15 Of The Greatest And Most Famous Male Singers Of The 1990s

Written by Laura Macmillan
Last updated

It’s no secret that the 1990s was an amazing time for music. There were singers and bands of all genres, and the competition was fierce. With grunge, alternative, and Britpop reigning supreme, there was something for everyone to enjoy.

And among all of those talented musicians was a crop of insanely talented male singers who dominated the charts and radio waves.

And in this post, we’re going to take a look at the lives and careers of 15 of the greatest and most famous male singers of the 1990s! Let’s get started.

1. George Michael

One of the most popular singers of the 1990s was George Michael. He rose to fame as a member of the pop duo Wham! and went on to have a hugely successful solo career in the ’90s.

His 1990 album Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1 was #1 and #2 in the UK Albums Chart and US Billboard 200, respectively, and certified Platinum four times after staying on the UK charts for 88 weeks.

Some of his most popular songs of the era include “Freedom! ’90,” ”Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me,” ”Jesus To A Child,” and ”Fastlove.” Sadly, Michael passed away in 2016 at the age of 53.

2. Jeff Buckley

Next up, we have Jeff Buckley, who was a singer, songwriter, and guitarist that rose to fame in the early 1990s. He was known for his unique and powerful voice as well as his covers of other artists’ songs.

Buckley’s only studio album, Grace, was released in 1994, which later received Gold in the US and Platinum in Australia. His rendition of the cover “Hallelujah” in the album is said to be “one of the great songs” by Time.

Sadly, he passed away in 1997 at the age of 30 in an accidental drowning, but his music lives on. To this day, he’s generally considered one of the greatest singers of the 1990s.

3. Robbie Williams

Back over the pond again, next we have Robbie Williams, who is an English singer, songwriter, and actor who has been active since the early 1990s.

He rose to fame as a member of the boy band Take That and has since released eleven solo albums. His “Old Before I Die” became #2 in UK charts, and “Angels,” his fourth single, became one of his best-selling songs.

Williams has sold over 75 million records worldwide and has won numerous awards during his career, including two Grammy Awards and three Brit Awards.

4. Michael Jackson

We doubt no one knows of Michael Jackson, as he is one of the most iconic singers of all time. He rose to fame as a member of the Jackson Five and went on to have a hugely successful solo career. Some of his most popular songs include “Billie Jean,” “Beat It,” and “Thriller.”

A talented singer, dancer, and songwriter, Jackson is one of the best-selling music artists of all time, with sales of over 750 million records. During his lengthy musical career, he has won numerous awards.

Jackson sadly passed away in 2009 at the age of 50. His music will live on forever, as well as the iconic dance moves that he helped to pioneer.

5. Elton John

Reginald Dwight, or Elton John, is an English singer, songwriter, and pianist who has been active since the 1960s. He has released over 30 studio albums and has sold more than 150 million records worldwide.

John has won five Grammy Awards. His “Can You Feel The Love Tonight” (1994) for the animated film The Lion King garnered him an Academy Award for Best Original Song.

As one of the most popular singers of all time, his music is still enjoyed by fans all over the world. John even still holds the record for the most successful single with the release of his 1997 hit “Candle in the Wind.”

6. Eminem

Called the greatest rapper of all time, Eminem is known for popularizing hip-hop and for breaking racial barriers with his music.

His career started during the early ’90s, but he rose to fame in 1997 after record producer Dr. Dre heard his second album, Slim Shady EP, which went on to be certified quadruple Platinum.

Despite controversies regarding lyrics and song themes, Eminem still garnered many fans with his rap style. He has won numerous awards—Billboard Music awards and BMI awards, to name a couple—and became one of the best-selling music artists of all time.

7. Snoop Dogg

American rapper, singer, and actor Snoop Dogg has been active since the early 1990s. He rose to fame with his debut album Doggystyle and has since released thirteen studio albums.

As one of the most popular rappers of all time, Snoop has sold over 35 million records worldwide and has won numerous music awards.

Aside from music, he is also a successful actor, with roles in films such as “Starsky & Hutch” and “Training Day.” Currently, Snoop seems to dabble in a little bit of everything at this point in his career, as he pops up on cooking shows, gaming tournaments, and professional wrestling.

8. Sting

British singer, songwriter, and actor Sting has been active since the 1970s. He was a member of the Police from 1977 to 1984 and started going solo in the late ’80s.

It was during the ’90s, however, that his solo career was more successful with albums like Soul Cages (1991), Ten Summoner’s Tales (1993), and Brand New Day (1999), all of which became chart-topping Platinums.

Sting has since released fourteen solo studio albums and sold over 100 million records worldwide. With this, it is not surprising that he has won sixteen Grammy Awards.

