In the words of Beyoncé, "Who run the world? Girls."
Who's been running the pop diva charts since the dawn of pop music? We've taken the liberty of compiling a list of our favorite pop divas. They're all so talented and amazing, so we couldn't actually rank them. Instead, here's a list of our faves in alphabetical order - along with reasons as to why we adore them.
Aretha gave women all over an anthem to demand respect. This Civil Rights Movement icon was the first woman inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, held the record for most Billboard Hot 100 single appearances by a woman for 40 years, and even had her voice deemed a "natural resource" by Michigan in 1986. In 2021, she got a Nat Geo show to honor her genius.
This pop princess has had her moment in the spotlight throughout the late 2010s. In 2019, Grande became the first solo artist and second overall, following The Beatles, to rank at No. 1, 2, and 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 simultaneously. ("7 Rings," “Break Up With Your Girlfriend, I’m Bored," and “Thank U, Next.”) With her signature high ponytail and skyrocketing vocals, Ariana is a pure icon.
Broadway star, cinematic icon, EGOT winner, and powerhouse singer Barbra Streisand will always be a legend. Barbra was the first woman ever to be honored as a composer with her Academy Award for composing the love theme "Evergreen." She's also the best-selling female artist in the U.S., followed by Madonna and Mariah Carey.
What can we say, Queen Bey was made for this list. She got her start as one-third of the acclaimed girl group Destiny's Child. All the women have their own successful solo careers now (looking at you, Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams), but you can't turn on a top 40 station without hearing a song from Lemonade or the latest news about Queen Bey.
Britney was THE diva of the early 2000s. She'll always hold a special, nostalgic place in our hearts. Who can forget her 2001 VMAs performance with a snake, or when she dressed up as a school girl for the music video of "...Baby One More Time"? Britney may have had her ups and downs, but with the #FreeBritney movement in full swing, it's clear fans still have so much love for her, and rightfully so.
CELINE IS AN ANGEL. What have we done to deserve her? She's a strong woman with an incredible, powerful voice. After winning Eurovision in 1988, this Canadian chanteuse would go on to release several hit tracks - such as "All By Myself" and "Because You Loved Me." Also, James Cameron's Titanic would not be the same without her song, "My Heart Will Go On."
How would the "Goddess of Pop" not make the list? She has sold more than 100 million records and made several musical comebacks. Most notably, she successfully launched a solo career after her divorce and creative split from Sonny Bono. Cher pioneered the use of auto-tune in pop with 1998’s Believe, which won the Grammy for Best Dance Recording in 2000. Not only is she a respected musician, but also a talented actress (she won an Academy Award for her performance in Moonstruck) and a fashion icon. No wonder she's getting her own biopic.
Formerly a member of mighty Motown group The Supremes, Diana's solo career skyrocketed once she stepped out on her own. Her hit songs "Reach Out and Touch (Somebody's Hand)", "Ain't No Mountain High Enough," and "Upside Down" will never go out of style.
All hail the Queen of Nashville! While she is known for her country roots, Dolly Parton made a successful transition to pop throughout the 70s and 80s. Besides her hit songs "Jolene" and "9 to 5," Parton is known for her humanitarianism. She's donated to charities like the Make-A-Wish program, Save the Music Foundation, United Way, and many more. She's also a big advocate for animal rights and famously helped fund the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.
There's so much to say about Gaga, but we'll try to sum up our thoughts in one paragraph. Perhaps the most impressive thing about her career - putting her Grammy wins, Guiness World Records, A Star is Born success, and fashion icon status aside - is how much she's able to inspire people with her music. Songs like "Born This Way," "Bad Romance," "Poker Face," and "Just Dance" allow fans to let out the "little monsters" inside them. Gaga shows us the power of believing in yourself with every record she puts out.
You can't think of 80's and 90's music without Madonna. Ever since dropping out of college and moving to NYC to pursue a career in dance, Madonna has inspried countless artists - including previously aforementioned diva Lady Gaga. She has too many hit songs to count, but our favorites are "Material Girl," "Vogue," and "Lucky Star."
With a voice like Mariah's, it's no surprise that she is the third-best-selling female artist in the U.S. She's known for her songs "Always Be My Baby," "We Belong Together," and "Hero," as well as her impressive whistle tone. Also, it's impossible to go one holiday season without hearing "All I Want For Christmas Is You."
While this Barbadian diva still remains in the public eye, her peak came about during the mid 2000s to the early 2010s. Rihanna's songs never fail to be catchy and cool. She holds 33 Grammy noms to her name, and is the pioneer of the game-changing beauty brand Fenty.
Tina rose to fame in the early 1960s alongside her partner, Ike Turner. After the pair seperated in 1978, Tina embarked on a fruitful solo career. Besides her 3 Grammy wins for Private Dancer (1984), she earned a Guinness World Record in 1988 for playing to a crowd of more than 180,000 people in Rio de Janeiro. To date, she's still the record holder for the biggest tour by attendance for a female artist.
No wonder Whitney Houston grew up to become such a successful pop diva - she was surrounded by successful female singers from birth. Her mother Cissy Houston sang backup for Elvis prior to branching out solo, Dionne Warwick was her cousin, and none other than Aretha Franklin was her godmother. We'll never forget Whitney's soulful vocals, iconic emotional ballads, and her radiant beauty.
Article last updated 6/10/2021
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