Like Beyoncé said – “Girls run the world.”
Over the decades, we’ve seen female icons top the charts and become household names for years to come. I mean, who doesn’t know Madonna? And what is “music” without Rihanna?
We’re about to honor the 30 best-selling female artists of all time and see how they’ve made their careers shine bright with their smash-hits and successful albums.
Some of these celebrities may surprise you, while others are pretty predictable. Scroll down to discover who the most successful female artists truly are…
30. Ariana Grande
Sales: 90 million
No.1 Singles (Billboard): Thank U, Next, 7 Rings, Stuck With U, Rain On Me, Positions, Save Your Tears, Die For You, Yes, And?
Best-Selling Album: Thank U, Next
Ariana Grande demonstrated her musical talent from an early age, earning a role in the musical 13, starring in Victorious, and uploading YouTube covers. In 2013, the singer released her debut album and immediately took the top spot on the Billboard 200. She has since sold more than 90 million records worldwide.
Ariana’s sensational debut album, Yours Truly, debuted at number-one on the Billboard 200 and was certified Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).
Before 2020’s Positions, the top female artist released five more albums, with each one earning Platinum accolades or higher. Ariana’s top-selling album to date is Thank U, Next, which reached number-one on the Billboard 200 in 2019.
100 of Ariana Grande’s Best Lyrics
The single that propelled Ariana’s debut album to success was The Way (ft. Mac Miller), which reached number nine on the US charts and went triple Platinum. The artist has since put out a number of more successful singles.
Thank U, Next, 7 Rings and Break Up with Your Girlfriend, debuted at number-one and number two, making Ariana the first solo artist to hold the top three spots on the Billboard Hot 100 simultaneously.
While 7 Rings held the Guinness World Record for most Spotify streams in a single week, Stuck with U (ft. Justin Bieber) and Rain on Me (ft. Lady Gaga) helped Ariana break the record for most number-one debuts on the Hot 100.
Ariana has two Grammys and 30 Guinness World Records. She is one of the most-streamed female singers; the most-subscribed female solo artists on YouTube; and has been named the most successful female artist to debut in the 2010s by Billboard.
Ariana also has her own makeup brand R.E.M Beauty and a fragrance line.
29. Christina Aguilera
Sales: 90 million
No. 1 Singles (Billboard): Genie In A Bottle, What a Girl Wants, Come On Over, Lady Marmalade, Moves Like Jagger
Best-Selling Album: Christina Aguilera
Christina Aguilera is another legendary artist born for stardom. She was on television as a child, and demonstrated a four-octave vocal range at a young age. To most, she was still a little-known figure before her 1999 debut album, which catapulted her to sensational fame.
Christina Aguilera was one of the most successful debuts in modern history, reaching number-one on the Billboard 200, and selling more than 14 million copies worldwide. It also made Xtina one of the lead pop stars of the late 90s/early 00s MTV era.
Following a Christmas album and Spanish album, the next two records solidified Christina as a generational star. Stripped became one of the best-selling albums of the 21st century, while Back To Basics got her back to Billboard’s top spot.
Christina has had three number-one hits on the Billboard Hot 100. Genie In A Bottle, What A Girl Wants, and Come On Over featured on the eponymous debut album.
The singer also spent four weeks at number-one as a featured artist on Maroon 5’s Moves Like Jagger, and another five weeks for her Lady Marmalade compilation with Lil’ Kim, Mya, and Pink for the Moulin Rouge! soundtrack.
Christina Aguilera has won over 300 different awards for her music over the years, including five Grammys. In 2013, she was listed by TIME Magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world.
Other than being one of the biggest-selling female artists of all time, Xtina is also a TV personality, having served as a coach on The Voice.
28. 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 trained to be a classical pianist from a young age. Her talent was so great that at 15, with her own compositions already under her belt, she signed a record deal. She recorded the debut album Songs In A Mirror in 2001 – at age 21 and began her journey as one of the highest-selling female artists.
Songs In A Mirror, Alicia’s debut album, was an instant success, topping the Billboard 200 and selling enough copies for Septuple-Platinum certification. The album established her as a singer-songwriter sensation, and she’s since bolstered the reputation through eight subsequent studio albums.
Four of those albums have gone Platinum (three of them Multi-Platinum), and Alicia regained her spot 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 top the Billboard Hot 100. Fallin’ was number-one for five consecutive weeks and was officially the most-listened-to song in 2007.
Even though If I Ain’t Got You only reached number four, it was the first single by a female artist to remain on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart for over a year. In 2009, Keys returned to the top spot with Empire State Of Mind.
Alicia has won an impressive 15 Grammy Awards, and in 2002, became the second woman ever to win five such awards in a single night. Billboard named her the R&B/Hip-Hop Artist of the Decade in the 2000s and according to RIAA, she is the top certified female R&B artist of the millennium.
Sales: 95 million
No.1 Singles (Billboard + US Latin Charts): Estoy Aquí, Se Quiere, Se Mata, Ciega, Sordomuda, Tú, Whenever, Wherever, Que Me Quedes Tú, La Tortura, Hips Don’t Lie, She Wolf, Loca, Chantaje, Shakira: Bzrp Music Sessions, Vol. 53, TQG
Best-Selling Album: Laundry Service
Hailed as the ‘Queen of Latin Music’, Shakira has sold a whopping 95 million certified records worldwide. Other than being one of the best-selling females in music, she is also the highest-selling Colombian artist and as of 2023 (via Billboard), the best-selling female Latin artist of all time.
