Lady Gaga, Britney Spears, Rihanna and others have all made an enormous impact on popular culture, and with a string of monster hits to their credit, they have left a mark on the industry that won’t soon be forgotten. Of course, there were other female acts who dominated the music scene both shortly before and even during the time of the younger crowd, and they easily challenged Madonna for that ultimate propaganda title.
Beyonce’s chart success has become increasingly inconsistent during the last five years but thanks to clever marketing and the massive media machine operating a her command, most of her ignorant fans will never know. In fact, despite not scoring a top ten hit on the Billboard Hot 100 since appearing Lady Gaga’s “Telephone” in 2010, Beyonce’s concerts still attract crowds in the thousands and her name remains a mainstay in the headlines. If she isn’t the Queen of Pop based on record sales, she certainly is a contender for the title as a result of her forced omnipresence in the media.
Britney Spears exploded onto the music scene in the late 1990s and quickly garnered blockbuster record sales that topped 100 million. Every song she released topped the charts across the globe, her videos ruled the airwaves and her performances received top billing at every award show as young fans eagerly tuned in to watch her every move.
Even after her notorious public meltdown, Spears still outsold many of her peers as public fascination with her brand remained generally intact. Who else but Spears could walk around onstage, blatantly lip-sync, forget her choreography and still pack an arena to its maximum capacity?
While Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey battled Madonna on the charts, Janet Jackson also rumbled with her archenemy on the tour circuit. Her Rhythm Nation 1814 World Tour ranks as one of the most successful debut tours of all time and she was the only female act of the 1990s to challenge Madonna at the box office.
Jackson’s impact also extended to other areas of popular culture, and the styling of her janet. and The Velvet Rope eras are repeatedly imitated by the current crop of visual artists. We can’t forget that Jackson was also an incredible dancer and her famous routines are second only to her brother Michael.
Kylie Minogue started her career as Australia’s answer to Madonna but she soon developed her own identity as a force on the global scene. Often imitated by Beyonce – see the 2007 BET Awards performance of “Get Me Bodied” – this entertainer influence through stunning visuals, tour productions and performances remains constant. Minogue never has to try to remain relevant because the people who copy her work do that for her.
Lady Gaga took the music scene by storm with her debut in 2008 and instantly became an icon for a generation of Pop fans eager to find the next big thing. Three years has since passed and she still has their attention as the social media giant known as Mother Monster.
Additionally, Gaga has used her voice as a tool for social change by rallying for the rights of the LGBTQI community. Being the Queen of Pop is about more than dominating fashion trends and selling records; it also involves engaging music fans on a personal level. That’s probably why Gaga has accumulated over thirty-nine followers on Twitter.
Thus far, every artist on this list has been compared to Madonna and that only emphasises the vast reach of her influence. From record sales to tours and behind the scenes business ventures, no other female act in history has matched the overall impact of this industry giant who redefined what it means to be a woman both in the old and new millennium.
Madonna conceived the MTV generation while dry humping the stage at the 1984 MTV VMA and lead them into the 21st century by constantly reinventing herself as an artist. Her career may have had many peaks and valleys but she still commands the biggest tour grosses of any solo performer in the world, proving that she has what it takes to survive another three hundred years in this business.
Mariah Carey has sold over two hundred million records and notched a record eighteen #1 singles on the Billboard Hot 100 as the most successful female artist of her generation. Yet, what is most remarkable about her commercial success is that she achieved it without the support of extensive touring.
Indeed, people have always been most interested in Carey’s music and the sound of her unmatched five octave voice. Madonna and Janet Jackson’s visuals may be the most imitated by younger performers, but it is Carey’s signature sound that reigns supreme on the airwaves today as acts attempt to clone the Hip-Pop subgenre she pioneered in the 1990s and the singing style that gave her music reach to almost every demographic.
Rihanna isn’t a talented singer and she definitely can’t dance but the people are obsessed with her. Without much effort at all, she has nabbed twelve Billboard Hot 100 #1 songs and she has shown few signs that her stay on the charts will end in the near future.
What is the key to Rihanna’s reign? Similar to Lady Gaga, she knows how to relate to her fans and happily interacts with them on social media. To people under the age of thirty years, Rihanna is one of their homegirls and buying her music is likened to supporting a friend instead of a distant Pop superstar.
In the 1980s, Whitney Houston scored seven consecutive #1 singles on the Billboard Hot 100 and took Donna Summer’s brand of the big-voiced Pop star to an entirely new level. With the guidance of Clive Davis, Houston became an icon and in The Bodyguard era of 1992, she temporarily reigned as the most popular entertainer on the planet.
Houston wasn’t heavily involved in the creative process of her hits but her voice was the vehicle that ushered in a new era of melodramatic, overblown divas eager to belt their way to the top of the charts. Furthermore, Houston was a successful touring artist, and she wasn’t afraid to do a quick two-step as she generated millions in revenue for her label and songwriters across the globe.
Is there a queen of pop? Is it any of these singers/entertainers? Or somebody... else?