Queens of pop
Or princesses? Pop stardom for the music ages
Miley. Britney. Whitney.
Some female pop stars are so famous — or infamous — they need one name only.
Cher. Gaga. Madonna.
Although women have graced pop charts for decades, an argument could be made that the past two years, particularly the past few months, were transcendent for solo, female pop artists.
Celine. Katy. Mariah.
New albums or singles were released. Landmark anniversaries were celebrated. And one artist tried to break the Internet with her attention-seeking antics that circulated across social media.
(Fine. No one broke the Internet, although Miley Cyrus put forth a valiant effort at the recent MTV Video Music Awards and MTV European Music Awards in Amsterdam where she twerked and toked, respectively.)
Through all the albums, all the antics and all the estrogen, one thing remains: Female, solo pop stars have the ability, through hype, controversy or even talent, to attract more attention than artists from any other genre.
In fact, earlier this month, Katy Perry supplanted Justin Bieber as the most followed person on Twitter.
Here’s a look at some of the biggest solo, female pop musicians of all time, their most recent albums — ah, that’s why their names have been in the entertainment news so much lately — and what could be considered that one career moment when each woman basically “earned” the ability to say, “Yeah, I’m ______. I’ll do what I want.”
(Approximately 15.4 million Twitter followers)
It’s hard to believe the Miley who appeared at the VMAs in August wearing minimal clothing and grinding on singer Robin Thicke is the same Miley who starred in Disney’s popular TV show “Hannah Montana.”
She turns 21 on Nov. 23, so unfortunately her behavior could get worse. (Let’s hope not.)
Some might argue Miley has no business being mentioned in the same breath as Cher or Whitney Houston, but the former Disney princess’ notoriety and ability to sell music and her shows — tickets to her March 4 Denver show go on sale Saturday, Nov. 16 — have garnered her global superstardom.
Miley’s album “Bangerz,” released Oct. 4, was the top-selling album of that week on U.S. Billboard 200 and has produced two popular singles thus far: “We Can’t Stop” and “Wrecking Ball.”
Her moment: If by “iconic” do you mean being raunchy and inappropriate with a foam finger while wearing a flesh-colored bikini on national TV? Because, yeah, that’s probably her moment.
(Approximately 34.1 million Twitter followers)
After bursting onto the music scene in 1999 with “…Baby One More Time,” Britney has crammed quite a career and life into the past 14 years.
So what stands out about Britney? Is it the music? Is it her live performances? Is it the time she shaved her head in public?
Regardless of what decisions Britney made — Kevin Federline?!? — things appear to have settled down. She starts a two-year residency at Las Vegas’ Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino in late-December, which will come on the heels of the Dec. 3 release of her eighth studio album, “Britney Jean.”
Her moment: If you come out of a live tiger’s cage and dance around stage with an albino python across your shoulders, as Britney did during her performance of “I’m a Slave 4 U” at the 2001 VMAs, you probably have hit a point where you feel like you can do whatever you want.
(Approximately 217, 000 Twitter followers. Madonna’s not a big tweeter.)
On Jan. 1, 1983, Madonna released her self-titled debut album. That’s right, New Year’s Day. What a statement.
Although 2013 is the 30th anniversary of Madonna formally entering the music scene, it’s been a relatively quiet year for arguably the most influential and biggest pop star in history. However, she did release her 12th studio album, “MDNA,” in March 2012. It debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200.
Her moment: The year 1990 for two reasons: “The Immaculate Collection” and the metallic cone bra she debuted on her Blond Ambition Tour. Wearing a cone bra is the fashion equivalent of saying “I’ll do what I want.”
(Approximately 1.8 million Twitter followers)
Cher became famous in 1965 as part of the folk rock duo Sonny & Cher. Think about that. Cher has circled the music scene for nearly 50 years.
She has starred in popular TV shows and attracted attention for her daring fashion choices. (See: Oscars, 1986 or Oscars, 1988).
More recently, Cher released her 25th studio album “Closer to the Truth” on Sept. 20 and was a team adviser for Blake Shelton on Season 5 of NBC’s “The Voice.”
