Top 10 Pop Music Divas of All Time

Cher In Concert With Cyndi Lauper 'Dressed 2 Kill' Tour - Los Angeles, CA
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Mariah Carey

Mariah Carey
Mariah Carey. Photo by Chris Somodevilla / Getty Images

Mariah Carey has more #1 pop hits in the U.S. than anyone but the Beatles. She is a winner of five Grammy Awards. After her career seemed to be fading in the early 2000's, she returned with one of the biggest pop music comebacks of all time. Her hit "We Belong Together" spent 14 weeks at #1 and became one of the biggest pop hit singles of all time. Her collaboration with Boyz II Men on "One Sweet Day" is the longest reigning #1 hit in the US ever spending 16 weeks at the top. She has spent 79 weeks at number one in total, more than any other recording artist. Mariah Carey has sold more than 200 million records worldwide.

Mariah Carey's five-octave vocal range and melismatic style influenced a generation of pop singers who followed, particularly the contestants through fifteen years of American Idol. Mariah Carey also brought hip-hop into the pop mainstream. Her collaboration with rapper Ol' Dirty Bastard on the remix of "Fantasy" surprised some observers but delighted most of Mariah Carey's fans. She also achieved something most pop stars only dream about. Her Christmas song "All I Want for Christmas Is You" is a holiday classic.

Watch Mariah Carey sing "Hero" live.

Top Five Hits

  • 1995 - "One Sweet Day" with Boyz II Men - #1
  • 2005 - "We Belong Together" - #1
  • 1995 - "Fantasy" - #1
  • 1993 - "Dreamlover" - #1
  • 1993 - "Hero" - #1
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Cher. Photo by Slaven Vlasic / Getty Images

Cher is not only an iconic singer; she is also an accomplished actress. This has enabled her to become one of the small group of artists to take home a Grammy, Oscar, and Emmy award. She began her music career as a teenage backup singer in Phil Spector's legendary Wall of Sound, was half of the highly successful duo Sonny and Cher with her husband Sonny Bono, and then fully eclipsed that success as a solo artist. Her first farewell concert tour took a phenomenal three years to complete largely due to the demand for tickets from her fans. She is the first artist to earn a #1 hit on at least one Billboard chart in every decade from the 1960s to the 2010s. Cher is estimated to have sold 200 million records worldwide.

Cher became the master of the pop culture comeback. When the popularity of Sonny and Cher's music faded at the end of the 1960s, they came roaring back with a wildly popular TV variety show in the early 1970s. Cher released a trio of #1 pop hit singles firmly establishing herself as a solo music star. Following her divorce from Sonny in 1975 and failure of their return to hosting a TV variety show, she came back with the top 10 disco hit "Take Me Home" in 1979.

Cher's star dimmed once again, but this time she embarked on an acting career to engineer a comeback. Her first film success came with Silkwood in 1983, and she earned a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress. Her acting career peaked in 1987 with Moonstruck which earned her an Academy Award for Best Actress. On the heels of the acting success, she returned to mainstream pop music success as well with four top 10 pop hits including the #3 smash "If I Could Turn Back Time." Cher had one more phenomenal music return up her sleeves. Following Sonny Bono's death in 1998, she released her 22nd studio album Believe. It included the title song, the biggest pop hit single of Cher's entire career.

Watch Cher sing "If I Could Turn Back Time" live.

Top Five Hits

  • 1998 - "Believe" - #1
  • 1971 - "Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves" - #1
  • 1973 - "Half-Breed" - #1
  • 1974 - "Dark Lady" - #1
  • 1966 - "Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)" - #2
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Celine Dion

Celine Dion
Celine Dion. Photo by Joey Foley / FilmMagic

Born and raised in Quebec, Canada, Celine Dion began her career as a successful teen singer performing in French. Her first major international acclaim came in 1988 when she won the Eurovision Song Contest singing for Switzerland. Celine Dion eventually emerged as one of the top pop singers overall performing mostly in English. By 2007, Sony BMG announced that she had sold over 200 million albums worldwide. She has won five Grammy Awards. Her nearly five year stint at Caesars Palace in the show A New Day... was acclaimed as one of the top Las Vegas shows of all time earning $385 million.

In 2007, Celine Dion released some of the most adventurous music of her carer on the album Taking Chances. Its commercial success was muted in the US, but it was a #1 smash at home in Canada and inspired a phenomenally popular concert tour. Celine Dion suffered personal tragedy in January 2016 when her husband and brother both died of cancer just two days apart. By the end of February, she returned to the Las Vegas stage and in May accepted the Billboard Icon Award at the Billboard Music Awards. She sang Queen's "The Show Must Go On" live.

