The Greatest Singers of the Past 30 Years

Over 28.1K Ranker voters have come together to rank this list of The Greatest Singers of the Past 30 Years
Voting Rules
Singers from the past 30 years only.

One of the most debated topics in music is: who are the greatest singers of the past 30 years? Whether you're a huge Whitney Houston fan, or you've never missed one of Mariah Carey's live Christmas concerts, the best modern singers of the last 30 years are some of the greatest talents that the world has ever seen. From Michael Jackson's perfect performances, to Freddie Mercury's incredible vocal range, music fans have gathered a list of the best singers of the last 30 years for you to rank.   

Who's one of the best singers of the past 30 years? For many, Madonna tops the list. When Madge arrived on the scene in the early '80s, she completely rocked the world of pop music with her third single, "Holiday," and blew everyone away. She followed that song up with hit classics "Lucky Star," "Like a Virgin," and "Material Girl;" and the rest was history.

Although Kurt Cobain's time on earth was short, he revolutionized the grunge music scene with his gravely vocals and unruly guitar sounds. Cobain's unique combination of singing and screaming earned him a spot among the best on this list.  

Other favorite singers featured below include Celine Dion, Bruno Mars, Lady Gaga, Beyonce, Prince, Luciano Pavarotti, Aretha Franklin, Sting, and countless others. Vote up the best vocalists of the past 30 years below, and be sure to vote based on the quality of the artists' music (i.e. songs and albums) and overall influence, rather than simply the most famous or popular musicians, or ones with the most streams online. 

Most divisive: Celine Dion
Ranked by
  • Michael Jackson
    Motown Sound, Rock music, Electronic music
    5,542 votes
    • Albums: Thriller, Bad, Off the Wall, Dangerous, Michael
    • Nationality: United States of America

    Undeniably one of the most iconic performers of all time, Michael Jackson's unique vocal talent and unrivaled showmanship allowed him to rule over the music world for decades. His ability to effortlessly switch between high falsetto and powerful lower registers, all while delivering emotive performances full of energy and charisma, solidified his status as a musical legend. From hits such as "Billie Jean" to "Thriller," Jackson captivated audiences both on stage and through his industry-changing music videos.

  • Whitney Houston
    Pop music, Dance-pop, Contemporary R&B
    5,415 votes
    • Albums: The Bodyguard: Original Soundtrack Album, Whitney Houston, My Love Is Your Love, I'm Your Baby Tonight, The Preacher's Wife: Original Soundtrack Album
    • Nationality: United States of America

    Whitney Houston was a true vocal powerhouse whose incredible range and stunning purity earned her the title of "The Voice." She flawlessly showcased her talents on ballads like "I Will Always Love You" and up-tempo tracks like "I Wanna Dance with Somebody." Houston set the standard for singing excellence, inspiring countless artists in the years since her ascent to stardom. Her influence continues to reverberate through the music scene, proving she is one of the all-time greats.

  • Aretha Franklin
    Pop music, Rock music, Rhythm and blues
    3,924 votes
    • Albums: Lady Soul, I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You, Young, Gifted and Black, Respect
    • Nationality: United States of America

    The undisputed Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin possessed a voice that was distinctive, passionate, and overflowing with emotion. From her iconic rendition of "Respect" to her powerful gospel-tinged ballads like "A Natural Woman," Franklin's incredible vocal talent made her an unstoppable musical force throughout her esteemed career. Whether she was belting out an anthemic hit or working through a reflective ballad, her ability to stir emotions in listeners never faltered.

  • Elton John
    Pop music, Rock music, Piano rock
    3,114 votes
    • Albums: Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Disney's Sing-Along: The Lion King, Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy, Madman Across the Water, Don't Shoot Me I'm Only the Piano Player
    • Nationality: United Kingdom

    Sir Elton John's inimitable blend of pop-rock showmanship and incredible vocal prowess has made him a stellar performer since his early days in the '70s. With memorable hits such as "Your Song," "Rocket Man," and "Candle in the Wind," John's versatile voice has elegantly showcased his emotional depth alongside powerful melodies. Forever a standout force within the music industry, Elton John's ongoing career is a testament to his undeniable talent and timeless appeal.

  • Adele
    Pop, R&B, Soul
    3,985 votes
    • Albums: 21, 19, Make You Feel My Love, Adele Live at the Royal Albert Hall, Cold Shoulder
    • Nationality: England

    Adele's stunning voice has been captivating audiences ever since she burst onto the scene with her debut album 19. Her raw vocal power paired with emotional expressiveness has made hits like "Rolling in the Deep" and "Someone Like You" unforgettable classics in the relatively short time since they were released. Adele's unmistakable style and soulful ballads have not only garnered her countless accolades but have solidified her spot among the greats of our time.

  • Prince
    Hip hop music, Synthpop, New Wave
    3,475 votes
    • Albums: Purple Rain, Sign 'O' the Times, 1999, Love Symbol Album, Around the World in a Day
    • Nationality: United States of America

    A musical genius in every sense of the word, Prince's unforgettable performances were punctuated by his exceptional vocal range and otherworldly falsetto. Songs like "Purple Rain" and "Kiss" exemplify his artistic prowess, blending his distinctive voice with masterful arrangements and an unwavering passion for music. Despite his untimely passing, Prince's boundary-pushing creativity and his incredible range continue to captivate those who experience his work.