100 greatest women in music: a better list than Vh1

VH1 just released its list of 100 greatest women in music, and the list is awful. Because the panel decided to only include women who’ve made significant hits over the last 20 years, many legendary acts who haven’t had hit records in the last two decades were excluded, including Aretha Franklin, Tina Turner, Diana Ross and Dolly Parton. Any list of great women in music that doesn’t include Aretha Franklin isn’t a list worth looking at.

So, I’ve decided to include a list of my 100 greatest women in music, along with a few albums that best represent each woman’s work. Please feel free to include any exclusions that I may have not included.

Product Details1 – Aretha Franklin, I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You, Lady Soul, Amazing Grace, Who’s Zoomin’ Who?, 30 Greatest Hits

2 – Tina Turner, Private Dancer, Proud Mary: The Best of Ike and Tina Turner, All the Best

3 – Janis Joplin, Pearl

4 – Barbra Streisand, The Barbra Streisand Album, People, Stoney End, Barbra Streisand’s Greatest Hits Vol 2, Guilty, The Broadway Album

Product Details5 – Judy Garland, Judy at Carnegie Hall

6 – Billie Holiday, Lady Sings the Blues, Lady in Satin

7 – Joni Mitchell, Ladies of the Canyon, Blue, Court and Spark, Turbulent Indigo

8 – Madonna, Madonna, Like a Virgin, True Blue, Like a Prayer, Immaculate Collection, Ray of Light, Music

9 – Carole King, Tapestry

Product Details10 – Diana Ross, Diana Ross, Lady Sings the Blues, diana, The Motown Anthology

Product Details11 – Chrissie Hynde, The Pretenders

12 – Joan Jett, I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll

13 – Patti LaBelle, Nightbirds (Labelle), Gold (solo)

Product Details14 – Debbie Harry, Blondie, Parallel Lines, Eat to the Beat

15 – Stevie Nicks, Fleetwood Mac (Fleetwood Mac), Rumours (Fleetwood Mac), Tusk (Fleetwood Mac), Belladonna (solo)

16 – Patsy Cline, 12 Greatest Hits

17 – Dolly Parton, Coat of Many Colors, Ultimate Dolly Parton, The Grass Is Blue, Little Sparrow

18 – Kate Bush, The Kick Inside, The Dreaming, Hounds of Love, The Whole Story, The Sensual World, Aerial

Product Details19 – Yoko Ono,  Seasons of Glass, Walking on Thin Ice, Onobox

20 – Bonnie Raitt, Nick of Time, Luck of the Draw, Slipstream

21 – Annie Lennox, Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) (Eurythmics), Touch (Eurythmics), Be Yourself Tonight (Eurythmics), Diva (solo), Bare (solo)

22 – Patti Smith, Horses, Easter, Dream of Life, Gone Again, Gung Ho, Trampin’, Banga

Product Details23 –  Dusty Springfield, Dusty in Memphis

24 – The Supremes, The Motown Anthology

25 – Emmylou Harris, Western Wall

26 – Carly Simon, Anticipation, Anthology

27 – Bjork, Debut, Hunter, Unison

28 –  Sinead O’Connor, The Lion and the Cobra, I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got

Product Details29 – Dionne Warwick, The Dionne Warwick Collection: Her All-Time Greatest Hits

30 – Bette Midler, Bette Midler, Experience the Divine

31 – Whitney Houston, Whitney Houston

32 – Liz Phair, Exit to Guysville

Product Details33 – Peggy Lee, Is That All There Is?

34 – Dixie Chicks, Fly, Taking the Long Way

35 – Britney Spears, Britney, Blackout, The Singles Collection

36 – Sade, Diamond Life, The Best of Sade

37 – Mariah Carey, Mariah Carey, Daydream

38 – k.d. lang, Shadowland, Ingenue

39 – Cher, It’s a Man’s World, Believe, The Very Best of Cher

40 – Laurie Anderson, Big Science

Product Details41 – Janet Jackson, Control, Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814, janet., The Velvet Rope

42 – Tori Amos, Little Earthquakes, Under the Pink,

43 – Martha Reeves & the Vandellas, The Ultimate Collection

44 – Cyndi Lauper, She’s So Unusual, A Hatful of Stars

45 – Roberta Flack, Killing Me Softly with His Song

Product Details46 – Heart, Dreamboat Annie, Little Queen

47 – Donna Summer, Bad Girls, On the Radio: Greatest Hits Volumes I & II

48 – Karen Carpenter, Gold: 35th Anniversary Edition (The Carpenters)

