“Girls run the world,” Beyoncé once stated. We’ve seen female celebrities dominate the charts and become household names for decades. Who hasn’t heard of Madonna? What is “music” if not Rihanna?
We’re going to salute the 30 best-selling female musicians of all time and look at how they’ve made their careers shine brightly with big songs and lucrative albums. Some of these celebs will likely surprise you, while others will be rather predictable.
Scroll down to find out who the most successful female artists are…
The data was obtained from Wikipedia’s Claimed Sales.
30. Ariana Grande
Sales: 90 million
No.1 Singles (Billboard): Thank you, 7 Rings, Rain On Me, Positions, and Save Your Tears
Best-Selling Album: Thank U, Next
Ariana Grande showed her musical skill at a young age, landing a part in the musical 13, appearing in Victorious, and posting covers on YouTube. In 2013, the singer released her first album, which debuted at number one on the Billboard 200. Since then, she has sold over 90 million albums worldwide.
Yours Truly, Ariana’s breakout first album, arrived at number one on the Billboard 200 and was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America. (RIAA). A decade later, it’s evident that this was merely the beginning of a trend.
Prior to the release of Positions in 2020, the artist produced five additional albums, each of which received platinum or higher certification. Thank U, Next, Ariana’s best-selling album to date, opened at number two on the Billboard 200 in 2019.
The Way (with Mac Miller) was the song that helped catapult Ariana’s first album to stardom, reaching number nine on the US charts and becoming triple platinum. However, the singer has now released a series of even more popular hits.
Problem (featuring Iggy Azalea) and Side To Side (featuring Nicki Minaj) were both certified platinum six times; Bang Bang (featuring Jessie J and Nicki Minaj) was certified platinum eight times; Thank U, Next topped the US charts; and 7 Rings holds the Guinness World Record for the most Spotify listens in a single week.
In addition to more conventional awards, Ariana has two Grammys and 30 Guinness World Records. She is the most streamed female artist of all time, the most subscribed female solo artist on YouTube, and Billboard called her the most successful female musician to debut in the 2010s.
Ariana has her own beauty line, R.E.M Beauty, as well as a fragrance line.
29. Reba McEntire
Sales: 90 million
No.1 Singles (Billboard Country Chart): You’re the First Time I’ve Thought About Leaving, How Blue, Somebody Should Leave, Whoever’s in New England, Little Rock, What Am I Gonna Do About You, One Promise Too Late, The Last One to Know, and a slew of more titles
Best-Selling Album: Greatest Hits Volume Two
Reba McEntire, sometimes known as the “Queen of Country,” began her career in the band “The Singing McEntires,” but it wasn’t until years later that she was discovered singing by a country musician who helped her get her break. Reba signed a record contract in 1975, released a single the following year, and has since produced 33 studio albums.
Reba’s first two albums were not commercially successful. However, by the early 1980s, she was gaining traction on the country charts, and with Whoever’s In New England in 1986, she reached number one.
Read My Mind debuted at number two on the Billboard 200 and went triple platinum; Reba: Duets and Keep On Loving You debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 in 2007 and 2009, respectively; and other compilation albums have gone multi-platinum, including Greatest Hits Volume Two five times.
Reba has recorded 126 singles, 100 of which have been as a lead artist. Many of them have charted at number one on Billboard’s Hot Country charts, starting with Can’t Even Get The Blues in 1982 and included songs such as You’re The First Time I’ve Thought About Leaving, How Blue, Whoever’s In New England, One Promise Too Late, and others.
Reba has had a film career in addition to her musical accomplishments, acting in films such as North and The Little Rascals. She has three Grammy Awards, the second-most Academy of Country Music Top Female Vocalist Awards (7), and the most American Music Awards for Favorite Country Female Artist (7). (12).
28. Avril Lavigne
Sales: 90 million
No.1 Singles (Billboard): Girlfriend
Best-Selling Album: Let Go
At the age of 16, Avril Lavigne secured a contract with Atista Records. Soon after, she published Let Go, her first studio album, which went platinum seven times. She has released seven albums to date, selling over 40 million copies (along with 30 million singles).
Let Go, Avril’s debut studio album, was one of the defining records of the 2000s pop-punk period. In addition to its septuple-platinum status, it peaked at number two on the Billboard 200 and remains the best-selling album by a Canadian artist this century.
Her subsequent recordings cemented her status as a genre and period master. Under My Skin got triple platinum and peaked at number one on the Billboard 200, while The Best Damn Thing went double platinum and peaked at number one.
Three of Avril’s most successful hits were from her album Let Go. Complicated peaked at number two on the US charts and became one of the decade’s defining songs. Sk8er Boi and I’m With You were also top-10 hits.
My Happy Ending from Under My Skin also made the top 10, but Breakaway is likely Lavigne’s greatest success after Let Go. Most people associate this song with Kelly Clarkson, although Avril actually co-wrote it.
Avril Lavigne has garnered several special distinctions in addition to hundreds of award nominations and wins (including eight Grammy nominations). In 2003, she achieved a Guinness World Record by becoming the youngest musician to top the UK charts. In the late 2000s, her music video for the song Girlfriend became the first to reach 100 million views on YouTube.
27. Alicia Keys
Sales: 90 million
No.1 Singles (Billboard): Fallin’, My Boo, No One, Empire State of Mind
Best-Selling Album: Songs In A Minor
Alicia Keys studied classical piano from an early age. Her skill was so remarkable that she earned a contract with Columbia Records at the age of 15, with her own compositions already under her belt. Soon after, she signed with Arista Records, where she released her first album Songs In A Mirror in 2001, at the age of 21.
Alicia’s first album, Songs In A Mirror, was an immediate hit, topping the Billboard 200 and selling enough copies to earn septuple-platinum certification. The record launched her as a singer-songwriter phenomenon, and she’s since built on that success with eight more studio albums.
