The Best and Worst Musician Hairstyles From The ’80s
It’s hard to pinpoint a decade that was gaudier than the ‘80s. What we do know is that hairspray manufacturers were probably thrilled. As for the rest of us? Not so much. Looking back on ‘80s hair is like staring into an embarrassing high school yearbook photo. How could we have been steered so wrong?
Among the biggest perpetrators were musicians. Artists like Cyndi Lauper used the decade’s wild hair trends to experiment with their creativity, while others like Flock of Seagulls led us to believe no one actually knew what was going on. These are the best and worst haircuts that ever graced heads of ‘80s musicians. Hundreds of centuries from now, the aliens that find our shattered planet will ask: what the heck?
Yes, Cyndi Lauper’s Hair Looked Like This
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Cyndi Lauper’s hair is as fun as her music. In the ‘80s, she was a trailblazer and one of the few pop stars who was never afraid to experiment with fashion — wild hair colors included. Who else could make highlighter yellow bangs look that good?
Throughout the decade, Lauper donned a bright ginger shade and finished the look with intense teasing and an inordinate amount of hairspray. What would an ‘80s pop star be without it? Today, the 60-something singer’s look is a bit toned down, but her hair is still a defiant shade of pink. “I’ve done quite a bit,” Lauper told Allure about her looks across the decades. “I started with green. [It was] St. Patrick’s Day [and] I wanted my hair to match with my dress so I went with a food color. I’ve had all different colors.”
No One Rocked an Edgy Ponytail Quite Like Madonna
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The Queen of Pop doesn’t just have a discography filled with classic hits like “Borderline” and “Like A Virgin.” Madonna gave us one of the 1980s most iconic hairstyles: that teased out bleach blonde hair with a carefully chosen headwrap or bow. Never has the ponytail looked so edgy.
Madonna may be famous for a few things (think: inventing the Vogue, her scandalous coffee table book, that weird British accent she briefly adopted), but she’s rarely recognized for making brunette roots look intentional on bleach blonde hair. It’s a feat if you ask us. Even today, the star stretches her salon visits and inspires us to ditch out on the every-six-week rule.
Mike Score (Flock of Seagulls) Had One of the Most Iconic Hairstyles of the ’80s
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Mike Score possessed one of the most infamous hairstyles of the ‘80s. In fact, it was so bad that it actually bordered on amazing. Let’s be real: looking like a flapping seagull is stuck to your head kind of works if your band is called Flock of Seagulls. Score even looks back on the bad hair fondly.
“The hairstyle is an icon of its time, and people remember it and want to know [about it],” Score told Penny Black Music. “It used to piss me off, but now I don’t really care. It was me then; a real space cadet. I loved it. It brought us the attention we needed.”
Sigue Sigue Sputnik Donned Magenta Extensions
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Sigue Sigue Sputnik was chewed up and spit out of the ‘80s pop scene faster than a can of hairspray. The British duo exploded into fame in 1986 towing the biggest, brightest hair the decade had ever seen (rivaled only by future MySpace queens who were probably still growing in their mother’s wombs at the time the band scored their £1 million record deal with EMI). But three months later, they disappeared into obscurity.
So what happened to the band? Apparently, they spent their EMI record advance on “sending roadies to the supermarket in limousines.” While some of the other members tried to remain in the industry, Martin Degville branched out and starred in an adult film. Sadly, none of them appear to have kept their magenta extensions.
Siouxsie Sioux’s Wild Locks
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Siouxsie Sioux rose to fame with her defiant post-punk band Siouxsie and the Banshees. She was such an art school icon that she was referenced in the 1987 Dead Milkmen song “Instant Club Hit (You’ll Dance To Anything),” which aimed to satirized alternative culture.
Siouxsie had a classic goth style, often donning fishnets, combat boots, and studded leather collars and wristbands. Her light complexion and thick, dramatic eye makeup borrowed from silent film stars like Cleopatra’s Theda Bara, but her most striking feature was her dark, backcombed hair. It seems almost impossible for that style to exist outside of the decade.
Robert Smith Was a Goth Poster Child of the ’80s
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Like Siouxsie, Robert Smith was a goth poster child of the ‘80s. The Cure frontman’s signature hair became almost as recognizable as any one of his hits. There’s something about his smeared red lipstick and tangled mop of black locks that bizarrely clashes against the upbeat, hopeful sounding arrangements of “Friday I’m In Love” and “Just Like Heaven.” It’s doesn’t make sense, but that’s part of what made the Cure one of the most recognizable goth bands (if not the most recognizable goth band) of all time.
