All of the monarchs of the music industry are resting securely on cemented thrones. We have an undisputed Queen of Soul, King of Rock n’ Roll, King of R&B, and of course, a King of Pop. Even though such title was initially self-proclaimed, there was no denying its delegation. Interestingly, there is a vacancy on that list…the queen’s chair sits ostensibly empty. And though many may vie and eye the throne, no woman has boldly professed herself as such (unlike her male counterpart). So, it begs the question: Who is the Queen of Pop? While there are candidates many-a-fan would crown as such, there has been no definitively, unquestioned female pop potentate. And then…
In an age where the merit of ‘pop royalty’ is defined by fly-by-night radio hits and digital downloads, famed music magazine Rolling Stone developed an index of criteria to best crown the genre’s new queen. For anyone who has been alive for the last three years (inhabitants of the animal kingdom included), it was a no brainer that Lady Gaga would be enthroned the genre’s reigning female monarch. However, the list, which only included Pop’s active acts, was greeted with so much backlash it was later revised.
But, even the revision still featured Lady Gaga (a relative newcomer) above legends Mariah Carey and Celine Dion (with no mention of Janet Jackson or Whitney Houston). While the magazine’s attempt to fill the void is applaudable, it is also laughable. With music’s other matronly monarchs having a spate of success under their individual belts, is it really fair to say the Lady named queen would only have two albums under hers and less than 5 years in the game?
Thusly, That Grape wants to know: what should be the criteria for determining queenship? Sales? Influence? Awards? If so, with so many candidates, who is the Queen[Q1] ?
That Grape Juice has chosen six leading ladies who would probably be the real contenders for the throne. Each of the succeeding songstresses have, at minimum, 20 years experience,100 million records sold, and immeasurable influence over the industry (especially over those who decorated Rolling Stones’ list). Did your fave make the cut?
(in alphabetical order)
1) Celine Dion
10-time Grammy winner Celine Dion had already cemented her diva-hood before she was even able to drive. By the time the singer had become an American sensation, she had already been decorated with many an award. Her biggest hit, 1998’s ‘My Heart Will Go On’ is one of the most successful songs of all time, with over 15 million copies sold worldwide. With 35 albums (13 English), the singer has sold a reported 200 million records worldwide.
One of very few singers in history to win every major honor of the entertainment industry (Academy Award, Emmy, Grammy, Golden Globe). With 41 albums (25 studio) released and over 100 million records sold, the ‘If I Could Turn Back Time’ singer is also the only singer in history to have a number 1 single in each of the previous decades (a record just cemented this year). Her biggest hit, 1998’s ‘Believe’ gave her the distinct honor of having the longest span between number one singles – 1965’s ‘I Got You Babe’ being the first. And, the song also gave the then-53 year old the honor of being the oldest person to occupy the #1 spot on Billboard’s Hot 100.
3) Janet Jackson
The youngest member of music’s most important family has niched her place in history as one of pop’s most celebrated entertainers. Noted for her energetic live spectacles and classic pop hits, Miss Jackson’s influence on today’s pop stars is undeniable. With 14 albums (10 studio), 10 Hot 100 #1 singles, 27 Hot 100 Top Ten singles, and over 100 million sold, the 6-time Grammy winner’s place in the history books was cemented long before her 30th birthday. Her critically and commercially acclaimed ‘Rhythm Nation 1814’ album (1989) still holds the record as the only album to have yielded 7 top ten Hot 100 singles with 4 of them reaching #1 over three separate calendar years. Even with all of the aforementioned, her youthful appearance would yield no clue that she has experienced over 35 years in the business. And, with a sold out world tour in progress, the ‘All For You’ singer looks to have no plans of slowing down.
Arguably the most celebrated female singer in history (and the most cited as the real ‘Queen of Pop’). With 29 albums (11 studio), 12 Hot 100 #1 singles, 37 Hot 100 Top Ten (more than any other artist in history), the singer is cited as the best-selling female artist in history with sales in excess of 300 million. The ‘Vogue’ singer is also the most successful solo tour artist in history, breaking each of her own records with every tour. To list Madge’s library of achievements would nearly be impossible, but to see her influence on every single person on Rolling Stone’s ‘Queen of Pop’ list is not.
5) Mariah Carey
While Madonna was listed by Billboard as the most successful female artist in Hot 100 history, Mariah Carey is known by many as The Queen of Billboard. With a staggering 18 Hot 100 #1 singles, the singer currently holds the record for the most #1 singles of any artist in history. Her song ‘One Sweet Day’ holds the record as the longest running song of Billboard history (16 consecutive weeks), while her 2005 hit ‘We Belong Together’ was listed as the biggest song of the 2000s, spending 14 non-consecutive weeks atop the chart. The singer also is the only artist in history have a number 1 single on the Hot 100 every year of a decade. Furthermore, we should mention that she is the youngest artist on the list. At 41, the ‘Vision of Love’ diva, known for her soaring vocals and multi-octave range, has sold a reported 200 million records with 20 albums (13 studio). And, with an album in the works with an expected release date in late 2011, Mimi looks to increase that number.
6) Whitney Houston
The Voice. The definitive Voice. Whitney Elizabeth Houston is the most decorated female artist in history. It has been reported that as of 2010 (including lifetime achievement awards) the singer has won over 400 industry awards including 6 Grammys, 30 Billboard Awards, 22 American Music Awards (more than any other artist in history), among others. While the singer has the least number of albums released (14 total, 7 studio) the singer has still amassed over 170 million records sold worldwide. Topped with 11 Hot 100 #1 singles, the ‘I’m Your Baby Tonight’ singer is still the only artist in history to have 7 consecutive Hot 100 #1 singles. Her biggest hit ‘I Will Always Love You’ is the best selling single in history by a female artist, and second overall best selling. The song’s parent soundtrack, ‘The Bodyguard’, is the best selling soundtrack in history (and the accompanying movie is one of the highest grossing in history). With every singer who even partially considers themselves a vocalist citing Miss Houston as an influence, she has unquestionably defined what it means to be a ‘diva’ for the last 25 years in pop.
Now that you have the facts, we want your opinion. Who is the real queen of pop? Class is in session. Pencils ready? Begin.