In the 1980’s and 1990’s, the charts were dominated by powerhouse vocalists and balladeers. Singers including Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey and Celine Dion held the top spots on the charts for longer periods than any of their contemporaries; shattering records and positioning themselves at the upper crests of Pop music’s elite list of superstars. However, in recent years, it seems that the famed era of the diva may be coming to an end.
Today, the most successful artists on the charts no longer rely on extensive vocal ability to stake their claim. Rather, they fuel their hits with auto-tuned melodies, catchy hooks and club-ready beats. From Rihanna to Cassie, the success of many of Pop music’s biggest acts has become based on their marketability, rather than actual talent. In fact, it has become a rare feat for a vocalist with extensive talent to capture a position in the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100.
Interestingly, many of the divas themselves have swapped their octave warbling techniques and adapted their sounds in an effort to remain relevant in the current industry. For instance, Mariah Carey has been criticised in recent years for restraining her 5 octave pipes so that her songs would be more radio friendly; replacing her high range belts and trills with breathy coos and swift lyrics.
This raises the question of whether or not the divas will be able to once again reclaim their place at the top of the Pop charts or fade into distant memory along with the 90’s high-top hair cut and the 80’s ‘fanny pack’. With immensely talented singers such as Leona Lewis struggling to find their place amongst the current crop of performers, I sense that the era of the diva may indeed be over.