If you ask me the entire decade of the 1980s was iconic. It was the decade that knew exactly what it was, and made no apologies for any shortcomings - of which there were absolutely none anyway.
But everybody loves a list - most of all me! - and I wanted to lay down a shortlist of iconic outfits from the singers & bands who brought us some of the best moments in '80s music. So let's see what makes this list...
#10. Wham! | Choose Life (Because Death Is So '70s)
Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go (1984) was the first song from George Michael & Andrew Ridgeley to really make it big. What a coinkidink it is then that it should come from their 2nd album, fortuitously named Make It Big. The music video for Go-Go had the guys & their eleventy-seventy backup singers & musicians in an all white affair that highlighted Katherine Hamnett's 'Choose Life' shirts. I'm not 100% sure exactly what the shirts were trying to say. Is it terrible of me that I don't really care? Meh, it's all about the song, and this song is on pretty much every '80s playlist ever in the history of '80s playlists... ever.
#9. AC/DC | Angus Young, Forever Young (Therapist Required, Immediate Start)
Gotta love a bit of the ol' Acca Dacca on a 'best of' list, ey mate? I'm not sure why but I become a complete bogan when I'm talking about Aussie rock bands like AC/DC. They've never really been my bag, but I can appreciate the place they hold in some people's hearts. All I need now is a Bundy Rum & a pack of Winnie Reds strategically placed on my persons. But I digress...
... Angus Young. Rock legend. Wore schoolboy uniforms on stage. Made it his thing. Yadda yadda yadda. Oh, and onya Ango!
#8. Jessica Rabbit | Extra! Extra! Fears For Toon Wardrobe Malfunction!
This one's bound to be controversial, but I don't care. Mrs Rabbit did for cabaret dresses what Limahl did for frosty tips... took them to a whole new level. And she's a TOON! When Who Framed Roger Rabbit hit our screens in 1988, I doubt there was a man alive who was prepared for the feelings he was about to feel towards a drawing. Jessica Rabbit stepped out from behind the velvet curtain & proceeded to slink her way around the stage wearing a sparkly red dress with a plunging neckline that no humanoid would ever dare go near. She then proceeded to deliver a cracker of a cabaret song, with a sleek & sexy voice Marilyn Monroe would be jealous of. That sultry toon!
#7. Olivia Newton-John | Let's Get... Comfortable While We Watch People Exercise
If there's one thing we loved in the '80s, it was EXERCISE! Aerobics. Jazzercise. Aerobercise. Jazzeraerobercisics. Australia's own Livvy got in on the exercise craze early. And who could blame her? She hailed from a country where it was customary to watch 'Aerobics Oz Style' every morning as you ate breakfast. And yes, the irony of that was indeed completely lost on each and every one of us. Physical (1981) was a huge hit for Olivia Newton-John, and for better or for worse it marked the beginning of a decade long fascination with sweatbands, leg warmers, and all fabrics synthetic.
#6. Prince | Purple...©
I feel like Prince is haunting me from the grave. First I had to come clean on my general lack of interest in Prince growing up, and now I'm being forced to accept that His Holy Purpleness took a whole damn colour from the spectrum to be his own personal bitch. I just feel like he's winding me up to concede he was some kind of rock God or something, when in all honesty... I just feel like he never really came to grips with the incredibly long stick that resided up his very short ass. (Too soon?)
I do, however, applaud the sheer audacity of anyone who would build their career and public image around a defenceless secondary colour - a colour which, I might add, is commonly known to be the colour of sexual frustration. So, you know, that whole Love Sexy Love God Sexy Love Symbol God Sexy God Love God thing you had going on Prince... you weren't fooling me.
#5. Robert Palmer | The Robert Palmer Girls
Ok, so yes.. yes.. we could get ourselves all riled up in a feminist frenzy over the Robert Palmer Girls. Just the fact that they're known as 'The Robert Palmer Girls' is dipping our toes into waters that taste of bitter subservience. But visually... I'm kinda down with the late, great Robert Palmer's use of sexy mute babes in slinky coordinated dresses with blush addictions. <shrugs>
The Robert Palmer Girls were first 'used' in the video for Addicted To Love (1985), and again for Simply Irresistible (1988). There was also a cheeky Pepsi commercial or 6 that capitalised on the strength of those girls' ability to infiltrate popular culture. These videos have been parodied eleventy seventy times, and also provide an ideal costume choice for girl squads with bangin' bods and all their fancy dress party needs.