49 –  Mary J. Blige, What’s the 411?, My Life, Mary

50 –  Queen Latifah, All Hail the Queen, Black Reign

51 – Joan Baez, Joan Baez, Diamonds & Rust, Best of Joan C. Baez

Product Details52 – Marianne Faithfull, Broken English, Strange Acquaintances

53 – Linda Ronstadt, Greatest Hits Volume I & II

54 – Kylie Minogue, Ultimate Kylie

55 – Gladys Knight, The Ultimate Collection (Gladys Knight & the Pips)

Product Details56 – Lucinda Williams, Car Wheels on a Gravel Road

57 – Missy Elliott, Under Construction

58 – Melissa Etheridge, Yes I Am, Your Little Secret,

59 – Gloria Estefan, Greatest Hits Vols I & II

60 – Fiona Apple, Extraordinary Machine

61 – Lady Gaga, Born This Way

62 – M.I.A., Arular, Kala

63 – P.J. Harvey, Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea

64 – Lauryn Hill, The Score (The Fugees), The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill

65 – Mary Product DetailsWells, The Ultimate Collection

66 – Lesley Gore, Sunshine, Lollipops, and Rainbows: The Best of Lesley Gore

67 – Petula Clark, 20 All-Time Greatest Hits

68 – Indigo Girls, Rites of Passage

Product Details69 – The Go-Go’s, Beauty and the Beat

70 – Christine McVie, Fleetwood Mac (Fleetwood Mac), Rumours (Fleetwood Mac), Tusk (Fleetwood Mac

71 – Courtney Love, Live Through This (Hole), Celebrity Skin (Hole)

72 – Ronnie Spector, A Christmas Gift for You (The Ronettes), The Best of the Ronettes

73 – Joan Armatrading, The Very Best of Joan Armatrading

74 –  Mavis Staples, We’ll Never Turn Back, You Are Not Alone

Product Details75 – Tammy Wynette, Stand by Your Man: The Best of Tammy Wynette

76 – Tracy Chapman, Tracy Chapman

77 – Laura Nyro, Eli and the Thirteenth Confession, New York Tendaberry, Gonna Take a Miracle

78 – Celine Dion, Falling Into You

79 – Celia Cruz, La Negra Tiene Tumbao

80 – Miriam Makeba, Miriam Makeba, An Evening with Belafonte/Makeba (with Harry Belafonte)

81 – Wanda Jackson, The Party Ain’t Over

81 – Natalie Cole, Inseperable, Unpredictable, Unforgettable…with Love

Product Details82 –  The B-52’s, The B-52’s, Wild Planet

83 – Alanis Morisette, Jagged Little Pill

84 – Loretta Lynn, Van Lear Rose, All-Time Greatest Hits

85 – Salt N Pepa, Blacks’ Magic, Very Necessary

86 – Olivia Newton-John, Greatest Hits

87 – Grace Jones, Nightclubbing, Living My Life, Slave to the Rhythm

88 – Nico, The Velvet Underground & Nico (The Velvet Underground), Chelsea Girl (solo)

Product Details89 – Sheila E, Sheila E.

90 – Wendy & Lisa, Wendy & Lisa

91 – The Spice Girls, Spice, Spice World, Greatest Hits

92 – En Vogue, Born to Sing, Funky Divas

93 – TLC, CrazySexyCool, Fan Mail

94 – Shania Twain, The Woman in Me, Come On Over

95 – P!nk, Missundaztood, Try This, I’m Not Dead, Funhouse

Product Details96 – Adele, 19, 21

97 – Erykah Badu, Baduizm, Mama’s Gun, Worldwide Underground

98 – The Bangles, Greatest Hits

99 –  ABBA, Gold

100 –  Paula Abdul, Forever Your Girl



Filed under Celeb, music

23 responses to “100 greatest women in music: a better list than Vh1

  1. While the selection overall is a very good one…the order in which they are placed is a lot OFF.

    • Thanks for the comment – and thanks for reading – I know some people will have issues with some of the names I included and the order (I get a lot of flack for my Yoko Ono worship)

  2. Apollo

    finally,someone in this world share almost the same list of mine!!!100 greatest women in music!thank you!!love to see more list from you.

  3. naseem

    um the vh1 list was for the women who are currently making music in the today… not these people who most people of today never heard of and therefore can’t agree with this list without knowing their talent..

    • Nothing against Rihanna, Britney Spears, Ke$ha or any of the other contemporary pop artists that are making hit records – I like them, and good for them; but that list includes people like Paula Abdul -a performer whose last hit was like 20 years ago, and is known primarily for being a TV personality; and even though radio ignores Aretha Franklin, Diana Ross, Dolly Parton, Marianne Faithfull, etc – these performers are still alive, still making music, and still touring – but they don’t get the press that younger artists get – so VH1 should amend the name of its list to “Most Famous Women of Music” or “Most Popular” but not “greatest” because again any list of female artists that ignores Aretha Franklin is seriously off….