Alicia reclaimed her position atop the Billboard 200 with The Diary Of Alicia Keys in 2003, As I Am in 2007, and Girl On Fire in 2012.
Alicia has had four singles chart at the top of the Billboard Hot 100. Fallin’ hit number one for five weeks in a row and was officially the most listened to song in 2007. Even though If I Ain’t Got You only reached number four on the charts, it was the first song by a female artist to spend more than a year on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs list.
Keys returned to the top of the charts in 2009 with Empire State of Mind, a song she sang with Jay-Z.
Alicia has 15 Grammy Awards to her name, and in 2002, she became just the second woman in history to win five in a single night.In the 2000s, Billboard named her the R&B/Hip-Hop Artist of the Decade, while the RIAA named her the best certified female R&B artist of the millenium.
26. Dionne Warwick
Sales: 100 million
No.1 Singles (Billboard): Then Came You, That’s What Friends Are For
Best-Selling Album: Heartbreaker
Dionne Warwick, a one-of-a-kind vocalist whose particular style merged pop, gospel, and soul, began her musical career as a backup singer. She ultimately signed a record contract with Scepter Records in 1962 and has since released 42 studio albums on various labels.
Dionne never had a hallmark record that made her the face of musical culture at any one period. Her consistency, on the other hand, has been outstanding. Ten of the artist’s albums, including Here Where There Is Love, Promises, Promises, and Friends, have placed in the top 25. In 1979, she earned platinum success with Dionne.
Dionne Warwick has had 56 songs chart on the Billboard Hot 100 throughout the course of her career, making her one of the most-charted singers of all time. There were two number one hits among these: Then Came You and That’s What Friends Are For.
Musically, Dionne is running out of awards to collect. She is a member of the Grammy Hall of Fame (as are three of her songs); she has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame; she has six Grammys; and she was recognized with a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2019. Aside from music, she was also an official UN Goodwill Ambassador.
25. Shania Twain
Sales: 100 million
No.1 Singles (Billboard Country Chart): Any of my men, I’m Leaving, You Win My Love, No One Needs to Know, Love Always Gets Me, You’re Still the One, Honey, I’m Home
Best-Selling Album: Come On Over
Shania Twain is a popular country music artist best recognized for crossing the barriers between pop and country music. She debuted with Mercury Records in 1993, but it was her second album that catapulted her to stardom. She is now the sixth best-selling female artist in US history.
Shania Twain has six studio albums, the first four of which reflect some of the most amazing runs of success a contemporary artist has ever had.
She is the first female artist in history to have three (consecutive) diamond albums recognized by the RIAA, and she has sold over 34 million records in the United States alone, making her the top-selling female singer in country music.
Her third album, Come On Over, debuted at number two on Billboard and number one among country albums, earning her a double diamond certification. Shania received four Grammy Awards for the song. Shania eventually topped the Billboard chart in 2002 with her 11-time platinum record Up, and she did it again in 2017 with Now.
Surprisingly, Shania never had a number one hit in the United States. She had three top-10 singles, including You’re Still The One, That Don’t Impress Me Much, and From This Moment On.
Notably, Shania has topped the US country charts seven times and has also been a regular at the top of the Canadian country charts.
Shania Twain is often regarded as the godmother of country-pop as a subgenre. She is the recipient of five Grammy Awards, one World Music Award, and 27 BMI Songwriter Awards. She is also a member of the Canadian Music Hall of Fame and the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.
24. Tina Turner
Sales: 100 million
No.1 Singles (Billboard): What’s Love Got to Do With It
Best-Selling Album: Private Dancer
In the mid-1950s, the Queen of Rock began playing with the band Kings Of Rhythm. By 1960, she was playing in duos as Tina Turner with her future husband Ike. She made popular albums in the mid-1970s, but her genuine solo career began with Rough in 1978, after her controversial divorce from Ike Turner.
Tina Turner set a direction for her solo career with her albums Rough and Love Explosion. Her biggest triumph, however, came with her 1984 comeback album Private Dancer.
The album debuted at number three on the Billboard 200 and went on to sell over ten million copies worldwide. Break Every Rule, released in 1986, peaked at number four and was certified platinum.
Tina Turner’s greatest hit singles were mostly released in the mid-1980s. We Don’t Need Another Hero from the Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome soundtrack, as well as Typical Male from the album Break Every Rule, charted at number two in the United States.
However, it is difficult to disagree that Tina’s most memorable hit was What’s Love Got To Do With It. This song went to number one, won three Grammys, and was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2012.
Tina has received several awards, including 12 Grammys, admission into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, a plaque on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and the Kennedy Center Honors.
She successfully attempted to become a Swiss citizen after retiring from music, surrendering her American citizenship in the process.
23. Diana Ross
Sales: 100 million
No.1 Singles (Billboard): Touch Me In the Morning, Theme from Mahogany, Love Hangover, Upside Down, Endless Love, Ain’t No Mountain High Enough
Best-Selling Album: Diana
Diana Ross was the lead singer of The Supremes, a Motown female group that is still the #1 girl group in Billboard history, prior to her solo career. However, in 1970, she began a solo career that she has continued to this day. If anything, her solo career has surpassed that of The Supremes.
Diana Ross’s debut solo album, Diana Ross, was released in 1970 by Motown Records. It peaked at number 19 on the Billboard charts, but it also included Diana’s first number one single, her own rendition of Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.
A decade later, Diana became the artist’s most successful album, ranking at number two and selling over 10 million copies worldwide.
Diana Ross has six number one songs in her career, in addition to her classic interpretation of Ain’t No Mountain High Enough. Upside Down lasted four weeks at number one in 1980, outperforming Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’s three weeks. Diana’s longest reign at the top, however, came from a duet of Endless Love with Lionel Richie in 1981.
