Pop Divas When Their First Single Was Released Vs. Now
Britney Spears’ debut single, “…Baby One More Time,” was released in October 1998 when she was 16 years old.
Britney Spears is regarded as one of the princesses of pop. She first stepped onto the scene performing and winning on “Star Search ” at age 10. She then had a two-season stint on “The All-New Mickey Mouse Club.” But Spears’ big break came when she released her debut single, “…Baby One More Time,” on October 23, 1998.
The song debuted at No. 17 on Billboard’s Hot 100 and became one of the best-selling singles of all time. The iconic music video came out a month later and her debut album of the same name was released on January 12, 1999. While just a teenager, Spears shot to fame and quickly became a superstar.
The singer has enjoyed a successful career but is currently taking a work hiatus.
Credited with reviving teen pop, Spears went on to create an empire, producing eight more studio albums, headlining her “Piece of Me” concert residency in Las Vegas, and producing a successful perfume line. She has won several awards during her career, including MTV’s VMA Michael Jackson video vanguard award.
But during her career, she’s also had several setbacks and comebacks. The performer took a work hiatus amid the battle over her conservatorship, which lasted more than 13 years and was finally suspended on November 12, 2021.
Mariah Carey’s debut single, “Vision of Love,” reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Mariah Carey created a demo tape after high school that caught the attention of Tommy Mottola of Columbia Records. Carey was quickly signed in 1988 and, by 1990, the singer already had an album out. “Vision of Love,” the first single released from her eponymous album, was released on May 15, 1990.
At 21 years old, Carey had a No. 1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 with the power ballad … and with three other singles from the “Mariah Carey” album. “Vision of Love” won best pop vocal performance at the 33rd Annual Grammy Awards.
Ever since, the performer has been in our playlists and on our big and small screens.
The 51-year-old has released 15 pop and R&B studio albums. Carey has won five Grammy awards from 34 nominations. She also starred in films including “Precious” and “Girl’s Trip,” has had a Las Vegas residency called “The Butterfly Returns,” and was briefly a judge on “American Idol.”
The diva’s music is revived every year when her certified diamond track “All I Want For Christmas Is You” plays nonstop during the holidays. In January 2020, thanks to the Christmas song, she became the first artist to top the Hot 100 in four separate decades. Carey also has the second most No. 1 Billboard singles, only behind the Beatles.
Kelly Clarkson released her debut single, “A Moment Like This,” after winning “American Idol” in 2002.
Kelly Clarkson was just a small-town girl from Texas before she tried out and competed on the first season of “American Idol.” On September 4, 2002, Clarkson won the competition. She released her debut single on September 17.
“A Moment Like This” reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 after a few weeks. Her debut album entitled “Thankful,” which included the debut single, was then released on April 15, 2003.
The singer returned to her TV roots as a competition judge and daytime talk show host.
Clarkson’s songs have spanned pop, country, R&B, and soul across nine successful albums during her career. The singer has won three Grammys, various country music awards, and even Daytime Emmy awards.
Clarkson returned to her television roots, becoming a judge on “The Voice” in 2018. Her and her teams have won four times within seven seasons. She also started her own daytime talk show, “The Kelly Clarkson Show,” in 2019. In addition to interviewing guests, she performs on every episode.
Diana Ross originally performed with The Supremes who released their first notable single in 1964.
Before Diana Ross made a name for herself as a solo singer, she started out with the 1960s girl group The Supremes. The group originally had four members, but they were then signed as a trio in 1961 by Berry Gordy for Motown Records. But their initial years weren’t very notable or fruitful.
Members Florence Ballard, Mary Wilson, and Ross released their first No. 1 single, “Where Did Our Love Go,” in June 1964. Their chart-topping song escalated the group’s success.
Ross released her 25th solo studio album, “Thank You,” in 2021.
In 1967, the group became known as “Diana Ross and the Supremes.” Ross then left and came out with her first solo eponymous album in the summer of 1970. This album includes her iconic song “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.”
The 77-year-old released her 25th solo studio album in November, although she’s released 43 albums in total. She’s also starred in movies like “Lady Sings the Blues” and “The Wiz.” Ross has won numerous awards including a Golden Globe, a Tony, and a Grammy. She was also inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with The Supremes in 1988.
