Top 10 Most Iconic Female Singers of All Time

Script written by Q.V. Hough These unforgettable superstars have left a permanent mark on history. Join MsMojo as we countdown our picks for the top 10 most iconic female singers of all time. For this list, we’re counting down the most culturally relevant and iconic female singers from the 50s to today. These women have set themselves apart through creativity, perseverance, and sheer popularity. Special thanks to our users Ivor Louisetyne Canque, Sam Pamenter, Dangkhoa Nguyenhuynh and Rachel Jackson for submitting the idea on our Interactive Suggestion Tool at

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Top 10 Female Singers of All Time

#10 Taylor Swift

Whereas artists like Rihanna and Katy Perry each influence the music industry in different ways, this crossover phenomenon has forged her own path. Of course we’re talking about Taylor Swift’s willingness to engage with the industry on musician’s rights, but it takes a singer of her magnitude to essentially change the world in which we live. From a musical standpoint, she’s been in the public eye since the spawn of YouTube, and in the 2010s alone, Taylor released three consecutive #1 albums. Given the massive success of the eclectic 1989, she isn’t just the top singer of the twenty first-century, she’s one of the most powerful female musicians ever.

#9 Britney Spears

In the 2000s, many pop artists emerged and contributed heavily to existing trends, but here’s an icon that established her own precedent. Whether or not you like Britney Spears’ music, it’s important to remember the context of her initial fame and how she affected the landscape of her genre. With 2000’s “Oops!... I Did It Again”, she referenced bubblegum pop ideology, yet it became clear that she was searching for something more, trying to find herself as woman while progressing as an artist. Though her career didn’t come without a few speed bumps, Britney ultimately came out a pop culture icon, and set the tone for 21st century pop music.

#8 Celine Dion

Rose clings to Jack in the freezing water of the Atlantic to a background of sobs and snuffles. No nineties list would be complete without Celine Dion and her classic, tear-jerking song, “My Heart Will Go On”. From recording music in French in the eighties, Celine’s career really began to take off during the nineties with her collaboration on the song “Beauty and the Beast” for the Disney animation. And the rest is history! Her beautiful ballads and stunning vocals have earned her so much popularity that she is now the top-selling female artist of all time.

#7 Beyoncé

While some musicians tap into cultural trends with hopes of staying relevant, others realize their importance on a higher level and become a brand. And, well, Beyoncé just operates on a different level than most. From 2003’s Dangerously in Love to B’Day to I Am Sasha Fierce, Beyoncé brought us into her world on a personal level while still remaining elusive. And that’s a testament to her supreme talent as a vocalist and performer. All that to say, Beyoncé is so good that she makes anything look easy, whether personally or professionally. She’s a top-level singer, but it’s the creative vision that makes her a mythical figure to some.

#6 Whitney Houston

When Whitney Houston dropped her debut album in 1985, the vocal superiority left many speechless. But as a blossoming pop star, Whitney Houston needed the right set of songs, and luckily her label came through. By the late eighties, young Whitney Houston had already broken the world record for consecutive number ones, and she was ready to lead the way into a new decade. The nineties saw Whitney enjoy a huge international breakthrough as both a singer and actress with The Bodyguard movie and “I Will Always Love You” from its soundtrack. With many other hits, from her rendition of “Star Spangled Banner” to the beautiful “When You Believe”, she was a truly talented and much-loved artist.

#5 Madonna

The 80s were a time when female artists of various genres were trying to find their way, and Madonna ultimately set the tone, capitalizing to the fullest on sexuality, femininity and the paradox when contrasted with her own name. This Queen of Pop is known for her ever-changing style, controversial music and incredible stage presence. Madonna would go on to make the nineties her own, from the theatrical beat of “Vogue” in 1990 to the mysterious melancholy of “Frozen” in 1998. As a reviewer of one of her performances said at the time, “[l]ove or hate [Madonna], she is a magnet for all eyes.” We couldn’t put it better than that!

#4 Mariah Carey

Here she is… Everybody’s favourite diva! She has the looks, the voice, the songs, and she took the nineties by the reins and cracked her whip! From sneaking the radio into her bed to sing at the age of four, she has blossomed into one of the world’s most successful artists. Whether you’re in the mood for a thoughtful ballad or perky pop, she’s got her finger on the play button. And considering the woman once suffered from stage fright, her efforts should be applauded.

#3 Tina Turner

Coming to fame with Ike Turner, Tina’s a multifaceted woman that knew how to get it done. With a career dating back to the 50s, Tina Turner presented an alternative sound to the more popular R&B sounds of her time, leading up to the duo’s most successful release entitled “Workin’ Together”. Tina eventually established herself as a true independent woman with four iconic 70s releases. In the 80s, the anthemic “What’s Love Got to Do With It” ultimately became one of her signature tracks. Turner’s follow-up studio album produced a full eight singles, proving the diva’s 80s dominance.

#2 Ella Fitzgerald

Though many female artists have innovated their respective genres over the decades, Lady Ella was truly the First Lady of Song. Emerging as a teenage performer during the early 30s, Ella Fitzgerald paid her dues in the industry, all the while struggling as a female artist with no precedent to study. And so, when pop music took on a different sound in the 50s, the Queen of Jazz was more relevant than ever as a vocal inspiration for any female artist with a desire to improve their craft. And she even brought Frank Sinatra out of retirement in the 70s. Not many people have that type of clout.

Cyndi Lauper

Etta James

Annie Lennox

Katy Perry


Christina Aguilera

#1 Aretha Franklin

Some people learn to sing, and some are naturally good enough to perform with the best, but Aretha Franklin is in a category all her own. It’s not that she didn’t pick up a few tricks from her predecessors like any committed singer would, it’s just that Aretha was obviously born to sing. By 1960, at the age of 18, the journey began. However, given the racism of the American 60s, and an industry dominated by male executives, even a voice like Aretha’s took some time to earn the proper amount of r-e-s-p-e-c-t, and once her famous single dropped in 1967, well, there was no turning back. A voice like hers can always warm the heart and touch the soul of even the most hardened individual.

So, do you agree with our selections? Who do you think is the most iconic female singer of all time? For more musical Top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to MsMojo.


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