Diana is one of just a few musicians to have received two Grammy Lifetime Achievement Awards, one as a solo artist in 2012 and one with The Supremes in 2023. She is listed as the 11th greatest Hot 100 female musician of all time, and Guinness World Records named her the “most successful female artist in music history” in 1993.
22. Linda Ronstadt
Sales: 100 million
No.1 Singles (Billboard): You’re No Good
Best-Selling Album: Greatest Hits
Linda Ronstadt is noted for her work ranging from classic rock to Mexican folk music. She is one of the most talented artists of the previous 50 years, having published songs from her late ’60s to a 2019 live album release, having sold over 100 million copies.
Linda’s Heart Like A Wheel debuted at the top of the Billboard charts in 1974. It reached double platinum, cementing the hybrid star’s status as the de facto queen of rock at the moment. Linda would subsequently go on to record platinum or multiplatinum albums in each of the following four years, with Simple Dreams and Living In The USA both reaching the top of the Billboard charts.
Canciones de Mi Padre, her Spanish CD, is officially the best-selling non-English language record in US music history.Linda has sold 30 million certified records in the United States, making her the country’s tenth best-selling female solo artist.
Linda’s most successful singles were released in rapid succession between 1975 and 1977. You’re No Good and When Will I Be Loved charted first and second in this span, respectively.
Heat Wave from Prisoner In Disguise hit at number five later that year, while two singles from Simple Dreams – Blue Bayouo and It’s So Easy – also entered the top ten in 1977.
Linda is a member of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and the winner of a Latin Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award; in addition to 11 Grammys, she has a Tony, a Golden Globe, and an Emmy.
21. Dolly Parton
Sales: 100 million
No.1 Singles (Billboard): 9 To 5, Islands In The Stream
Best-Selling Album: Greatest Hits
Country legend Dolly Parton is as well-known as any living artist. In 1967, she published her debut studio album, Hello, I’m Dolly, and she still makes original music today. She is one of the most successful female performers of all time, having sold over 100 million albums.
Dolly Parton has a staggering 44 top ten country albums, a record for any performer.
Hello, I’m Dolly debuted at number 11 on the US country charts, but it wasn’t until the 1970s and 1980s that she found mainstream success. Here You Come Again sold over one million copies to achieve platinum certification, as did her two duets, Once Upon A Christmas and Trio.
Dolly Parton has had 25 songs hit number one on Billboard’s country charts over her career, a record for a female singer (together with Reba McEntire). Her two songs, 9 To 5 and Islands In The Stream, are the only ones to have spent two weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot 100.
Dolly Parton has received almost every award possible for a country music artist. Her performances on country charts in seven different decades are a record, with Grammys, Hollywood acclaim, Hall Of Fame inductions, and other honors.
20. Olivia Newton-John
Sales: 100 million
No.1 Singles (Billboard): I Truly Love You, Have You Ever Been Mellow, You’re The One I’m Looking For, Magic, Physical
Best-Selling Album: Greatest Hits
Olivia Newton-John is most known for her accomplished music career as well as her iconic part in the film Grease. She has sold over 100 million albums throughout her lifetime. She is one of the world’s best-selling female artists.
Olivia Newton-John recorded 26 solo studio albums during a 45-year period, in addition to working on countless soundtracks. Two of the albums, If You Love Me Let Me Know and Have You Never Been Mellow, debuted at the top of the Billboard 200 chart.
Olivia’s greatest popular record, however, was the Grease soundtrack, which also topped the Billboard charts and sold over 30 million copies. It is still one of the best-selling albums in the world.
Olivia has a string of hit songs during her career, five of which reached the top of the Billboard Hot 100.
Physical, in example, lasted an astonishing 10 weeks at the top of the charts, an unprecedented feat in the decade that prompted Billboard to declare the single the best song of the ’80s.
Olivia was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 1979, a Companion of the Order of Australia and a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2019, and she will receive Japan’s Order of the Rising Sun in 2021, in addition to four Grammys.
19. Nicki Minaj
Sales: 100 million
No. 1 Singles (Billboard): Trollz feat. 6ix9ine, Super Freaky Girl
Best-Selling Album: Pink Friday
Nicki Minaj, also known as Queen Barbz, rose to prominence after releasing her mixtapes Playtime Is Over, Sucka Free, and Beam Me Up Scotty. She didn’t become the rapstar we know and love until she joined with Lil Wayne’s Young Money Entertainment company.
Nicki unveiled her alter-ego Roman, who often appears on her tunes, after landing a record contract, and releasing her debut studio album Pink Friday. It reached number one on the Billboard charts in the United States and was certified triple platinum by the RIAA.
Since then, Nicki has sold three more best-selling albums: Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded, which debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, and The Pinkprint and Queen, which both debuted at number two.
The RIAA recognized Super Bass as a diamond ten years after its debut.Nicki achieved her first Hot 100 number one hit with her 6ix9ine duet Trollz in 2020. Her track Super Freaky Girl became the first solo song by a female rapper to debut at number one in the United States in the twenty-first century in 2022.
Overall, the rapstress has sold around 100 million albums worldwide, ranking her as the 12th best-selling female musician.
In addition to being named by Time as one of the 100 most important persons in the world, the best-selling female rapper has won nine American Music Awards, 12 BET Awards, five MTV Video Music Awards (including the 2022 Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award), and four Billboard Music Awards.
