1983 in music

See also: 1982 in music, other events of 1983, 1984 in music, 1980s in music and the list of 'years in music'



The most long-term influential release of 1983 is probably Head over Heels by the Cocteau Twins, which sold poorly upon its initial release. In the ensuing years, the album's eclectic assortment of alternative rock, New Wave and synth pop influences became a cornerstone of later alternative rock groups, most especially in the United Kingdom, where the Cocteau Twins' mix of airy textures and breathless vocals (dream pop) mutated into genres like twee pop, space rock and shoegazing, and eventually hit mainstream success with a psychedelic-influenced form, Britpop.

Another album that eventually became enormously influential is Kill 'Em All by Metallica. This, their debut, is often considered the first purely thrash metal album, and helped lead the way for the diversification of heavy metal genres in the later part of the decade. Kill 'Em All 's popular success was quite limited, though it received rave reviews from metal critics and fans for its then-unique blend of earlier heavy metal pioneers, especially the New Wave of British heavy metal like Judas Priest, and hardcore punk, such as The Ramones.

Quiet Riot's Metal Health was enormously popular in 1983, and was the first heavy metal album to go to #1 on the pop charts. The lead single, "Cum on Feel the Noize" (cover of Slade) was also a huge hit, and set the stage for the mainstream crossover of later hair metal bands like Guns n' Roses and Def Leppard. Metal Health is also the only album in Quiet Riot's catalogue to achieve much success critically or popularly.

The country music legend Kenny Rogers records his 23rd studio album "We've Got Tonight," which is his last album for Liberty records. He signs to RCA for a guaranteed sum of no less than $20 million for 6 albums, the biggest record deal of all-time up to that point. His earnings for those recordings will amount to even more, but no details have ever been made public.

Some releases from 1983 deserve special mention:

  • The Police's Synchronicity was their final release together before breaking up, and was enormously popular, including one of their more popular songs, "Every Breath You Take"
  • Culture Club's Kissing to Be Clever was their popular breakthrough, and included one of their most well-known songs, the hit single "Do You Really Want to Hurt Me"
  • Eurythmics' Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) was also their breakthrough success, and included their signature tune, the title track
  • Mötley Crüe's Shout at the Devil was their breakthrough, and included "Looks That Kill", though they would go on to greater popular and critical success in the later part of the decade after recovering from the shock of member Vince Neil's near-fatal car accident
  • Tom Waits' Swordfishtrombones was his first album for Island Records, and the first in a series of three thematically and stylistically linked albums that established him as a critical darling and cult favorite
  • New Order's Power, Corruption & Lies released. In some countries, it included the best-selling 12" record of all time, "Blue Monday"; the album was the second since forming from the ashes of Joy Division (after the suicide of Ian Curtis) and the first to achieve critical or popular success, as it was a stylistically innovative mix of synth vocals and dance-heavy beats
  • Duran Duran scored hits from three separate albums in this year (Rio, the reissue of Duran Duran, and Seven and the Ragged Tiger)
  • Merle Haggard began a run of chart success in this year, which continued for about two years. His duet album with Willie Nelson, Pancho & Lefty, was an enormous critical and popular success and did much to revitalize the careers of both entertainers, especially the hit title track
  • Stevie Ray Vaughan's Texas Flood was more popular than any blues album since the late 1960s, and did much to establish country-blues as a commercially viable genre
  • George Strait's Right or Wrong sold extremely well, and is a pivotal album in the development of the honky tonk revival during the rest of the decade.

Albums released

Top hits on record

See also: Hot 100 No. 1 Hits of 1983

Published popular music

Classical music


Musical theater

Musical films

Musical television




Grammy Awards

Country Music Association Awards

Eurovision Song Contest


List of No. 1 Hits


sv:Musikåret 1983


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