New wave, punk rock, synth pop, hair bands and more defined music in the 1980s.

The decade also saw the rise of hip-hop, giving a new generation a voice and sound for the first time.

Perhaps the most unusual, and polarizing decade of music history, the decade saw some of the best modern music — as well as some of the most questionable.

Celebrating one of my favorite decades in music, Jon Pompia and I will look at the 10 best albums of the 1980s.

Here is my list, in no particular order:

Luke: “Purple Rain” by Prince. The soundtrack to the film of the same name is Prince’s most commercial, and most critically acclaimed work. “Purple Rain” features the seminal title track, the rocking anthem “Let’s Go Crazy,” the moody “When Doves Cry” as well as tunes like “I Would Die 4 U” and “Darling Nikki.” From start to finish, the album is near perfect, making its inclusion to this list easy.

Jon: Although this didn't make my list, I dare not doubt the purple power contained within its glorious grooves. In the cream of my college career, this record, and its creator, were simply inescapable. Although I don't listen much to the disc in its entirety these days, the endless spins have committed the best parts to eternal memory. Oh, and when doves cry: it sounds like massively processed electronic drums and a tinkling synth, right?

Luke: “Raising Hell” by Run DMC. Though tricky to rock a rhyme right on time, Run DMC was one of the early masters of doing so. The trio released this album in 1986, featuring hits like “”It’s Tricky,” “Adidas,” “You Be Illin’” and “Walk This Way.” The latter was one of the first collaboration between a hip hop artist or group and rock and roll band, as Run DMC partnered with Aerosmith. The album is one of hip hop’s most influential.

Jon: Fantastic record and a rightful selection for the best of the decade. Although (hopefully) not intentional, the remake of "Walk This Way" effectively resurrected the career of Aerosmith, who have been inflicting mediocre blandness on the listening world ever since. Fun fact: Two decades after the song's release, The Knack sued Run DMC for using the riff to "My Sharona" in "It's Tricky" without permission.

Luke: “Licensed to Ill” by Beastie Boys. Another 1986 hip hop release would forever change the genre. “Licensed to Ill” by The Beastie Boys was the debut album from the legendary hip hop trio from Brooklyn. The disc featured the group’s breakout hit “Fight For Your Right,” which became an MTV hit and an anthem to 80s partiers. “Licensed to Ill” also featured the rap-rock track “No Sleep ‘Till Brooklyn,” the catchy “Brass Monkey” and the silly and whimsical “Girls.” The album still holds up today, making it one of the decade's most influential and best.

Jon: This would have been on my list had Luke not beat me to the punch. Unrivaled in its innovative merging of rock, rap, hip hop and go-go, "Licensed" sounds as fresh today as when it rolled out of the Def Jam stable. From the get-go, these New Yorkers were too cool for school and never relinquished the crown. If you're a Beasties fan, do yourself a favor and track down the recently released "Beastie Boys Book," a fascinating 590-page look into the amazing history of the greatest rap act of all time.

Luke: “Straight Outta Compton” by N.W.A. Hip hop evolved to a harder, edgier genre late in the decade. N.W.A. featuring Eazy E, Dr. Dre and Ice Cube, were one of the first major rap groups. The group’s debut album, “Straight Outta Compton,” became one of the most influential albums, ever. The disc featured the title track, as well as hits like “Express Yourself” and “Gangsta, Gangsta.” The group was one of the first to take hip hop sensibilities and to rhyme about life on the streets over it. N.W.A’s influence is still visible in rap today, giving way to the Eminens, Jay-Zs, Tupacs and Notorious B.I.G.s of the world.

Jon: I always considered this record to be the "Revolver" of the modern era. Just like that seminal Beatles disc changed the way popular music was forever viewed, "Compton" brutally rewrote the rules of not only rap but music in general. In production, lyrics and attitude, there was nothing to compare it to before and arguably, nothing to rival it since. For a laugh, track down the "clean" version of this classic release.

Luke: “Remain in Light” by Talking Heads. On the opposite end of the music spectrum existed Talking Heads. Lead singer David Byrne was struggling with writer’s block while writing “Remain the Light.” After adopting a “stream-of-conscious” style, he created one of the best songs of the 80s: “Once in a Lifetime.” Not-quite-punk-rock and not-quite-new-wave, Talking Heads crafted a unique sound, marking them as one of the decade's best. This album is some of the group’s best overall work, warranting them a spot on the list.

Jon: If "Once in a Lifetime" was the only song on this record, I would still argue for its inclusion on a "best of" list. No one but Byrne and company (including co-writer Brian Eno) could come up with something that's at once funky, bizarre, catchy and timeless. Ranting like a deranged preacher, Byrne goes on about a "shotgun shack," "a large automobile" and "a beautiful wife." It's truly one of rock's greatest moments, accented by the equally unhinged video made to promote it.

Luke: “Rio” by Duran, Duran. With 80s hits like “Rio” and “Hungry Like the Wolf,” this 1982 album was one of the biggest new wave and synth-pop albums of the decade. The album would reach as high as No. 6 on Billboard, and would earn double platinum status. Along with the album’s two best known songs, tunes like “My Own Way” and “Lonely In Your Nightmare” hold their own and bolster this stellar album.