18. Janet Jackson
Sales: 100 million
No. 1 Singles (Billboard): When I Think Of You, Escapade, Black Cat, Love Will Never Do, That’s The Way Love Goes, Again, Together Again, Doesn’t Really Matter, All For You
Best-Selling Album: Janet
Janet Jackson is a pop superstar from the United States. Although she is one of the world’s best-selling female singers, the artist’s ultimate legacy is her ability to survive outside of her family’s shadow (particularly Michael Jackson’s) and establish herself as a pioneering Black artist who would impact both white and Black pop performers.
Janet Jackson’s first two albums sold 500,000 copies in the United States. Control, her third album, broke through spectacularly, debuting at number one on the Billboard 200 and selling 10 million copies worldwide.
That innovation sparked an unprecedented streak of success. Janet Jackson went on to record eight solo albums, six of which charted at number one, including Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814, which reached number one for four weeks in a row and sold 12 million copies worldwide.
Janet has had an astonishing 27 songs chart in the top ten of the Billboard Hot 100, with 10 of her hits hitting number one. Miss You Much was number one for four weeks, All For You was number one for seven weeks, and That’s The Way Love Goes was number one for eight weeks in 1993.
She now holds the record for the most consecutive top-ten Hot 100 entries by a female artist (18).
Janet has received five Grammy Awards, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, in addition to a number of Guinness World Records. She is one of the most decorated performers of all time, having received 11 Billboard Music Awards and 11 American Music Awards.
Sales: 100 million
No. 1 Singles (Billboard): Half-Breed, Dark Lady, Gypsies, Tramps, and Thieves
Best-Selling Album: Believe
Cher, popularly known as the “Goddess of Pop,” has been active since 1965 and is noted for her stylish sense and distinctive singing tone. She joined with Liberty Records in 1964 and had a single on the Billboard Hot 100 by the following year.
Cher has had an almost 60-year career. Her first album, All I Really Want To Do, peaked at number 16, but she didn’t enjoy great commercial success until the 1980s.
Cher was her first platinum single; Heart Of Stone peaked at number ten and went triple platinum; and Believe, her most popular single, peaked at number four and went platinum four times.
Cher has had 33 songs chart on the Billboard charts, including four number one successes. She became the female artist with the most number-one singles in US history during the 1970s.
Cher’s most recent top success was Believe, which topped the charts for four weeks in 1999 and was crowned the UK’s best-selling female artist single of all time.
Though Cher’s solo work is enough to make her one of the most important musicians of the previous half-century, she also achieved fame as part of the combo Sonny & Cher. The duo released five studio albums, and their single “I Got You Babe” reached number one in the United States and the United Kingdom, selling 40 million copies worldwide.
16. Christina Aguilera
Sales: 100 million
No. 1 Singles (Billboard): What a Girl Wants, Come On Over, Lady Marmalade, and Moves Like Jagger
Best-Selling Album: Christina Aguilera
Christina Aguilera is another renowned performer who seemed to have been destined for success. As a kid, she appeared on television and exhibited a four-octave vocal range. Prior to her 1999 first album, which launched her to phenomenal popularity, she was still a little-known figure to most.
Christina Aguilera’s debut was one of the most successful in contemporary history, debuting at number one on the Billboard 200 and selling over 14 million copies worldwide. It also catapulted Xtina to prominence as one of the top pop performers of the late ’90s/early ’00s MTV period.
Following a Christmas album and a Spanish album, Christina’s next two releases cemented her as a generational icon – Stripped went quintuple platinum, and Back To Basics returned her to Billboard’s top place.
Christina has had three Billboard Hot 100 number one singles. Genie In A Bottle, What A Girl Wants, and Come in Over Baby (All I Want Is You) were all included in the eponymous first album.
Aguilera also spent four weeks at number one as a featured artist on Maroon 5’s Moves Like Jagger, and another five weeks with her Lady Marmalade collection, which she co-wrote with Lil’ Kim, Mya, and Pink for the Moulin Rouge! soundtrack.
Christina Aguilera has received over 300 honors for her music throughout the years, including five Grammys. Time Magazine named her one of the world’s 100 most important people in 2013.
Aguilera is also well-known as a TV personality, having appeared as a judge on the singing competition program The Voice for multiple seasons.
15. Britney Spears
Sales: 100 million
No. 1 Singles (Billboard): …Baby Again, Womanizer, 3, Hold It Against Me, S&M
Best-Selling Album: Baby One More Time
Britney Spears began her career on television, but she secured her first record contract at the age of 15. This launched her into adolescent popularity, and two years later she was the biggest pop performer in the world. While Britney has become somewhat of a cautionary tale about youth and popularity, she had a peak like few others in contemporary history.
Britney’s first album,…Baby One More Time, debuted at the top of the Billboard 200 in 1999, selling over 12 million copies and achieving certified diamond status. Her 2000 follow-up, appropriately named Oops!… I did it again, and this time I sold almost 1.3 million copies. They are both still among the best-selling albums of all time.
Following that, the defining pop sensation released four more chart-topping albums, including Britney and In The Zone. With nine solo albums to their credit, neither has ever debuted lower than fourth on the Billboard 200.
Surprisingly, only one song from Britney’s spectacular early albums reached the top of the charts:…Baby One More Time was released in 1998. Rolling Stone rated it the best debut single of all time in 2020.
Other popular songs include Crazy, Toxic, and Oops!…I Did It Again hit the top ten, but four other songs, including Womanizer, 3, and Hold It Against Me, topped Billboard’s Hot 100.
Britney Spears was the best-selling female artist of the 2000s, and she has received several prizes, including the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award, a Grammy Award, 15 Guinness World Records, six MTV Video Music prizes, and seven Billboard Music Awards.
In 2004, the popstar developed a lucrative perfume line, and she was voted Forbes’ highest-earning female artist in 2001 and 2012.