Before her break in the English-language market, Shakira was thriving in Hispanic countries with albums such as Pies Descalzos (1995) and Dónde Están los Ladrones? (1998). Her successful crossover into the English-language pop market came with her fifth album, Laundry Service in 2001, which sold over 13 million copies worldwide.
Shakira also topped the Billboard Top Latin Albums chart, with her Spanish albums Fijación Oral, Vol. 1, Sale el Sol, and El Dorado.
Shakira has a catalog of over 140 songs including her worldwide chart-toppers Whenever, Wherever and Underneath Your Clothes. The former is one of the best-selling singles of the 21st century, while Hips Don’t Lie and Waka Waka are some of the best-selling singles worldwide.
Furthermore, Shakira’s Spanish song, La Tortura held the record for “the longest-running number-one single on the US Billboard Hot Latin Songs chart” by nearly a decade.
This top female artist has three Grammy Awards, 14 Latin Grammy Awards, as well as 21 Guinness World Records, and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
26. Dionne Warwick
Sales: 100 million
No.1 Singles (Billboard): Then Came You, That’s What Friends Are For
Best-Selling Album: Heartbreaker
A one-of-a-kind vocalist of pop, gospel, and soul, Dionne Warwick first started her career in music as a backup singer. She eventually got her first record deal with Scepter Records in 1962 and has since produced an astounding 42 studio albums across a variety of labels.
Dionne never topped the chart with a signature album, but has had sensational consistency as a successful artist. Ten of her albums have charted in the top 25 including Here Where There Is Love, Promises, Promises and Friends. She achieved Platinum success with Dionne in 1979.
Through her decades of contributions to music, Dionne has seen 56 singles appear on the Billboard Hot 100, making her one of the most-charted vocalists of all time. Of these, two were number-one hits: Then Came You and That’s What Friends Are For.
Musically, Dionne is running out of honors to rack up. She is in the Grammy Hall Of Fame (as are three of her songs); she has a Hollywood Walk Of Fame star; six Grammys; and she was honored in 2019 with a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
Outside of music, she also served as an official UN Goodwill Ambassador.
25. Diana Ross
Sales: 100 million
No.1 Singles (Billboard): Ain’t No Mountain High Enough, Touch Me In the Morning, Theme from Mahogany, Love Hangover, Upside Down, Endless Love
Best-Selling Album: Diana
Before her solo career, Diana Ross was the lead singer of The Supremes – a Motown girl group that is to this day the top girl group in Billboard history. In 1970, she embarked on a solo career that continues to this day. In fact, her success on her own has eclipsed even that of The Supremes.
Diana’s first solo album, Diana Ross, was released in 1970. It reached number 19 on the Billboard charts, but also included Diana’s first number-one hit: her own version of Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.
A decade later, the album Diana became the artist’s greatest success, charting at number two and selling more than 10 million copies worldwide.
In addition to the iconic Ain’t No Mountain High Enough, this famous female singer produced six number-one singles over the years.
1980’s Upside Down spent four weeks at number-one, out-performing Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’s three weeks. Diana’s longest stay in the top spot, however, came from a 1981 duet of Endless Love with Lionel Richie.
Diana is one of few artists to receive two Lifetime Achievement Grammy awards – one as a solo artist in 2012, and one with The Supremes in 2023.
She is ranked as the 11th Greatest Hot 100 Female Artist of all time and in 1993, she was dubbed the “most successful female artist in music history” by Guinness World Records.
24. Dolly Parton
Sales: 100 million
No.1 Singles (Billboard): 9 To 5, Islands In The Stream
Best-Selling Album: Greatest Hits
Country icon Dolly Parton is about as big a name as there is among living musicians. She released her first studio album Hello, I’m Dolly in 1967, and continues to produce original music today. With more than 100 million records sold, she is among the most successful female singers of all time.
Dolly Parton has an astounding 44 top 10 Country albums, which is a record for any artist.
Her debut album Hello I’m Dolly reached number 11 on the US Country charts, but it was in the 70s and 80s that she achieved major commercial success. Here You Come Again sold over one million copies to earn Platinum certification, while her two collaborations (Once Upon A Christmas and Trio) earned the same status.
Over the course of her career, Dolly Parton has had 25 singles reach number-one on Billboard’s Country charts – a record for a female singer (alongside Reba McEntire). Her two singles 9 To 5 and Islands In The Stream are the only tracks that topped the Billboard Hot 100, each spending two weeks at number-one.
Dolly Parton has obtained just about every imaginable honor for a Country music artist. Alongside the 11 Grammys, Hollywood recognition, Hall Of Fame inductions and more, her appearances on Country charts in seven separate decades are a record.
23. Donna Summer
Sales: 100 million
No.1 Singles (Billboard): MacArthur Park, Hot Stuff, Bad Girls, No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)
Best-Selling Album: Bad Girls
Multi-talented singer-songwriter Donna Summer achieved her greatest success during the heyday of disco in the 1970s. Her debut album, Lady Of The Night, was mainly popular in Europe. But with 1975’s Love To Love You Baby, she became well-known in the US.
Donna holds the record for most consecutive double albums (3) to reach number-one on the Billboard charts.
Love To Love You Baby debuted at number 11 on the Billboard 200 and sold more than 500,000 copies, turning Donna into a disco star. But it was 1979’s Bad Girls that launched her to true superstardom, as it reached number-one and retained the position for six weeks.
