This week marks 30 years since Michael Jackson’s Bad album confirmed the King of Pop as one of the most successful artists of all time. But Jackson was not the only artist to produce a classic 1987 album. Both the Beastie Boys and Public Enemy enjoyed successful hip-hop breakthroughs, Bruce Springsteen released his ultimate break-up album, and the Morrissey/Marr partnership managed one last hurrah before consigning the Smiths to history.

To celebrate these releases, we asked readers to name their favourite albums from 1987 and explain why they still matter 30 years on.

Michael Jackson – Bad

It was an album worthy of breaking all records. What impresses me is the different genres of music all in one album. Liberian Girl was the first time I heard someone praising African women as beautiful in a song. The Bad video is also one of the most iconic. The wait for a follow up to Thriller was definitely worth it.

Prince – Sign o’ the Times

Prince performs during his Sign o’ the Times Tour in West Berlin, Germany
Prince performs during his Sign o’ the Times Tour in West Berlin, Germany Photograph: Andreas Schoelzel/AP

This album has got it all – synth-drums, funk, psychedelia, rock and mainstream pop, combined and curated in the idiosyncratic, slick and multifaceted style that only Prince had. It sounded so modern for the time too. The lyrics are original and unique; the clever and quirky Dorothy Parker and Starfish and Coffee haven’t aged a day. It is an album you can dance to (It’s Gonna Be a Beautiful Night), swoon to (Slow Love) and do the flat cleaning to (House Quake). Overall the album is visionary, smart and wide-ranging. There wasn’t anything like it before 1987, and nothing has touched it since. The bass lines, Lisa and Wendy, the jams, the harmonies and the originality got under my skin, made me feel sexy and, at the age of 21, that anything in life was possible and mine for the taking.
Meredith McGrath

Fleetwod Mac – Tango in the Night

Fleetwood Mac in 1987
Fleetwood Mac in 1987 Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo

Nothing was going to reach the heights of Rumours, but I believe this album is underrated. Yes, you can hear the 80s synths and beats, but a lot of the tracks have stood the test of time. Lindsay Buckingham’s angry guitar riffs, Christine McVies’ lyrical melodies, mixed with years of the group’s personal issues makes a great album. My parents bought it on cassette in 1987 and played it for years – it reminds me of car journeys as a four-year-old. Funnily enough I also recollect the TV advert for it. It was also one of the first CDs I bought when I finally had pocket money.
Andrew Delaney

Whitney Houston – Whitney

American singer Whitney Houston performing in 1986
American singer Whitney Houston performing in 1986 Photograph: Dave Hogan/Getty Images

My mum played Whitney Houston around the house and I was always astonished by a voice full of that much possibility. Following her debut album was no easy feat. After all, it had sold over 20 million copies and introduced the world to one of the greatest pop/soul voices it would ever hear. On this second album, Whitney consolidated the winning formula of the first record and it produced hit after hit. There is more pop experimentation – from the rock pop of So Emotional to the irresistible pop hook of I Wanna Dance with Somebody to the quietly stormy soul of Just the Lonely Talking Again to the masterful balladry of Where Do Broken Hearts Go. Her voice was always so pure and full of intent; joyful but powerful at the same time. You could hear her soul gospel roots in her ad libs, but you could also hear an almost classically trained singer in the technique she delivered the songs with. This album really established Whitney as one of the greatest pop stars of all time. Azu Yeché

Guns N’ Roses – Appetite for Destruction

Guns N Roses performing at the 8th Annual Los Angeles Street Scene, September 1985.
Guns N Roses performing at the 8th Annual Los Angeles Street Scene, September 1985. Photograph: Marc Canter

It sounds as angry now as it did back then. I don’t think it’s aged at all. The opening notes of Welcome to the Jungle still send a shiver down my spine. And, after seeing Guns N’ Roses live again recently, the songs still have the power to make this over-40-year-old feel like a cocky teenage girl again. I bought the album on vinyl. It had the cover that was later banned and seemed to smell of patchouli. My parents wanted to know what I’d bought with a Parental Advisory sticker on it. They weren’t impressed. It took some time until I had the house to myself and could play it, so I studied the lyrics for days. I already knew some of the songs, but hearing Axl Rose’s razor-cut voice through the whole album was something else.
Jo Evans

The Wedding Present – George Best

George Best is easily the greatest possible introduction to the Wedding Present’s work. It’s also a fine introduction to the entire C86 scene that had such an impact on British rock [the name derived from NME’s cassette compilation released in 1986, representing, for many, the birth of indie pop music]. It has managed to stand the test of time because every tune is solid. Everyone Thinks He Looks Daft hits the sweet spot. David Gedge’s bittersweet world was built around rapid guitars and banging drums. If you have ever lost your love of life, then get this brilliant debut.
Simon Carroll