Sales: 120 million
No.1 Singles (Billboard): Rolling in the Deep, Someone Like You, Set Fire to the Rain, Hello, Please Take It Easy on Me
Best-Selling Album: 21
Adele, a British singer-songwriter, released her first album (19) in 2008 and quickly rose to prominence because to her powerful voice. After a six-year absence, the singing sensation released her long-awaited fourth studio album in 2021, which became the best-selling album of that year, selling over 120 million units worldwide. (Billboard).
Adele became a household name in the United States almost immediately after 19 was certified triple platinum. Three years later, the music sensation released her second album, which outsold its predecessor. With over 31 million copies sold, 21 was declared the best-selling album of the twenty-first century. Then in 2015, she released her third album 25, which became Adele’s second diamond-certified album. . 30 is the world’s best-selling album in 2021, according to the singer.
Adele’s album 21 made her the first female in history to have three consecutive top-ten singles on the Billboard Hot 100, including Rolling in the Deep and Someone Like You.
Adele released Skyfall in 2012, which she co-wrote for the James Bond film, and it won a number of prizes, including an Academy Award and a Golden Globe.
Her track Hello went on to become the first song in the United States to sell one million digital downloads in a week, and her fifth number one tune Easy on Me broke Spotify and Amazon Music records for most streams in a day.
Adele’s albums have earned her several awards throughout the years. She won two Grammys for 19; six Grammys for 21, including Album of the Year, matching her with Beyonce for the most Grammys awarded by a female artist in one night; and five Grammys for 25.
Adele’s Hello music video is also one of the most-watched music videos on YouTube, with almost three billion views, and she was crowned the UK’s best-selling female record artist of the twenty-first century in 2021.
Sales: 135 million
No.1 Singles (Billboard): So What, Raise Your Glass, Just Give Me a Reason
Best-Selling Album: Missundaztood
Pink rose to prominence as a member of the 1990s girl group Choice. However, in 1995, hip-hop and R&B company LaFace Records gave her a contract to create a solo album. Pink’s debut, Can’t Take Me Home, peaked at number 26 on the Billboard 200 and became double platinum five years later. The result was a high-energy, genre-spanning career.
While Can’t Take Me Home was a great debut, several later albums fared even better. Missundaztood peaked at number six on the Billboard 200, while Funhouse peaked at number two and earned three platinum certifications.
Pink’s first number one album on the Billboard 200 was The Truth About Love, which was followed by Beautiful Trauma and Hurts 2B Human, with the former being the world’s third best-selling album of 2017.
Pink has sold over 50 million singles globally.Three of these well-known and outstanding songs peaked at number one on the Hot 100. So What, the lead tune from Funhouse, was the first. Raise Your Glass came next, which was really composed for the artist’s 2010 collection Greatest Hits… So Far!!! The third song, Just Give Me A Reason (with Nate Ruess), was taken from the album The Truth About Love.
Pink also topped the Billboard Hot 100 with Lady Marmalade in 2001.
Pink is regarded by some in the music industry as a contemporary pop pioneer and a role model for future generations of pop artists. She has three Grammy Awards, seven MTV Video Music Awards, including the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award, and two Brit Awards, earning her the moniker “Pop Royalty.”
Pink was voted Billboard’s Pop Songs Artist of the Decade in 2009, and according to the Official Charts Company, she is the UK’s most played female artist of the twenty-first century.
12. Donna Summer
Sales: 140 million
No.1 Singles (Billboard): No More Tears, MacArthur Park, Hot Stuff, Bad Girls (Enough Is Enough)
Best-Selling Album: Bad Girls
Donna Summer, a multi-talented singer-songwriter, gained her greatest success during the disco era of the 1970s. Her first album, Lady Of The Night, received a lot of attention in Europe. But it wasn’t until 1975’s Love To Love You Baby that she became well-known in the United States.
Donna has the record for the most consecutive Billboard number one double albums (3).
Love To Love You Baby opened at number 11 on the Billboard 200 and sold over 500,000 copies, propelling Donna to stardom in the United States. However, it was 1979’s Bad Girls that catapulted her to full superstardom. The album debuted at number one and remained there for six weeks, earning it double platinum certification.
Ten more studio albums followed, and She Works Hard For The Money returned Summer to the top ten in 1983.
Donna’s most successful hit was probably Love To Love You Baby, which peaked at number two. She also has 16 number one hits in Billboard’s “Dance Club Songs” category. However, the artist’s best-performing singles were released in the late 1970s.
Four of her songs charted at number one on the Billboard Hot 100, including MacArthur Park, Hot Stuff, and Bad Girls, the latter of which remained at the top for five weeks; and No More Tears. (Enough Is Enough).
Donna Summer, sometimes known as the “Queen of Disco,” is regarded as an important figure in American music history and someone who paved the way for more current pop. She is the recipient of five Grammy Awards and is placed sixth on Billboard’s list of the “Greatest of All Time Top Dance Club Artists.”
11. Shirley Bassey
Sales: 140 million
No.1 Singles (Billboard): Goldfinger
Best-Selling Album: 25th Anniversary Album
Shirley Bassey, the Queen of James Bond theme tunes, has been named the ninth best-selling female artist of all time. From the 1950s until 2020, when she published her CD I Owe It All to You, the British Welsh singer had a thriving music career.
Throughout her career, Shirley has released 37 studio albums, six live albums, and 21 compilation albums. Her best-selling solo albums are The Shirley Bassey Singles Album and The Shirley Bassey 25th Anniversary Album, while her best-selling studio album is Something.
Shirley’s 2020 release, I Owe It All To You, earned her the UK’s “first female artist to claim a Top 40 album in seven consecutive decades.”
While Shirley Bassey has given the world over 100 records in the previous 60 years, her most popular US single is her James Bond tune. Goldfinger peaked at number eight on the Billboard Hot 100. She has, however, achieved two UK number one singles, As I Love You and Reach for the Stars / Climb Every Mountain.
