Match the bestselling '80s album to the band that made it

John Miller

About This Quiz

From big hair to big ballads, the '80s were packed with major artists who are still raking in millions of dollars thanks to the power of their biggest albums of the decade. Can you match these popular '80s records to the artists who made them?


"Thriller" wasn't just an album -- it was a cultural phenomenon. Michael Jackson's signature album was number one for two consecutive years ('83-84) and in many ways altered the pop music landscape.

"Born in the U.S.A."

Bruce Springsteen has had an unbelievable run of success in the past few decades, but "Born in the U.S.A." is his best-selling album. It's sold more than 30 million copies and is still regarded by critics as one of the most accomplished rock albums ever.


In 1983, The Police unveiled "Synchronicity," which featured hits like "Every Breath You Take," and "King of Pain." It was such a great album that for a few seconds people forgot about Michael Jackson.

"The Wall"

"The Wall" is one of the most famous (and depressing) albums of all-time, created by introspective rock band Pink Floyd. Released in 1979, it became one of the best-selling albums of the early '80s.

"The Joshua Tree"

U2 was already a big band before it released "The Joshua Tree." But this album rocketed the Irish group into superstar status, where they've remained ever since.

"Slippery When Wet"

In 1986, "Slippery When Wet" blew up radios around the world and jumpstarted the (still prolific) careers of the men in Bon Jovi. It featured timeless tracks like "Wanted Dead or Alive" and "Livin' on a Prayer."

"Ride the Lightning"

1984's "Ride the Lightning" was Metallica's second album, and it received almost no marketing support from the studio. But the album eventually sold more than 6 million copies and left a permanent mark on the evolution of rock.

"Appetite for Destruction"

Iconic songs like "Don't Cry" and "You Could Be Mine" were written in time for inclusion on Guns N' Roses' "Appetite for Destruction," but the guys back held back those singles for later release. No matter -- "Appetite" still became one of the best-selling albums in music history.

"…And Justice For All"

"…And Justice For All" went platinum eight times over for Metallica, and for good reason. It featured some of the finest thrash metal of the decade, including an iconic, despairing song titled "One."

"Pretty Hate Machine"

Nine Inch Nails is often regarded as a '90s act, but Trent Reznor's debut album was actually released in 1989. It features "Head Like a Hole," a hit song that helped introduce industrial rock to millions of new fans.


George Michael opted to leave the popular duo named Wham! and then record "Faith" as his first solo album, a record targeted at a more adult audience. It features an amazing six top-five singles including "One More Try" and "Father Figure."


The media hysteria over the auto accident that claimed the arm of Def Leppard drummer Rick Allen contributed to the making of the band's "Hysteria," an album that produced seven huge hits. It sold more than 25 million copies around the world.

"Rhythm Nation 1814"

Michael who? Janet Jackson proved her music industry mettle with "Rhythm Nation 1814," which is often cited as her best album. It contains songs like "Miss You Much," "Escapade" and "Black Cat."

Whitney Houston

"Whitney Houston" is, of course, the self-titled album from the late diva who ruled the '80s and early '90s. It was the first album by a solo female artist to yield three number-one hits.

"Master of Puppets"

Before Metallica became a caricature of itself, it was a monument to thrash metal. "Master of Puppets" found the band peaking, and this album became the first thrash record to go platinum.

"It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back"

In 1988, Public Enemy released "It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back," the group's second studio album. The record was on the Billboard charts for nearly a year and is now regarded as one of the most influential albums ever recorded.


"Asia" is the self-titled album by the band of the same name. It was the number one album of '82 thanks in large part to a memorable hit called "Heat of the Moment."


Paul Simon released "Graceland" in 1986 and it became his best-selling studio album. The record features a variety of African musical styles and sold amazingly well, moving more than 16 million copies.

"Paul's Boutique"

In 1989, the Beastie Boys released "Paul's Boutique," which featured almost entirely sampled music. At first, it didn't sell very well, but it's now regarded as a landmark album by one of the best hip-hop groups ever.

"Don't Be Cruel"

Bobby Brown had only one number one hit in his solo career, and it appeared on 1988's "Don't Be Cruel." That hit was "My Prerogative," and it was one of five top 10 hits from Brown's second solo album.

"No Jacket Required"

In 1986, Phil Collins' "No Jacket Required" won a Grammy for album of the year and sold millions of copies. It had hits like "One More Night," "Don’t Lose My Number" and "Take Me Home."

"Hi Infidelity"

"Keep on Loving You" is a number one hit from "Hi Infidelity," by REO Speedwagon. The album was a huge success in 1981 and ultimately wound up going platinum 10 times.

"Nothing's Shocking"

Alternative rock gathered steam thanks to Jane's Addiction's "Nothing's Shocking." "Jane Says" and "Mountain Song" were singles that opened America's eyes to new types of modern rock.

"True Blue"

Madonna was a romantic in the '80s -- she dedicated "True Blue" to her (now ex) husband Sean Penn. It was the best-selling album in the entire world in 1986, thanks to the strength of tracks like "Papa Don't Preach" and "Live to Tell."


"Pyromania" found Def Leppard trading heavy metal for the glam metal that made became so famous during the '80s. The album had huge hits like "Photograph" and "Foolin.'"

"Back in Black"

"Mutt" Lange produced some of the biggest rock albums of the '80s, including AC/DC's "Back in Black." With some of the most iconic hits in rock history ("Back in Black," "You Shook Me All Night Long") it sold more than 50 million copies.

"Licensed to Ill"

In '86, the Beastie Boys unveiled "Licensed to Ill," which became the first rap album ever to top the Billboard charts. It features "Brass Monkey," one of the band's most famous songs.

"3 Feet High and Rising"

In 1989, De La Soul gave the world "3 Feet High and Rising," a rap album for the ages. Songs like "Me Myself and I," and "Buddy" propelled the group to instant fame and turned hip-hop inside out.

"Diamond Life"

Sade released its first album in 1984 to worldwide commercial and critical acclaim. It sold more than 6 million copies due to hits like "Your Love is King" and "Smooth Operator."

"The Unforgettable Fire"

By 1984, U2 could have ridden rock glory to everlasting fame. Instead, to broaden its horizons, the band switched artistic directions on "The Unforgettable Fire." The result was an album that lacked hits but proved U2 was in the industry for the long run.

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