Like so many bands from its era, nobody was sure what to make of the Pretenders at the top of the '80s. They were already buzzing, thanks to three hit singles in the U.K. and a magnetic frontwoman in Chrissie Hynde, who cast quite an image alongside her equally photogenic bandmates in leather and studs.

A transplanted American working in England with three local musicians, she was part punk, part power-pop and all spitfire. Their self-titled debut album contained muscle, smarts and the effortless ability to move toward, and away from, expectations from song to song. It signaled the band's future, as you'll see in the below list of Pretenders and Chrissie Hynde Albums Ranked Worst to Best.

They were MTV darlings, critics' favorites and successful hitmakers during a period when the lines that divided punk, pop, new wave and post-punk were often erased. Pretenders were all of this and more, but their cracks began to show early on.

A natural leader, Hynde assumed control from the start, writing and singing most of the songs while leaving the others to sidemen roles. That, too, foreshadowed things to come. After the deaths of bassist Pete Farndon and guitarist James Honeyman-Scott, Hynde and drummer Martin Chambers carried on with session musicians and others under the Pretenders' name. Even Chambers came and went over the years.

Hynde has remained their only constant, as music and directions changed. While most records have come out under the Pretenders banner, Hynde has released a handful under her name as solo projects. But they're all part of her vision, one of the most singular and uncompromising in rock.

Pretenders and Chrissie Hynde Albums Ranked

From punk beginnings to middle-of-the-road balladry to Dylan covers.