Top 10 Biggest Albums Of The 1980s

Top 10 Biggest Albums Of The 1980s

biggest albums of the 80s
Michael Hutchence of INXS, John Farnham, Midnight Oil (Photos via Getty Images)

Back in the 1980s, the album was still king, with many of the biggest releases of the decade staying on the charts for well over a year and spawning multiple hits. There is no official list of the highest-selling albums of the decade since ARIA was only founded in 1983 and they didn’t take the compilation of the charts in-house until mid-1988, but the Australian Music Report’s list of the 10 biggest albums of the decade is a good indication of the most successful titles. Their ranking is based on chart runs rather than sales, but if an album stayed on the chart for a long time and spent a lot of those weeks in the upper reaches, it’s safe to assume it sold plenty of copies in the process.

10. Kick by INXS

Year released: 1987

Peak: number 2

Biggest hit: “Need You Tonight” (number 3)

The Swing and Listen Like Thieves might have both reached number 1, but INXS’s sixth album was a consistent seller, enjoying two stints at number 2 – for six weeks just after release in late 1987 and then again for five weeks in late 1988. (It also returned to number 2 in 2014 following the miniseries INXS: Never Tear Us Apart.) Kick was also the album that really exploded internationally, selling six million copies in the US.

9. Business As Usual by Men At Work

Year released: 1981

Peak: number 1

Biggest hit: “Down Under” (number 1)

Speaking of international success, Men At Work managed that with their debut album, home to chart-topper “Down Under”, which returned to the ARIA top 3 in 1983 after the song became the anthem of Australia’s America’s Cup victory. As a result, Business As Usual had a lengthy chart life, spending nine weeks at number 1 and finally dropping off the top 100 in April 1984, by which time the band had released their follow-up, Cargo.  

8. 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 by Midnight Oil

Year released: 1982

Peak: number 3

Biggest hit: “Power And The Passion” (number 8)

Another album by a local band that remained on the top 100 for years was the fourth studio set by Midnight Oil, which racked up 171 weeks on the chart. The album that propelled The Oils into the big league, it included classic tracks “Power And The Passion” (their first top 10 hit), “US Forces” and “Read About It”.

7. Too Low For Zero by Elton John

Year released: 1983

Peak: number 2

Biggest hit: “I’m Still Standing” (number 3)

Although the singer-songwriter doesn’t look back too fondly on all his releases from the ’80s, his 17th studio album was one he got right. Co-written completely with Bernie Taupin once again, Too Low For Zero saw Elton enjoy his best run of singles success in Australia – “I’m Still Standing”, “I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues”, “Crystal” and “Kiss The Bride” all reached the top 25.

6. Can’t Slow Down by Lionel Richie

Year released: 1983

Peak: number 1

Biggest hit: “All Night Long (All Night)” (number 1)

The former Commodore’s solo career had got off to a good start with his chart-topping duet with Diana Ross, “Endless Love”, and a couple of hits from his self-titled debut album. But his second album took things to another level, remaining on the top 100 for well over two years, including three weeks on top of the chart, and spawning two more number 1s in the form of “All Night Long (All Night)” and “Hello”.

5. Whitney Houston by Whitney Houston

Year released: 1985

Peak: number 1

Biggest hit: “Greatest Love Of All” (number 1)

Also spending over two years on the top 100 (double the amount of weeks logged by follow-up Whitney) was the debut offering from Whitney Houston. The big-voiced singer’s career took a while to take off in Australia, really kicking into gear in 1986, with Whitney Houston topping the chart for 11 non-consecutive weeks in the middle of that year when her cover of George Benson’s “The Greatest Love Of All” became her first number 1 hit locally.

4. Born In The U.S.A. by Bruce Springsteen

Year released: 1984

Peak: number 1

Biggest hit: “Born In The U.S.A.” (number 2)

The Boss’ first number 1 album in Australia had three runs at the top of the ARIA chart – in October 1984, February 1985 and April 1985, for a total of eight weeks. Seven top 50 hits (all top 10 singles in the US) were also lifted from Born In The U.S.A., and although the title track peaked the highest here in Australia, lead single “Dancing In The Dark” was arguably the bigger hit. It only reached number 5, but due to the fact that it remained on the top 50 for so long – 53 weeks in total – it was named 1984’s number 1 song by the Australian Music Report.

3. Thriller by Michael Jackson

Year released: 1982

Peak: number 1

Biggest hit: “Billie Jean” (number 1)

The highest-selling studio album of all time has to settle for third place on this list, but its achievements are nothing to be sniffed at. Over two years on the top 100, six top 40 hits between November 1982 and April 1984, and 11 non-consecutive weeks at number 1. More than any artist, Michael Jackson created the art of milking an album of hits and thereby increasing its shelf life well beyond the one album per year cycle.

2. Brothers In Arms by Dire Straits

Year released: 1985

Peak: number 1

Biggest hit: “Money For Nothing” (number 4)

The lengthy shelf life of Dire Straits’ fifth album doesn’t have as much to do with a stream of hit singles – although three songs from it reached the top 25 – as it does two other facts. Firstly, the British band had always been reliable album shifters in Australia, with 1982’s Love Over Gold registering 15 weeks at number 1. And secondly, the release of Brothers In Arms coincided with the proliferation of CD players in homes around the country. The album of choice for most purchasers of the new technology, it clocked up a mammoth 34 non-consecutive weeks at number 1 as a result.

1. Whispering Jack by John Farnham

Year released: 1986

Peak: number 1

Biggest hit: “You’re The Voice” (number 1)

The comeback that almost didn’t happen, John Farnham’s triumphant return almost stalled when radio initially didn’t get behind “You’re The Voice”. But once its lead single took off, Whispering Jack followed swiftly behind, and ended up spending 25 non-consecutive weeks at number 1, while two more hits (“Pressure Down” and Mondo Rock cover “A Touch Of Paradise”) were taken from it.

Love the 80s? Check out out Hits of The 80s playlists!

Listen on Spotify

Listen on Apple Music here.

Related Posts