More than just shoulder pads and Miami Vice style suits, John Bensalhia remembers the decade that produced hit after hit in Italy...

[Read Part 1 - the 1950s here; Part 2 - the 1960s here; Part 3 - the 1970s here.]

The 1980s, in their own way, have just as memorable visuals as the previous decades. In some ways, visually, the 1980s and the 1970s are two peas in a pod: Copious amounts of big hair. Distinctive get-up to wear to the parties and discos. And of course, occasionally questionable dress sense, from cheesecloth shirts and wide flares to shoulder pads and Miami Vice style jackets with rolled up sleeves.

Musically, however, the 1980s decade was generally a different proposition to the 1970s. If the 1970s contained their fair share of lengthy progressive rock tunes and complex musical arrangements, then the 1980s cut back the pomp to deliver a cleaner, more accessible sound. It's a decade that constantly delivers on the big hits. Even today, in 2014, parties all over the world look to the 1980s to fill dance floors. And in Italy, the hits kept on coming in this well-remembered decade.

An interesting thing to note is that the coveted Number One spot was now, more than ever, filled by popular overseas acts. Madonna, for example, scored many a Number One with the likes of Papa Don't PreachLive To Tell and Into The Groove. Duran Duran hit the top frequently with songs such as A View To A KillI Don't Want Your Love and Notorious (the offshoot band of Duran Duran, Arcadia, also reached the top of the Italian charts with Election Day). Joe Cocker, Eighth Wonder and Nick Kamen also represented Britain by scoring Number One hits in the 1980s.

One of the things most connected with Joe Cocker was his soulful, gravelly voice. Italy had one notable singer with a similar sort of voice – and he would well and truly make his mark in the 1980s. Adelmo Fornaciari took on the name of Zucchero (sugar) and made himself one of the most iconic singers of the past few decades. Blending rock, pop, soul and gospel, Zucchero has sold more than 50 million records worldwide. The 1980s were Zucchero's breakthrough decade. He initially appeared at the Castrocaro Music Festival in 1981, performing with a band called Taxi. Following the 1981 win, Zucchero then went it alone to appear at other festivals such as the Sanremo Music Festival and Festival dei Fiori.

Chart-wise, 1985 was Zucchero's breakthrough year. His hit single Donne was selected from the album Zucchero And The Randy Jackson Band (Jackson is best known these days as one of the former judges on American Idol). Zucchero developed his soulful brand of music on the following year's Rispetto. However, while these two albums made a name for Zucchero, 1987's Blue's album was the one that made him a big star. It was a massive seller in Italy, with record buyers enjoying hits such as Con Le Mani and Solo una sana e consapevole libidine salva il giovane dallo stress e dall'azione cattolica. The album's also noteworthy for including the original version of Senza una Donna, which would later be reworked in the 1990s with British singer Paul Young. The album's credibility was boosted by cameos from music legends such as Bruce Springsteen saxophonist Clarence Clemons and the Memphis Horns.

Both acts also appeared on the follow-up album, Oro Incenso e Birra in 1989. Incredibly, this managed to outsell Blue's, with 1.7 million sales in Italy alone (the worldwide sales figures would reach a healthy 8 million). The hits kept on coming for Zucchero with the likes of Diamante and Diavolo in me. The guest list grew too, with the likes of James Taylor, Eric Clapton and Ennio Morricone performing on the album in addition to Clemons and the Memphis Horns.

In a sense, the 1980s were returning to the age of the 1950s and 1960s when the singer reigned supreme. Another popular Italian singer was Eros Ramazzotti, who, like Zucchero, came to prominence through the Castrocaro Music Festival. Ramazzotti reached the festival's final in 1981 with his self-penned Rock 80. Three years later, his appearance at the Sanremo Festival earned him an accolade in the newcomers department. In 1985, he appeared again, and his Una storia importante song went on to be a global worldwide smash, followed by another success, Terra promessa. Both cuts could be found on his début album Cuori agitati. More global success was on the cards with Ramazzotti's follow-up album in 1986. Nuovi eroi not only topped the Italian album charts, it scored the bullseye in Austria and Switzerland too. Germany and Switzerland were also quick to buy his 1987 album In certi momenti, which sold over 3 million copies around the world. The album's notable for including a duet with Eighth Wonder singer Patsy Kensit, La luce buona delle stelle.

Other successful male artists in the 1980s included Alberto Fortis and Nino D'Angelo. Having broken through in 1979, Fortis enjoyed a successful decade with albums such as the big 1981 seller, La grande grotta and 1982's Fragole infinite. The latter's title refers to The Beatles' Strawberry Fields Forever. Nino D'Angelo is known for his 1984 hit song Vai, and also his hit album Un Jeans e una maglietta which accompanied the film of the same name in 1982. D'Angelo also made a string of movies in the 1980s, including La discoteca and Uno Scugnizzo a New York.

