Britain has given the world a ton of iconic artists, from punk rock to pop. Here are some of the UK’s most popular female pop stars from the past and the present. Enjoy the read!
Anne-Marie had a long climb to the top, but with the 2016 release of her collaboration with Clean Bandit, she finally got some international recognition. Now, she is regarded as one of the most popular pop stars from the UK.
Jessie J has been working since she was 11 when she debuted on the West End stages in London, but it wasn’t until 2006 when she actually released her debut solo album. Her soulful R&B style with a pop and hip hop influence is why she has become a global superstar.
She has collaborated with some of the biggest names in pop, including Robin Thicke, Ariana Grande, and Nicki Minaj. The success of these collaborations has cemented her spot as one of the biggest UK pop stars ever.
Girl groups are a common thing in pop music, and several famous ones come from the UK. Sure, you might think of the Spice Girls or Little Mix, but many also think of S Club 7. This is the band that gave us this next famous pop star, Rachel Stevens.
In 2003, the group disbanded, and she signed on to a new record label for four solo albums. Her debut solo album, Funky Dory, found its way into the top ten on the charts, which allowed her light to shine on its own.
Rita Ora is a mainstay in pop music now and has been since her debut album in 2012. The album quickly went to the top of the charts, and in 2014, she became a global name after her song collaboration with Iggy Azalea, entitled “Black Widow.”
She has also spread her wings and tried her hand at acting and has even been a judge for The Voice in the UK. Her catchy pop style has made her an iconic figure today and one of the most popular pop stars from the UK.
So many of the pop stars on the charts today got their start on one of the multitudes of reality shows. Leona Lewis is one of those. In 2006, she was the winner of the British version of The X-Factor.
The following year her mega-hit “Bleeding Love” reached a global audience and elevated her pop stardom to new heights. Though she really hasn’t had any more major hits in the US market, she remains a super popular pop artist in the UK.
Adele is one of those names that, when you talk about talented singers/songwriters, you are bound to mention her. Her charm and unabashed down-to-earth attitude only add to the love the world feels for this artist.
Her first two albums, 19 and 21, are the go-to soundtracks for breakups all around the world. Adele’s massively powerful and unmatched voice, together with her ability to share her pain with the audience, has made her nothing short of an icon in global pop.
Kate Bush is one of the most unique voices that came from the UK in the ’70s. Known as both a singer and a songwriter, Kate’s style was eclectic and different from the rest of the pop stars at the time.
With the release of her first album, The Kick Inside, it was evident that the UK had given the world another pop icon that would inspire generations to come.
The United Kingdom covers Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and England, and our next popstar comes from the Lowlands. Annie Lennox was born in Aberdeen, Scotland, and shot to fame as the frontwoman for the Eurythmics in the ’80s.
But after the band took a break, she cemented her place in pop stardom with hits like “Walking On Broken Glass.” Her singing range is epic, and she has ventured into many different music genres which is another reason why she’s known for her amazing impact on music globally.
As the frontwomen for Florence and the Machine, this talented singer-songwriter from England has become a major star in the pop world. Her unique melodic tone and special songs stem from a wide range of influences.
Influenced by artists like Grace Slick and Stevie Nicks, she brings a unique indie-pop sound to the music world. It seems to work because she is one of the most well-known current UK artists.
In 2009, Ellie signed to Polydor Records and released her debut album. The album hit the number one spot on the UK charts, which is very impressive for a new artist. It didn’t take long for this talented singer and songwriter to become a pop star.
She continues to deliver albums and songs that hit just the right note, so much so that she was invited to perform at Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding reception.
She may not have any new hits on the charts, but Sade is still one of the most popular pop stars to come from the UK. Ten years ago, she opted to step away from the limelight to raise her child and live a more normal life.
But after those ten years, the sultry singer came back and is as loved as ever. Starting her career in the ’80s, this pop icon has had an amazing career for over three decades, even with that small break.
This English singer-songwriter is known for her retro and spunky style, in both her music and hairstyles. Paloma rose to fame in 2009 after her debut album, Do You Want the Truth or Something Beautiful? certified as double platinum in the UK. The album also landed her a nomination for a BRIT award.
In addition to her successful solo career, she collaborated with the duo Sigma on the song “Changing” and DJ Sigala on “Lullaby” which both reached the charts in the UK. Faith has also tried her hand at acting and has been a judge on The Voice UK and The Voice Kids.