Donna’s highlight single was Love To Love You Baby, which charted at number two. She also had 16 singles reach number-one in Billboard’s Dance Club Songs category. But it was actually in the late 70s that the artist’s best-selling singles came out.
Four of her singles reached number-one on the Billboard 100 including MacArthur Park, Hot Stuff and Bad Girls, the latter of which held the top spot for five weeks; and No More Tears (Enough Is Enough).
Sometimes referred to as the “Queen of Disco,” Donna Summer is considered a pivotal figure in American music history, and someone who paved the way for modern pop. She has five Grammy Awards and is ranked sixth on Billboard’s list of “Greatest of All Time Top Dance Club Artists”.
22. Linda Ronstadt
Sales: 100 million
No.1 Singles (Billboard): You’re No Good
Best-Selling Album: Greatest Hits
Linda Ronstadt is known for producing everything from iconic rock to Mexican folk music. After selling over 100 million records, she is considered one of the most accomplished musicians of the last 50 years, having released music from her late 60s through to a 2019 live album.
Linda’s Heart Like A Wheel was released in 1974 and climbed to the top of the Billboard charts. It went double Platinum and she would then release Platinum or Multiplatinum albums in each of the next four years – with Simple Dreams and Living In The USA also topping the Billboard chart.
Her Spanish album Canciones de Mi Padre is officially the best-selling non-English language record in US music history. All in all, Linda has sold 30 million certified albums in the US, making her the ninth best-selling female solo artist in the country.
Linda’s best-performing singles were released between 1975 and 1977. First up were You’re No Good and When Will I Be Loved, which charted 1st and 2nd respectively.
Later, Heat Wave charted at number five, and in 1977, two tracks from Simple Dreams – Blue Bayouo and It’s So Easy – also made the top 10.
This top female artist is a member of the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame and the recipient of a Latin Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. She also has 11 Grammys and an Emmy to her name.
21. Olivia Newton-John
Sales: 100 million
No.1 Singles (Billboard): I Honestly Love You, Have You Never Been Mellow, You’re The One I Want, Magic, Physical
Best-Selling Album: Greatest Hits
Known for both a fruitful music career and a legendary role in the film Grease, Olivia Newton-John sold more than 100 million records in her career. She is one of the biggest-selling female artists in the world.
In addition to work on numerous soundtracks, Olivia produced 26 solo studio albums over a span of 45 years. Two of those albums, If You Love Me Let Me Know and Have You Never Been Mellow, went to number-one on the Billboard 200.
Olivia’s most successful album was the soundtrack for Grease, which also topped the Billboard charts with over 30 million copies sold. It still remains one of the world’s best-selling albums.
Olivia produced countless successful singles throughout her career, five of which peaked atop the Billboard Hot 100.
Her iconic track Physical, in particular, spent an incredible 10 weeks at the top spot – an unmatched achievement in the decade, which led Billboard to name the single the top song of the 80s.
Other than being the worthy owner of four Grammys, 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 even received Japan’s Order of the Rising Sun in 2021.
20. Gloria Estefan
Sales: 100 million
No.1 Singles (Billboard + US Latin Chart): Anything for You, Don’t Wanna Lose You, Coming Out of the Dark, Mi Tierra, Con Los Años Que Me Quedan, Abriendo Puertas, Más Allá, No Pretendo, Oye!, No Me Dejes De Querer, Como Me Duele Perderte, Wrapped, No Llores, Hotel Nacional, Mi Buen Amor, Tu Fotografía/ Your Picture
Best-Selling Album: Greatest Hits
Dubbed the “Queen of Latin Pop”, Gloria Estefan has sold more than 100 million records around the world. Active since 1975, this superstar has garnered several international chart-topping hits. Gloria began as lead singer of Miami Sound Machine, but in the 90s, she continued her career as a solo artist.
Gloria Estefan has recorded 15 studio albums, many of which are in Spanish such as 1993’s Mi Tierra. Considered one of the most successful Spanish-language albums in the US, Mi Terra won her the first Grammy Award for Best Tropical Latin Album. It was also the first Diamond album in Spain.
Many recognize Gloria for her signature track, Conga, which was released in 1985. She has a total of 38 number-one hits across various Billboard charts, with 14 of them topping the Hot Latin Songs chart. This makes Gloria the female artist with most number-one hits on the Hot Latin Songs chart.
With eight Grammy Awards under her belt, Gloria Estefan is one of the most successful female singers of all time. She has also been named one of the Top 100 Greatest Artists of All Time by VH1, and Billboard has ranked her as the third Most Successful Latina in Music.
Sales: 100 million
No. 1 Singles (Billboard): Gypsys, Tramps, & Thieves, Half-Breed, Dark Lady, Believe
Best-Selling Album: Believe
Known for her fashion sensibility and her unique vocal, Cher, also known as the “Goddess of Pop,” has been active since 1965. She signed with Liberty Records in 1964, and by the next year had a song on the Billboard Hot 100. Today, she is still considered one of the biggest female artists of all time.
Cher’s career spans nearly 60 years. Her debut album, All I Really Want To Do, reached number 16 on the charts, but it wasn’t until the 80s when she achieved major commercial success.
Cher was her first platinum effort; Heart Of Stone reached number 10 and went triple platinum; and Believe, her most successful project, hit number four and went platinum four times over.
Cher has seen 33 songs rank on the Billboard charts over the years, with four number-one hits. During the 70s, she became the female artist with the most number-one singles in US history.