Watch Celine Dion sing "The Power Of Love" live.

Top Five Hits

  • 1996 - "Because You Loved Me" - #1
  • 1998 - "I'm Your Angel" - #1
  • 1993 - "The Power of Love" - #1
  • 1998 - "My Heart Will Go On" - #1
  • 1996 - "It's All Coming Back To Me Now" - #2
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Aretha Franklin

Aretha Franklin
Aretha Franklin. Photo by Paul Natkin / Getty Images Archives

Aretha Franklin is the "Queen of Soul," but major pop hits spanning over three decades prove she is one of the top pop divas of all time as well. She has reached the Billboard Hot 100 more than 75 times. Beyond her singing, Franklin is a very skilled piano player and songwriter. She has won 20 Grammy Awards in her career, and she became the first female artist to enter the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. Rolling Stone magazine recognized Aretha Franklin as the top singer of all time.

Aretha Franklin returned to the top 50 of the R&B chart for the first time in seven years with her 2014 cover of Adele's "Rolling In the Deep." The recording also reached #1 on the dance chart, her first club chart-topper in sixteen years. In December 2015 Aretha Franklin earned a mid-song standing ovation and moved many in the audience to tears when she sang "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman" at the Kennedy Center Honors in recognition of the co-writer of the song Carole King.

Watch Aretha Franklin sing "Chain Of Fools" live.

Top Five Hits

  • 1967 - "Respect" - #1
  • 1967 - "Chain of Fools" - #2
  • 1971 - "Spanish Harlem" - #2
  • 1973 - "Until You Come Back To Me (That's What I'm Gonna Do)" - #3
  • 1985 - "Freeway of Love" - #3
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Whitney Houston

Whitney Houston
Whitney Houston. Photo by Vittorio Zunino Celotto / Getty Images

Whitney Houston's self-titled debut album released in 1985 became the bestselling debut album by a female artist of all time. Whitney Houston also earned success as a film actress. Her second album was the first by a woman to debut at the top of the album chart. Four studio albums, a movie soundtrack, and her greatest hits collection are all estimated to have sold 10 million copies or more around the world. Whitney Houston became the first artist ever to release seven consecutive #1 singles. She died tragically at age 48 in 2012.

Whitney Houston was given credit for continuing to break down color lines in popular music in the late 1980s. She was just as popular with mainstream pop audiences as with R&B audiences. Her music videos beginning with 1985's "How Will I Know" were popular on MTV.

Watch Whitney Houston sing "All The Man That I Need" live.

Top Five Hits

  • 1992 - "I Will Always Love You" - #1
  • 1986 - "Greatest Love Of All" - #1
  • 1987 - "I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me) - #1
  • 1990 - "All The Man That I Need" - #1
  • 1987 - "Didn't We Almost Have It All" - #1
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Janet Jackson

Janet Jackson
Janet Jackson. Photo by Vittorio Zunino Celotto / Getty Images

Janet Jackson's success as a pop artist rivals that of her brother Michael Jackson. She has not only been successful as a singer, her dancing and the choreography in her shows has influenced a wide range of performers, and she is an accomplished actress. Five consecutive Janet Jackson albums debuted at #1 on the album chart. None of her studio albums since 1984's Dream Street have failed to reached at least #2 on the album chart. 10 of her singles have reached #1 on the pop chart in the US. She has sold over 160 million records worldwide.

In 2015 she returned with Unbreakable, her first album in seven years, and it promptly hit #1 on the album chart. The single "No Sleep" found a successful niche at adult R&B radio peaking at #1 on that chart. It also climbed into the top 20 on the overall R&B chart.

Watch Janet Jackson sing "Escapade" live.

Top Five Hits

  • 1993 - "That's The Way Love Goes" - #1
  • 2001 - "All For You" - #1
  • 1989 - "Miss You Much" - #1
  • 2000 - "Doesn't Really Matter" - #1
  • 1990 - "Escapade" - #1
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Madonna. Photo by Win McNamee / Getty Images

Madonna has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Guinness Book of Records considers her the most successful female artist of all time. Madonna has sold more than 300 million records worldwide. She is the artist with the most top 10 hits in the history of the Billboard Hot 100. She has long been admired as one of the top business women in the music industry. Billboard ranked Madonna second only to the Beatles as the most successful pop singles artist of all time.

