary band produced hits like "Let's Groove" and "Wanna Be with You," showcasing their signature sound.

Anita Baker - "Rapture" (1986): Anita Baker's album earned her multiple Grammy Awards and featured soulful tracks like "Sweet Love" and "Caught Up in the Rapture."

Luther Vandross - "Give Me the Reason" (1986): Luther Vandross's album included the hit single "Stop to Love" and solidified his reputation as a soulful crooner.

Attractive girl with headphones in the record store

Diana Ross - "Diana" (1980): Diana Ross's album featured the chart-topping hit "Upside Down" and showcased her transition into the 1980s music scene.

Chaka Khan - "I Feel for You" (1984): Chaka Khan's album included the iconic title track featuring a rap by Melle Mel and became a dancefloor anthem.

Vintage audio cassette tape, isolated on white background, best of the 80s

The Pointer Sisters - "Break Out" (1983): This album by The Pointer Sisters featured hits like "Jump (For My Love)" and "Automatic," blending pop and soul influences.

Billy Ocean - "Suddenly" (1984): Billy Ocean's album included the popular tracks "Caribbean Queen (No More Love on the Run)" and "Loverboy."

Rick James - "Street Songs" (1981): Rick James's album featured the funk-infused hit "Super Freak" and solidified his status as a pioneer in the soul and funk genres.

The Gap Band - "Gap Band IV" (1982): This album by The Gap Band included the popular track "Early in the Morning" and showcased their energetic and funky sound.

Gladys Knight & The Pips - "About Love" (1980): This album by the iconic group featured soulful tracks like "Landlord" and "Bourgie, Bourgie."

The Commodores - "Midnight Magic" (1980): The Commodores' album included the hit single "Still" and highlighted their blend of soul, funk, and R&B.

Retro headphones and audio cassette close-up on old wooden carpet. Back in the 80s.

These albums not only dominated the charts in the 1980s but also continue to be celebrated for their timeless music and influence on the soul genre. Each artist brought their unique style and talent to the forefront, contributing to the rich tapestry of soul music history.