10 Of The Most Prolific Songbirds Ever

Thank You for The Music

Having sold between 200 and 249 million albums, in a group comprising Taylor Swift, Mariah
Carey and the late Whitney Houston, nothing makes Canadian singer Celine Dion happier
than being on stage at Caesar’s Palace, Las Vegas and performing to her highly
appreciative fans. Impressively, Forbes reported in 2009 that Dion had earned around
US$100 million the previous year – which made her the second-highest earning musician on
the magazine’s list, surpassed only by Madonna. The only two female vocal artists reputed
to have sold more than 250 million albums are, of course, Madonna and Rihanna. Putting
them into a sterling category that includes the late-greats Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson,
legendary bands The Beatles and Led Zeppelin, and the ultra-talented Sir Elton John.

Because You Loved Me: Celine Dion

As of 8 April 2021, the Canadian megastar, 53, was estimated to be worth US$460 million,
with the bulk of her overall fortune being earned during a number of long-running Las Vegas
residencies. Dion, who is a widowed mother of three sons, has sold over 220 million albums
worldwide. Her 2019 Courage World Tour, which debuted in Québec City that year, sold out
on all 52 of its US dates. According to Billboard magazine, “Because You Loved Me” (2014)
is Dion’s biggest Billboard Hot 100 Hit, selling over two million copies in the US alone. It is
followed by the highly emotive “It’s All Coming Back To Me Now” and “Falling Into You”.

Shake It Off: Taylor Swift

Grammy-award winning singer-songwriter Taylor Swift, 31, entered the country music world
in 2006, thereafter changing her genre and making a splash on international Pop charts. Not
at all superstitious, Swift’s lucky number is 13 – she was born on 13 December 1989. Her
first album, Taylor Swift, hit gold 13 weeks after its launch. Nicole Pomarico wrote for The Bustle in August 2014 that her album 1989’s first single, “Shake It Off”, debuted at number
one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart very promptly, selling over 554 000 digital copies in its
first week of availability – “That’s a lot of people who are listening to Swift’s new song right
now”, Pomarico enthused at the time. What do we love about her? The fact that she claims
we live in a “take-down society and you’ve just gotta shake it off… All the way to the bank”.

Fantasy: Mariah Carey

Boasting hits such as “Vision of Love” and “I Don’t Wanna Cry”, Mariah Carey, 51, holds the
record for the most No 1 debuts (19 in total) on Billboard Hot 100 history, and more than 200
million albums sold, according to Biography.com. “Fantasy”, the first single on her album
Daydreams (1995), received critical acclaim for its production and lyrics, as well as her vocal
performance and musical progression. It proceeded to top the charts in the US, Canada,
Australia and New Zealand to reach the top 10 in a total of 13 other countries. In the US
alone, “Fantasy” was the first single by a female vocal artist to open atop the charts. It was
only the second to do so after Michael Jackson’s “You Are Not Alone”. Additionally, it
remained on top of the charts for eight weeks, from 24 September to 18 November 1995,
with sales that exceeded 229 000 copies.

I Will Always Love You: Whitney Houston

Aged just 48, Whitney Houston was found dead in a bathtub on 11 February 2021. The
cause of death was accidental drowning, with heart disease and cocaine cited as
contributing factors. Her legacy on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart could only be
described as legendary. Her biggest single, “I Will Always Love You”, from the soundtrack to
her 1992 film debut, The Bodyguard with Kevin Costner, spent an astounding 14 weeks at
the top of the Hot 100 chart. It was the longest-running No 1 single in history. Can you recall
her other 10 chart-topping hits? They are: “Saving All My Love For You” and “How Will I
Know” (1985); “Greatest Love of All” (1986); “I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves
Me)”, Didn’t We Almost Have It All” and “So Emotional” (1987); “Where Do Broken Hearts
Go” (1988); “I’m Your Baby Tonight” and “All the Man That I Need” (1990); and “Exhale
(Shoop Shoop)” in 1995. Accolades deluxe!

Like A Virgin: Madonna

Before we get down to business on Madonna and the performance empire she has created,
it’s important to note that she started life as a dancer and only got into singing because it
was required in some of her early auditions. This may explain why, at 62, she’s dating her
backup dancer, Ahlamalik Williams, 26, whose father, Drue Williams, recently told media:
“Love has no age. My son is livin’ la vida loca and I’m happy for him.” Another interesting

thing about this prolific businesswoman is that she confessed in a 1991 Larry King interview,
that she’d most like to be known for being a brilliant mother.
“Like A Virgin”, the title track and lead single from her 1984 album, apparently spent six
weeks topping the charts – so much so that it is considered No.1 one on her list of 40
biggest Hot 100 hit singles. The single that’s made her the most money thus far is actually
“Into The Groove”, which reputedly sold 878 000 copies. While Insider advises that the
Queen of Pop has been churning out No 1 hits since her mid-20s, the 11 notable ones
following on from “Like A Virgin” include: “Crazy For You” (1985); Live To Tell”, “Papa Don’t
Preach” and “Open Your Heart (1986); “Who’s That Girl” (1987); “Like A Prayer” (1989);
“Vogue” and “Justify My Love” (1990); “This Used To Be My Playground” (1992); “Take A
Bow” (1994); and “Music” (2000). We can’t wait to see what she does next.

Final thoughts

It would be possible to spend the next decade, or longer, wading through the artistry of the
five next-most prolific female songbirds. But let’s, at the very least, name them and the track
of theirs that sold most copies. Rihanna’s “We Found Love” (featuring Calvin Harris, 2011)
remained in peak position on the Billboard Hot 100 Hits for 10 weeks, selling more than 10.5
million copies worldwide. Blast from the past, Barbra Streisand’s “The Way We Were” (1974)
was certified platinum for as many as one million copies – an impressive feat in those early
days. Katy Perry’s “Firework”, “ROAR” and “Dark Horse” (2014) each sold over six million
copies. And, lastly, Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face” (2009) and Adele’s “Rolling In The Deep”
(2011) scored sales of 9.5 million copies and 8.7 million copies, respectively.

You’ll have to delve more deeply into the lives of these incredible female artists and the
creative insights that led them on to the fame and fortune they’re attributed with today.