Eight of Madonna's studio albums have charted at #1 in the US including a streak of five in a row. She has never failed to reach the top 10 across a career encompassing 13 studio releases. In addition three movie soundtracks and four compilation albums have reached the top 10 giving Madonna 20 top 10 charting albums overall. 12 of Madonna's singles have reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. A phenomenal 46 songs have topped the dance club chart. That gives Madonna the most #1 appearances on any currently active Billboard chart surpassing George Strait's 44 #1 country songs.

Watch Madonna sing "Like a Prayer" live.

Top Five Hits

  • 1994 - "Take a Bow" - #1
  • 1984 - "Like a Virgin" - #1
  • 2000 - "Music" - #1
  • 1990 - "Vogue" - #1
  • 1989 - "Like a Prayer" - #1
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Diana Ross

Diana Ross
Diana Ross. Photo by Axelle / Bauer-Griffin / FilmMagic

Diana Ross began her career in the 1960s as a member of the Supremes, the most successful female group ever at that time. She went solo in the 1970s and became one of the most successful female solo artists of all time. Diana Ross was the first female solo artist in the US to release six #1 pop singles. She is an accomplished actress receiving an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress for her part in Lady Sings the Blues. She has won a Tony Award for her stage show An Evening With Diana Ross. Diana Ross earned a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012.

Diana Ross broke down barriers for women in multiple ways. Although her chart achievements were later surpassed, in 1993 the Guinness Book of World Records declared her the most successful female recording artist in history. She was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988 as a member of the Supremes. Diana Ross was celebrated in 2007 at the Kennedy Center Honors and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2016.

Watch Diana Ross sing "I'm Coming Out" live.

Top Five Hits

  • 1980 - "Upside Down" - #1
  • 1970 - "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" - #1
  • 1976 - "Love Hangover" - #1
  • 1973 - "Touch Me In the Morning" - #1
  • 1975 - "Theme From Mahogany (Do You Know Where You're Going To)" - #1
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Barbra Streisand

Barbra Streisand
Barbra Streisand. Photo by Christopher Polk / WireImage

As well as being one of the top singers of all time, Barbra Streisand is accomplished as both a film actress and director. She has won nine Grammy Awards, two Oscars and four Emmys. Barbra Streisand has sold more than 240 million records worldwide. In 1974, her single "The Way We Were" became the first single by a female recording artist to be the top selling pop single of the year. She has released 33 top 10 albums, the most by any female recording artist, and they span fifty years. 52 of her albums have been certified gold.

In her 70s, Barbra Streisand's recording and performing career continues to be strong. In the fall of 2014 she released the duets album Partners. It went to #1 on the album chart selling nearly 200,000 copies in its first week and making Barbra Streisand the first recording artist to have a #1 album in six consecutive decades. In 2016 her album Encore: Movie Partners Sing Broadway became her eleventh #1 chart topper. It tied her with Bruce Springsteen in third place all time for the most #1 albums by an artist.

Watch Barbra Streisand sing "Love Theme From a Star Is Born (Evergreen)" live.

Top Five Hits

  • 1976 - "Love Theme From A Star Is Born (Evergreen)" - #1
  • 1980 - "Woman In Love" - #1
  • 1973 - "The Way We Were" - #1
  • 1980 - "Guilty" - #3
  • 1979 - "The Main Event" - #3
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Donna Summer

Donna Summer
Donna Summer. Photo by Jack Mitchell / Getty Images Archive

Donna Summer was the undisputed "Queen of Disco." She is the first artist to hit #1 with three consecutive double albums. She is the first female artist to have five top 10 singles in one calendar year. Donna Summer has earned five Grammy Awards. Her #1 hits on the dance music chart have spanned from 1975 through 2010. Donna Summer passed away in 2012 at age 63. She was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2013.

Donna Summer's 1970s disco recordings remain some of the most influential pop recordings of all time. "I Feel Love" broke ground in its use of electronic sequencing. David Bowie reported that his collaborator Brian Eno listened to "I Feel Love" and proclaimed, "I have heard the sound of the future." The 1979 #1 smash "Hot Stuff" laid the groundwork for blending disco with rock music. It included a guitar solo from Doobie Brother and Steely Dan guitarist Jeff "Skunk" Baxter.

Watch Donna Summer sing "I Feel Love" live.

Top Five Hits

  • 1979 - "Bad Girls" - #1
  • 1979 - "Hot Stuff" - #1
  • 1978 - "MacArthur Park" - #1
  • 1979 - "Dim All the Lights" - #2
  • 1975 - "Love To Love You Baby" - #2