9. Phil Collins

British singer, songwriter, and drummer Phil Collins has been active since the 1960s. He was a member of the rock band Genesis from 1970 to 1996.

After his separation from the band, he embarked on a successful solo career. During this time, he released albums Dance Into The Light and Phil Collins … Hits, the latter topping UK charts and selling over 3 million copies.

Collins’s most prominent work might be the songs he wrote and performed for the animated Disney movie Tarzan (1999), with “You’ll Be In My Heart” spending 19 weeks as #1 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart. His work for the movie gained him an Academy Award and Golden Globe Award.

10. Bryan Adams

Canadian Bryan Adams has had a long musical career, performing solo since he was twenty. He rose to fame thanks to his guitar skills and power ballads. He started in the late ’70s, and by the time the ’90s rolled along, he had become a household name.

His songs have been used in countless movie soundtracks. In 1991, he released “(Everything I Do) I Do It For You” for the movie Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves. The song became #1 worldwide and stayed top for 16 weeks on the UK Singles Chart. His “Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman” in 1995 also topped charts.

Aside from winning many awards, Adams was also inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2022 and has sold over 100 million records worldwide.  

11. Kurt Cobain

Famous rock band Nirvana would not have existed if it were not for Kurt Cobain. As one of the most influential musicians in history, our eleventh singer in the list helped contribute to what is now known as grunge music.

As Nirvana’s songwriter, Cobain wrote several hit songs in the early ’90s, including “Lithium” (1991), “Smells Like Teen Spirit” (1991), and “All Apologies” (1993).

Despite his and the band’s popularity, our singer struggled with depression and heroin addiction. In April 1994, to the shock of the family, friends, and fans, he committed suicide. He was 27.

In 2014, Cobain was inducted posthumously into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He was also added into the 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time, 100 Greatest Singers of All Time, and 100 Greatest Guitarists lists.

12. Bono

Irish singer-songwriter Bono has been active since the early 1980s. He is best known as a member of the rock band U2, which rose to fame in the ’90s when they reinvented their music style.

As their songwriter, Bono helped the band release several hit albums during the era. Their Achtung Baby (1991) received the Grammy’s Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group, and in 1995, “Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me,” a song they contributed for Batman Forever, became #1 in Australia and Ireland, and #2 in the UK.

Outside of U2, Bono has also collaborated with other musicians like Tina Turner, Bruce Springsteen, and the Corrs. In 1995, he and the Edge wrote the theme song for GoldenEye.

13. Tupac Shakur

One of the most influential rappers in the ’90s is Tupac Shakur, also known as 2Pac as well as Makaveli. He was known to release songs that echoed his sociopolitical views.

Tupac rose to fame with his solo debut album 2Pacolypse Now, which became certified Gold. In 1995, he released Me Against The World, hailed as his masterpiece and which debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200. This album also garnered our singer the 1996 Soul Train Music Award for best rap album.

A year after Me Against The World was released, Tupac passed away, a victim of a drive-by shooting in Las Vegas. Though his music career was short, his passion and work left an indelible mark on the hip-hop community.

14. Vanilla Ice

If you have a fondness for hip-hop, you will surely know the singer next on our list. Vanilla Ice is said to have been a major influence on the genre, having become one of the earliest successful white rappers.

Ice debuted in 1989 and began climbing in popularity and success during the ’90s with the rerelease of his album Hooked, renamed To The Extreme, which contained hit songs like “Play That Funky Music” and “Ice Ice Baby,” the latter winning Best New Song of People’s Choice Awards

In the mid-’90s, Ice took a brief break from recording to focus on other activities before returning in 1997.

15. R Kelly

Last but not least on our list is R Kelly, whose career spans three decades and who is considered one of the most successful R&B artists of the ’90s with over 75 million records sold worldwide.

Kelly rose to fame with his single “Bump N’ Grind,” which spent 12 weeks as #1 on the Billboard Hot R&B Singles chart. In the ’90s, he released four albums; three of them—12 Play, R. Kelly, and R.—peaked in the US R&B/Hip-Hop albums. His 1996 song “I Believe I Can Fly” garnered him three Grammy Awards!

Despite the many allegations against R. Kelly, his influence in the R&B community is immense, earning him several nicknames: the King of R&B, the Pied Piper of R&B, and the King of Soul Pop to name a few.

Summing Up Our List Of The ’90s Most Famous Male Singers

The 1990s provided us with many male singers that left a mark in the music industry. From pop to hip-hop to rock, we all have enjoyed the amazing talents of those on this list, even until now.

If you’re a fan of the nineties or just a fan of great music, then these are the singers you need to check out. Who is your favorite?

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Laura has over 12 years experience teaching both classical and jazz saxophone and clarinet. She now resides in California where she works as a session and live performer.