Celeb crushin’: 80s divas then and now

To mark Madonna’s upcoming concert in Singapore, we meet other female singing superstars who stole hearts in the 1980s

Photos: TPG, EPA, various
Photos: TPG, EPA, various
12 Jan 2016

Photos: TPG, EPA, various

Singapore fans who have waited ages to see pop goddess Madonna in the flesh will, as event coordinators Mediacorp VizPro wrote on their Facebook page, finally have their prayers answered.

On February 28, devotees of the Material Girl will get to watch her strut her stuff at the sprawling National Stadium. To paraphrase the lyrics from one of her classic hits ‘Like a Virgin’, this will be the very first time she “touches” our Little Red Dot, after her Girlie Show World Tour was banned from local shores in 1993 thanks to the set’s provocative content.

Despite courting controversy over and over again for a myriad of reasons, the 57-year-old has remained a pop culture staple and one of the world’s most iconic entertainers since she dropped her eponymous debut album in the early/mid-80s. Countless other musical superstars, from her peers to today’s budding starlets, look to her as a major influence and inspiration for their own art, and she’s still able to sell out concert venues all over the world (tickets to her gigs in Hong Kong and Thailand were completely snapped up not long after being put up for sale, so be ready when the lines open here in Singapore!).

As we count down the days before we see the diva herself in action, we take a look at Madonna’s fellow female singing superstars who ruled the 1980s music scene and check in on their most recent whereabouts:

Madonna’s Rebel Heart Tour will take place on February 28 at 8pm at the National Stadium. Tickets are priced from S$108 to S$1288 and are available at Sports Hub Tix.

UPDATE (Feb 17): Due to overwhelming response, more CAT 4 tickets ($388) for Madonna's Rebel Heart Tour 2016 - Singapore have been released today.

Stella Chang
Stella Chang
12 Jan 2016

Stella Chang

Stella got her showbiz start when she won a singing competition programme in 1984, at the tender age of 18. The next year, she released her debut album Ji Qing Guo Hou, which became the best-selling record of the year and caught the attention of Chinese music fans everywhere. Several more highly successful releases followed in the coming years, cementing Stella’s status as a singing superstar.

After enjoying a stellar (pun intended), awards-filled career throughout the rest of the 80s, 90s and early 2000s, Stella left the industry for married life in 2005. Thankfully, her break from the scene was never meant to last, and she made two big returns after that: one in 2010 and another late last year.

Stella Chang
Stella Chang
12 Jan 2016

Stella Chang

Today: It may have been 30 years, but Stella, now 49, still possesses the same crystal clear, pleasantly high-pitched and powerful quality that first made a mark all those decades ago. Her recent comeback at the Taipei Arena sold out all three nights, proving that she is still just as beloved as ever, and at the end of the month, Singapore audiences will have their turn to walk down a melodious memory lane with “Dong Fang Bu Bai” herself for the first time in 20 years.

Stella Chang will be performing at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on January 30 at 8pm. Tickets are priced from S$98 to S$238 (excluding booking fees) and are available at Sports Hub Tix.

Frances Yip
Frances Yip
12 Jan 2016

Frances Yip

Any avid viewer of TVB serials from the 80s to early 90s would be familiar with “Asia’s Leading Lady of Song”. Although her career began all the way back in 1969, it was her theme song for 1980’s The Bund (the one of the same name that begins with the iconic “lo-ong ban, lo-ong lau”) that shot her to international acclaim. Frances went on to release dozens more albums in a variety of languages and build up a multinational fan base.

Frances Yip
Frances Yip
12 Jan 2016

Frances Yip

Today: In 1996, the Sydney-based Hong Kong star was diagnosed with breast cancer but recovered quickly after an operation, thanks to its early detection. She went on with her life as a jet-setting performer and celebrated her 45th year in showbiz in 2014. Next month, Singapore fans will have the chance to sing along to her classic favourites when she’s in town for a show over the Chinese New Year and Valentine’s Day weekend.

Frances Yip will be performing at Resorts World Theatre on February 13 and 14 at 7.30pm. Tickets are priced from S$68 to S$188 and are available on SISTIC.

Janet Jackson
Janet Jackson
12 Jan 2016

Janet Jackson

Janet had an early start in showbiz at the age of seven, performing alongside older brother Randy in Las Vegas. She hit the big time in 1986 with her third album Control and continued to enjoy success with 1989’s Rhythm Nation, both of which have been heralded as two of the most iconic and ground-breaking R&B records in music – and, she didn’t need to rely on her big brother Michael to achieve any of that.

Janet Jackson
Janet Jackson
12 Jan 2016

Janet Jackson

Today: Now an undisputable pop icon, Janet recently produced her 11th album Unbreakable, which debuted at number one on Billboard charts (her seventh record to top the rankings in the U.S.).

Earlier this month, the 49-year-old was in the middle of her seventh world tour when she suddenly postponed several dates to go for surgery. While initial reports speculated that she was battling throat cancer, Janet clarified last Wednesday that “the rumours are untrue” and that she is “recovering” (although she did not elaborate on her real condition). Whatever it is, we wish her a speedy return to her usual, healthy self.

