By virtue of its namesake, popular music is the genre in which you’ll find many of the world’s best-respected and famous singers. There are hundreds of artists who could go on this list and be recognized anywhere in the world.
That being said, since we’re sure none of you have four (or more) days to read an extensive list of singers, we’ve distilled our list down to the cream of the crop. Read on to learn about 19 of the greatest and most famous pop singers of all time!
1. Michael Jackson
As the King of Pop, it makes sense to begin the list with Michael Jackson. The legendary singer achieved fame at a young age through his musical family and their group the Jackson 5. This led him to regular studio work and performances across the Midwest, notably through Motown Records.
Jackson became even more popular with hit albums like Thriller and Bad during the ’80s and songs that topped charts like “Billy Jean” and “Beat It.” His performances always featured state-of-the-art production techniques and star-studded bands.
Alongside Jackson’s music, he was known for his energetic dancing and choreography, which is still relevant today. Sadly, the latter part of his career was spotted with controversies, even after his death in 2009.
2. Ed Sheeran
Just a little over a decade ago, Ed Sheeran started releasing independent EPs. He was soon signed to Asylum Records and wowed the fans with his debut album, + (Plus), in 2011.
Sheeran’s style of blending soft rock, pop, and folk-pop has gained worldwide following. His songs constantly reach top 10 in UK and US charts, some establishing themselves as #1, like “Shape of You” and “Perfect.”
Despite alleged copyright issues marring his career, all of Sheeran’s albums have topped the charts. He’s received 4 Grammy, 5 Brit, and 6 Billboard Music Awards, to name a few, and is one of the best-selling music artist worldwide, with over 150 million copies sold.
3. Ariana Grande
Our third pop artist is on a level of her own. Ariana Grande has a lot of “most” to her title: most followed and most subscribed female artist on YouTube and Spotify, and most streamed on Spotify and Apple Music. She also holds 30 Guinness World Records!
Her albums debuted #1 on the charts consecutively, and three of her songs—”7 Rings,” “Thank U, Next,” and “Break Up with Your Girlfriend, I’m Bored”—were in the top-3 spot of the Hot 100 chart at the same time.
As if being one of the best-selling music artist of all time (selling over 85 million worldwide) isn’t enough, Grande is also a businesswoman, with her own successful fragrance and makeup lines.
4. Bruno Mars
Hailing from Hawaii, Bruno Mars is known for fusing funk, soul, R&B, and reggae to create a unique blend of pop music that has fans screaming for more.
Before embarking on a solo career, Mars was already an established songwriter. He has written and cowritten for other popular artists like Adam Levine, Sean Kingston, and Travie McCoy.
Then in 2010, Mars dropped his first studio album, which had “Just the Way You Are” for the lead single. It was a chart-topping international success, certified 13-times Platinum.
And as they say, the rest is history—Mars became a top-seller, with more than 130 million records sold and tours and concerts constantly sold out. He’s received a number of accolades, including 15 Grammy Awards—three of which are Record of the Year.
5. Taylor Swift
Among one of the the most famous female pop singers, Taylor Swift has influenced fans with nine studio albums consecutively topping charts, beginning with Fearless in 2008.
Songs that have helped continue her momentum in popularity to this day are “Shake It Off,” “Blank Space,” “Look What You Made Me Do,” and “Anti-Hero.” All these have topped charts worldwide and garnered the songstress numerous awards.
Swift is also a record-breaker. If Ariana Grande has broken 30 Guinness World Records, she topped it with 84! Swift also holds the titles Woman of the Decade (2010) and Artist of the Decade (2022).
6. Harry Styles
English singer-songwriter Harry Styles had his start with the popular boy band One Direction. The group constantly contributed to being in charts worldwide, with studio albums from 2012 to 2015 peaking at #1.
When One Direction went into hiatus, Styles started a solo career, which continued his fame. Both his eponymous debut album and its lead single, “Sign of the Times,” reached #1. The latter bagged British Artist Video of the Year.