Madonna’s debut single, “Everybody,” came out in 1982.
Madonna started out with an R&B-influenced sound. The Michigan girl’s career began in New York City and her debut single, “Everybody,” was released on October 6, 1982, without a picture of her on its cover.
Michael Rosenblatt of Sire Records, her label at the time, told Rolling Stone in 2013, “I didn’t want her picture on the cover of the ‘Everybody’ single, because I thought I could get a lot of R&B play on that record, because a lot of people thought she was black.”
The song charted at No. 3 for Billboard’s Dance Club Songs.
Madonna reportedly wanted to release a music video for the single for two reasons: One was to reach broader audiences, and the second was to correct the misconception that she was a Black singer.
The 63-year-old’s career has been both controversial and influential.
Madonna’s career has been full of controversies, from the taboo topics she’s sung about to her sex-positive attitude and performances. Her style has even gotten negative attention from the Catholic Church, especially for her “Like a Virgin” music video.
She’s released 14 studio albums, as well as soundtrack albums for movies including “Evita.” Madonna’s roles in these movies and her experience as a director has helped her put her stamp on many arenas. The music and fashion icon has seven Grammys and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Beyoncé released the debut single “Killing Time” with her girl group Destiny’s Child.
Beyoncé started her music career with the girl group Destiny’s Child, founded in 1990. Originally a group of four with LeToya Luckett, Michelle Williams, Kelly Rowland, and Beyoncé, they were signed in 1997 by Columbia. Their debut single, “Killing Time,” came out on July 1, 1997, to be included in the “Men in Black” soundtrack.
The group then came out with their single “No, No, No” in November, followed by their eponymous album on February 17, 1998.
The superstar has many accolades to her name, along with successful movie appearances and a clothing brand.
Destiny’s Child went from four to three when Luckett left in 2000. The three members then went on a hiatus in 2002. Beyoncé released her first solo album, “Dangerously in Love,” in 2003. Since then, she’s released four more solo albums. Queen Bey has starred in movies including “Dreamgirls” and the 2019 adaptation of “The Lion King.”
The singer has won Grammy, Billboard, American Music, BET awards, and more for her music and her contributions to the industry. She’s also broken into the fashion industry with her athleisure line Ivy Park, which officially launched in 2016.
Céline Dion’s debut single was co-written by her mother and brother and released when she was 12.
Before she was known for her power ballads like “My Heart Will Go On” and “Beauty and the Beast,” Céline Dion started her career at the age of 12. The French-Canadian singer wrote “Ce n’etait qu’un rêve” (“It Was Only a Dream”) with her mother and brother. Her recording was sent to music manager René Angélil, who then created a record label just for her. The song was released in June 1981.
Dion’s debut single was part of an album called “La voix du bon Dieu” (“The Good Lord’s Voice”), which was released in November 1981. While it wasn’t a major hit, Dion came out with a second album in 1981 and started hustling to make it big.
She has become an icon with two successful Las Vegas concert residencies under her belt.
Céline Dion has had a whirlwind of a career, winning the Eurovision song contest in 1988 and releasing eight successful albums before breaking into the American market. She released her first English album, “Unison,” in 1990 at 22 years old. Apart from specialty and live albums, the singer has released 27 studio albums.
She has had 11 No. 1 hits on Billboard and has won five Grammys. The singer had extensive Las Vegas residencies with “A New Day” lasting for four years and “Céline” for eight years. The singer also has perfume, handbag, accessory, and kids clothing lines.
Ariana Grande wasn’t a fan of her debut single, “Put Your Hearts Up.”
Ariana Grande was on Broadway at the age of 15 before landing a role on Nickelodeon’s “Victorious” as Cat Valentine from 2010 to 2013. Her singing chops were occasionally displayed on the show. During this time, Grande released her debut single, “Put Your Hearts Up,” on December 12, 2011.
The singer has since said she disliked her debut single and its bubblegum pop music video, calling it “so inauthentic and fake” in a 2014 interview with Rolling Stone. However, it sparked a successful music career and was also certified Gold. She released her debut album, “Yours Truly,” on August 30, 2013, and it didn’t include “Put Your Hearts Up.”