Paula Abdul
Paula Abdul
12 Jan 2016

Paula Abdul

Did you know that the 53-year-old started out as a Los Angeles Lakers cheerleader (and a year later, their head choreographer)? It was during her Laker Girl days when she was discovered by the Jacksons, who hired her to choreograph a music video and tour. In 1988, she emerged from behind the scenes to record her debut album Forever Your Girl, which took over a year to reach #1 on the Billboard charts (hey, better late than never, right?) and produced several popular singles such has ‘Straight Up’ and ‘Opposites Attract’. She released two more albums before taking a break from music to resume her choreography career in 2000.

Paula Abdul
Paula Abdul
12 Jan 2016

Paula Abdul

Today: Paula’s life out of the limelight didn’t last long. In 2002, she joined Simon Cowell and Randy Jackson on the judging panel of American Idol, a position she held until 2009. She went on to judge one season of The X-Factor, and last year, she became a permanent judge on So You Think You Can Dance. In November, American Idol host Ryan Seacrest announced that Paula, together with fellow former judges Randy and Simon, will be returning “to do something” for the 15th and final season of the show. Now that would be a reunion that could get us interested again.

 

Cyndi Lauper
Cyndi Lauper
12 Jan 2016

Cyndi Lauper

Female power anthems are common these days (which is definitely not a bad thing), but back in the mid-1980s, one such track propelled a bar singer to the top of the charts. We’re talking about ‘Girls Just Want to Have Fun’, Cyndi’s breakthrough hit as a solo artist (she was previously in short-lived band Blue Angel), from her first solo album She’s So Unusual, which was 1984’s best-selling album and is also home to another classic, ‘Time After Time’. Her second record True Colors, released in 1986, also spawned a few successful tunes (particularly the title track).

Cyndi Lauper
Cyndi Lauper
12 Jan 2016

Cyndi Lauper

Today: Cyndi continued to make music through the 90s and 2000s, and although they have not been able to live up to the accomplishments of her wildly well-received debut, she remains a respected female music icon to this day, and has used her influence to spread awareness for several causes. A few months ago, the 62-year-old revealed that she will be releasing a country album this year. We can only hope to have as much energy as her when we’re in our 60s.

Kylie Minogue
Kylie Minogue
12 Jan 2016

Kylie Minogue

She may not look like it, but the 47-year-old blonde babe has been a household name since 1986 thanks to her breakout role in Aussie soap Neighbours and debut single ‘Locomotion’, which was the country’s best-selling single in the 1980s. Her first two albums Kylie and Enjoy Yourself were released in 1988 and 1989 respectively and enabled her to enjoy continued success and popularity with listeners (she was even dubbed the Princess of Pop, long before Britney Spears or Christina Aguilera came along).

While her image in the 80s was still very girly and cutesy, that all changed in the 90s as Kylie took on the much more sultry and seductive image we now know her better for.

Kylie Minogue
Kylie Minogue
12 Jan 2016

Kylie Minogue

Today: Breast cancer slowed her down in mid- to late-2005, but by June the following year, preparations were underway for a new album and revival of her cancelled Showgirl tour. Since then, she’s put out four more records, with the latest being her first Christmas album Kylie Christmas in November 2015. There has also been talk of a new album this year, and although things have yet to be firmed up, Kylie has mentioned that she intends to go back to her “full pop” roots. That certainly sounds like something to look forward to.

Sally Yeh
Sally Yeh
12 Jan 2016

Sally Yeh

The Taiwan-born Canadian citizen is one of those rare gems who is lauded for both her big screen and recording studio work, despite retiring from the former in 1991. In 1984, four years after her debut, Sally swept awards shows with her self-titled album and its classic track ‘Ten Past Midnight’, and her budding career was propelled to even greater heights.

Soon, with more well-received records under her belt, she rose to the top of the Hong Kong music industry food chain – her popularity matched only by fellow 80s pop queens Anita Mui and Priscilla Chan.

Sally Yeh
Sally Yeh
12 Jan 2016

Sally Yeh

Today: Sally became less active as the years went by but still treated audiences to performances and appearances every now and then. In 2011, she received the prestigious Golden Needle Award at the RTHK Top 10 Gold Songs Awards, and in 2013, she made her latest big comeback with a world tour that included a stopover here in Singapore.

Special mention: Jody Chiang
Special mention: Jody Chiang
12 Jan 2016

Special mention: Jody Chiang

Born to a poor puppet master, Jody had a rough start in life and sang in pubs and hotels to make ends meet. Her luck changed when she was discovered by a record company, and from 1981 to 1982, she made two albums. Unfortunately, neither of them had much of an impact, and it wasn’t until 1984 when she tasted her first dose of popularity (that would continue to grow exponentially and lead to her being christened the “Queen of Taiwanese music”) with the release of Seashore of Farewell.

Today: In January 2015, Jody shocked everyone by announcing her retirement from music following a series of concerts around Taiwan. Fans immediately scrambled to purchase tickets and the high traffic promptly crashed the vendor’s website.

After performing 25 shows that included collaborations with JJ Lin, A-Mei and Jacky Cheung, Jody tearfully ended her last presentation on September 13 and locked her microphone away in an jewelled box – a fittingly dramatic ending to a long and illustrious career.

Fortunately, that wasn’t the last we saw of Jody. On the last day of 2015, she joined a host of Chinese music’s biggest stars (from A-Mei to S.H.E) to welcome 2016 with thousands of fans at the Taipei City New Year’s Eve Countdown show. It looks like we can still look forward to more special guests appearance from the 54-year-old.


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