Her moment: Cher will be remembered for many things, but her moment came in 1988 when she won the Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role for “Moonstruck.” No other solo, female pop star on this list can claim that honor.
(Approximately 40.5 million Twitter followers)
Gaga has taken the baton from Cher when it comes to eccentric fashion choices. It is hard to discern what Gaga is known for more: her up beat dance songs or her crazy outfits, including a raw meat dress that she wore to the 2010 VMAs, where she received 13 award nominations.
Her most recent album, “Artpop,” came out Monday, Nov. 11, and she hosts and performs on Saturday Night Live on Saturday, Nov. 16.
Her moment: The Monster Ball tour, launched in November 2009, consisted of nearly 200 shows around the world generating hundreds of millions of dollars, according to Billboard.com. The tour was lauded for its theatricality and style, which became her trademarks.
(Approximately 47.2 million Twitter followers)
Katy is perhaps the biggest female pop star in the world right now, but it has been that way, off and on, since April 2008 when she released the single “I Kissed a Girl.”
In fact, Katy is the queen of singles.
Her third album, “Teenage Dream” came out in August 2010 but two singles off that album, “California Gurls” and “Teenage Dream,” were released earlier and became huge hits.
In all, five singles off “Teenage Dream” topped the Billboard Hot 100 list, making it the first album from a female artist to produce five No. 1 hits. The only other artist to achieve that feat by that time? Michael Jackson.
The hype for Katy’s fourth album, “PRISM,” started in August when single “Roar” went on sale. It became her eighth chart-topping single and was the first of four singles for sale before “PRISM” came out Oct. 22.
Her moment: Katy became a household name and figure of intrigue with “I Kissed a Girl” in April 2008. She sang about kissing a girl with cherry ChapStick. Some loved the song’s catchy beat. Some hated the lyrics. Either way, Katy got attention right out of the gate, pretty much indicating she was going to do what she wanted.
(Approximately 14.5 million Twitter followers)
Mariah’s new single “The Art of Letting Go” came out Tuesday, Nov. 12. It is the second single she has released this year. The other was “#Beautiful” featuring Miguel. It came out in May.
With two singles this year, it appears a new album from the woman synonymous with unprecedented vocal range must be coming.
In October, Mariah wrote a Facebook letter updating her fans on her health — she dislocated her shoulder in July — and said her new album had to be put on hold because of the injury.
Whenever the new album arrives, it’ll be her first, other than a Christmas album, since 2009’s “Memoir of an Imperfect Angel.”
Her moment: The 1993 album “Music Box,” although not her first release, solidified Mariah as a star. Singles “Dreamlover,” “Hero” and “Without You” became chart-toppers around the world. It’s one of the best-selling albums in history, according to Billboard. (Personal note: Mariah’s 1994 classic, “All I Want For Christmas Is You” is one of the first songs I play the moment Thanksgiving ends and I’m allowed to put on Christmas music.)
(Approximately 125,000 Twitter followers. Celine’s not a big tweeter.)
Although not American, Celine is a part of this country’s pop music landscape. Her albums “Falling Into You” and “Let’s Talk About Love” are two of the best-selling albums of all time, according to Billboard.
Celine released her 11th English-language album, “Love Me Back to Life,” on Friday, Nov. 1. (She also releases albums in French.)
Her moment: Sure Celine was already a superstar when the 1997 blockbuster “Titanic” was released, but her rendition of “My Heart Will Go On” is a big moment in pop music history. Love it or hate it, “My Heart Will Go On” won the 1997 Oscar for Best Original Song.
Pop music suffered a huge loss in February 2012 when Whitney, one of the greatest female vocalists of all time, accidentally drowned in a hotel bathtub, according to the Los Angeles County coroner.
Heart disease and cocaine use were listed as contributing factors.
Her moment: Whitney’s first acting role in the 1992 film “The Bodyguard” and the songs she recorded for the soundtrack are legendary. The song “I Will Always Love You” helped the album win a Grammy for Album of the Year. It was a soundtrack, for crying out loud! Man, that woman was talented.