Unlike Siouxsie, who opted for a sleeker style later in life, Smith has never shied away from his signature look. As long as he’s got the hairspray budget, why fix what isn’t broken?
Boy George Was Known For His Outlandish Hair and Hat Collection
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Boy George never left the spotlight (he’s currently serving as a coach on The Voice and mingling with a few of Bravo’s Housewives), but his hair went into retirement not so long ago. The Culture Club icon was known for his oh-so-‘80s hairstyles and collection of bizarre hats.
Today, the star has a few less strands (chalk it up to age, though he’s been subject to some hair transplant rumors). His short, grey crop has us missing the gaudy extensions of the ‘80s and the teased-out drama, but don’t worry, he still has all of his hats.
Kid ‘N Play Kept It Cool
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Kid ‘N Play is an example of the ‘80s gone good. It’s all of the drama and all of the fun with none of the mess. Unlike the flowing, unkempt locks of the majority of ‘80s artists, the comedy hip-hop duo kept their ‘dos under extreme control.
During the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, hi-top fades became trendy in the hip hop community, largely trail blazed by the New York outfit who were already popular enough to have their own NBC Saturday Morning Cartoon. Kid N’ Play spent the decade climbing the charts with their singles “Rollin’ with Kid ‘N Play” and “Funhouse” until they reached the very top. In 1990, “Funhouse” hit No. 1 on the Billboard rap singles chart. The higher the hair the closer to No. 1, right?
Kim Wilde’s Mullet Was Feminine Yet Edgy
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Kim Wilde burst into the ‘80s with her debut single “Kids in America.” The song hit No. 2 in the UK and she later received the Brit Award for Best British Solo Artist. Since then, she became the most-charted British solo female artist of the entire decade. A whopping 25 of her singles hit the Top 50 in the UK singles chart, she’s sold 10 million albums worldwide, and somehow branched out from music to become a gardener.
The thing about Kim Wilde was that she was always sensible, and this was evident in her ‘80s mullet. It was soft and wavy enough to lend an air of femininity to her look, but edgy enough to keep us guessing. It was simultaneously safe and dangerous. She almost makes us want to bring back the look until we realize it’s 2018, and mullets are better left in the ‘80s.
What Was Going On With Toyah Willcox’s Hair?
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Toyah Willcox’s hair is that strange part of ‘80s fashion where no one knew exactly what was going and just went with it anyway. It’s like looking at your high school yearbook and wondering what the heck you were thinking.
Willcox kept a bold, Cyndi Lauper shade of orange, but made it 100 times bigger than Lauper could have dreamed. Beyond her intense, teased-out look, she loved to play around with blunt, choppy layers (you know, the kind your mom gives you when she cuts your hair with the kitchen singers, but Willcox’s were an intentional statement). Today, the star is still playing gigs, but she’s chilled out with the Manic Panic and hairspray. She looks even better at 60 than she did in her youth, but such is the power of abandoning a wild ‘80s cut.
Beki Bondage Still Experiments With Alternative Hairstyles
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You may have not heard of Vice Squad, but the punk band has been kicking since 1978. The band’s debut single “Last Rockers” sold a mere 20,000 copies in 1981, but their followup reached No. 4 on the UK indie charts. That same year, the punkers signed with EMI. They’re still playing music today.
Singer Beki Bondage has always experimented with alternative hairstyles. Today, she opts for long, pink waves, but in the ‘80s, the star was tickled blue. She had both the blue-streaked, backcombed hairstyle pictured above (the literal embodiment of ‘80s punk, if a hairstyle could speak for a whole decade) and a fully turquoise crimped crop.
Dee Snider Knows a Thing or Two About Glam
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What would the ‘80s be without hair metal? Dee Snider was among the glammiest of the glam rockers, if only for his flowing, bleach blond perm (we’re not even getting into the full face of drag makeup).
Snider is as famous for his singing as he is for his long, curly hair, which he’s kept for decades. Apparently, there was something in the drugs passed around by ‘80s hair metal bands that made them skirt male pattern baldness (or maybe it’s just some well-placed plugs). Either way, Snider is an icon.
Stryper Oozed ’80s Appeal
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Christian metal doesn’t scream “good hair,” but Stryper somehow oozed ‘80s cool. And here the rest of us were at youth grouping holding hands in the prayer circle.