Shirley Bassey was the first singer to win Best British Female Solo singer at the inaugural Brit Awards in 1977. Her single Goldfinger was entered into the Grammy Hall of Fame, and she is now a “dame” for her contributions to the performing arts.
10. Katy Perry
Sales: 143 million
No. 1 Singles (Billboard): California Gurls, Teenage Dream, Firework, E.T., Last Friday Night, Part of Me, Roar, Dark Horse, I Kissed a Girl
Best-Selling Album: One of the Boys
Katy Perry began her gospel singing career in 2001 with the release of her disastrous first album Katy Hudson. It wasn’t long until she became one of the best-selling female musicians and mega popstars of all time.
Following Katy Hudson’s failure, Katy released One of the Boys in 2008, which included her big single I Kissed a Girl. Her third album, Teenage Dream, broke a record previously held by Michael Jackson’s Bad, with five chart-topping Billboard Hot 100 singles, including California Gurls, Teenage Dream, Firework, E.T, and Last Friday Night.
Katy Perry’s fourth studio album, Prism, yielded the chart-topping singles Roar and Dark Horse, propelling her to become the first musician to have several Vevo videos achieve one billion views. She then revealed her next two albums, Witness and Smile.
Katy has nine number one songs to her credit, including California Gurls and Part of Me.
The RIAA certified One of the Boys, which includes her big songs I Kissed a Girl and Hot n Cold, quintuple platinum; while Firework, Roar, and Dark Horse from Prism achieved diamond song certifications, making her the first artist ever to do so. Katy additionally holds the record for the most 6-million-selling singles with these tracks.
Katy has four Guinness World Records and five Billboard Music Awards to her record, and she was named one of Forbes’ highest-earning women in music from 2011 to 2019. Katy’s Super Bowl Half-Time Show performance in 2016 became a landmark moment in her career and is one of the most-watched performances of all time.
9. Barbra Streisand
Sales: 150 million
No.1 Singles (Billboard): Woman in Love, The Way We Were, Evergreen, You Don’t Bring Me Flowers, No More Tears
Best-Selling Album: Guilty
Barbara Streisand has been in the music industry for almost 50 years, performing on Broadway, in films, and releasing countless hit records. Her singing career started in the 1960s, when she became a well-known musician with the release of her best-selling record The Barbra Streisand record, which received two Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year.
Barbra has released almost 80 albums throughout her career, 11 of which have debuted at the top of the Billboard 200, making her the only female artist to do so. She is the only star, apart from Elvis Presley (the best-selling solo artist of all time), to have 52 gold and 31 platinum albums.
In addition, Barbra is the only performer to have had a number one album in each of the previous six decades. It’s no wonder, therefore, that the RIAA rates her as the second highest-certified female record artist in the United States, with 68.5 million album units sold.
Since beginning her career in the 1960s, the legend has had five number-one songs on the Billboard Hot 100 list, including The Way We Were, Evergreen, and Woman in Love. The Way We Were was the first original single by a female artist to reach number one in the United States.
Barbra is not only the ninth best-selling female music artist, but she is also one of the few artists and actresses to win Academy Awards (two! ), Grammys (eight! ), Emmys, Golden Globes, Tony Awards (EGOT), and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
8. Lady Gaga
Sales: 124 million
No.1 Singles (Billboard): Rain on Me, Just Dance, Poker Face, Born This Way
Best-Selling Album: The Fame / The Fame Monster
Lady Gaga is most recognized for her outrageous fashion, dramatic shows, and killer vocals, but she started her career as a lyricist. She didn’t become an independent artist until she joined with Akon’s label, KonLive Distribution, in 2007.
Following the success of her first album The Fame, she went on to create six number one albums, including Born This Way, Artpop, Cheek to Cheek, Joanne, A Star Is Born, and Chromatica.
The Fame was certified triple platinum, and Joanne was Gaga’s fourth number-one album in the United States, marking her the first woman to have four number-one albums in the decade. Gaga also has one of the best-selling remix albums of all time, The Remix, which she released in 2010.
Born This Way became the fastest-selling single on iTunes in 2011 with over one million downloads in less than a week. It was also a worldwide triumph, reaching number one in 19 different countries.
Gaga has five number one singles: Just Dance, Poker Face, Bad Romance, and Shallow. Rain on Me, her duet with Ariana Grande, debuted at number one in 2020, becoming the first female collaboration to do so.
Gaga is the fourth highest-earning female musician of the 2010s, in addition to being one of the world’s best-selling music artists. She has also set many Guinness World Records, received 12 Grammy Awards, and been inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Lady Gaga has also ventured out on her own, founding Haus Labs (a vegan cosmetic line) and Haus of Gaga (her fashion business).
7. Celine Dion
Sales: 200 million
No.1 Singles (Billboard): Because You Loved Me, My Heart Will Go On, I’m Your Angel, The Power of Love
Best-Selling Album: Falling Into You
Celine Dion may be the world’s sixth best-selling female singer, but she is Canada’s best-selling recorded artist of all time. Celine became a household name in the 1990s after releasing English albums after beginning her career by selling French CDs and winning the 1988 Eurovision Song Contest.
Celine Dion has two of the all-time best-selling albums. Falling Into You was certified twelve times platinum, while Let’s Talk About Love included her best-selling track, My Heart Will Go On.
She is also one of France’s best-selling artists, with her album D’eux being named the best-selling French-language album of all time. Celine’s Christmas and Greatest Hits CDs have also topped charts throughout the globe.
My Heart Will Go On, the Titanic theme song, became a worldwide hit after being certified diamond, multi-platinum, and gold across the globe. The singer has also had numerous more number-one successes, including The Power of Love and Because You Loved Me, her largest Billboard Hot 100 hit, which has sold over two million copies in the United States alone.