Cher’s top hit, Believe, held the spot for four weeks in 1999 and was named the UK’s biggest-selling single of all time by a female singer.
Cher’s solo work is enough to make her one of the last half-century’s most influential artists, but she also gained success as half of the duo Sonny & Cher. The pair produced five studio albums, and their song I Got You Babe hit number-one in the US and UK, altogether selling 40 million records worldwide.
18. Janet Jackson
Sales: 100 million
No. 1 Singles (Billboard): When I Think Of You, Miss You Much, 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 an pop icon. One of the world’s best-selling female singers, she was named by Billboard as the second most successful recording artist of the 1990s in the US after Mariah Carey. Since her rise to fame, Janet has become a pioneering Black artist who has influenced white and Black pop stars alike.
Janet Jackson’s first two albums sold a combined 500,000 copies in the US. It was her third album, Control, which broke through, hitting number-one on the Billboard 200 and selling 10 million copies worldwide.
Janet later released eight solo albums, with six of them hitting number-one, including Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814, which topped the charts for four consecutive weeks.
Throughout her career, Janet has had an incredible 27 singles on the Billboard Hot 100’s top 10, with 10 of those singles reaching number-one. Miss You Much spent four weeks in the top spot, All For You spent seven weeks, and That’s The Way Love Goes stayed atop the charts for eight weeks in 1993.
As of today, she holds the record for the most consecutive top-ten entries (18) on the Hot 100 by a female artist.
Janet has earned five Grammys, a Hollywood Walk Of Fame star, a spot in the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame, and a handful of Guinness World Records. With 11 Billboard Music Awards and 11 American Music Awards, she is one of the most awarded artists of all time.
17. Shania Twain
Sales: 100 million
No.1 Singles (Billboard Country Chart): Any Man of Mine, I’m Outta Here, You Win My Love, No One Needs to Know, Love Gets Me Every Time, You’re Still the One, Honey, I’m Home
Best-Selling Album: Come On Over
A successful figure in country music, Shania Twain is best known for blurring the lines between pop and country music. She got her start in 1993, though it was her second album that brought her real success. Today, Shania ranks sixth among the best-selling female musicians in US history.
Shania has released six studio albums, and the first four represent some of the most impressive strings of success a modern artist has ever achieved.
She is the only female artist in history to have three (consecutive) albums certified Diamond, and has sold over 34 million albums in the US alone, making her the top-selling female artist in country music.
Her third album Come On Over reached number two on Billboard, number-one among country albums, and was certified double Diamond. It earned Shania a whopping four Grammy Awards. It was 2002 when Shania finally topped the Billboard chart with her 11-time Platinum release Up, and again in 2017 with Now.
Surprisingly, Shania never had a number-one single on the Hot 100 Billboard Chart. She came close with three top 10 hits, 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 with seven singles.
Shania is widely recognized as the godmother of country-pop. She has five Grammy Awards, two World Music Awards, and 39 BMI Songwriter Awards. She also has inductions into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame and Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.
16. Nicki Minaj
Sales: 100 million
No. 1 Singles (Billboard): Trollz, Super Freaky Girl
Best-Selling Album: Pink Friday
After releasing her mixtapes Playtime Is Over, Sucka Free and Beam Me Up Scotty, Nicki Minaj, who we know as the “Queen of Rap,” began receiving public recognition. It wasn’t until she signed with Lil Wayne’s Young Money Entertainment label that she became the rap star we know and love today.
Since securing her record deal, Nicki has sold four best-selling albums. Pink Friday, Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded, and Pink Friday 2 all reached number-one on the Billboard 200, making her the first female rapper with three number-one albums. The Pinkprint and Queen, both reached number two.
After 10 years of its release, Super Bass was certified Diamond by the RIAA. It was only in 2020 when Nicki earned her first number-one single on the Hot 100 with her 6ix9ine collaboration, Trollz.
60+ Best Nicki Minaj Lyrics
In 2022, Super Freaky Girl became the first solo song by a female rapper to debut at number-one in the US in the 21st century.
All in all, the rapstress has sold around 100 million records worldwide, making her the 16th highest-selling female artist.
Other than being dubbed one of the 100 most influential people in the world by TIME, the best-selling female rapper has bagged eight American Music Awards, 12 BET Awards, five MTV Video Music Awards (including the 2022 Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award) and four Billboard Music Awards.
Sales: 135 million
No.1 Singles (Billboard): Lady Marmalade, So What, Raise Your Glass, Just Give Me a Reason
Best-Selling Album: Missundaztood
Pink got her start as a member of the 90s group, Choice. It was in 1995 when a hip-hop and R&B label offered her a deal to record a solo album, and from there, a high-energy, genre-spanning career was born.
Pink’s successful debut, Can’t Take Me Home, reached number 26 on the Billboard 200 and went double Platinum. Her subsequent releases were even more successful, with Missundaztood reaching number six, and Funhouse going Platinum three times and peaking at number two.
The Truth About Love was Pink’s first number-one album on the Billboard 200, followed by Beautiful Trauma, Hurts 2B Human – the former becoming the world’s third best-selling album of 2017.
Pink’s worldwide singles sales exceed 50 million. Three of these tracks reached number-one on the Hot 100, including So What, Raise Your Glass and Just Give Me A Reason (ft. Nate Ruess). Pink also topped the Billboard Hot 100 in 2001 with Lady Marmalade.
