Music
21.4k voters

The Greatest Women in Music, 1980s to Today

Updated March 18, 2020 252.7k votes 21.4k voters 427.4k views188 items

List RulesFemale artist who have had major impact in the 1980s, 1990s, and/or, the 2000s.

The greatest female artist since the 1980s are ranked and voted on through this countdown. In 1998, VH1 ranked the greatest women in rock, from the beginning of music all the way to the 1990s as voted on by fellow female artists. On this list, we ask music fans to rank the greatest female singers and artists who have made music and were active for the last thirty years. These women were chosen not only for their talent, but for their popularity and cultural impact on music. Among these women are 80s female singers like Madonna, who changed the landscape and format of pop music forever, as well as pop stars like Mariah Carey, Janet Jackson, Whitney Houston, Cher, Tina Turner, Joan Jett, and Stevie Nicks, who were recognized for their amazing contributions to their respective genres.

See also: the best current female singers and female singers you wish you could sing like

Fans, remember to only view each artist for their work made since the 1980s. Anything before that is completely irrelevant. The music scene began to shift in the '80s, and since then, video and imagery played a part in how people viewed or recognized music. The impact of 80s girl singers on pop culture was not only musical, but aesthetic as well. Some have had major impact because of their videos. Others because of their vocal ability. Many for their everlasting popularity. Either way, these famous artists will never be forgotten for the lasting impression they made on the music world. And this list salutes these particular 80s women and those to come after, so feel free to vote, music fans, to see which female artist left the biggest mark in music history.

Photo:
...more
  • Whitney Houston1
    3,131
    2,907
    Amazon buy button

    More Whitney Houston 

    The Best Whitney Houston Albums of All Time#512 of 843 The Best Actresses in Film History

  • Madonna2
    3,827
    3,980
    Amazon buy button

    More Madonna 

    The Best Madonna Albums of All Time#257 of 269 The Most Trustworthy Celebrities in the World

  • Tina Turner3
    2,664
    2,783
    Amazon buy button

    More Tina Turner 

    The Best Tina Turner Songs#125 of 263 The Greatest Classic Rock Bands

  • Stevie Nicks4
    2,070
    2,191
    Amazon buy button

    More Stevie Nicks 

    Fascinating Stories From Stevie Nicks’s Love Life#16 of 213 The Greatest Rock Songwriters of All Time

  • Celine Dion5
    2,426
    2,388
    Amazon buy button

    More Celine Dion 

    The Best Celine Dion Songs#91 of 583 The Greatest Entertainers of All Time

  • Christina Aguilera6
    Amazon buy button

    More Christina Aguilera 

    The Best Christina Aguilera Albums of All Time#184 of 461 The Best Current Pop Groups/Singers

  • Aretha Franklin7
    1,690
    1,396
    Amazon buy button

    More Aretha Franklin 

    The Best Aretha Franklin Albums of All Time#55 of 162 1970s Christian Pop Artists

  • Mariah Carey8
    2,976
    3,515
    Amazon buy button

    More Mariah Carey 

    The Best Mariah Carey Songs of All Time#4 of 602 The Best Female Vocalists Ever

  • P!nk9
    1,815
    2,187
    Amazon buy button

    More P!nk 

    17 Reasons P!nk Is The Coolest Pop Star In Hollywood#3 of 94 The Best Singers Who Only Need to Go By One Name

  • Cher10
    1,830
    2,011
    Amazon buy button

    More Cher 

    The Best Cher Albums of All Time#205 of 282 The Funniest Female Comedians of All Time

  • Pat Benatar11
    1,411
    1,709
    Amazon buy button

    More Pat Benatar 

    The Best Pat Benatar Albums of All Time#44 of 225 The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters

  • Adele12
    2,180
    2,662
    Amazon buy button

    More Adele 

    Fun Facts You Didn't Know About Adele#2 of 125 Current Singers You Most Wish You Could Sound Like

  • Cyndi Lauper13
    1,888
    2,348
    Amazon buy button

    More Cyndi Lauper 

    The Best Cyndi Lauper Songs#35 of 213 The Best Current Female Singers

  • Annie Lennox14
    1,627
    2,094
    Amazon buy button

    More Annie Lennox 

    The Best Annie Lennox Albums of All Time#155 of 383 The Greatest Musical Artists of the '90s

  • Diana Ross15
    Amazon buy button

    More Diana Ross 

    #22 of 100 The Greatest Motown Artists Of All-Time#12 of 219 The Top Pop Artists of the 1960s

  • Amy Winehouse16
    1,484
    1,996
    Amazon buy button

    More Amy Winehouse 

    ‘Amy’ Is A Deeply Upsetting Documentary That Forced Us To Re-Examine Her Tragedy#2 of 29 Members of The 27 Club

  • Dolly Parton17
    1,108
    1,035
    Amazon buy button

    More Dolly Parton 

    26 Weird And Charming Facts About Dolly Parton19 Wholesome Dolly Parton Tweets That Prove She’s Still America’s Sweetheart

  • Donna Summer18
    1,333
    1,523
    Queen of disco
    Amazon buy button

    More Donna Summer 

    The Best Donna Summer Albums of All Time#217 of 753 People We Wish Were Still Alive

  • Debbie Harry19
    1,373
    1,918
    Amazon buy button

    More Debbie Harry 

    #17 of 17 The Most Infamous Rock and Roll Urban Legends#32 of 298 The Best Frontmen in Rock

  • Britney Spears20
    2,078
    2,875
    Amazon buy button

    More Britney Spears 

    The Most Cringeworthy Moments Revealed In The 'Framing Britney Spears' DocumentaryThe Best Britney Spears Songs of All Time

  • Lady Gaga21
    1,618
    2,234
    Amazon buy button

    More Lady Gaga 

    The Best Lady Gaga Songs of All Time#950 of 2,443 The Most Influential People of All Time

  • Natasha Bedingfield22
    Amazon buy button

    More Natasha Bedingfield 

    The Best Natasha Bedingfield Albums, Ranked#136 of 172 The Female Singer You Most Wish You Could Sound Like

  • Linda Ronstadt23
    Amazon buy button

    More Linda Ronstadt 

    #26 of 160 The Top Female Country Singers#41 of 265 Rank the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame Inductees

  • Jackie Evancho24
    Amazon buy button

    More Jackie Evancho 

    #30 of 198 The Greatest New Female Vocalists of the Past 10 Years#209 of 1,891 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time

  • Brandy Norwood25
    Amazon buy button

    More Brandy Norwood 

    Whatever Happened to Brandy?#928 of 1,019 The Worst Bands & Musicians of All Time