Fanny packs, teensy sunglasses, and old baggy jeans are vivid reminders of the ’90s. But, during the said era, pop culture was as vibrant, too. The decade became the breeding ground for some of the greatest, most influential, or noteworthy female singers in existence. Here’s a list of some of the pop female stars who flared their way through the ’90s and made great music; some of them continue to do so today.
1. Mary J. Blige
Keeping it street and soulful, Mary J. Blige released her first album ‘What’s the 411?’ in 1992 and changed the face of R&B forever. Her music has been a channel to tell stories almost about everything from relationships, communal pain, to healing. “My Life,” her second album, took the world by storm in 1994 and catapulted the hardworking diva into fame. Later in her career, she continued to release other iconic tracks, such as “Everything” and “Love is All We Need.” Listening to these songs will show why she has been one of the most renowned female singers in the world of R&B.
2. Shania Twain
Selling over 100 million records, Shania Twain is the best-selling female artist in the history of country music. While she may have a slow start, with her first album only notching 100,000 copies, her twangy country-pop music experienced a critical and commercial success through her Grammy-award winning second album, ‘The Woman in Me.’ She rocketed to global fame in 1997, and it became impossible not to hear her catchy hits ‘That Don’t Impress Me Much’ and ‘Man! I Feel Like a Woman’ on the radio.
3. Sheryl Crow
Blending pop, country, rock, and blues, Sheryl Crow has served some of the most iconic soundtracks in the ’90s. She rocketed to stardom with her first subtle pop hit “All I Wanna Do” in 1994. Her second album then shifted to a much rockier vibe, which included the smash hit “If It Makes You Happy.” Sure enough, Crow’s timeless and relevant music brought the needed up-tempo element in the said decade – songs that made people want just to shut the world and have fun.
4. Alanis Morisette
Bringing in expressive songwriting skills and a sensitive and emotional approach, Alanis Morisette exploded into the pop mainstream via her critically-acclaimed album “The Jagged Pill” in 1995. Her song ‘You Oughta Know’ became an instant hit due to the new searing anger its lyrics exuded by that time. The feminist singer-songwriter quickly served as the conduit of angst for the generation. Through her career, she continued to be the spokesperson of women, a beacon of real-life experiences as seen on her hit ‘Ironic’), always instilling wit and wisdom into her performance and witty singing poetry.
5. Toni Braxton
Toni Braxton broke through the ’90s and established herself by giving adult contemporary, R&B, and pop classics in the said decade. Her music centered on relatable emotions of love and heartbreak, which is most notable in her signature song “Unbreak My Heart.” She has a dramatic verve and a sophisticated voice served as a calmer alternative. But, alongside her emotional classic, she also released upbeat and steamy singles like “Seven Whole Days” and “He Wasn’t Man Enough” that helped catapult her to be one of the most renowned female artists of the ’90s.
6. Janet Jackson
Janet Jackson has a long and prosperous career that spanned for more than four decades. While she may have released her first album in 1982, it was in the ’90s when she became a household name in the world of R&B. The youngest of Jackson of the clan, Janet, made her own mark through her iconic performance, weak sultry voice, and sexually-graphic records. In 1993, she released her fifth studio album, which included chart-topping hits, such as “You Want This,” “That’s The Way Love Goes,” and “Again.” Janet Jackson continued to release hit after hit albums, placing her as one of the world’s best-selling music artists of all time.
7. Celine Dion
From being a French-language teenage popstar, Celine Dion burst into international stardom when she switched to the English language in the ’90s. Her emotional ballads that showcased her powerful and distinct voice catapulted her to popularity. Her most iconic songs are “Beauty and the Beast” for the 1991 Disney animated-flick and the smash hit “My Heart Will Go On” for the blockbuster “Titanic.” After that, the rest is history for the Canadia singer as she continued to rise in fame and score multiple Grammy awards for her timeless music.
8. Whitney Houston
Whitney Houston cemented consecutive number-one singles in the late ’80s and continued to enjoy massive international success in the ’90s. Her dramatic and soulful voice was adept to any style but it was a ballad that gave her biggest hit, the 1992 cover of “I Will Always Love You” for the movie ‘The Bodyguard.’ She then continued to nail hits after hit, centering on songs about overcoming the odds, such as in the 1998 hit ‘When You Believe.’ Sure enough, her glorious voice and music are an everlasting legacy to the music industry.
What more can you expect from the Queen of Pop? In the ’90s, Madonna remained one of the biggest pop stars in the world, continually reinventing her music and herself. Her controversial and dynamic sound, plus her incredible stage presence was very vibrant in the nineties. Starting from the upbeat ‘Vogue’ in 1990, the soulful and poetic ‘Take A Bow’ in 1994, to the melodic ‘Frozen’ in 1998, Madonna made her own mark in the decade, further solidifying her status to be one of best female pop recording artists of all time.
10. Mariah Carey
Powered by her majestic five-octave voice, Mariah Carey rocketed to superstardom in the ’90s. Her first self-titled album served five chart-topping hits, such as ‘Vision of Love,’ ‘Love Takes Times’, and ‘There’s Got To Be A Better Way.’ She has an elastic talent that crossed over to singing ballads, perky dance-pop music, and R&B throughout the decade. However, it was her whistle register and melisma on hitting high notes that made her a legendary figure in the nineties. Carey continued to troll success, releasing numerous albums and chart-topping singles and selling 200 million records globally, which established her as one of the best female music artists of all-time.
These are only a few of the most prominent pop female stars that changed the nineties music through their distinct styles, skills, and personalities. Who’s your favorite of them all?