Eurythmics – Savage

Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart of Eurythmics.
Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart of Eurythmics. Photograph: BBC1

For daring to burn bridges from their previous work, Savage is quintessentially Eurythmics: electronica mixed with scathing attacks on modern celebrity-obsessed culture. Its insightful lyrics examine feminism, friendship, love and hate in a crystalline fashion rarely seen. The biggest “hit” You Have Placed a Chill in My Heart is ultimately uplifting in its exploration of love.
Neal Wickens

Bruce Springsteen’s Tunnel of Love.
Bruce Springsteen’s Tunnel of Love. Photograph: Publicity image

Bruce Springsteen – Tunnel of Love

I got on the Springsteen bandwagon late, but this album showed the world that he could break from the personal stardom that came with Born in the USA and put himself into his music in a very real way. It exemplifies a broken-hearted soul unsure of who he is and where to go. Everyone needs a break-up album. It restores your faith and reassures you that you’re not alone. These songs are among Bruce’s most personal and I believe listeners can feel that as soon as they hit play.
Derek, Syracuse, NY

Pet Shop Boys – Actually

It’s a Sin and What Have I Done to Deserve This? are sublime slices of perfect pop. The grandeur of It Couldn’t Happen Here, the sheer joy of Heart and later addition Always on My Mind bring a smile to my face, remembering how they made me feel when I first heard them. My younger brother has introduced the album to his young family. I recall my three-year-old niece treating us to her rendition of One More Chance. I managed to get a summer temp job working for the Pet Shop Boys’ then-manager Tom Watkins and their designer Mark Farrow in their tiny Welbeck Street office. I heard rough mixes of the album and saw some of the images for contention for the new album cover. The now famous yawning pic was an obvious standout shot and I had the very special honour of delivering Mark’s artwork to EMI’s Manchester Square offices. Please and Behaviour are also outstanding offerings.
Maggie Agard Toll

Maggie Agard Toll.
Maggie Agard Toll. Photograph: Maggie Agard Toll

The Replacements – Pleased to Meet Me

Pleased to Meet Me was the Replacements’ first album without guitarist Bob Stinson, which is why it has a more accessible sound than some of their more raw releases. It features some of the band’s best songs in the form of Alex Chilton and Can’t Hardly Wait, giving a glimpse into the band’s poppier side, acting as a gateway into more of their albums. 1984’s Let It Be is probably the Replacements’ finest album, combining the movement from hectic punks to clean college radio rock, but Pleased to Meet Me runs it very close.
Jonny Sharples

Public Enemy – Yo! Bum Rush the Show

Public Enemy at the Montreux Festival in Switzerland, 1988.
Public Enemy at the Montreux Festival in Switzerland, 1988. Photograph: Brian Rasic/Getty Images

Michael Jackson’s Bad might have had the commercial sales, but Yo! Bum Rush the Show changed the music world like no album had since Never Mind the Bollocks. Yo! Bum Rush the Show was not only hip-hop’s critical breakthrough but also the point at which hip-hop’s voice became louder and more political. The album, by Public Enemy, stood out as bring more raw, smart and political than other albums of the time such as LL Cool J’s Radio. The production and sampling by the Bomb Squad is outstanding and would go on to influence everyone from the Dust Brothers and Massive Attack, to Bomb the Bass, the Prodigy and Chemical Brothers. Discovering this album changed my conception of how aggressive music could sound, how sampling is an art and also of 80s music, which until then I had thought was pretty poor. Fear of a Black Planet and It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back are both outstanding too.

Anthony McAndrew.
Anthony McAndrew. Photograph: Anthony McAndrew

The Cure – Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me

I had bought the Cure’s greatest hits compilation Staring at the Sea the year before, so was looking forward to hearing their latest album. The sheer scope, ambition and kaleidoscopic nature of Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me had a lasting influence on other bands. It’s a double album that propelled the band from cult status to stadium fillers. I heard Why Can’t I Be You? on the radio and remember reading about it in Smash Hits. Disintegration, Pornography and Faith are also albums worth exploring.
Anthony McAndrew

Marc Almond – Mother Fist and her Five Daughters

Let’s face it, a title track referencing masturbation was unlikely to receive mainstream success. But Mother Fist is a longstanding fan favourite from Marc Almond’s extensive back catalogue, even if it was never commercially successful. It’s the third and final studio album from Almond was with his band the Willing Sinners. Using instruments like the yangqin dulcimer and pump organ, it was totally against what was fashionable and therefore it has proven to be ageless. Each self-penned song is a postcard telling stories of lost love and faded glory with a cast of characters including drag queens, washed-up boxers and hustlers. There’s a vibe of the sea, hedonism and decay. It was the instrumentation and storytelling of Mother Fist that quickly became my favourite. Almond’s lack of conformity that skates around the edge of the mass market drew me in. In 2016 I saw him perform Mother Fist live all the way through and it sounded as sparkling as the studio version. He was moved to tears while singing the last track The River and I think most of the audience were too.
Sarah Trivuncic