“The Voice” judge’s music style has become more mature.
The pop diva continued with her acting and music careers. She finished “Victorious” before returning for the spinoff, “Sam and Cat,” and creating six studio albums, which showed an evolution in her musical style. The 28-year-old has won People’s Choice, iHeart Radio, and VMA awards, as well as two Grammys.
The singer became a judge for “The Voice” in 2021 and has been on one season so far. She has several perfumes and also launched her makeup brand, R.E.M, in November 2021. Grande is set to play Glinda in the upcoming “Wicked” film adaptation.
Adele wrote her debut single when she was 16 and released it when she was 19.
London-born singer Adele released her first single, “Hometown Glory,” on October 22, 2007, when she was 19. She wrote the song by herself when she was 16 and included it in a class project demo. It broke into the UK singles chart’s top 40 after playing in an episode of “Skins.” It was also played in the season four finale of “Grey’s Anatomy.”
“Hometown Glory” became the lead single on her debut album, “19,” which was released on January 28, 2008. Rather than a promo video for the song, an official music video wasn’t released until 2009 after Adele gained more success.
After several vulnerable albums and a hiatus, Adele returned with an astonishing comeback.
Adele’s soulful sound has been featured in four albums. Her “19,” “21,” 25,” and “30” albums represent pivotal years of her life, with her last coming after a hiatus and a divorce from her husband. She’s won many awards from the BBC, AMAs, Billboard, the Brits, and the Grammys. She also won an Academy Award for best original song in 2013 for “Skyfall.”
The singer has announced and postponed her Las Vegas residency, “Weekends with Adele,” which is now set to start in summer 2022.
Dolly Parton released her first single, “Puppy Love,” at the sweet age of 13.
Prior to her iconic sound and style, Dolly Parton released her first single at just 13 years old. “Puppy Love” was produced by Goldband Records in Louisiana in 1959. The high-pitched and fast-paced tune didn’t make waves but it did start her career.
In 1965, she stepped back into the public eye with a single followed by her debut solo album, “Hello, I’m Dolly,” which came out in September 1967.
Parton has made moves as an iconic country singer and a beloved philanthropist.
Parton sang on the TV series “The Porter Wagoner Show” from 1968 to 1980. She went on to release 47 studio albums, excluding soundtrack and compilation albums. She is the Queen of Country because she has the most No. 1 songs of any female country artist and the most top 10 albums of any artist.
The performer has acted in movies like “Steel Magnolias,” “9 to 5,” and many Christmas specials. She started a record label and opened a theme park, Dollywood. Parton is a philanthropist, launching and supporting many charities from her Dollywood Foundation and beyond, and recently funding COVID-19 vaccine research.
Christina Aguilera’s debut single came out after her famous track for Disney’s “Mulan” did.
With a similar childhood career to Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera competed on “Star Search” in 1990 and was on “The All-New Mickey Mouse Club” for three episodes before leaving in 1995. Before she even released her debut single, Aguilera landed a gig to sing “Reflection” for the soundtrack of the 1998 Disney movie “Mulan.”
While living in Japan at 18 years old, Aguilera released her first single, “Genie in a Bottle,” in the spring of 1999. The song reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and did well in many countries. The song and music video helped establish her in the industry before her eponymous album came out in August 1999.
Aguilera has kept up her sultry persona and diva performances.
In 2000, she won a Grammy for best new artist — the first of five career Grammys. She evolved from a teen pop sensation to an adult with a sultry stage presence. She has released eight studio albums and starred in the 2010 film “Burlesque” with Cher.
Sometimes referred to as “the voice of the generation,” Aguilera fittingly also had a five-season arc as a judge on “The Voice” until 2012.
Jennifer Hudson won an Oscar before her debut single, “Spotlight,” even came out.
Jennifer Hudson had a successful career before her first single came out. She competed on “American Idol” in 2004, placing seventh. She then starred in the 2006 film adaptation of “Dreamgirls” and won an Academy Award for best supporting actress.
Her debut single, “Spotlight,” then released on June 10, 2008. The R&B hit reached No. 24 on Billboard’s Hot 100 and No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs. Her subsequent music video helped her success and her debut eponymous album was released on September 27.