  4. Adam

    Your list is very good. However, I think Bjork should be much higher on the list than many you’ve put above her. As Elton John said, she’s really the only true original artist of her time out
    there. She’s not just great, she’s gargantuan. Second, I would never put trite lollipop girls with mediocre voices, and who never had an original piece or were never the catalysts for anything truly new, on the list, such as Ms. Speers, as lovely as she is….er…was.

    • thecrowdedbookshelf

      Thanks for reading – I love Bjork, too – I also love her work with the Sugarcubes. Regarding Britney Spears – she’s just another in a long line of pop singers who overcome any vocal limitations to succeed – I’m thinking of Madonna, Kylie Minogue, Janet Jackson, Paula Abdul, even legends like Diana Ross and Lena Horne have all less-than-stellar ranges, but have made contributions…That people still listen to Britney Spears is interesting…
      Thanks for the reply – my line was in response to the Vh1 list which made little-to-no sense to me because any older singers and vets weren’t included because they don’t have current hits on the radio (which is a silly litmus test of influence or greatness).

  5. Any list that puts the ladies of ABBA near the bottom has some SERIOUS flaws.

    • WeeWilly

      By album sales ABBA should be near the top, but it is a mixed group, not just women, and the men in the group were huge contributors to the success of the group, while the women essentially supplied the beauty! Arguably shouldn’t be on this list at all.

      • thecrowdedbookshelf

        the guys on ABBA are important, but the women’s voices were key to the band’s sound.
        Thanks for reading!

  6. Tony Flournoy

    No Anita Baker is just crazy as hell

  7. Michael McKinnon

    Great list, every lady/group here deserves recognition for amazing accomplishments and talent. Be it just musically or for also promoting female talent and freedoms.

  8. You rank Britney Spears higher than Mariah Carey,really ? Mariah Carey’s talent,success,influence.impatc and contributions to music are far superior to Britney’s,so please.

  9. Did you drop Grace Slick off the list? FAIL.

  10. Tom Johnson

    Karen Carpenter #1. Any other choice shows the lack of knowledge of music and talent

  11. Ryan

    swing and a miss…no Ani Difranco? probably the best songwriter of this generation.

  12. blü

    Where’s Siouxsie Sioux?

    She’s my number one diva.

    Nice list though, very much improved on VH1!

    Also, Oly here. So…. Kathleen Hanna?

    Ok bye.

    • thecrowdedbookshelf

      My love of Siouxsie Soux and Kathleen Hanna came out after I made this list – I’d do it over and make it top 200….

  13. Matthew Flores

    I noticed that you left Pat Benatar off this list. But other than that, it’s an improvement over VH1’s list. VH1 was so disrespectful by not including the women of the 70s and the 80s. To me it’s like how the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame tries to leave out Hard Rock and Heavy Metal acts. The same applies here. I think the reason why they excluded the women of the 70s and the 80s was due to the fact that the network’s target demographic probably has never heard of Aretha Franklin, Stevie Nicks or anyone from those two decades. Now giving these women their own segment between the commercial breaks to me is not enough. They should’ve been ranked on that list but VH1 fucked up by not giving them the reconizision they deserved. The comedians and journalists didn’t help much either. Every time they made jokes or wise cracks I wanted to throw the remote at the TV. VH1’s list sucks ass. I wouldn’t be suprised if they picked these artists for this list.

    But that’s my opinion. I have 3 questions for you:
    1. Why do you think these artists were left out?
    2. Who do you think picked the artists that were ranked on this list ?
    3. Would you agree with my points?
    P.S. I have no disrespect to the artists that were ranked on VH1’s list.

    • thecrowdedbookshelf

      Hello –

      Thanks for reading, and thanks for the suggestion – you know, Pat Benatar was always a funny example to me. I think she’s very talented and I loved some of her songs (“Invincible” is one of my favorites), but I’m not sure if she’s an important artist in that weird combo of talent, influence, sales, etc. I think she’s a great singer and a solid singer/songwriter – I might include her if I have a redo – I left out other artists that I think are important like Siouxie Soux and Jane Country.
      Regarding your questions – I think your guess is as good as mine – I think that older artists were left out because they weren’t selling records or concert tickets to the audience that VH1 was expecting.
      Who chose the artists on VH1’s part – I’ll assume it was a panel of some kind, maybe VH1 VJs, radio people, the participating TV people, etc. It could also have been professors putting it together.
      I think you made good points in your response – there’s a better VH1 list that was released years ago – it’s not perfect, but a lot better than the updated on.
      Thanks for reading!

      • Matthew Flores

        I know. Vh1 did that orignal list in 1998 or ’99. This updated version pisses me off. They could’ve made so much more of it. But in the end we get the bare minimum. Vh1 was so disrespectful to these artists.

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