The California-based metal band rose to fame in the mid-’80s and their album To Hell with the Devil went platinum. They scored two more gold albums before calling it quits in 1992. Today, Stryper have an updated version of their wild ‘80s haircuts — at least most of them. They enlisted Perry Richardson for bass duties, who upped their hair metal vibes tenfold when he joined in 2017. It just goes to show you, you can outlive hair metal, but it can’t outlive you.
Milli Vanilli Had Some of the Best Hair In the ’80s
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The rise and fall of Milli Vanilli is one for the history books. The Munich-based outfit was stripped of their Grammy Award after they were caught lip-syncing (in a horror Ashlee Simpson relieved over a decade later). The band then lost a class action lawsuit originally filed by an Ohio fan who purchased “Girl You Know It’s True.” 10 million buyers were eligible for a refund. Couple this with the fact that the album featuring their own voices only sold 2,000 copies and the group was penniless.
There is one thing that wasn’t disastrous for Fab Morvan and Rob Pilatus: their hair was some of the best the ‘80s ever saw. So what if they lip-synched? They looked good doing it, and you can’t fake that.
Let’s Not Forget About Bono’s Mullet
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We’ve known Bono is, for lack of better words, very Bono (he’s always been that way), but at one point that way include an insane ‘80s mullet? Long before Bono donned gem-colored spectacles and forced iPhone users to have U2’s latest release, the singer’s hair was completely out of control.
Now, it’s tough to be too hard on him, since he raised millions for charity, but why are none of us remembering just how bad this haircut truly was? Or that it even happened? It feels like the Mandela Effect is shattering right before us. Even at 58 years old, the dude has a nice head of hair, but this was off the charts.
Adam Ant Was Very Into Hair Wraps
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With new wave comes new, insane hairstyles. Adam Ant of Adam and the Ants climbed the UK charts with a string of UK Top 10 hits between 1980 and 1983. It would make sense that someone with such wild hair formed his famed band in the audience at a Siouxsie and the Banshees concert. It takes one to know one, right?
We’re not totally sure what it was about the ‘80s that made people clip little multi-colored tendrils in their hair, but nonetheless, there must’ve been something in the water. Ant’s iconic ‘do borrows from the age-old tradition of hair wrapping, which was a favorite among teen girls who visited the Bahamas during the early aughts.
Exene Cervenka (X)
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Exene Cervenka is an institution. The singer, artist, and poet fronted the iconic California punk band X. Cervenka was a trailblazer for female musicians in the ‘80s punk scene and Rolling Stone rated X’s Los Angeles and Wild Gift as two of the 500 greatest albums of all time.
Cervenka adopted an eccentric style to match her writhing performances. Her hair is the middle ground between Robert Plant and Goldie Hawn and almost certainly makes us want to pick up a crimper. In this image, her wild locks are bordering on dreads. Girl can rock a chunky highlight and some bed head.
George Michael Hair Was Actually Pretty Enviable
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George Michael gifted us with one of the most iconic Christmas Songs of all time, only to be rivaled by Mariah Carey. So, which pop star is the true diva? It’s hard to tell. Mariah’s always got a perfectly tousled, blonde dye job, but then again, Michael isn’t too far off.
In the ‘80s, the Wham superstar had a highlighted mullet so fluffy and bouncy, Farrah Fawcett probably cried in envy. His swoops were as swooshy as Koosh Ball and remained perfectly coiffed through every high note and muscle tee. Michael will forever be the king of the blowdryer.
Sister Sledge Wasn’t Playing Games
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Sister Sledge wasn’t playing any games with their hairstyles in the ‘80s. The group rose to fame during the disco era with hits like “We Are Family” and “He’s The Greatest Dancer.” Though they continued their success throughout the arguable gaudiest decade that ever existed in fashion, they opted to keep the hairspray to a minimum and skip out on the backcombing that plagued the era.
Sister Sledge is proof that not every hairstyle in the ‘80s was ridiculous. In fact, the hairstyles in this photo could be rocked by Instagram models today. How can you deny perfect curls, sleek braids, and tousled waves? It’s timeless when most ‘80s beauty trends were (thankfully) not.
Pat Benatar Rocked a Mullet
Pat Benatar reigned supreme in the ’80s and beyond. The four-time Grammy winner has had 15 Billboard Top 40 singles including hits like “Hit Me With Your Best Shot,” “Love Is a Battlefield,” and “We Belong.”
Benatar was bold when it came to her music and her style. She pushed the boundaries when it came to fashion but managed to come out of the decade relatively free of fashion mistakes. She rocked a feathery mullet that perfectly mixed feminity and edge. These days she’s growing out her locks and rocks a more age-appropriate style, but we think she culd still pill of her look from yesteryear.