It used to be enough for musicians to simply be talented when it came to writing and recording their hit singles. But these days recording an album is usually just a jumping off point for months of promotional work and (if they’re successful enough) a subsequent tour. These shows tend to be hours long, and include several costume changes, elaborate choreography with what is literally sometimes an army of backup dancers, and set transitions. And with a constantly increasing cost of admission, fans expect to be wowed!
The world of female musicians is filled with a large number of exceptionally talented women who showcase their talents in numerous avenues, from venues large to small, the women below have captivated their audiences. Sometimes performing day after day, for hours on end means you won’t necessarily get their best vocal performance, but you can always count on these stunning women to hold your attention with their numerous shimmering, sometimes barely-there outfits. The 15 women below are the best of the best when it comes to putting on a show, and you below will find a list of some of their hottest onstage looks. It’s no wonder their shows are constantly sold out.
15 Demi Lovato - Z100 Jingle Ball December 2015
There is something truly magical about New York in December. One of the major 2015 festivities included the Z100 Jingle Ball, held at Madison Square Garden. Demi Lovato kicked off her 20-minute set with her mega-hit “Heart Attack” before busting out a performance of “Confident” that leveled the Lovatics that had gathered in MSG. After her hauntingly vulnerable rendition of "Stone Cold," the songstress took a moment to open up to fans that she wasn’t having her most confident day.
Lovato didn’t know it at the time but she had prophesized a minor mishap that occurred while she was thanking the crowd after closing her set with “Cool For the Summer.” While pacing back and forth on the stage she tripped over her mic stand and collided with the stage. Lovato must have found her misplaced confidence because she was able to laugh it off in the moment, and again on Twitter where she joked: "Guys, don't you get it by now? Only cool kids fall on stage.”
14 Carrie Underwood – American Country Music Awards 2016
There are few people more synonymous with country music than Carrie Underwood, so it was only natural that the Country Music Queen was approached to perform at the 2016 American Country Music Awards. The Las Vegas crowd was treated to a rendition of the Female Vocalist of the Year nominee’s most recent hit “Churchbells.” Her metallic caged themed Manuel Diaz design had a one-sleeved silhouette that hit her mid-thigh, giving us a full view of her gorgeous gams. To top it off, her vocals were regarded by fans and critics alike to be her best ever. She certainly has come a long way from her American Idol days.
Her fifth and most recent studio album was released October 23, 2015, with massive success. The album was certified gold December 4, 2015. Underwood has sold in excess of 65 million records globally. In the United States, she has sold nearly 16 million physical albums and more than 34.8 million digital copies, making her the best-selling American Idol contestant of all time. All hail the Queen! (Sorry Kelly!)
13 Taylor Swift - 2014 VS Fashion Show
Taylor Swift proved once and for all that she is Angel material during her 2014 performance at their annual fashion show. The former country music sweetheart turned sexy pop princess awoke from an on stage slumber to debut sexy new look. She’d chopped her gorgeous blonde locks into a sassy bob, forgone her signature matte red lipstick for a glossy nude and super smoky eye.
To complete her angelic transformation Swift donned a pale pink baby doll and matching floor-length robe with pink marabou-trimmed shoes that would make Carrie Bradshaw jealous. Her model besties Lily Aldridge and Karlie Kloss cheered her on during the "Dream Girls" segment with high fives, dancing and Karlie even mouthing the words to "Blank Space" along with Swift. Because apparently, that’s what supermodel squad mates are for!
She donned an equally sexy look during the show’s final segment, the "Angel Ball" for a performance of her hit single "Style" for which she chose a sexy see-through black lace dress over a matching black lace bra and high-waisted panties. No wonder she keeps getting invited back!
12 Katy Perry - California Dreams Tour
Katy Perry is notorious for her elaborate pin-up inspired costumes, but none will ever hold a candle to the bejeweled teal and purple bodice worn for performances of her song “Peacock” during her California Dreams Tour. The song itself didn’t fair too well on the charts, but with the elaborate fan dance that accompanies the performance fans couldn’t help but warm up to it.
Parents everywhere, on the other hand, took to the internet to vent about the Teenage Dream star's lyrics. Apparently people were actually under the impression the song was about birds. They learned all about double-entendres that day. Regardless of the haters, I’m sure Perry has a never ending list of volunteers to help with her bird finding mission.
11 Christina Aguilera - 2006 MTV Awards
Like most of those who grow up in the public eye, Christina Aguilera is no stranger to reinventing herself. After the massive success the young starlet gained for her involvement in the Walt Disney’s Mulan theme song “Reflection” and her subsequent self-titled album Aguilera decided it was time to “grow up” and she made a transformation a la Miley Cyrus. Thankfully, Xtina was a short phase in the music mogul’s career. In 2005 Aguilera embraced her inner Marilyn Monroe and transformed into the stunning Old Hollywood Glam Diva pictured above.