Janet Jackson stepped back from her famous musical family and started a solo career at 16 years old.
Janet Jackson was a child star, performing with her family in “The Jacksons” variety show in 1977. She also acted in TV shows “Good Times,” “Diff’rent Strokes,” and more before her debut single came out.
Stepping aside from her famous family and brother Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson released her single “Young Love” on July 7, 1982. She promoted the song by performing on “American Bandstand” and “Soul Train.” Her eponymous album came out on September 21, 1982, when she was just 16.
The singer’s solo career has brought her great accolades and legendary status.
The singer continued a successful solo career, releasing 11 studio albums. She’s been awarded many AMA, VMA, Grammy, and Billboard awards. Jackson was awarded the MTV video vanguard award – created in honor of her brother – in 1990.
After a wardrobe malfunction at the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show, Jackson’s career slowed down. She moved on, though, starring in minor movie roles and having a Las Vegas residency in the summer of 2019. She was also inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2019.
America’s Sweetheart Taylor Swift started as a predominantly country artist with the release of “Tim McGraw.”
Swift was signed by Sony when she was 14 years old, the youngest artist signed by the company. Her debut single, “Tim McGraw,” was released on June 19, 2006, when she was 17 years old. The budding country artist’s song stayed on the Billboard Hot 100 for 20 weeks and reached No. 6 on the Hot Country Songs chart.
Swift released four more hit singles followed by her eponymous debut album that came out on October 24, 2006.
Swift’s highly successful career includes re-recording her albums to officially own her work.
Among her many accolades, Swift, then 20, became the youngest person to win a Grammy for album of the year when she won for “Fearless” in 2010 — Billie Eilish has since taken the title from her. In 2021, she became the first woman to win album of the year three times. She’s also had the most Billboard Music Awards of any artist.
Swift released six studio albums with Big Machine Records, but she didn’t own any of her masters, which were sold in 2020. She released more albums with Universal and decided to re-record and re-release her Big Machine albums to own her work. So far, she’s released “Fearless (Taylor’s Version)” and “Red (Taylor’s Version)” in 2021.
Cher released several songs under pseudonyms while in the pop duo Sonny and Cher.
Starting out in a pop duo with her husband Sonny Bono, they first released “The Letter” under the pseudonyms Caesar and Cleo in February 1964. Cher released other solo songs that year under the names Bonnie Jo Mason and Cherilyn.
But Sonny and Cher’s first regional hit released under their own names was “Baby Don’t Go” in September 1964. The song was re-released after their 1965 song “I Got You Babe” blew up. “Baby Don’t Go” then reached No. 8 on the US pop singles chart.
Cher, an Academy Award-winning actress, has had a successful solo music and acting career.
After success in a duo, Cher pursued a solo career, releasing her debut song “All I Really Want to Do” and album of the same name in 1965. She’s released a total of 26 studio albums. Cher also had two residencies in Las Vegas.
She’s won many music and acting awards, including one from Cannes Film Festival for best actress for “Mask” and an Academy Award for best actress for “Moonstruck.” Cher has also had roles in “Burlesque” and “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again.”
Rihanna was signed by Jay-Z and released “Pon de Replay” at age 17.
Rihanna auditioned for music producer Evan Rogers in her home country of Barbados in 2004 and impressed him. The pair recorded a demo including the song “Pon de Replay” to be played for Jay-Z and his Def Jam record label. She was immediately signed.
Rihanna then released her debut single, “Pon de Replay,” on May 24, 2005. The dance-pop song reached No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 1 on the Billboard Dance Club Songs chart. The single’s music video came out in June 2005 and Rihanna’s debut album, “Music of the Sun,” was released on August 12, 2005.
As fans have been waiting for a ninth album, Rihanna has taken on entrepreneurial ventures.
Rihanna has released eight studio albums, with the last being in 2016 as her fans anxiously await new music. She’s won nine Grammys, among other awards, for her reggae and R&B sound and was recently declared a national hero by the prime minister of Barbados.