“I must have been curling my hair that day!” Sarah Trivuncic at her university halls of residence in the early 90s with a Mother Fist poster on the wall behind
“I must have been curling my hair that day!” Sarah Trivuncic at her university halls of residence in the early 90s with a Mother Fist poster on the wall behind Photograph: Sarah Trivuncic

U2 – The Joshua Tree

The quality of every song on the album has proven to be timeless. In Ireland, 1987 was the dawn of a new age. The forces were in motion to bring a ceasefire. The days when the chains of a history weighed down by subverted religious and political ideology looked numbered, and U2 compressed this into an album like lightning in a bottle. Earlier released The Unforgettable Fire and Under a Blood Red Sky are also worth discovering.
William Duffy

Depeche Mode – Music for the Masses

Depeche Mode in Chicago, Illinois, 1987.
Depeche Mode in Chicago, Illinois, 1987. Photograph: Paul Natkin/WireImage

My brother introduced me to Depeche Mode around the time this was released and it was the first time I really got interested in a band and albums, instead of just listening to whatever was on the radio. This album features iconic songs like Strangelove, Behind the Wheel and Never Let Me Down Again, which is still very much a crowd favourite. It was also the start of their collaboration with Anton Corbijn. Depeche Mode have never stopped being relevant, with their later albums Ultra and Playing the Angel definitely holding up to classics sich as Music for the Masses, Black Celebration, Violator and Songs of Faith and Devotion.
Alex Rokholm

Sonic Youth – Sister

Sonic Youth in 1984.
Sonic Youth in 1984. Photograph: Peter Noble/Redferns

This was the album that saw Sonic Youth develop the sound that would morph from the spikiness of 1986’s Evol into the majesty of Daydream Nation a year later. Two of the tracks were on a skateboarding video I watched at that time, and I hadn’t heard anything like it before in my life!
P Broadwater

Deacon Blue – Raintown

I remember the slow first song, Born in a Storm, that was quickly followed by the catchy Raintown, and thinking what a great start to the album that was. The songs still sound fresh today. It’s all about the quality of the tracks. I saw them in concert last year and a lot of the songs from the album were played and still sounded fantastic live. Both Ricky Ross and Lorraine McIntosh’s voices are still wonderful. When the World Knows Your Name, Ooh Las Vegas and Believers are great albums too.
Simon Sinclair

The Smiths – Strangeways Here We Come

The Smiths in 1987
The Smiths in 1987 Photograph: Andre Csillag / Rex Features

Both Morrissey and Johnny Marr consider the Smiths’ final LP to be their finest album, which is evidence that artists are rarely the best judges of their own work. Any release that includes something as “will this do?” as the terminal Death at One’s Elbow can’t be considered the finest anything (with Morrissey’s belch at the end of the track providing a succinct review). Unhappy Birthday possesses neither the wit nor the charm of similarly lightweight moments on The Queen is Dead. However, there is no denying the ambition of Strangeways’ ideas, the sophistication of its arrangements and the confidence and style with which the group pull it off. It’s the Smiths’ most diverse record – the swaggering glam-rock of I Started Something I Couldn’t Finish; Girlfriend in a Coma’s two-minute pop soap opera; whatever the hell the brilliantly bonkers Death of Disco Dancer is. When Morrissey finally bursts in – two minutes into Last Night I Dreamt That Someone Loved Me – may well be the most magnificently melodramatic moment in a catalogue full of them. I Won’t Share You is a beautiful, heartbreaking closer, which highlights a key difference between the two creative forces (Morrissey possessive, Marr collaborative) – a big reason why the Smiths weren’t long for this world.
Andrew Hall

George Michael performing on stage.
George Michael performing on stage. Photograph: Rob Verhorst/Redferns

George Michael – Faith

This album showcases the brilliance of George Michael as a songwriter and vocalist. Its track listing of stand-out hits touch upon funk, soul, rockabilly, R&B and the most beautiful jazz ballad. It evokes great memories and much admiration for one of the best songwriters and vocalists. One More Try filled me with sadness, Faith had me dancing (and still does) and I imagined waltzing to George to Kissing a Fool. Listen Without Prejudice and Older are also great albums.
Lola Jean