One of the most popular female singers, Pink is considered a pioneer in modern pop, and a model for generations of pop artists to follow. Dubbed “pop royalty,” she has three Grammy Awards, seven MTV Video Music Awards including the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award, and two Brit Awards.
Pink has been named Billboard’s Pop Songs Artist of the Decade (2009) and she is the UK’s most played female artist of the 21st century [via Official Charts Company].
14. Shirley Bassey
Sales: 140 million
No.1 Singles (Billboard): Goldfinger
Best-Selling Album: 25th Anniversary Album
Shirley Bassey, the epitome of James Bond theme songs, is the 14th best-selling female artist. The British Welsh vocalist has had a flourishing music career, spanning from the 1950s until 2020 when she released her album I Owe It All to You.
Shirley has released an astounding 37 studio albums, six live albums, and 21 compilation albums throughout her career. Her most successful albums include The Shirley Bassey Singles Album and Shirley Bassey 25th Anniversary Album, while Something is her biggest-selling studio album.
Shirley’s 2020 release I Owe It All To You made her “the first female artist to claim a Top 40 album in seven consecutive decades” in the UK.
While Shirley Bassey has gifted the world with over 100 singles over the last 60 years, it is her James Bond song that is her most successful US single. Goldfinger reached number eight on the Hot 100. Her tracks As I Love You and Reach for the Stars / Climb Ev’ry Mountain were number-one singles in the UK.
Shirley Bassey had the honor of being the first artist to win the Best British Female Solo Artist at the first Brit Awards in 1977. Her single Goldfinger was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame, and she is today an official “dame” for her services to the performing arts.
13. Katy Perry
Sales: 143 million
No. 1 Singles (Billboard): I Kissed a Girl, California Gurls, Teenage Dream, Firework, E.T., Last Friday Night, Part of Me, Roar, Dark Horse
Best-Selling Album: One of the Boys
Katy Perry started her career as a gospel singer by releasing the unsuccessful debut album Katy Hudson in 2001. It wasn’t long before she transformed into one of the best-selling female artists and mega popstars we know today.
After the failure of Katy Hudson, Katy released One of the Boys in 2008, which featured her smash hit I Kissed a Girl. Her third album Teenage Dream then hit a record only Michael Jackson’s Bad had previously achieved – having five chart-topping Billboard Hot 100 singles – California Gurls, Teenage Dream, Firework, E.T, and Last Friday Night.
Katy’s fourth album, Prism, spawned the chart-topping songs Roar and Dark Horse, which led her to become the first singer to have multiple videos reach one billion views on Vevo. She then unveiled her next releases Witness and Smile.
Katy brags a total of nine number-one singles. I Kissed a Girl and Hot n Cold were certified quintuple Platinum by the RIAA; while Firework, Roar, and Dark Horse all received Diamond certifications, making her the first artist ever to achieve this for three songs.
With these tracks, Katy also holds the record for the most six million-selling songs.
Katy’s achievements include four Guinness World Records and five Billboard Music Awards, as well as being named one of Forbes’ highest-earning women in music from 2011 to 2019. However, Katy’s Super Bowl Half-Time performance in 2016 became a defining moment of her career and is one of the most-watched of all time.
12. Tina Turner
Sales: 150 million
No.1 Singles (Billboard): What’s Love Got to Do With It
Best-Selling Album: Private Dancer
The “Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll” got her start performing with the band, Kings Of Rhythm, in the mid-1950s. By 1960, she was performing as Tina Turner in duos with her eventual husband Ike. Tina released successful albums in the mid-70s, but launched her solo career with 1978’s Rough, following her infamous divorce from Ike Turner.
With albums Rough and Love Explosion, Tina Turner brought about her iconic solo career. But she achieved her greatest success with her 1984 comeback album Private Dancer.
The album reached number three on the Billboard 200, and sold over 10 million copies worldwide. 1986’s follow-up, Break Every Rule, charted at number four and also earned Platinum distinction.
The bulk of Tina’s most successful singles were released in the mid-80s. We Don’t Need Another Hero reached number two in the US, as did Typical Male from the album Break Every Rule.
It’s hard to argue against the iconic What’s Love Got To Do With It as Tina’s most impactful single. This song was a number-one hit, earned three Grammys, and in 2012, was inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame.
As one of the top female artists of all time, Tina’s accolades include 12 Grammy Awards, two inductions into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, a star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame, and the Kennedy Center Honors.
11. Barbra Streisand
Sales: 150 million
No.1 Singles (Billboard): The Way We Were, Evergreen, You Don’t Bring Me Flowers, No More Tears, Woman in Love
Best-Selling Album: Guilty
Barbara Streisand has been in the music business for over 50 years and has performed on Broadway, in numerous films, and released many successful albums. She became a popular artist in the 1960s upon releasing her best-selling album The Barbra Streisand Album, which won two Grammy Awards including Album of the Year.
Barbra has recorded over 80 albums, 11 of which have topped the Billboard 200, making her the first female singer to do so. Other than Elvis Presley (the best-selling solo artist of all time), she is the only star to have 52 Gold and 31 Platinum albums.
Barbra is also the only artist to have number-one albums in each of the last six decades. It’s no surprise then that the RIAA ranks her as the second highest-certified female album artist with 68.5 million album units in the US.
Since the 1960s, this top female singer has achieved five number-one singles on the Hot 100 chart including The Way We Were, Evergreen, and Woman in Love. The Way We Were, in particular, was the first original single by a female artist to become the number-one song of the year in the US.