Female singers such as Gianna Nannini and Loredana Berté were also scoring a string of hit singles in the 1980s. 1984 was Nannini's big year, as she reached pole position with Fotoromanza. The accompanying album Puzzle also proved to be very popular with the Italian record buying public, following other albums such as 1981's G.N. The 1986 album Profumo yielded the popular Bello e Impossible, while 1988's Malafemmina proved to be a worthy follow-up. Nannini continues to be one of the most successful female Italian artists today – in recent years, she has reached the top of the Italian album charts with titles such as Grazie and Io e te.

For Loredana Berté (the sister of late singer Mia Martini), the 1980s were all about branching out into new musical avenues. Having already hit the charts in the 1970s with songs such as Robin Hood and Dedicato, Berté opted for other musical directions such as funk (1980's LoredanaBertE' album) and a tribute to Brazilian singer Djavan (1985's Carioca album). With these new approaches, Berté continued to make the charts with big sellers such as 1982's Non sono una signora.

Two Italian female singers also made an impression in countries such as Britain in the 1980s. Spagna even filmed the video for one of her most popular hits, Call Me, in Nottingham! Unsurprisingly, this song made a great impression in the United Kingdom in 1987, just missing out on the top spot. It also raced to the Top 10 in countries such as France, Switzerland, Norway and Sweden, and of course, Italy. The year before, Spagna had made her mark with Easy Lady, which went all the way to the top in Italy. Known at the time for her distinctive haircut, Spagna continued to reach the upper reaches of the Italian charts with further hits including Every Girl And BoySarah and the title track from her album, Dedicated To The Moon.

Following Spagna's success in 1987 in Britain, a year later, Sabrina Salerno raced into the Top 5 with her summertime smash, Boys (Summertime Love). The Genoa-born former model had released this song a year before on her début album, Sabrina, and it also flew to number one in other countries such as France, Switzerland and Spain. The follow-up album, Super Sabrina would see collaborations with the British record making trio of Stock Aitken Waterman. The resulting album included hits such as All Of Me, and the run of hit songs continued in the late 1980s including My Chico and the country and western tinged Gringo.

While the hits became less frequent for Sabrina in the following decade, she would branch out into acting and presenting, becoming a regular face on TV, stage and screen (she won an award for her work on the 2005 independent movie, Colori). Sabrina also moved into record producing and managing a whole new generation of song and dance talent.

By the late 1980s, however, new types of music were starting to emerge. The trends of dance, hip hop and rap had been established thanks to the likes of Run DMC, Eric B and Rakim and M.A.R.R.S (who scored an Italian Number One hit with Pump Up The Volume). Two notable examples of this new direction of pop music flourished in Italy in the late 1980s. Lorenzo Cherubini would adopt the name of Jovanotti and take his own unique brand of hip hop, rap and disco into the upper reaches of the charts. Following the release of 1987's Walking, the 1988 album Jovanotti For President came out. While it didn't strike a chord so much with the critics, the album did find favour with the record buying public. Selling more than 400,000 copies in Italy, Jovanotti For President also housed a sizeable amount of hits. Gimme Five and Gimme Five 2 (Rasta Five) hit the top, while Go Jovanotti Go also went Top 5. 1988 was a particularly good year for Jovanotti, as he also went to Number One again that year with E' qui la festa.

The following year was also highly productive for Jovanotti. His follow-up album La mia moto sold very well again (600,000 sales recorded), while the hits came thick and fast in the form of VascoScappa con me and Sex, No Drugs And Rock 'n' Roll.

Italian house was also proving to be very popular globally. In particular, a trio comprising DJ Daniele Davoli, keyboardist Mirko Limoni and musician Valerio Semplici would make 1989 a year for hitting the dance floor. The trio recorded under a number of aliases including The Mixmaster (recording the hit Grand Piano) and Starlight (the smash hit Numero Uno reached the Top 10 in the UK in the latter part of 1989). But it was Black Box that provided them with the biggest hit in the memorable form of Ride On Time. While there was controversy over sampling issues (the track sampled Loleatta Holloway's Love Sensation and later had to be re-recorded with new vocals provided by a pre-M People Heather Small), the track was a huge hit in both Italy and the UK (Ride On Time made the UK Number One spot for more than a month). The track was successful enough to spawn follow-ups in the form of I Don't Know Anybody Else and Everybody Everybody, which would make the charts in the closing stages of 1989 and the first part of 1990.

New styles of music were brewing for the 1990s, a decade that would not only look to the future, but see the continuing popularity of some of the old favourites...