#4. Cher | A Few Strips Of Strategically Placed Fabric
Oh Cher. Ohhhh Cher. If I was wearing a hat right now I would take it off to you, or at the very least I would tip it in the general direction of the screen in your honour. It takes a brave, brave woah-man to pop that item (barely) over her body and head out to perform for a bunch of Navy lads. Maybe there's a perfectly logical explanation behind this outfit, a story that has remained untold all these years. Maybe there was strict luggage restrictions on visitors to Naval vessels? Maybe she just needed a little number that she could roll up easily & pop into her carry-on, that was also made of a fabric that allowed the skin to breathe? Perhaps we'll never know. But we ALL know Cher, and this daring outfit, thus cementing a place in iconic getup history.
#3. George Michael | An Era Of Great Faith
George Michael's style in the era of his uber-popular album Faith (1987) is your classic 'stud-muffin-hello-boys-got-it-goin-on' style. Aint nothin' wrong with a guitar-toting dude in a leather bikers jacket (collar UP please), ripped jeans and a pair of mirrored aviators. No sir. Nothin' wrong with that at all. It's all so deliciously iconic, and there's quite a few little pop starlet boyz getting around today that could take a leaf or twenty out of George Michael's book of suave. Could we also please take a moment (like the many moments we took in the '80s) to appreciate that butt?! Take note lads, because THAT is how you do sex-god. <coughPRINCEcough>.
#2. Madonna | Desperately Seeking Madonna's Outfit
... because it is SO INCREDIBLY COOL! This was the outfit Madonna wore when she added movie star to her resume. Desperately Seeking Susan (1985) is actually a pretty decent '80s movie - just not as good as Who's That Girl (1987) IMHO. And while it was really really REALLY hard to narrow Madonna's iconic fashion moments down to just one, I couldn't go past this particular ensemble. There was enormous publicity surrounding this movie, and these images combined all of Madonna's great '80s style into one iconic outfit. You have to take into consideration the accessories & hair. It's. Just. So. '80s! I understand this will be a slightly controversial decision - the Like A Virgin 'boy toy' wedding dress; the Crazy For You mesh top & hair tied up with a rag; the Dress You Up jacket, fingerless gloves & mini-skirt with 3/4 length purple tights (it's a wonder Prince didn't sue her for copyright infringement) were all worthy contenders - but I'm ready to stand by it.
#1. Michael Jackson | Red Jacket With All The Thrill(er)s
Let's be honest, by the end of his time here on Earth he had become pretty strange. I can't think of a more complex celebrity than Michael Jackson (except for maybe Kanye West, but I really do try to just ignore his entire existence). If you take away all of the weirdness of Whacko Jacko, you're left with a truly brilliant career. And many of the greatest moments happened in the '80s.
Just lately I've been watching some MJ videos from the vault of times gone by, and nobody could deny his incredible talent. And just like Madge, Mickey J was at the forefront of fashion & style when he was at his best - both truly individual and truly ground-breaking. And again, just like Madonna, there's so many trademark pieces that we could just as easily slip into this number one spot - the bedazzled white glove, the Bad leathers, the phase he went through when he took style inspiration from royal families from around the world - but for me the red leather ensemble from Thriller trumps them all.
You don't need me to repeat all those things about Thriller that have been said a million times already. It was a pivotal moment in pop music history, and the red leather is well-deserved of our #1 spot.
It wouldn't be a Top 10 +1 if there wasn't a +1 (said Captain Obvious to the You Don't Say Fairy), and today I'm sticking a little easter egg in here for my fellow Aussies...
+ 1. Molly Meldrum | You Can Leave Your Hat On
Molly is a true blue, fair dinkum, ridgey didge Aussie icon. And this iconic Australian is rarely seen without his iconic hat atop his iconic head.
Molly Meldrum is all of the iconic you can handle, and we proudly honour the +1 on his invitation.