With MTV's 24/7 music video onslaught, 1983 was also a year when previous decade's acts had to assimilate or become quickly irrelevant. Thankfully many of them (The Kinks, Bowie, Stevie Nicks, Billy Joel, Yes, Donna Summer, Robert Plant to name a few) reached fresh musical heights in the face of the new wave invasion.
Highlighted by a colorful sea of debuts, here are 20 noteworthy acts (in no order) that made their first stateside mark in 1983...
Though Culture Club took '83s Best New Artist Grammy, Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart should've walked home (in matching suits) with the award. "Love Is A Stranger" (#23, November) was the dark electro-dessert that followed the main course of "Sweet Dreams," which fueled Eurythmics around the world and the seven seas. This video was initially banned for Lennox's then-shocking androgyny.
"Love Is a Stranger"
In the short span of three and a half years, Boy George and his band shook the music world -- and placed 10 singles in the U.S. Top 40 including "Time" (#2) which The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame ranked as one of the 500 most influential singles in the rock era.
"Time (Clock of the Heart)"
At the end of '83, Lauper's instant splash on MTV grew into a pop culture tsunami as her debut LP, She's So Unusual, sold 16 million copies worldwide. Shot on Manhattan's lower east side, "Girls" features cameos by her mother, brother, attorney, manager, wrestler Captain Lou Albano, and secretaries pulled from her label's offices.
"Girls Just Wanna Have Fun"
"Unlike the others I'll do anything. I'm not the same. I have no shame. I'm on fire." With these words, Madonna set her stage. The edgy, punk-infused "Burning Up" (#3 U.S. dance) was the second single from her self titled debut, which (at only eight songs deep) still holds up as one of her best albums.
Recording four terrific proper albums before splitting in 1987, The Smiths, with their literate, melodic singles, and lead singer Morrissey's penchant for the dramatic, paved the way for the guitar-driven sound that dominated British rock in the 1990s.
"This Charming Man"
1983 saw the Australian group's first U.S. tour, and chart hits, "The One Thing" (#30) and "Don't Change" (#80) from their breakthrough LP, Shabook Shoobah
"The One Thing"
Certainly not pop, but still a debut well worth mentioning, Metallica's blazing Kill Em All peaked at #120, selling a modest 300,000, but as the band's popularity grew, so has Kill Em All's sales, which now total over three million copies in the U.S.
NenaAn apocalyptic tale wrapped in German lyrics building to a breakdance beat -- Nena's one glorious hit remains a unique pop treasure. Debuting in '83s final weeks, Nena proved new wave wasn't all British. Danke schoen!
The U.K. duo of Naked Eyes placed four synth-driven hits in the U.S. Top 40 including "Promises Promises" (#11) and a percussive reinvention of the Bacharach/David chestnut "Always Something There To Remind Me" (#8) before vanishing by mid-decade.
Tears For Fears
Tears For Fears' debut, The Hurting, was a musical ode to the misery-drenched family histories of band members, Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith set to pulsing rhythms and stirring melodies.
Art Of Noise
An avant garde sound-collage ensemble of British composers whose innovative methods of sampling and electronic experimentation created musical tapestries both industrial and weirdly romantic. 1983's sensuous epic, "Moments In Love" became an unlikely hit on R&B, pop and jazz radio.
Imaginative and cinematic, synthesizer wizard Thomas Dolby's debut, The Golden Age of Wireless -- a concept record about science, radio and modern technology -- prompted Musician Magazine to call it "The best damned synth-pop record ever, period."
"One Of Our Submarines"
Britain's Matt Johnson essentially is The The. His legacy is a string of beautiful and biting rock albums, beginning with '83's Soul Mining and its underground pop hits, "This Is The Day" and "Uncertain Smile."
One of '83's most promising new rock acts, Scotland's Big Country featured bagpipe-like guitars, and Stuart Adamson's passionate vocals. Their Celtic-inspired anthems were a bold departure in the pop landscape at the time.
"Fields Of Fire"
Only four years before they were filling stadiums, REM was stretching the boundaries of rock with their atmospheric, understated full length debut, Murmur, which Rolling Stone ranked as the best album of '83.
What were some of your favorite tunes from 1983?