Celine has spent the most weeks at number one in the Adult Contemporary charts, logging a total of 87 weeks while A New Day Has Come spent the least time, at 21 weeks. Billboard dubbed her the “Queen of Adult Contemporary” for having the most number-one singles as a female artist.
During the 2000s, Celine rose to prominence as a singer and entertainer, landing the highest-grossing musical residency of all time on the Las Vegas strip.
Throughout her remarkable career, the famous singer has also earned five Grammy Awards.
6. Whitney Houston
Sales: 200 million
No.1 Singles (Billboard): I’m reserving all of my feelings for you. How Will I Know, The Greatest Love Of All, I Wanna Dance With Someone, Didn’t We Almost Have It All, So Emotional, Where Do Broken Hearts Go, I’m Your Baby Tonight, All the Man That I Need, I Will Always Love You Exhale
Best-Selling Album: The Bodyguard
Whitney is widely recognized as the greatest vocalist of all time, in addition to being one of the best-selling female musicians of all time. She received a record contract at the age of 19 and was on her way to becoming a global sensation, ultimately selling over 200 million albums worldwide.
Whitney Houston, the late icon’s debut album, was published in 1985 and is now one of the best-selling albums of all time, selling 30 million copies worldwide. She went on to release eight more albums, all of which were certified diamond, multi-platinum, platinum, or gold.
Whitney’s The Preacher’s Wife was the best-selling gospel record of all time, and The Bodyguard CD remains the best-selling soundtrack album of all time.
Whitney recorded seven consecutive number-one songs on the Hot 100 chart in the 1980s, from Saving All My Love for You to Where Do Broken Hearts Go, making her the only artist to do so.
Whitney, in addition to releasing music, pursued a career in acting, appearing in the romantic film The Bodyguard. Her soundtrack for the film, I Will Always Love You, became the best-selling physical single by a female in music history, selling 20 million copies worldwide.
Whitney Houston is the most honored female artist of all time, according to Guinness World Records, with multiple awards acknowledging her global popularity throughout the years. Grammy Awards for Record of the Year (1994) and Best Pop Vocal Performance (1995) are among them. (1986, 1988, 1994).
Sales: 200 million
No. 1 Singles ( Billboard): Crazy in Love, Baby Boy, Check on It, Irreplaceable, Single Ladies, Perfect Duet, Break My Soul are some of the songs on this album.
Best-Selling Album: Dangerously in Love
Queen Bey came to prominence as a member of Destiny’s Child, one of the best-selling girl groups of all time, in the late 1990s. During the band’s break in 2002, she dabbled with a solo career, appearing in and recording a song for the smash film Austin Powers in Goldmember.
Following the film’s success, Beyonce launched her solo career, releasing her first album Dangerously in Love in 2003. Since then, the celebrity has released six more albums, including a collaboration with her husband, Jay-Z. Beyonce’s Lemonade was the fastest-selling album ever on iTunes, with all 12 songs charting on the US Hot 100. (breaking a record previously held by Taylor Swift).
Beyonce’s 2022 album Renaissance debuted at number one as well, making her the only artist in history to have seven consecutive number one albums in the United States.
According to the RIAA, Beyonce’s total certified sales as a solo artist (including features) exceed 171 million in the United States alone.
Crazy in Love, Check on It, Irreplaceable, Single Ladies, and Break My Soul are among her seven number one hits. She has sold over 200 million albums globally (plus another 60 million as a member of Destiny’s Child).
Beyoncé is the RIAA’s Top Certified Artist of the Decade, the highest-earning Black musician in history (in 2014), and one of Forbes’ most powerful females in entertainment. She also holds the record for the most Grammys won by a female artist in one night (6 awards) and the record for the most Grammys won by a woman (28 wins).
Her most memorable professional milestones include her Super Bowl Half-Time Show performance in 2016, headlining Coachella in 2018, and voicing Nala in The Lion King live-action adaptation in 2019.
4. Taylor Swift
Sales: 200 million
No.1 Singles (Billboard): We’re never going to get back together, Shake It Off, Blank Space, Bad Blood, Look What You Made Me Do, Cardigan, Willow, All Too Well (Taylor’s Version), and Anti-Hero are all songs by Taylor Swift.
Best-Selling Album: Fearless
Taylor Swift came to prominence in 2006 as the innocent country singer and American girl-next-door. She quickly achieved international fame after adding a pop edge to her compositions, which led to an even wider transition into popular music.
Taylor’s debut self-titled album charted for 157 weeks, making it the longest-charting album of the 2000s. Fearless, Taylor’s second album, was certified diamond and became the first of her nine remaining albums to debut at number one in the United States.
Taylor has sold over 37 million records in the United States, making her the first artist to have the best-selling album of the year five times. (Fearless in 2009, 1989 in 2014, Reputation in 2017, Lover in 2019, and Folklore and Evermore in 2020).
Her most recent album, Midnights, set the record for the most single-day album streams in Spotify ever. Midnights quickly became the best-selling album of 2022, selling over 800,000 copies in the United States on its first day of release. Taylor became the first musician to spend a whole year at the top of the Billboard musician 100.
Taylor Swift has 188 Hot 100 chart entries, including nine number one singles and 40 top tens, the most for a female artist in the United States.
Taylor’s biggest song in America, Shake It Off, has been certified diamond, while every track on Lover and Folklore charted on the Hot 100 in the same week, setting the record for the most simultaneous chart entries by a female artist.
Her album has ten songs. Midnights filled the entire top 10 of the Hot 100 upon its debut, making it the first album to do so.
