Never Forget The '90s Divas That Made Pop History

by Jennifer Still

Let's face it: when it comes to ultimate pop divas, the '90s spawned some amazing ones — perhaps more than any other decade in recent memory. They did ballads, they did uptempo jams, they had wider vocal ranges than humanly conceivable... basically, it was a wonderful time. Those divas also set the tone and gave inspiration to many of the female artists killing it in 2015, and their influence and accomplishments can't be underestimated. And while every one of the big voices from the '90s were special and magical in its own way, you have to admit that you likely played favorites when it came to divas of the decade. I know I did, so there's no use pretending otherwise.

So what is it that makes an amazing singer? Sure, there's the voice — that is, by and large, the most important element. But it also takes charisma, determination, and the ability to really delve into the emotions of the songs they sing. They need to be able to translate joy, heartbreak, anger, and everything in between. Some accomplished this effortlessly, while others used alternate methods to connect with the audience, like busting out badass dance moves or just by simply acting like the divas they knew they were, giving us no other choice than to go along with it. Hey, whatever works, right?

Below is a definitive ranking of '90s pop divas, from best to... just slightly less best, because let's be real — they were all amazing.

Mariah Carey

I've gotta put Mariah first, if only out of personal preference, because she straight up made me want to be a singer when I was 8. I can't tell you how long I listened to Music Box on repeat — I think I actually wore out the cassette tape! My obsession didn't stop there, though; I literally had her entire catalogue and loved every single song. Mariah was the ultimate '90s queen.

Celine Dion

Admittedly, I was also obsessed with Celine, albeit when I got just a little bit older, around the time of "My Heart Will Go On". So strong was my love for her that I even learned French so that I could understand her French albums and interviews. I was in deep, but can you blame me? With that voice and those amazing songs, she was legendary (and still is).

Whitney Houston

It's incredibly sad to have lost Whitney so soon, because she was a tremendous talent. From her early hits like "I Wanna Dance With Somebody" to her acting work in The Bodyguard and The Preacher's Wife, Whitney had it all. There will never be another singer like her, and she will live on forever because of it.

Janet Jackson

Janet entered the music world before the '90s, but the '90s were certainly one of her strongest eras. "That's The Way Love Goes" was basically on every teenager's mix tape for their boyfriend/girlfriend, and for good reason. She was smooth, sexy, and just all-around amazing.


Are you surprised to see Sade on this list? How dare you. She may be a bit different than the other pop singers on this list, but she's certainly a diva, that's for sure. If you wanted a solid, sultry love song with so much class and a ridiculous amount of soul, you only had to look at Sade and you'd have it all.

Toni Braxton

No one had that incredible vocal depth — literally — like Toni did. The Secrets album was a game changer, and rightfully found success in both the pop and R&B worlds. With songs like "You're Making Me High" and the classic "Unbreak My Heart", Toni was unstoppable, and I'll basically die waiting for her to put out another album.

Paula Abdul

Paula may not have had the biggest voice, but she did have the best dance moves, which totally earns her the diva title. Who among us didn't bust a move to "Opposites Attract" as we tried to learn the choreography from the video? Who doesn't remember singing the lyrics "He's a cold-hearted snake/look into his eyes/Oh-oh, he's been telling lies!" at the top of their lungs? I rest my case.

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