She’s been on the big screen in movies like “Ocean’s Eight” and “Home.” But most of her time during her hiatus from music has been devoted to being an entrepreneur. Her brands, Fenty Beauty and Savage X Fenty, have changed the retail landscape, offering inclusive foundation shades and clothing sizes. Rihanna is currently pregnant with her first child.
After overcoming her underdog status, Lady Gaga came out with “Just Dance” in 2008.
Lady Gaga took lessons from Christina Aguilera’s singing coach and was trained as a pianist before being signed and dropped by Def Jam records at 19 years old. In 2008, she started writing songs under Interscope for the likes of New Kids on the Block and Britney Spears.
She eventually got Akon’s attention and he signed Gaga to his record label. She released “Just Dance” on April 8, 2008. The single was on her debut album, “Fame,” which came out on August 19.
Her eccentric style has spread into performances and big screen roles.
Lady Gaga has released five studio solo albums, among other projects, including jazz collaborations with Tony Bennett. Gaga had a two-year residency in Las Vegas and launched her vegan makeup brand, Haus Laboratories, in 2019.
On the big and small screens, she’s best known for her roles in “American Horror Story: Hotel,” “A Star is Born,” and “House of Gucci.” She won several awards for her song “Shallow” in the “A Star Is Born” soundtrack.
Tina Turner released her first single with Ike Turner in 1960.
Tina Turner started her career in the late 1950s. She met Ike Turner, who played in a R&B group, and Tina started singing with the group. For one 1960 recording session, she took someone’s spot, singing “A Fool in Love.” It was then released under the name “Ike and Tina Turner.”
The song was successful on the pop charts and the duo released follow-up singles. They didn’t release their first album, “River Deep, Mountain High,” until 1966.
Turner has become legendary, being inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and having a musical inspired by her life.
Ike and Tina married and had a successful career but separated and divorced in the mid-1970s, sparking Turner’s solo career. Her first solo album was a country album in 1974, and she didn’t reach mainstream success until her “Private Dancer” album in 1994, making her known as The Queen of Rock.
Tina Turner has won eight Grammys, as well as other awards, and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2021. The performer’s life has been honored and celebrated in the Broadway musical “Tina: The Tina Turner Musical” since 2019.
Jennifer Lopez was a dancer and actress before her debut single came out at 30 years old.
As much as Jennifer Lopez is a pop diva, she’s also a successful actress. Her career started in 1990 when she competed for and won a spot to dance as a “Fly Girl” on the TV show “In Living Color.” She starred in movies starting in 1995 and had an iconic role playing Selena Quintanilla in the biopic “Selena.”
It wasn’t until May 4, 1999, that J.Lo’s debut single, “If You Had My Love,” was released. It immediately reached No. 1 on the Billboard Top 100 and went platinum within two weeks. Her first album, “On the 6,” came out in June 1999.
The star has continued dancing, singing, acting, and now produces movies and owns a beauty line.
J.Lo opened the doors to Latin artists with her music and eight acclaimed studio albums. She’s gained many AMA and Billboard award wins. She also had a Las Vegas residency from 2016 to 2018 and launched JLo Beauty in 2021.
The performer also continued on TV shows and has judged on “American Idol” and “World of Dance.” She’s been in many movies, including “Enough,” “Maid in Manhattan,” “Hustlers,” and most recently the February 2022 film “Marry Me.”
Katy Perry started as a Christian singer. Her first single came out when she was 17.
Katy Perry, originally Katy Hudson, was the daughter of pastors and wasn’t allowed to listen to secular music. She became a contemporary Christian singer and, after she was signed, she released her eponymous gospel album on March 6, 2001, at 17 years old. The album did not reach many people.
Perry moved to Los Angeles and had many deals fall through before a successful one with Capitol Records in 2007. Her debut single under her stage name was “Ur So Gay” which was released on November 20, 2007, before more singles and her album “One of the Boys” came out in 2008.
Katy Perry has had several record-breaking career highs.
The theatrical and flamboyant diva she is, Perry made waves with her style across her six studio albums and performances. She holds the records for most 5-million- and 6-million-selling singles in the US and has several certified diamond songs.
The singer started as a judge for the reboot of “American Idol” in 2017 and is still on today. She’s also currently performing in her Las Vegas residency, “Katy Perry: Play,” through August 2022.