As the feature film Wonder Woman 1984 has just been released we take a look back at the wonder women of music from 1984.
As Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman 1984 seems to be everywhere at the moment we thought we'd take a look back at the wonder women of music back in 1984. DC Comics inspirational character is strong, independent and driven, a quality possessed by our top ten female artists from 1984. Back then the UK had a woman PM (Let's not get into whether she was ever wonderful), the women of Tenko were still plotting their escape, Juliet Bravo was keeping the streets of Hartley safe and Miss Ellie, Sue Ellen and Pam were still keeping the men folk of Dallas in check. 1984 was also the year of Band Aid, Footloose, Ghostbusters and Frankie Goes To Hollywood. All girl groups were more popular than ever with Sister Sledge, The Pointer Sisters, The Weather Girls and Bananarama all making a significant contribution to the music of 1984. Other acts to feature a female lead also made their mark; Annie Lennox as part of Eurythmics, Alannah Currie as part of The Thompson Twins and Elizabeth Fraser (arguably the voice of a generation) with The Cocteau Twins. Today though we are focusing on the individual and wow what an incredible cast we've assembled.
Madonna in 1984. Picture by James Colburn.
1984 was a stellar year for Madge. She was already a force to be reckoned with going into 1984 but she certainly consolidated her position and more during the year. Madonna had hits with Lucky Star, Borderline and then Like A Virgin. The latter single was an instant, although somewhat controversial, success and fuelled sales of her second album that shared it's name. Madonna also found time in the summer of '84 to film Desperately Seeking Susan with Rosanna Arquette in New York. From 1984 onwards Madonna never looked back, becoming the biggest selling solo female artist of all time.
Tina Turner went from very well respected and highly regarded to global megastar in 1984 following the release of her iconic album, Private Dancer. Turner's fifth studio album was a World wide success story going multi-platinum all over the globe. In total Private Dancer gave rise to seven singles, four of which were released in 1984. They were, in order, Help, What's Love Got To Do With It?, Better Be Good To Me and finally in October of that year the title track, Private Dancer. The album not only sold well, it was critically acclaimed and it also won four Grammy's.
Back in 1984 Sade practically had a genre all to herself, she was the very essence of soulful chic. Sade defined an era, soundtracked a moment in time and stood out as an individual artist unconcerned with conforming to the norms of the day. Sade's sultry, sexy, soft and soulful style were like nothing else around, certainly not in the commercial arena. You couldn't have a soiree or dinner party without Sade on in the background. Sade's 1984 debut album Diamond Life remains one of the best debut albums by a solo artist, practically every song, including the four singles, Smooth Operator, Your Love Is King, Hang On To Your Love and When Am I Going To Make A Living is superb.
Cyndi was all over 1984 mainly due to single releases from her breakthrough 1983 album, She's So Unusual. The album's best known track, Girls Just Want To Have Fun, a song first written and recorded in 1979 by Robert Hazard, enjoyed huge international success in 1984, prompting follow up singles Time After Time, She Bop, All Through The Night and Money Changes Everything. Cyndi won the inaugural MTV award for best 'Best Female Video' and the album went on to win two Grammy's.
Prince played a big part in Chaka Khan's success in 1984, having written the song she would make her own back in 1979 when he wrote I Feel For You. Khan's huge hit was transformed from Prince's original but still retained some of his hallmark touches. Chaka's single, and album of the same name, were one of many 1984 highlights that had an R&B disco flavour to them. I Feel For You was also enhanced by rapping from Melle Mel of Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five as well as some very slick production from Arif Mardin but it was Chaka Khan's vocal that stole the show.
Alison, formally one half of influential pop-synth duo Yazoo made a greater impact, at least commercially, when she went solo. In 1984 Moyet released her debut solo album Alf which went to number one in the UK and New Zealand as well as charting highly in many other countries. Of it's four singles, three charted in 1984 including the two, Love Resurrection and All Cried Out, that made the top ten. Moyet's distinctive, deep and rangy vocal helped define her sound, whether it was with Yazoo or as a solo artist, and it is that voice that continues to captivate to this day.
Gloria Gaynor released her 11th studio album, I Am Gloria Gaynor, back in 1984 spawning the ever affirming single I Am What I am. The Jerry Herman penned song was the biggest hit from the album turning Gloria Gaynor into something of a gay icon following the success of the song in clubs and on dance floors. Whilst Gloria's gay anthem never quite hit the highs of 1974's Never Can Say Goodbye or 1979's I Will Survive it remains a 1984 highlight and a Karaoke classic.
Laura Anne Branigan was an 80's sensation, she made her name with her single Gloria in 1982 and continued on from there. In 1984 Branigan contributed to the soundtrack of Ghostbusters having previously worked on 1983's Flashdance. 1984 though would see Laura release her biggest, platinum selling, album, Self Control. The title track was the album's first of five singles that also included Ti Amo.
Nena, and in particular her 99 Luftballons, or 99 Red Balloons, were something of a surprise in 1984. She, and they were a breathe of fresh air, bringing back a sense of fun to the charts. Nena, German singer-songwriter Gabriele Susanne Kerner, hit the UK charts in 1983 but reached number one in the UK in February of 1984 and number two in the US. Having formed her band in 1982 Nena went on to have more success in her native Germany but failed to repeat the enormous success of her chart topping single. No matter, 99 Red Balloons alone makes Nena a worthy entry.
Deniece benefited hugely from the popularity of the film Footloose with her massive hit, Let's Hear It For The Boy, a song that featured both on the soundtrack album and her album of the same name. The film, starring a youthful Kevin Bacon and Lori Singer, was huge in 1984 and Let's Hear It For The Boy hit number one in the US and number two in the UK. Williams also recorded with Johnny Mathis on the 1984 album A Special Part of Me as well as releasing two further singles that year, Love Won't Let Me Wait and Next Love.
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