Not only is Barbra the 11th best-selling female recording artist, she’s also one of the few singers and actresses to win Academy Awards (two awards), Grammys (eight awards), Emmys, Golden Globes, Tony Awards (EGOT) and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
10. Britney Spears
Sales: 150 million
No. 1 Singles (Billboard): …Baby One More Time, Womanizer, 3, Hold It Against Me, S&M
Best-Selling Album: Baby One More Time
Britney Spears signed a record deal at the age of 15. This set her on a path toward teen stardom, and sure enough, she was the biggest pop star in the world two years later. While she’s become something of a cautionary tale about youth and fame, Britney enjoyed a peak like few in modern history.
Britney’s 1999 debut album …Baby One More Time leapt to the top of the Billboard 200 and sold more than 12 million copies, earning certified Diamond status. Her 2000 follow-up, Oops!… I Did It Again, well, did it again, selling over 1.3 million copies. They both remain two of the best-selling albums of all time.
From there, the era-defining pop star continued to release four more chart-topping albums including Britney and In The Zone. With a total of nine solo albums to date, neither has ever peaked below number four on the Billboard 200.
Surprisingly, only one song from Britney’s early albums topped the charts: …Baby One More Time in 1998. In 2020, it was named the greatest debut single of all time by Rolling Stone.
Other fan-favorites, such as Crazy, Toxic, and Oops! made the top 10, but four other tracks topped Billboard’s Hot 100 including Womanizer, 3, and Hold It Against Me.
Britney was the best-selling female artist of the 2000s, and has countless awards to her name including the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award, a Grammy Award, 15 Guinness World Records, six MTV Video Music Awards and seven Billboard Music Awards.
The popstar has launched a successful perfume brand and has been named Forbes’ highest-earning female musician.
Sales: 170 million
No.1 Singles (Billboard): Rolling in the Deep, Someone Like You, Set Fire To The Rain, Hello, Easy on Me
Best-Selling Album: 21
British songstress Adele released her debut album (19) in 2008 and became an instant hint with her standout vocals. Selling over 170 million records worldwide so far, the vocal phenomenon released her long-awaited fourth studio album after a six-year hiatus in 2021, which became the best-selling album of that year (Billboard).
Adele made it big in America almost immediately after 19 was certified triple Platinum. Three years later, the music phenomenon put out her second album which surpassed the success of its predecessor.
21 was named the best-selling album of the 21st century, with over 31 million copies sold; and in 2015, she put out her third album 25, which was Adele’s second album to be certified Diamond. The singer’s fourth album, 30 has been named the world’s best-selling album of 2021.
Adele’s album 21 put her in the Guinness Book of Records as the first female in history to have three simultaneous top 10 singles in the Billboard Hot 100 including Rolling in the Deep and Someone Like You.
In 2012, Adele released Skyfall which she co-wrote for the James Bond movie, and it received a number of awards including an Academy Award and Golden Globe.
Her single Hello later became the first song in the US to sell over one million digital copies within a week of its release, while her fifth number-one single Easy on Me broke Spotify and Amazon Music records for most streams in a day.
Adele’s albums have rewarded her with several gongs over the years. She took home two Grammys for 19; six Grammys including Album of the Year for 21 – tying her up with Beyoncé for the most Grammys won by a female artist in one night; and five Grammys for 25.
Adele’s music video for Hello is also one of the most-watched music videos on YouTube with over three billion views, and in 2021, she was named the UK’s best-selling female album artist of the 21st century.
8. Lady Gaga
Sales: 170 million
No.1 Singles (Billboard): Just Dance, Poker Face, Born This Way, Shallow, Rain on Me
Best-Selling Album: The Fame / The Fame Monster
Lady Gaga is known for her wacky style, epic performances and killer voice, but she actually began her career as a songwriter. It wasn’t until she signed with Akon’s label, KonLive Distribution, in 2007 that she became an independent artist.
The Fame was certified triple Platinum, while Joanne was Gaga’s fourth album to top the charts in the US, making her the first woman to have four number-one albums in the 2010s. Gaga also has one of the best-selling remix albums of all time with The Remix.
With over one million downloads in less than a week, Born This Way became the fastest-selling song on iTunes in 2011. It was also an international success, landing at number-one in a whopping 19 countries.
Gaga has a total of five number-one songs including Just Dance, Poker Face, Bad Romance and Shallow. In 2020, she released her collaboration with Ariana Grande, Rain on Me, which became the first ever female collaboration to debut at number-one.
Other than being one of the world’s best-selling music artists, Gaga is also the fourth highest-earning female musician of the 2010s. She has also won various Guinness World Records, 13 Grammy Awards, and awards from the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Lady Gaga has also embarked on independent journeys launching Haus Labs and Haus of Gaga.
Sales: 200 million
No. 1 Singles (Billboard): Crazy in Love, Baby Boy, Check on It, Irreplaceable, Single Ladies, Perfect Duet, Break My Soul
Best-Selling Album: Dangerously in Love
Queen Bey rose to fame in the late 90s as part of Destiny’s Child, one of the best-selling female groups of all time. When the band split in 2002, she tested the waters on a solo career where she acted in and recorded a song for the comedy movie Austin Powers in Goldmember.
Following the movie’s great success, Beyoncé began her solo career and released her debut album Dangerously in Love in 2003. Since then, the superstar has released another six albums, as well as a joint album with her husband, Jay-Z.
