Weekly Feature

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Playlist: 5 Female Pop Soloists

June 02, 2008
by Liz Colville
These five female pop vocalists have one thing in common: incredible voices. But they’ve achieved fame in different ways, and brought a unique element to the airwaves.

Whitney Houston

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Mariah Carey

Carey has a virtuosic set of vocal cords that reach into the falsetto range. She bridges the gap between dance tracks, romantic ballads and R&B. Like Houston, she has cowritten nearly all of her songs. Watch the video for Mariah Carey’s 1996 hit, “Always Be My Baby,” which American Idol David Cook winningly covered on this season's show. Prior to Cook's performance, Carey talked about Cook’s ability to completely transform the song and still make it work.
Carey’s path to success—which includes 18 number-one singles (a record beaten only by the Beatles)—has suffered its share of speed bumps. She was only 22 when she married starmaker Tommy Mottola, and the $500,000 wedding led to an overprotected life in upstate New York. They divorced in 1997. After several flops, both in music and film, she bounced back with 2005’s “The Emancipation of Mimi,” which won her three Grammys 16 years after her first. Her biggest hit from that album was “We Belong Together.” She returned in 2008 with the album “E=MC2.”

Christina Aguilera

Three years after that performance, Aguilera’s voice was even more powerful.


After many stylistic changes, Aguilera grew up musically for her third album, 2006’s “Back to Basics,” a two-disc hit that focused on Aguilera’s influences from early modern music, particularly blues and jazz. In seeming conjunction with that release, Aguilera’s fashion sense grew up, too, as she debuted a more sophisticated wardrobe. At the Grammys last year, Aguilera displayed her musical and fashion maturity as she honored James Brown with a cover of his “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World.”

Alicia Keys

Leona Lewis

Leona Lewis, a receptionist from Northeast London, auditioned for the British singing contest “The X Factor,” produced by Simon Cowell, in 2006. Judges were blown away by her unique rendition of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”; Lewis barreled through the competition with covers of Whitney Houston, Celine Dion, and Christina Aguilera.
To get an “absolutely fantastic” designation from the impossible-to-please Simon Cowell seems to predict great success. Listen to Lewis’s “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” audition, a version that bears little resemblance to the original song.

This video compilation of Leona’s performances on “The X Factor” proves, among other things, that Leona can rival Christina Aguilera, considered one of the strongest vocalists in pop.

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