In 2006 the newly married pop queen released her fifth studio album Back to Basics and performed the album’s second hit single "Hurt," at the MTV Video Music Awards. In her red sequined dress and matching red lipstick Aguilera confirmed that Xtina had been laid to rest. She had cleaned up her act and became a major sex symbol in a whole different light. We don't think anyone will be complaining about her spot on the list.
10 Beyoncé - Formation Tour Atlanta Stop
Beyoncé announced her seventh stadium tour following her guest appearance during the 50th Super Bowl halftime show. The tour spans 7 months and has 4 legs that include 32 North American stops and 17 European dates. The costumes in Queen Bey’s latest masterpiece are all amazing works of art but there is something special about the look above.
The bodysuit was designed by Balmain’s designer Olivier Rousteing. He was inspired by French lace with a floral motif and hand embroidered the garment with pearls and stones. The look was completed with matching over the knee suede boots and a Victorian inspired choker. Bey’s Formation Tour has been a worldwide success and has grossed $210 million from 40 sold out shows. I guess a couture-clad army is in the budget.
9 Mariah Carey - Sweet Sweet Fantasy Tour 2015
It’s been a long couple of years for Mariah Carey. She went from an award-winning role in the 2009 film Precious to a bumpy ride as a judge on American Idol as Jennifer Lopez’s replacement to a Las Vegas Residency and change in her record label. To top it off, she announced her first significant tour of mainland Europe in 13 years, which spans over 27 performances. She also divorced her husband of 6 years Nick Cannon who is the father of twins Moroccan and Monroe, and has since become engaged to Australian billionaire James Packer.
While many fans speculated after her tour announcement whether or not the 47-year-old still had it, her vocal performance was flawless despite a few missteps choreographically, and the fact that the Pop Diva was 30 minutes late for her completely sold out show in London. Overall, the tour grossed $15.3 million from 26 shows with a total of 204,767 tickets sold in Europe and Africa. Not bad for her first tour in 13 years!
8 Madonna - 2015 Grammy Awards
She may be nearing her 60s, but that didn’t stop Madonna from showing off her provocative side during her performance at the 2015 Grammy Awards. She performed her hit "Living for Love," off her album Rebel Heart for the 57th annual award show. After being introduced by Miley Cyrus and Nicki Minaj, Mags took to the stage with several minotaur-esque dancers, complete with crystallized lace masks as part of her bull-fighting theme. She started the number dressed as a matador, but by the end of the song she had stripped down to a red and black crystallized body suit and black fishnets. Madonna is clear proof that you’re never too old to be sexy.
She has most certainly earned the right to show some questionable decision-making skills when it comes to her creative process. Having sold more than 300 million records worldwide, Madonna is recognized as the best-selling female recording artist of all time by Guinness World Records. She clearly knows what she’s doing.
7 Britney Spears - Planet Hollywood Residency 2014
Britney Spears has been on quite the journey since her record-breaking rise to fame in the late 90s. The former ‘Princess of Pop’ seemed to be the picture of success, kicking off her career with two internationally renowned albums, and an acting debut, unfortunately, there was nowhere to go but down.
She spent the first half of the 2000s building herself up. But in 2004, cracks began to appear in the seemingly squeaky clean star’s personal life. The events of this time in her life were extremely well documented. Let’s not drag poor Brit through the mud again. Instead, we get to zip forward to the present, where our beloved Princess of Pop is back on top. Her residency at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas kicked off in December 2013 with major names like Katy Perry, and Miley Cyrus in attendance. Originally Spears signed on to a two-year contract and her paycheck was rumored to be $15 million a year. However, in September 2014 Spears confirmed she would be calling Las Vegas home for another 2-year stint.
The updated 90-minute show is jam-packed with almost two dozen of her biggest hits. The best look has got to be during her rendition of “I Wanna Go” she embraces a costume that is very Snow White takes sin city, dancing with digitized versions of herself that are reflected in several surrounding mirrors. Britney, wherever you "Wanna Go," we’d be happy to follow.
6 Gwen Stefani - SNL 2016
We’ve seen lots of sides of Gwen Stefani over the years. My personal favorite tends to be the side of her that only comes out on the SNL stage. The 46-year-old singer, songwriter, fashion designer, actress and proud mom of three has been the musical guest five times spanning 2 decades. Her fifth appearance was in April of 2016 while promoting her third solo album This Is What the Truth Feels Like.