Aside from being an accomplished singer, Styles has dabbled in acting. He has roles in the films Dunkirk, My Policeman, and Don’t Worry Darling. He is also influential in his fashion style and appeared on the cover of Vogue magazine, being the first man to do so.
7. Dua Lipa
If you’re into disco-pop, Dua Lipa must be in your playlist. She’s known for songs that can get the body moving to the beat, like “IDGAF” and “New Rules” from her self-titled debut album.
Lipa has only released two studio albums, Future Nostalgia being the latest in 2020. However, both have landed the singer a handful of awards, from Brit Awards to Grammys. The singer even has two wax figures in Madame Tussauds’s museum—one in London and the other in Amsterdam.
Lipa’s influence has not stopped at music though. She has ventured into modelling, with endorsements from several well-known brands like Bulgari and Versace.
8. Shawn Mendes
Many artists found their musical start on the internet, and Shawn Mendes is one of them. His short cover video for Justin Bieber’s “As Long as You Love Me” gained quite the following on Vine, now a discontinued app, where he was discovered.
After signing with Island Records in 2014, Mendes has went on to drop four studio albums, all of which topped charts in the US and Canada. His song “Señorita,” in collaboration with Camila Cabello, is his greatest hit to date.
Mendes has been nominated for numerous awards and won over 100 of them, including MTV Europe Music Awards, Juno Awards, and American Music Awards, just to name a few.
9. Lady Gaga
Next we have another pop artist known to make us dance with her songs. Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta—or Lady Gaga—is the one behind hit singles “Poker Face,” “Born this Way,” and “Shallow.”
Her popularity soared after her debut album, The Fame, back in 2008, and Gaga hasn’t slowed down since. This is evident in her latest album, Chromatica (2020), which has topped charts in over 10 countries!
As one of the top influencing music artists, Gaga is recognized for a number of achievements. She’s been named one of the world’s most powerful women (2010–2014), one of 100 most influential people in the world (2010–2019), and the first female artist to have four songs sell 10 million copies worldwide.
10. Katy Perry
Perry has released six studio albums, three of which peaked at #1 in US charts. To date, her third album, Teenage Dream, is considered her best. It has been certified nine-times Platinum and landed a Juno Award for International Album of the Year.
Music aside, Perry supports a number of causes, helping organizations in aiding people suffering from diseases like cancer and AIDS. She is also a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, focused on improving the lives of children.
There are few artists who release albums to the top spot of the charts, and Adele is one of them. Uniquely, her albums are all named after her age while they were in production.
One of Adele’s best and most successful work is “Hello,” from the album 25. It set the record as the first song to reach #1 of the charts of 36 countries!
The song also won three Grammy Awards: Best Pop Solo Performance, Record of the Year, and Song of the Year, as well as an International Work of the Year APRA Award.
12. The Weeknd
Abel Makkonen Tesfaye—better known to us as the Weeknd—is recognized for his R&B and hip-hop sounds. However, he has also delved into various subgenres of pop, including pop rock, dream pop, and dance pop.
The Weeknd reached commercial success with his second album, Beauty Behind the Madness. The pop-leaning album peak on the US Billboard 200 chart. It also featured two #1 hit singles, “Can’t Feel My Face” and “The Hills,” as well as “Earned It,” the lead song of the film Fifty Shades of Grey.
In 2020, Time magazine listed the singer as one of the most influential people. The Weeknd is also a strong advocate in food security and is a Goodwill Ambassador for World Food Programme.
13. Demi Lovato
Demetria “Demi” Devonne Lovato had their career beginnings with Disney Channel. They played major roles in the channel’s series Sonny with a Chance and the musical film Camp Rock.
THey contributed the songs “We Rock” and “This Is Me” to the soundtrack of Camp Rock. The latter peaked at #9 on Billboard‘s Hot 100 chart.
Lovato soon shed their Disney teen persona and went solo in 2008, debuting with pop rock album Don’t Forget, which peaked at #2, and led to their first #1 album the following year, Here We Go Again.
International fame came through their eponymous fourth album. “Heart Attack,” its lead single, received critical acclaim and was certified Platinum, not just in the US and UK but also in Canada, New Zealand, and Sweden.
