The 1980s saw the emergence of pop, dance music and new wave. As the term disco fell out of fashion in the decade's early years, genres such as post-disco, Italo disco, Euro disco and dance-pop became more popular. Rock music continued to enjoy a wide audience. Subgenres such as new wave.

Also, the 80s saw the emergence of Thrash Metal, a genre which started on the west coast of the United States, particularly in California. Thrash Metal was created as an underground genre in response to the glam metal scene, which some felt lacked intensity. Notable thrash metal bands include: Metallica, Legacy(Testament), Overkill, Anthrax, Slayer, Megadeth and Exodus.

Soft rock, and glam metal and shred guitar characterized by heavy distortion, pinch harmonics and whammy bar abuse became very popular. Adult contemporary, quiet storm, and smooth jazz gained popularity.