Beyoncé was the fastest-selling album ever on iTunes, while all 12 tracks on Lemonade charted within the Hot 100 in the US. Her 2022 album Renaissance also debuted at number-one, making Beyoncé the first artist in history to have seven consecutive number-one albums in the US.
The RIAA lists Beyoncé’s total certified sales as a solo artist (including features) as over 174 million in the US alone.
She has seven number-one singles including Crazy in Love, Check on It, Single Ladies, and Break My Soul. In total, she has sold over 200 million records worldwide (and another 60 million with Destiny’s Child).
Other than being 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, Beyoncé also has the most Grammys won by a female artist in one night (six awards) and holds the record for the most Grammys won by a woman with a whopping 32 wins.
6. Taylor Swift
Sales: 200 million
No.1 Singles (Billboard): We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together, Shake It Off, Blank Space, Bad Blood, Look What You Made Me Do, Cardigan, Willow, All Too Well (Taylor’s Version), Anti-Hero, Cruel Summer
Best-Selling Album: Fearless
Popular singer-songwriter Taylor Swift rose to fame in 2006 as the innocent country singer and American girl-next-door. She soon gained worldwide attention after adding a pop twist to her songs, which would later see an even bigger shift into mainstream music. She is now one of the most popular female singers of all time.
Taylor’s first self-titled album spent 157 weeks on the Billboard 200, becoming the longest-charting album of the 2000s. Her second album, Fearless was certified Diamond and became the first of Taylor’s 12 remaining albums to consecutively reach number-one in the US.
As one of the top female artists around, Taylor has sold over 100 million albums globally, and is the first singer to have the best-selling US album of a year seven times. Taylor is now officially the female artist with the most number-one albums in Billboard 200 history.
Midnights broke the record for most single-day streams for an album in Spotify history and it made Taylor the first artist to spend a full year (2022) at number-one on the Billboard Artist 100.
Taylor has achieved over 230 chart entries on the Hot 100 including 10 number-one singles and 49 top tens – the most entries for a female singer in the US.
Shake It Off is officially Taylor’s biggest single in America and is certified Diamond, while every track on Lover and Folklore charted on the Hot 100 in the same week, breaking the record for the most simultaneous entries on the chart by a female artist.
10 tracks on her album Midnights occupied the Hot 100’s entire top 10 upon its release, becoming the first ever album to do so.
Ranked as one of Billboard’s Greatest of All Time Artists and TIME’s Person of the Year in 2023, the Reputation star has also received 12 Grammy Awards, over 100 Guinness World records, 40 American Music Awards (the most wins for an artist) and 40 Billboard Music Awards – the latter being the most wins by an artist.
Her Eras Tour became the highest-grossing of all time in 2023, and she was also the most streamed artist of 2023 on Spotify.
5. Whitney Houston
Sales: 220 million
No.1 Singles (Billboard): Saving All My Love For You, How Will I Know, The Greatest Love Of All, I Wanna Dance with Somebody, 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
Along with being one of the biggest-selling female artists, Whitney is often regarded as the greatest singer of all time. With her powerful vocals, she landed a record deal at the age of 19 and was on her way to becoming a global superstar, eventually selling a whopping 220 million records worldwide.
The late icon released her first album Whitney Houston in 1985, which is now one of the best-selling albums of all time, selling 30 million copies globally. She then went on to produce eight more albums which have been certified Diamond, Multi-Platinum, Platinum, or Gold.
Whitney had the best-selling gospel album of all time with The Preacher’s Wife, while The Bodyguard album remains the best-selling soundtrack album ever.
During her prime in the 80s, Whitney had seven consecutive number-one singles on the Hot 100 chart, from Saving All My Love for You to Where Do Broken Hearts Go; making her the only artist to ever do so.
Besides recording music, Whitney also took up a career in acting and starred in the romance film The Bodyguard. I Will Always Love You, her soundtrack for the film, became the best-selling physical single by a female in music history having sold 20 million copies worldwide.
Whitney Houston is officially the most awarded female artist of all time by the Guinness World Records, with several gongs recognizing her worldwide success over the years. These include Grammy Awards for Record of the Year (1994) and Best Pop Vocal Performance (1986, 1988, 1994).
4. Mariah Carey
Sales: 220 million
No.1 Singles (Billboard): Vision of Love, Love Takes Time, Someday, I Don’t Wanna Cry, Emotions, I’ll Be There, Dreamlover, Hero, All I Want For Christmas, 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
With a five-octave vocal range and a dolphin-like whistle register, Mariah has been in a league of her own since rising to fame in 1990 and releasing her debut album Mariah Carey. She is now one of the most famous female singers around the world.
Mariah is the highest-certified female artist in the US, with 75 million certified album units. Mariah Carey was certified nine-times Platinum, and also made Mariah the first artist in history to have their first five singles hit number-one on the Hot 100, from Vision of Love to Emotions.
The diva went on to release another 15 albums – including holiday albums to accompany her highest-selling hit All I Want for Christmas, which has now crowned her the “Queen of Christmas.” Mariah has two albums certified Diamond in the US including Music Box, one of the best-selling albums of all time, and Daydream.
In total, Mariah has released an extravagant 86 singles. With 19 number-one hits, Mariah officially holds the record for the most chart-topping singles by a solo artist, a female songwriter, and a female producer.
Mariah has also broken the record for any superstar in US history after spending a total record of 90 weeks at number-one. Her biggest singles include Fantasy, My All, and We Belong Together.