14. Billie Eilish
Encouraged by her parents to go into a music career, Billie Eilish started singing at a young age. By the time she was 13, she was already writing her own songs together with Finneas O’Connell, her brother.
Relatively new to the professional music scene, Eilish has released two albums: When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? (2019) and Happier than Ever (2021). Both of these topped the charts of over ten countries, including the US, Canada, Australia, and the UK.
Her best-known work is “Bad Guy,” from the debut album. The fast, bass-heavy electropop song won two Grammy Awards for Song of the Year and Record of the Year.
15. Christina Aguilera
Often called the Voice of a Generation and Princess of Latin Pop, Christina Aguilera was one of many music artists who contributed to the Latin explosion from 1999 through the early 2000s.
She first captured the attention of audiences for singing “Reflection” from Disney’s animated film Mulan in 1998, which she later rerecorded for the live-action version.
Boosted by the success, Aguilera released her self-titled debut album the following year to critical acclaim. With the help of “Genie in a Bottle,” “What a Girl Wants,” and “I Turn to You,” the album peaked at #1 and was certified eight-times Platinum.
Aside from English, Aguilera has released songs and albums in Spanish. Her latest studio album, Aguilera, which dropped early in 2022, contains all Spanish tracks.
Barbados-native Robyn Rihanna Fenty, best known simply as Rihanna, has made quite a name for herself as a music artist, businesswoman, and actress.
Though only two of her albums topped US charts, the talented pop singer has a string of #1 singles under her belt, from the earlier “Umbrella” and “Only Girl (In the World)” to the later releases like “Stay” and “Diamonds.”
Also a fashion icon, Rihanna has her own brands in fashion, makeup, lingerie, and—her latest foray—skin care. All are named after her last name, Fenty. The singer has also had roles in film, notably Battleship and Ocean’s 8.
17. Michael Bublé
As a child, Michael Bublé was already a talented singer, but he wanted to be a hockey player. However, his grandfather strongly believed he was destined to be a star and paid for his singing lessons. Years later, that belief paid off.
Four years after releasing his debut album, Bublé reached international and commercial success with It’s Time. It topped Canadian charts and peaked at #7 in the US.
It’s Time would be his first album to be awarded a Pop Album of the Year at the Juno Awards. The second would be Crazy Love in 2010. These two albums featured many of Bublé’s top hit songs, including “Home,” “Everything,” and “Haven’t Met You Yet.”
18. Enrique Iglesias
Spanish pop star Enrique Iglesias was already a popular music artist in his native Spain by the time 1999 came. However, when he crossed over to the English-language market with his eponymous fourth album, he became an international sensation.
His song “Bailamos” was created for the film Wild Wild West at Will Smith’s request. It peaked at #1 in both Spain and US charts and top three in other countries.
His other well-known English hit is “Hero.” It topped many international charts soon after release, and after the 9/11 attacks, the song was played over the radio in honor of the civilians, firefighters, and officers at Ground Zero.
Madonna Louise Ciccone is the rarely discussed full name of pop star Madonna. This popular songstress broke new ground with entertainment technologies, female liberation, and extreme fame.
Madonna studied dance at college in her home state of Michigan and was one of the first female artists to break into the budding music video scene. She rose to fame for her clever lyrics, and explicit themes, shown in some of her songs like “Like a Virgin” and “Papa Don’t Preach.”
Madonna capitalized on this fame and used it to pursue other interests like filmmaking. To this day, she is still a household name for her music, which continues to top the charts.
Summing Up Our List Of Pop Singers
Now you’re more familiar with some of the most famous and influential pop singers ever to live. Check out their discographies if you’re curious to keep broadening your musical horizons.
Musicians of this caliber don’t tend to collaborate with just anyone, so the recordings and bands mentioned alongside them are just the tip of the iceberg.
These singers have left many great marks in music history. Technologies and tastes are ever-shifting worldwide, but good music is good music—it will be interesting to see who is on this list in decades to come. Happy listening!