Hüsker Dü – Warehouse: Songs and Stories

Bob Mould’s off-the-Richter psych-punk guitar would be enough, but when coupled with two songwriters at the peak of their powers going head to head, the result was the most breathtakingly diverse rock‘n’roll album of 1987. I borrowed a copy on a D90 cassette on the back of a Sounds review of George Best by the Wedding Present that name-checked Hüsker Dü. Having put it on with no expectations, by the time Ice Cold Ice was playing I knew it was something very, very special. I played it non-stop for days until I gave it back and went and bought the double album. I still play it regularly.
Michael Holland

David Sylvian – Secrets of the Beehive

David Sylvian
David Sylvian Photograph: Sean Smith/The Guardian

This album didn’t sound like anything else of the time. A largely acoustic work, it seamlessly blended beautiful avant-garde touches with dark visual poetry. It remains Sylvian’s zenith. I actually didn’t like this album when I first heard it. It felt too delicate lacking traditional hooks and structure. However, it started to slowly envelope my mind and soul. After a year I understood the delicacy of the music and the words, which gently unwrapped something new at every listen and was far deeper than I had previously experienced in mainstream music. It’s also worth exploring Gone to Earth, Brilliant Trees, Blemish and Manafon.
Saikat Dutta

Trio - Emmylou Harris, Dolly Parton and Linda Rondstadt
The very definition of a super group; Trio’s Emmylou Harris, Dolly Parton and Linda Rondstadt Photograph: PR

Trio – Trio

This well recorded supergroup consisting of Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris has it all – A-list musicians and tasteful production of great compositions. My favourite song is Wildflowers; a cheery country dance tune led by Dolly. My Dear Companion is another favourite, possibly because I heard its composer, the late Jean Ritchie, in a small venue once. I’ve been to Dolly, Linda and Emmylou gigs but never saw them together as Trio. This debut is unsurpassed by their follow-up album Trio II.

Faith No More – Introduce Yourself

Faith No More in Rio, January 1991.
Faith No More in Rio, January 1991. Photograph: Andre Csillag/REX

The lyrics and themes on this album are still relevant today (We Care a Lot) and although the production sounds a little dated these days, many alternative rock bands still cite Faith No More as an influence. When I first heard it, I was blown away by the diversity of the record. At the time, the band were fronted by Chuck Mosley, who, rather than be known for his technical vocal ability, had a realness and a passion in his delivery. There is a mixture of heavy metal, funk, new wave and hip-hop on the record, which many bands of the 1990s tried to unsuccessfully imitate. Faith No More’s entire discography is completely varied due to the many influences of the band, as well as the change in personnel on each subsequent album.
Ste Roberts

Pixies – Come on Pilgrim

Pixies’s Black Francis.
Pixies’s Black Francis. Photograph: Sean Smith/The Guardian

Pixies’ first release prefaced a two-year blast of brilliant indie hard rock, utterly new and so quickly emblematic. This album was released at the end of my second year as an undergraduate. Their sound took off so quickly that by the end of my degree it was difficult to imagine a time when I hadn’t been listening to them. Surfer Rosa and then Doolittle in the following years were equally brilliant.

INXS – Kick

Need You Tonight, Devil Inside, New Sensation, Never Tear Us Apart and Mystify would still be hits if they came out today. How many younger bands mixing pop, funk and rock (such as the Killers or Franz Ferdinand) have been influenced by INXS? I remember it changed my life in regard of music. I had never heard anything like it and kept wanting to listen to it again and again. It was a long time ago but I still spin it frequently. Shabooh Shoobah, Listen Like Thieves and Welcome to Wherever You Are are also top records.
Pedro Queiros

Pedro Querios’ collection of the sixth studio album from INXS.
Pedro Querios’ collection of the sixth studio album from INXS. Photograph: Pedro Queiros

Pink Floyd – A Momentary Lapse of Reason

Although some of it sounds dated now, it was a surprisingly optimistic album from a band that had spent so much energy hating each other. The songs remain relevant today, covering societal decay, environmental damage and a neglect of those in need. There are certainly moments when you think, “Oh, that’s a bit 80s”, but there are many more that speak directly to the human condition. A friend at school lent me a tape and told me it was the weirdest album he’d ever heard. It didn’t meet that yardstick, having just bought The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway by Genesis, but I remember my 13-year-old self listening to it on my Walkman on the way home from school and being very impressed.
Nick Ellis

REM – Document

R.E.M. Photograph: PR Company Handout

The obvious anger and disgust on the album (Exhuming McCarthy) at Reaganomics and the politics of inequality seem even more relevant in the age of Trump. I remember being delighted at how cheerful It’s the End of the World As We Know It (and I Feel Fine) was for it’s title. Finest Worksong sounded like the first song in the world as well.
Cam Bowie


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