Mariah is America’s most successful artist of the 1990s (Billboard), the best-selling pop female artist of the millennium (World Music Awards), and also has five Grammy Awards, 19 World Music Awards, and 16 Billboard Music Awards under her belt.
Other than music, Mariah has also tried Hollywood. After a failed performance in Glitter, she went on to redeem herself with her performance in Precious. Since then, Mariah has sat on the panel of American Idol and starred in other hit-movies.
3. Celine Dion
Sales: 230 million
No.1 Singles (Billboard): The Power of Love, Because You Loved Me, My Heart Will Go On, I’m Your Angel
Best-Selling Album: Falling Into You
She may be the third top-selling female artist in the world, but Celine Dion is actually Canada’s best-selling recording artist of all time. After starting her career with French albums and winning the 1988 Eurovision Song Contest, Celine soon became a household name in the 90s upon releasing her English albums.
Celine Dion has two of the best-selling albums of all time. Falling Into You achieved the twelve-times Platinum certification, while Let’s Talk About Love featured the highest-selling single of her career, My Heart Will Go On.
She is also one of the best-selling stars in France, with her album D’eux being dubbed the best-selling French-language album in history. Additionally, Celine’s Christmas and Greatest Hits albums have topped charts around the world.
The Titanic theme track My Heart Will Go On was an international success after being certified Diamond, Multi-Platinum and Gold around the world. The singer has also achieved several more number-one hits including The Power of Love and Because You Loved Me, which is her biggest Billboard Hot 100 hit, selling over two million copies in the US alone.
Celine has the most cumulative weeks at number-one in the Adult Contemporary charts, logging in a total of 87 weeks – A New Day Has Come spent the longest time, precisely 21 weeks. Billboard has named her the “Queen of Adult Contemporary” for having the most number-one songs on the radio as a female singer.
During the 2000s, Celine became known as a performer and entertainer and gained a spot on the Las Vegas strip, which remains the highest-grossing concert residency of all time. The influential vocalist has also won five Grammy Awards throughout her successful career.
Sales: 250 million
No.1 Singles (Billboard): SOS, Umbrella, Take a Bow, Disturbia, Rude Boy, Only Girl, What’s My Name, S&M, We Found Love, Diamonds, Work
Best-Selling Album: Good Girl Gone Bad
Since her debut single Pon de Replay in 2006, Rihanna has become a pop icon, producing hit after hit. With nine successful albums under her belt, Rihanna quickly became the second best-selling female artist of all-time, selling over 250 million records worldwide.
All nine of Rihanna’s albums are certified Platinum and Multi-Platinum by the RIAA, with total sales of over 10 million copies in the US alone. Her number-one albums include Unapologetic and Anti, both certified three-times Platinum.
All in all, Rihanna has released 53 singles, 14 of which have reached number-one on the Billboard Hot 100 (including as a featured artist) – this made her the only singer to have number-one singles on the Hot 100 chart from seven consecutive albums. 32 of her singles also became top-ten singles.
Umbrella hit number-one in 15 countries and remained in that spot for seven consecutive weeks on the Hot 100, while Rude Boy had similar success, staying at number-one for five consecutive weeks.
Rihanna has several worldwide number-ones including We Found Love which hit the top spot in 29 countries and remained in the Hot 100 for 10 whopping weeks.
RiRi has earned nine Grammy Awards, 13 American Music Awards, 12 Billboard Music Awards, and six Guinness World Records. After 2016, her career took a turn and she took a shot at acting with performances in Battleship and Ocean’s 8.
In recent years, Rihanna has focused on growing her successful businesses, Fenty Beauty, LVMH and Savage x Fenty. As of 2023, she is the wealthiest female musician, with an estimated net worth of $1.4 billion.
Sales: 400 million
No.1 Singles (Billboard): Like a Virgin, 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 Used To Be My Playground, Take a Bow, Music
Best-Selling Album: The Immaculate Collection
It comes as no surprise that the long-standing “Queen of Pop” is also the best-selling female artist of all-time. Since her first appearance in the music scene in 1982, Madonna has remained current by reinventing herself and her craft and has sold 400 million records worldwide.
While Madge’s self-titled debut album only reached number eight on the Billboard 200, her follow-up albums went on to shine even brighter. Like a Virgin was certified Diamond, while True Blue hit number-one in a then record-breaking 28 countries.
Madonna’s fourth album, Like a Prayer also reached the top spot, making her the only female artist in the 1980s with the most Billboard 200 number-one albums. The Immaculate Collection then became her second Diamond-certified album and still remains the best-selling compilation album.
Continuing her reign as the best female musician even in the 2000s, Madge’s tenth album Confessions on a Dance Floor went to number-one in 40 countries.
Madonna has 12 number-one singles, with Like a Prayer making her the female artist with the most US number-ones in the 1980s – a title shared with Whitney Houston.
Hung Up was her best-charting song worldwide and earned a place in the 2007 Guinness Book of World Records for topping the charts in 41 countries.
Madonna outdid Elvis Presley as the artist with the most top 10 singles after 4 Minutes became her 37th Hot 100 top-ten in 2008.
Madonna has certainly earned the title of the best-selling female artist of all time – a title certified by Guinness World Records. She is officially the most successful solo artist ever of the Billboard Hot 100 chart and holds the record for the most number-one singles by a female singer in Australia, Canada, Italy, Spain, and the UK.
So, there you have it, the 30 fierce women that have dominated the music industry over the last few decades.
Will Madonna always wear the crown? Let us know who you think deserves a spot on this list by leaving a comment in the section below.
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