Whitney Houston's pleasantly thin debut sold a ton of copies, as did annoying MTV synth-pop from Wham! and Tears For Fears. Superstars like Prince and Stevie Wonder pumped out decent if unexceptional albums. And everyone got a warm fuzzy feeling inside after participating in We Are The World and Live Aid.
The bad news: college radio rockers and funk bands alike disappeared from the charts, either not releasing anything, wasting time with insipid side projects (George Clinton's Federation Of Tackheads) or, like the Ohios Players' Sugarfoot, embarassing themselves with attempts to stay hip. Joni Mitchell's move to integrate dance synths into her sound gave her the worst album of her career, while Carly Simon's similar effort was even worse. Motown acts had a rough year, with Diana Ross' solo album turning out even worse than a cash-in collection of Marvin Gaye outtakes.
The jazz album of the year was Wynton Marsalis's Black Codes (From The Underground); the Latin album of the year was Rubén Blades's Escenas. (DBW)