From Aqua’s “Barbie Girl” to Blind Melon’s “No Rain”, there were a lot of hits in the 1990s by artists who essentially disappeared in the later decades. Sure, everyone sings along to their hits when they come on in a throwback mix, but most would be hard pressed to remember much about the majority of the artists who defined their 90s musical experience. However, while there are many 90s one hit wonders, there are also artists who manage to turn their success in the 90s into a long, successful musical career. Whether they became all-star rappers or pop superstars, they have managed to churn out hit after hit and stay on top of the charts for over two decades.
Whether you were a fan from the very beginning or have just discovered the artist recently, happy to go back into the archives to listen to their earlier hits, there’s no question that there are some 90s artists who are still relevant in the music industry. These artists are still getting tons of airtime on the radio, and we’re all still jamming along to them.
Here are 10 singers from the 1990s who are still relevant in the music industry today.
10. Mariah Carey
In the 90s, Mariah Carey was the young superstar with a voice that was absolutely breathtaking. Plus, that range – that crazy, multi-octave vocal range is something that very, very few singers have been able to do, then or now. So, it’s easy to see why she shot to stardom in the 90s with albums like Emotions, Daydream, and Butterfly. And then, of course, there was the iconic Christmas smash hit, “All I Want for Christmas Is You.” Mimi has had her ups and downs over the years, but has somehow always managed to remain in the spotlight. She had a brief stint on American Idol, but the true testament to her continued star power comes with her announcement of a residency in Las Vegas’ Caesars Palace where she’ll be serving up the hits on a weekly basis to eager fans.
9. Gwen Stefani
Gwen Stefani stormed onto the scene in the 90s with crazy bright hair and an interesting fashion sense as the face behind alternative group No Doubt. With Gwen up front delivering some insane vocals, the band racked up hits like “Don’t Speak” and “Hella Good” before taking a brief hiatus. While some artists might spend a hiatus resting, Gwen instead decided to release her solo album, Love. Angel. Music. Baby., which spawned hits like “What You Waiting For?,” “Rich Girl,” and mega-hit “Hollaback Girl,” a song that gets people dancing every time it plays even today. She went on to release an additional solo album, spend a few more years with No Doubt, and earn a coveted judge spot on The Voice. Her career is still absolutely red hot over two decades after she stepped onto the scene and shows no signs of slowing down.
8. Jay Z
Jay Z is partly known as half of one of the music industry’s biggest power couples ever since getting with R&B superstar Beyoncé, but his solo rap career is legendary. He started out hustling by selling c.d.s out of his car, but his talent couldn’t be hidden, and he soon started to rack up the platinum records. Throughout the 90s he created hits like “Hard Knock Life,” “Can I Get A…” “Big Pimpin’” and many more. He’s since been regular with his records, generally dropping one every few years, and his fans remain utterly dedicated to their favorite wordsmith. His flow is fierce, he’s mentored countless young rappers starting out, and his career is hotter than ever.
7. Justin Timberlake
Throughout the 90s, Justin Timberlake was posted on the walls of teenage girls around the world as the dreamy lead man in boy band NSYNC. They toured the world, performing in front of audiences of screaming girls, and he was a magazine cover staple. When the band parted ways, however, Timberlake wasn’t content to step back from the music industry – he came out with his first solo record, Justified. That debut album spawned mega-hits like “Cry Me A River” and “Rock Your Body,” and Timberlake soon became a star in his own right. From deals with McDonald’s to starring roles in rom coms to collaborations with rap superstars like Jay Z, Timberlake’s career is even hotter than it was in the 90s.
6. Britney Spears
Oh, Britney. Any girl who grew up dancing along to “…Baby One More Time” in the 90s has remained utterly devoted to Britney over the years. From her schoolgirl-plaid wearing debut days to the iconic snake-dance to her re-emergence as a sex symbol with “Work Bitch,” Britney serves up hit after hit after hit. Need proof? Ever heard of “Toxic?” “Oops I Did It Again?” “Gimme More?” “Womanizer?” “Till The World Ends?” “Pretty Girls?” We could literally go on and on and on. Britney has had her fair share of drama over the years, but she manages to produce the hits like nobody’s business and remains one of the most relevant pop artists today.
Okay, if you don’t know who Madonna is, then you’ve been living under a rock for the past 30 years. This pop superstar has reinvented herself over and over again throughout her decade-spanning career, from the rebel years to the Vogue years to the hippie years. She was basically the 90s’ version of Lady Gaga. There are countless pop princesses, but at the end of the day, there’s only one queen – and it’s Madonna. With hits like “Papa Don’t Preach,” “Like A Prayer,” “Like A Virgin,” “Vogue,” “4 Minutes,” and countless more, it’s safe to say that her musical legacy is secured. She continues to come out with hits year after year, even touring now despite being in her 50s.
4. Shania Twain
Shania Twain is one of the original queens of country, and she clawed her way up from the bottom. Twain got her start singing in bars when she was still a child, trying to earn some money for her family, and her talent soon got her noticed. She released three albums in the 1990s, including hits like “Man! I Feel Like A Woman,” “Come On Over,” “Forever and For Always,” “Any Man of Mine,” “I’m Gonna Getcha Good!” and many, many more. Nearly a decade after her latest album, she scored a gig performing a residency in Las Vegas with her popular show Shania: Still The One. Now, over twenty years since she released her debut album, she’s embarked on another tour and it’s selling out venues across the continent. That’s lasting power.
3. Christina Aguilera
Christina Aguilera’s career is interesting, to say the least. She started out as an innocent teen pop princess in her “Genie In A Bottle” days, and kept her squeaky clean image throughout the 90s, releasing hits such as “What A Girl Wants” and Disney hit “Reflection.” She soon became tired of the image she had cultivated and set to break it in a big way, completely changing her look, style, and subject matter for her album Stripped. Who could forget the mega-hit that was “Dirrty”? She’s since gone through a retro phase, a classic starlet phase, scored a judging role on The Voice, and much more. No matter what direction she decides to take her music next, there’s no doubt that she’s going to stay popular – that kind of a powerhouse voice only comes around a few times a generation.
While it wasn’t his debut album, Eminem truly shot to fame with The Slim Shady LP. From the moment that voice came in at the beginning, you knew he was going to be a superstar – his rhymes were clever, sharp, critical, and most importantly, memorable. The song was a smash hit and propelled him to superstardom. He released several albums in the years following Slim Shady before taking a brief hiatus. He returned with the albums Relapse and Recovery, the latter spawning mega hit “Love the Way You Lie.” Eminem definitely isn’t one to bow out, and he continues to bring innovative raps to the music industry, and his audience is willing to wait for whatever his next project may be.
1. Jennifer Lopez
Back in the day, Jennifer Lopez wasn’t quite the glam superstar she is now – she was just one of the Fly girls on In Living Color. Towards the end of the 90s she got the coveted role as Latin superstar Selena, and the rest is history. Her debut album, On The 6, referenced her public transit riding New York roots. She’s cranked out hits like “Waiting for Tonight,” “If You Had My Love,” “Jenny From The Block,” “Love Don’t Cost A Thing,” and many, many more. One of her most recent hits, “Booty,” proves that she’s still got all the skills and assets necessary to succeed in the pop music world.
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