Some were one-hit wonders, others started powerhouse careers in the music industry that continue to this day. No matter which one you want to single out, they brought female vocalists and bands to the next level. The music was varied, the styles were original and unique to each, and they all made hits that will live in the minds and memories of generations to come. Here are the 7 best female vocalists of the 1990s.
1. Christina Aguilera
Long before “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse” there was “The Mickey Mouse Club” and there are a few names that we recognize today that came from the show in the early ’90s. Christina Aguilera got her start on TV with the show along with Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears, actor Keri Russell, and actor Ryan Gosling. She sang the song “Reflection” for Disney’s 1998 animated hit Mulan and afterward was signed with RCA to produce an album.
Her first single “Genie in a Bottle” exploded her popularity in the United States in 1999 and lead to her debut album, Christina Aguliera, rocketing her into the Billboard Hot 100 for that song, “What a Girl Wants”, and “Come On Over Baby (All I Want Is You)”.
Her most recent album was Liberation, which was released in 2018 and has been active in various television shows such as The Voice.
2. Mariah Carey
Mariah Carey has one of the most well recognized singing voices in the United States and boasts an impressive 5 octave vocal range. Early on in her career it was speculated that her voice was artificially created in the studio due to her lack of physical singing appearances. The rumor was so widespread that she appeared on MTV Unplugged and sang The Jackson 5’s “I’ll Be There” to set the record straight. Her recording of the song live at the Kaufman Astoria Studios was her sixth single to chart in the Billboard Hot 100 and the EP of it that was released was certified triple Platinum by the RIAA.
Her first released single was “Vision of Love” from her debut album and is the only artist to have had her first 5 singles reach #1 on the Billboard Hot 100.
She is possibly best known for “All I Want For Christmas Is You”, which plays every year across the United States during the Christmas season. Other famous tracks from her include “One Sweet Day”, “Fantasy”, “Hero”, and “Always Be My Baby”.
Jewel was living in a van and performing on Thursdays at a local coffee shop called The Inner Change Cafe in San Diego, California in 1993 when she was discovered by Inga Vainshtein. Danny Goldberg, who was the head of Atlantic Record’s West Coast operations at the time, paid for Jewel’s first demo because she was unable to pay for it herself.
Like many others, Jewel’s first album was her most successful. It produced three of the songs she is most famous for, including “You Were Meant For Me”, “Foolish Games”, and “Who Will Save Your Soul”.
She has produced 12 albums to date and has appeared in multiple television shows, including Alaska: The Last Frontier.
4. Natalie Imbruglia
Natalie Imbruglia started out acting in TV commercials in Australia and eventually starred as Beth Brennan on a soap opera in Australia called Neighbours. In 1994, she recorded four demo songs and landed a contract with BMG due to her demo of “Torn”.
“Torn” from her debut album Left of the Middle peaked on the Billboard Hot 100 chart at 42, but likely would have been much higher had the rules for what songs were allowed to appear on the list been different when it debuted. At the time of the song’s release (which was only on the radio in the US), singles that were not released commercially could not chart.
5. Alanis Morissette
As another classic 1990’s star, Alanis Morissette produced her signature song “Ironic” in 1996 from her third album Jagged Little Pill. The album has been certified Platinum by the RIAA 12 times, has sold 33 million copies internationally, and is the second best selling album by a female artist after Come On Over by Shania Twain.
Other songs included on the same album were “Head Over Feet”, “You Learn”, “You Oughta Know”, and “Hand in My Pocket”.
6. Celine Dion
Celine Dion is a Canadian singer and although her biggest hit songs are in English, it is not her native language. She began her singing career in the 1980’s producing French-language albums. She is a highly skilled singer with a powerful voice and it shines through in nearly anything she performs. In addition to being able to sing in her native French, she sings in seven other languages, including English, Mandarin Chinese, Italian, Spanish, German, Japanese, and Latin,
The songs she is most known for today were released in the mid 1990’s. Her big three songs for that period were “Because You Loved Me”, “It’s All Coming Back To Me Now”, and “My Heart Will Go On”.
In terms of pop culture, the song she is most famously known for has to be “My Heart Will Go On” from the hit 1996 film Titanic. It has sold 18 million singles worldwide. The only other song sang by a woman to surpass this is “I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston.
7. Whitney Houston
Whitney Houston is another powerhouse vocalist whose career spans multiple decades, but her biggest hit single was released in the 1990’s.
Her biggest hit remains the top selling song by a female artist to date: “I Will Always Love You” from the soundtrack to the 1992 film The Bodyguard. In addition to singing for the soundtrack, she also played the lead role in the film, which was a box office and critic flop.
As of 2013, the song has sold over 20 million copies internationally and is #6 on the list of top selling singles of all time. Although the film was a commercial flop, the soundtrack is currently the top selling film soundtrack of all time.
Whitney Houston sadly passed away on February 11, 2012.