Jon: Unashamedly, my bromance with Duran Duran was intense if not short lived. For a brief moment in time, DD was indeed the Fab Five, thanks in large part to this career-making disc and the band's matinee-idol looks and unparalleled sense of fashion. Painfully aware that I was nowhere near as strikingly handsome as the least attractive member of the band, I did attempt to replicate the Euro-style of fashion. But on college kid's tight budget and shopping options limited to Alamosa thrift stores, I predictably failed miserably. But to this day, the haunting "Save a Prayer" from this release is a regular on my digital mixtapes.

Luke: “Disintegration” by The Cure. It was extremely difficult to pick which Cure album to add to this list. I went with “Disintegration” because of the strength of songs like the title track, “Pictures of You,” “Lullaby” and “Lovesong.” Songs like “Homesick” and “Prayers for Rain” only add this emotional, light new-wavish sound. Plus, how can you go wrong with Robert Smith’s mesmerizing vocals?

Jon: During my personal dark times when misery loves company, this disc was a welcome ally. I'll agree that this is the strongest album in the Cure's extensive catalogue, with the haunting "Lullaby" and "Fascination Street" at the top of my personal list of favorites.

Luke: “Speak and Spell” by Depeche Mode. I included this album on my list of albums I’d take to a desert island. My favorite synth pop and electro band from the 80s, Depeche Mode have crafted one of the greatest careers of any new wave group. The album still holds up, bolstered by the group’s breakout hit “Just Can’t Get Enough.” If you’re a fan of electronic music, this is mecca, of sorts.

Jon: I'll agree on the band but not on this disc. Yes, "Just Can't Get Enough" remains a quirky classic, but I feel DM hit their stride after Vince Clarke left and Martin Gore took over songwriting duties. Far more mighty and awesome than this are, in descending order, "Black Celebration," "Music for the Masses" and "Some Great Reward."

Luke: “Like a Virgin” by Madonna. Another tough choice, as Madonna released at least four records that could be considered for this list in the 1980s. “Like a Virgin” features the title track, “Material Girl,” “Angel,” “Love Don’t Live Here Anymore” and “Dress You Up” — all hits. The 1985 re-release of the album featured another hit, “Into the Groove.” Madonna shaped a generation of singers in the 80s and 90s, from Tiffany to Britney Spears. “Like a Virgin” was a hit, helping to launch Madonna into legend status.

Jon: Outstanding choice, as this record effectively defined 80s synth-based dance and pop music. Although Madonna's self titled debut is strong, this one rightly made the Michigan native a worldwide star. Like Duran Duran, I have no qualms about touting my love and appreciation for Madonna, at least in this phase before she got too big for her sequined britches.

Luke: “Songs from the Big Chair” by Tears for Fears. Tears for Fears is one of my favorite bands from the 1980s. This album contains the groups three biggest hits: “Shout,” “Everybody Wants to the Rule the World” and “Head Over Heels.” However, songs like “Mothers Talk,” “Broken,” I Believe” and “Listen” only add to the album’s depth. The disc reached No. 1 on the charts in the United States and Canada. It sat atop the charts in the U.S. for five weeks, and spent more than six months in the top 0. Many of the album’s tracks have been key parts of movie soundtracks, and Tears for Fears still tours today. There’s no way you can have a list of the best albums of the 80s without this disc.

Jon: As this was on my desert island disc list, I feel no need to rehash my undying appreciation for it. Rather, I'd like to turn your attention to the album, "The Hurting," that preceded it, and the one, "Sowing the Seeds of Love" that followed. Both are underappreciated classics and deserving of a revisit, if you haven't listened in a while. "The Hurting," of course, boasts the original version of "Mad World," with the title track of the latter the closest any modern group ever got to the trippy beauty of The Beatles, circa 1967.

READERS' CHOICES

Fred Raub's top 80 albums:

"Escape," Journey; "4" by Foreigner; "Hi Infidelity," REO Speedwagon; "Paradise Theater," Styx; "Back in Black," AC/DC; "Pyromania," Def Leppard; "Touch," Touch; "Dr. Feelgood," Motley Crue; "5150," Van Halen; "Purple Rain," Prince

Trinidad disc jockey Eli DeBono's overlooked 1970s' songs:

"Jackie Blue," Ozark Mountain Daredevils; "30 Days in the Hole," Humble Pie; "Isn't It Time," The Babys; "Ride Captain Ride," Blues Image; "Ballroom Blitz," Sweet; "Heartbeat It's a Lovebeat," DeFranco Family; "I Just Want to Celebrate," Rare Earth; "Easy Livin,'" Uriah Heep; "I Think I Love You," Partridge Family; "I Love Music," "The O'Jays

Tell us your top-10. Email llyons@chieftain.com or jpompia@chieftain.com and we may include your list in an upcoming edition.

Follow us on Twitter: @luke_lyons14 and @jpompia@chieftain.com