The Top Ten Pop Music Artists of All Time

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


This list counts down the top ten pop music artists of all time according to sales, awards, and critical acclaim.


Popular music is dates back to the medieval times, but the term “pop music” was not used until the late 19th century. In the United States, “pop” refers to a genre of music that was inspired by various forms of popular music, including rock, R&B, and country. The term “popular music” is used to describe a wide range of musical genres, including pop, rock, folk, soul, R&B, hip hop, and dance.

The top ten pop music artists of all time are:

1. The Beatles
2. Michael Jackson
3. Madonna
4. Elvis Presley
5. Whitney Houston
6. Mariah Carey
7. Lady Gaga
8. Beyonce
9. Justin Timberlake
10. Taylor Swift

The Beatles

The Beatles were an English rock band formed in Liverpool in 1960. With members John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, they became widely regarded as the foremost and most influential music band. In the early 1960s, their immense popularity first emerged as “Beatlemania”, but as their songwriting grew in sophistication, they came to be perceived by many fans and cultural observers as an embodiment of the ideals shared by the era’s sociocultural revolutions.

As the group’s music developed, their political and social consciousness began to emerge, and they came to be seen as an emblem of anti-establishment views. They also stood for a youthful optimism that contrasted sharply with the increasingly fractious tenor of US politics at home and abroad. By early 1968, the Beatles had grown weary of live performance and retreated into the recording studio. Their creativity flourished there; they produced songs that ranged from tight pop tunes to ornamented epics like “A Day in the Life” to experimental sound collages like “Revolution 9”.

Elvis Presley

Elvis was an American singer, actor and musician who is best known for his work in rock and roll. He is considered to be one of the most popular music artists of all time, with a career that spanned more than four decades. Elvis has had numerous chart-topping hits, including “Suspicious Minds,” “Heartbreak Hotel” and “Hound Dog.” He is also one of the best-selling music artists of all time, with estimated sales of over 600 million records worldwide.

Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson is widely regarded as one of the greatest pop music artists of all time. His contribution to music, dance, and fashion inspired a generation of artists and continues to influence the world today. He released hit albums such as Off the Wall, Thriller, and Bad, which produced iconic songs like “Billie Jean,” “Beat It,” and “Smooth Criminal.” On stage, Jackson was known for his signature dance moves and moonwalk. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002.


Madonna Louise Ciccone (/tʃɪˈkoʊni/; Italian: [tʃikˈkoːne]; born August 16, 1958) is an American singer, songwriter, actress, and businesswoman. Referred to as the “Queen of Pop” since the 1980s, Madonna is known for pushing the boundaries of songwriting in mainstream popular music and for the imagery she uses onstage and in music videos. She has frequently reinvented her music and image while maintaining autonomy within the industry. Although having sparked controversy, her works have been praised by music critics. Madonna is often cited as an influence by other artists.

Whitney Houston

Whitney Houston is widely regarded as one of the greatest pop singers of all time. She released seven studio albums and two soundtrack albums, all of which have been certified diamond, multi-platinum, platinum, or gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). Houston’s recording success came from hits such as “Saving All My Love for You”, “Greatest Love of All”, “I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)”, and “My Love Is Your Love”.

With 200 million records sold worldwide, Houston is one of the world’s best-selling music artists. She was cited by Guinness World Records as the most awarded female act of all time. Houston is one of pop music’s best-selling music artists of all-time, with an estimated 170–200 million records sold worldwide.

Stevie Wonder

Stevie Wonder is an American singer, songwriter, record producer, and multi-instrumentalist. A child prodigy, he is considered to be one of the most critically and commercially successful musical performers of the late 20th century. Wonder signed with Motown’s Tamla label at the age of eleven, and he continued performing and recording for Motown into the 2010s. He has been blind since shortly after birth.

Wonder’s success has spans over five decades.He has won 25 Grammy Awards, including two Album of the Year awards, making him one of the top winners in Grammy history. He is also noted for his work as an activist for political causes, including his support for Nelson Mandela. In 1974, Wonder played a leading role in having Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind” adopted as an anthem by the UN General Assembly. In 1985, Wonder performed at Live Aid in front of Wembley Stadium in London.


The recipient of seven Grammy Awards, an Academy Award, and a Golden Globe Award, Prince was one of the best-selling music artists of all time. He released 39 studio albums, including Diamonds and Pearls (1991) and Sign o’ the Times (1987), which were both certified multi-platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). sold over 100 million records worldwide, making him one of the best-selling music artists of all time. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004.

Mariah Carey

Mariah Carey (born March 27, 1970) is an American singer, songwriter, and actress. She made her recording debut with the release of her self-titled studio album in 1990. Carey rose to superstardom with the follow-up albums Emotions (1991) and Music Box (1993), the latter of which contained “Without You”, one of the best-selling singles of all time. Throughout her career, Carey has sold more than 200 million records worldwide, making her one of the best-selling music artists of all time. According to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), she is the third highest-certified female artist in the United States, with 64.5 million album units. With the release of “Touch My Body” (2008), Carey gained her 180th top ten single on the Billboard Hot 100, more than any other solo artist.

In 2012, she was ranked second on VH1’s list of the “100 Greatest Women in Music”. Mariah Carey has achieved five number-one albums on the Billboard 200, as well as seventeen number one singles on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart (third most ever). She is known for her five-octave vocal range, melismatic singing style and signature use of the whistle register.

George Michael

British singer, songwriter, and record producer George Michael achieved great success in the 1980s and 1990s with his style of post-disco dance-pop. His first album with Wham!, Make It Big (1984), reached number one in the UK and the US, where it sold more than four million copies. “Careless Whisper” (1984) became a worldwide hit when it was released as a single; it reached number one in nearly 30 countries, including the UK and US. Michael’s 1987 solo album Faith spawned his second US Billboard Hot 100 number-one single, “Faith”.

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