Karline’s Salon and Spa is proud to present 1986 Hair Hitmakers, the inaugural post of a series to celebrate women in music and their hair. Think of these posts as a Verzuz battle of hairstyles. Let’s go old school and shine the spotlight on these 1986 Hair Hitmakers: Whitney Houston, Anita Baker, Janet Jackson, and Patti LaBelle.
Whitney, Hair Hitmaker
Although Whitney Houston released her self-titled debut studio album in 1985, it was not until 1986 that it topped both the singles and album charts.
Whitney Houston was the first album by a black female artist to be number 1 on the Billboard Year End Albums Charts of 1986 and to this day, remains one of the best selling albums of all-time with sales in excess of 22 million copies.Source: Wikipedia.org
At the 1986 Grammy Awards, Whitney’s debut album received four nominations and won Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female, for the song Saving All My Love for You.
The album cover photo is flawless, and the short-cut, natural hairstyle is on point. Last year, Billboard Magazine listed the cover as one of the 50 Greatest Album Covers of All Time. The article stated that the photo:
…stands out as a beautifully less-is-more image in the visually explosive MTV era. Wearing a simple, timeless toga with pearls, she announced herself to the world as a class act whose elegant ferocity went beyond any fashion trend.Read more at billboard.com
How we miss Whitney Houston, may she rest in peace.
Janet, Hair Hitmaker
Janet Jackson’s Control album, released in 1986, was her third studio album. Still, according to many, the breakthrough and breakout signaled Jackson’s independence, professionally and personally. Not only did the album and singles top the charts, according to Wikipedia, but it also originated the style and genre known as new jack swing. Jackson subsequently became the first female artist to produce six top 40 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 from a single album.
The album went on to receive several accolades, including a nomination for the Grammy Award for Album of the Year and winning Producer of the Year, Non-Classical for Jam and Lewis in 1987. It is listed by the National Association of Recording Merchandisers and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as one of the 200 Definitive Albums of All Time, in addition to being included in several publications “best of” album lists. It remained more than two years on the Billboard 200. Moreover, it has been certified fivefold platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and has sold more than 10 million copies worldwide.Source: Wikipedia.org
The album also propelled Jackson into superstar status with an attitude and hairstyle to match. Trendsetting big hair, which Essence Magazine described as a:
teased-out-to-there ’80s pouf, and an all-black wardrobe ensemble transformed Ms. Jackson from child star to one of the preeminent female artists of popular music…Read more at Essence.com
Anita, Hair Hitmaker
Anita Baker’s Rapture, released in 1986, was the vocalist’s second album. Like her trademark cropped haircut, the album was a breakout hit, selling more than eight million copies worldwide.
She won two Grammy Awards and earned spots on Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the 100 greatest albums from the 1980s and Pitchfork’s list of The 200 Best Albums of the 1980s. One journalist declared that Baker defined quiet storm [a radio format of romantic slow jams] in the ’80s.Source: Wikipedia.org
Equally as popular as the album was Baker’s hairstyle, a short, cropped cut which prompted many women to head to their salons requesting The Anita Baker hairstyle according to Ray Cornelius.
In the article, Anita Baker’s Haircut Inspired Thousands Of Black Women But The Industry Didn’t Like It, MadameNoire.com revisits Baker’s influence on the hairstyle many of us still wear.
In the eighties and nineties when Black women in the public eye were known for wearing their real hair (no extensions or weaves) on television and stage, singer Anita Baker caught flack for wearing her own hair on album covers and in photo shoots.
[As described by Baker] “Back in the day, every album cover and video, I processed, wrapped, cut and curled my own hair. Stylists kept bringing “ridiculously long, un-textured weaves & wigs.” They felt “my own hair” was not “professional or glamorous enough. … It became “A Thing” A. Beautiful. Thing.
Baker is right. At 62-years-old, Anita Baker’s cut has proven timeless. We know because not only is she still rocking it–still full and bouncy as ever–but scads of Black women across the world saw Anita’s hair and wanted to wear theirs just like it.Read the entire article at MadameNoire.com
Patti, Hair Hitmaker
Patti LaBelle’s Winner in You, released in 1986, was Ms. Patti’s eighth album. It peaked at number one on the US Billboard 200 chart and included a sultry ballad, On My Own, a duet with Michael McDonald.
The album spent 29 weeks on the Billboard 200 and spent 33 weeks on the R&B/Hip-Hop Albums. It was certified Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), for shipments of one million copies in the US.Source: Wikipedia.org
Although the always fierce and fabulous Ms. Patti sported “big hair” on the Winner in You album, her style journey is an art form in and of itself. Let’s get to the roots.
In 1986, Spin Magazine wrote:
She is rambunctious, mysterious and magical, soft and shy and afraid. Patti LaBelle is the queen of rock ‘n’ soul, perched on the edge of the BIG success after the tumultuous end of “Lady Marmalade” and the spacequeens of rock.
“Patti can’t wait to get out on that stage,” says Harris [Norma Harris, her hairdresser and longtime friend], who created LaBelle’s art-deco hairdo, which she calls “the fan,” “because she loves to sing, loves to give her audience herself.Read the entire article at Spin.com
And who remembers Ms. Patti’s fan hairstyle? FashionFollower.com does:
And just as she had with LaBelle, Patti’s style became a much-discussed talking point, specifically her hair. Those sculptural ‘Art Deco’ ‘do’s created by stylist Norma Harris were not so different from some of the headgear worn during the LaBelle days. (Harris once described them as ‘sophisticated hairstyles with no set pattern, just different angles’.)Read the entire article at FashionFollower.com
In 2017, The Huffington Post wrote:
Long before Nicki Minaj and Lady Gaga were teetering onto the red carpet with their towering wigs, Patti LaBelle had jaws dropping with her sky-high hairdos. Known for belting out hits like “Lady Marmalade,” “New Attitude” and “On My Own,” the Philadelphia-born singer’s hairstyles were symbolic of her career trajectory.
From the big and bouncy curls she sported as frontwoman of the girl group “LaBelle” to the gel-sculpted hair designs she broke out in as a solo star, there were no limits for this diva. LaBelle has since traded in her wild hair for sleeker styles, …Read the entire article at HuffingtonPost.com
And in the event you missed the real Verzuz featuring Gladys Knight and Patti LaBelle (the always style-conscious Choo shoe aficionado), watch this recap, courtesy of ExtraTV.
Which of the styles from these 1986 hair hitmakers would you rock now? Feel free to share your thoughts and favorite tunes from any of these 1986 chart-toppers in the comments section of this post.
Much respect to women in music and their hair!
Love Ms. Patti and her hair. Every style from Patti Labelle and the Bluebells to her solo career and everything in between. My favorite 1986 hit is her duet with Michael McDonald, “On My Own.”