Gwen performed “Make Me Like You” for the crowd in New York and it didn’t take much work for the crowd to fall under Stefani’s spell. Her This Is What the Truth Feels Like tour kicked off in July of 2016, with 27 dates across Canada and the US. Judging by the album's success, Stefani will be a very rich girl by the last stop.
5 Selena Gomez - SNL 2015
She may have started out as a fresh-faced child on the classic kids show Barney & Friends, but Selena Gomez has made it clear she is ready to be treated like an adult. The 24-year-old singer, actress, and executive producer jumped at the opportunity to be the musical guest on SNL for the late night hit's 798th episode while promoting her second studio album Revival.
Gomez donned a sexy form-fitting black dress, complete with a plunging neckline, mid-drift exposing cut outs and a slit to her hip, for her performances of her hit singles "Good for You," "Same Old Love,"and "Hands to Myself" on the Ronda Rousey-hosted episode. But it wasn't just business for Gomez. She also gave her fans a chance to see her funny side, appearing in both the opening scene and The Bald Man sketch. Gomez's Revival Tour kicked off in Las Vegas in May of 2016, and will include 88 stops over 5 legs before her last scheduled show in Guadalajara, Mexico in December of this year.
4 Shakira - 2010 FIFA World Cup Final
2010 was a huge year for Shakira, both personally and professionally! The Columbian singer collaborated with the South African band Freshlyground to create the official song for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. "Waka Waka (This Time for Africa)" became the biggest-selling World Cup song of all time. With over one billion views, it has joined and elite clubs of the most-watched music videos on YouTube. While filming the music video, Shakira met Spanish Football star Gerard Piqué.
Naturally, Shakira was invited to perform her hit single during the Closing Ceremonies before the 2010 FIFA World Cup Final match between Netherlands and Spain at Soccer City Stadium in Johannesburg, South Africa. Shakira bared her famous midsection in a brightly colored, boldly printed costume.
Shakira is still feeling the rewards of the events of 2010. Her success at the World Cup made her a shoo-in for the following tournament in 2014. And as for her relationship with Piqué, In September 2012, Shakira confirmed that she and Piqué were expecting their first child together, he was born January 23, 2013. The couple welcomed their second son two years later in January of 2015.
3 Ariana Grande - American Music Awards 2015
Ariana Grande was white hot when she debuted "Focus"at the 2015 American Music Awards. The 22-year-old singer left her classic high ponytail at home for the live performance of her new single. Grande started her performance wearing elbow-length white gloves and a shimmering strapless gown but very quickly discarded both gloves and the bottom half of her dress to shimmy more freely around the stage in white fishnets and a white sequined body suit. Think 1940s crooner with a Jessica Rabbit twist.
Focus was originally intended to be the lead single from her third studio album Dangerous Woman but was later scrapped from the standard release. Despite being left for the deluxe addition, the song was a commercial success, debuting and peaking at number seven on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming Grande's sixth top-ten single and selling 113,000 downloads in its first week. Grande is certainly growing into a dangerous woman.
2 Lady Gaga - 2015 Academy Awards
Lady Gaga has always drawn attention to herself. I mean, how do you not look at someone who is literally wearing a dress made of raw meat? Much again was the case when Gaga took the stage at the 2015 Academy Awards to perform a medley of songs from The Sound of Music, but this time, she had our attention for all the right reasons. The Juilliard Alum included "The Sound of Music," "Do Re Mi," "Edelweiss," and "Climb Ev'ry Mountain," in her tribute and her powerful pipes were met with a standing ovation from the audience, including Julie Andrews, the original Maria von Trapp herself.
She left her notoriously outrageous stage tricks at home and performed her tribute in a gorgeously effortless custom flowing white halter Azzedine Alaïa gown. For the performance, her makeup was classic and understated which further allowed her vocal performance to shine all the brighter. Overall her performance received mixed reviews, but I’m sure Andrew’s opinion is all Gaga cared about.
1 Jennifer Lopez - Planet Hollywood Residency 2016
Jennifer Lopez has been one of the hottest women in the music industry since her 1999 debut hit If You Had My Love. Her first studio album On the 6, was a massive commercial success, and the rest is history. These days, the 47-year-old mother of two is one of the many stars that have taken up residency in Las Vegas.
Jennifer Lopez: All I Have is performed at The AXIS auditorium in the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino and is reported to earn Lopez $350,000 for each of her 120 scheduled shows, which included roughly two dozen of her hit singles with costumes and choreography that has even Vegas blushing.
Lopez wears no less than 12 shimmering, barely-there costumes during the show, including a Zuhair Murad corset, skin-tight bodysuits by Nicolas Jebran and one-of-a-kind looks by Versace. The best look from the show is a tough choice, but this body-conscious crystal bikini tops the list. No wonder they're falling over her!