The star has also received 11 Grammy Awards, 58 Guinness World Records, 40 American Music Awards (the most wins for an artist), and 29 Billboard Music Awards, the latter being the most wins by a woman. She is ranked as one of Billboard’s Greatest of All Time Artists and one of Time’s 100 most influential people in the world (2010, 2015, and 2019).
3. Mariah Carey
Sales: 220 million
No.1 Singles (Billboard): Love Takes Time, Someday, I Don’t Want to Cry, Emotions, I’ll Be There, Dreamlover, Hero Fantasy, One Sweet Day, Always Be My Baby, Honey, My All, Heartbreaker, Thank God I Found You, We Belong Together, Don’t Forget About Us, Touch My Body
Best-Selling Album: Music Box
Mariah has been in a league of her own since emerging to popularity in 1990 and releasing her first album Mariah Carey, with a five-octave vocal range and a dolphin-like whistling note.
With 69.5 million certified album units, Mariah is the highest-certified female artist in the United States. Mariah Carey was certified nine times platinum, making her the only artist in history to have five consecutive number one songs on the Hot 100, from Vision of Love to Emotions.
The diva went on to create 15 more albums, including holiday albums to complement her best-selling single, All I Want for Christmas, which has earned her the title of “Queen of Christmas.” Mariah has two diamond albums in the United States: Music Box, one of the best-selling albums of all time with over 28 million copies sold, and Daydream.
The diva has released a whopping 86 singles in all. Mariah holds the record for the most chart-topping songs by a solo artist, female composer, and female producer, with 19 number one hits.
Mariah has also shattered the record for any superstar in US history, having spent a total of 87 weeks at the top. Fantasy, My All, and We Belong Together are among her most popular hits.
Mariah is America’s most successful musician of the 1990s (Billboard), the best-selling female pop artist of the century (World Music Awards), and the recipient of five Grammy Awards, 19 World Music Awards, and 15 Billboard Music Awards.
Mariah has tried her hand at acting in addition to singing. She went on to redeem herself after a poor performance in Glitter with her performance in Precious. Mariah has since served on the American Idol judging panel and featured in many big films.
Sales: 250 million
No.1 Singles (Billboard): Disturbia, SOS, Umbrella, Take a Bow What’s My Name, Rude Boy, Only Girl, We Found Love, Diamonds, and Work
Best-Selling Album: Good Girl Gone Bad
Rihanna has been a pop phenomenon since her breakthrough song Pon de Replay in 2006, generating blockbuster after hit. Rihanna soon became the second best-selling female musician of all time, selling over 250 million records worldwide after releasing nine successful albums.
The RIAA has recognized all nine of Rihanna’s albums as platinum or multi-platinum, with cumulative sales in the United States exceeding 10 million copies. Her number one albums, Unapologetic and Anti, have both been certified three times platinum.
Rihanna has recorded 75 songs in total, 14 of which have reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 (counting as a featured artist) and 31 of which have reached the top ten, making her the first singer to have number one singles on the Hot 100 list from seven consecutive albums.
Umbrella peaked at number one in 15 countries and stayed there for seven weeks on the Hot 100, while Rude Boy had similar success, peaking at number one for five weeks.
Rihanna has had multiple international number-one singles, including We Found Love, which reached number one in 29 countries and stayed on the Hot 100 for a remarkable ten weeks.
RiRi has nine Grammy Awards, thirteen American Music Awards, twelve Billboard Music Awards, and six Guinness World Records to her name. Her career took a turn after 2016, as she tried her hand at acting with roles in Battleship, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, and Ocean’s 8.
Rihanna has spent the last several years focusing on expanding her successful companies, Fenty Beauty and Skincare, LVMH, and Savage x Fenty.She was named the richest female artist in 2021, with an estimated net worth of $1.7 billion.
Sales: 300 million
No.1 Singles (Billboard): Crazy for You, Live to Tell, Papa Don’t Preach, Open Your Heart, Who’s That Girl, Like a Prayer Vogue, Justify My Love, This Was Once My Playground, Music, Take a Bow
Best-Selling Album: The Immaculate Collection
It’s no surprise that the “Queen of Pop” is also the best-selling female artist of all time. Since her debut in the music industry in 1982, Madonna has kept up with the times by reinventing herself and her art, selling over 300 million albums worldwide.
While Madge’s self-titled first album only charted at number eight on the Billboard 200, her subsequent albums fared considerably better. True Blue reached number one in a then-record-breaking 28 countries, while Like a Virgin was certified diamond.
Madonna’s fourth album, Like a Prayer, also charted at number one, making her the only female artist with the most Billboard 200 number-one albums in the 1980s. Her second diamond-certified album, The Immaculate Collection, is still the best-selling compilation album.
Madge’s ninth album, Confessions on a Dance Floor, debuted at number one in 40 countries, extending her reign as the finest female artist well into the 2000s.
Madonna has 12 number one songs, including Like a Prayer, making her the female artist with the most number one singles in the United States in the 1980s, a distinction she shares with Whitney Houston.
Hung Up was her highest-charting single globally, and it was inducted into the Guinness Book of World Records in 2007 for topping the charts in 41 nations.
After 4 Minutes became her 37th Hot 100 top-ten hit in 2008, Madonna surpassed Elvis Presley as the artist with the most top ten singles.
Madonna has unquestionably won the Guinness World Records distinction of best-selling female artist of all time. She is the most successful solo artist in Billboard Hot 100 history, and she holds the record for the most number-one songs by a female vocalist in Australia, Canada, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom.
So there you have it: the 12 tough women who have controlled the music business in recent decades.
With so many more amazing female vocalists in the music industry, such as Demi Lovato and Selena Gomez, it’s certain that this ranking will change very soon.
Will Madonna continue to wear the crown? Leave a comment in the space below to tell us who you believe deserves to be on this list.