Emeli Sande is a singer-songwriter that was born in England but was raised in Scotland. Her big break was when she was featured on British rapper Chipmunk’s soundtrack. Then two years later, she released her debut album to critical acclaim.
Her soprano voice lends a special tone to her R&B pop hits. Following her icon Nina Simone, she strives to deliver meaningful music that will last for decades. All hail Emeli Sande!
‘Catchy’ and ‘ironic’ are two words that come to mind when pop star Lily Allen’s name comes up. This is what has given her a global audience starting with her hit song, “Smile.” This song reached the top of the UK charts and eventually got a lot of airplay in the US.
She has also been producing music since 2005, using the MySpace platform to get her music out to the world. It worked, and she eventually was signed to a major record label.
You could not be anywhere in the late ’90s or the early 2000s without hearing this English singer-songwriter’s songs. Her debut album sold 21 million copies and earned her many awards and nominations.
With her second album, she found even more success, including a collaboration with Eminem and one of her songs being the theme song for a major teen drama series in the US, Roswell. Yes, we’re referring to the mega-hit “Stan.”
One of the pioneering forces in pop and electro-pop, Imogen Heap is a talented songwriter and musician. Classically trained in many instruments, she brought a classical sensibility to electronic music.
In 1998, she released her seminal album, I Megaphone. Though she has never really got the level of attention as other artists from the UK, she is by far one of the most popular artists, especially among other artists.
We have all at some point in our lives, no matter our preferred genre of music, sung to the lyrics of Natasha’s hit song, “Unwritten.” This song came to fruition from her debut pop album and helped her become a global superstar.
Though she never really reached as high on the US charts again, she is still one of the most famous and well-known British pop stars across the globe.
Back in the ’60s and ’70s, Petula Clarke was all the rage in the UK. From her song “Downtown” to her duet with Harry Belafonte in 1968, Petula is an icon with so many hits, she deserves a spot on this list.
Not only did she sell 70 million records, but she sang songs in multiple languages. She even did a little acting too, like in the 1968 film Finnian’s Rainbow.
You don’t have to win a music competition to become a well-known pop star. That is what happened to Cher Lloyd, who came in fourth on the seventh season of The X-Factor. The show’s exposure was enough to cement her fame and turn her into one of the most popular UK pop stars.
She blends pop and an urban beat with R&B undertones to create her own style. She has had many successful collaborations with other artists, as well as her own singles, like “Want U Back” and “Swagger Jagger.”
This English pop-soul singer had her first taste of spotlight at the tender age of 13. It was then that she auditioned for the talent show Star for a Night. She was quickly signed as she had a unique tone and range for such a young singer.
She has experimented with different sounds throughout her career and continues to switch them up even today. That includes throwing in some acting gigs too. This multi-talented star is not one to forget!
Corinne Bailey Rae
In 2006, we all wanted to ‘put our records on’ as we grooved to the melodic and iconic pop song “Put Your Records On.” The artist behind this epic catchy tune was Corinne Bailey Rae. Her clear tone and heartfelt lyrics drove the tune to the top of the chats.
She has continued to release albums, and though none have reached the height of her first single, she is still beloved for her ability to evoke emotions with her words and melodies. Corrine is a true, soulful talent!
PJ Harvey is one of those artists that never has the same sound. This is what makes her so popular, as she always delivers a unique experience with each album. As a result, she cannot be pinned down into just the pop genre.
Though she is well-known and respected, she has never really achieved the level of popularity as some of the others on this list. Even still, when talking about pop-rock music, she cannot be ignored.
If you like to dance, then you know a song or two by Charlie XCX. Crafting all kinds of genres of pop, this English artist is one of the hottest pop stars from the UK right now. She has also collaborated with icons like Iggy Azalea and Gwen Stefani.
From the time she released her debut album, 14, until now, she has continued to grow and experiment with her music. This is what has given her a fanbase that spans the globe.
Shirley Basse may be best known for her contributions to several movie soundtracks in the James Bond franchise. She has a unique voice that helped make the themes for Goldfinger, Diamonds Are Forever, and Moonraker very memorable.
Now a Dame, this Welsh singer has enjoyed a career for over seven decades, and that makes her entitled to her spot on the most popular pop stars of all time from the UK.
Dusty Springfield is sometimes overlooked by people when it comes to iconic and popular pop stars from the UK. However, the talented singer had six top singles in the US and 16 in the UK. This makes her somewhat of an overachiever in the music space when you think about it.
She would often record versions of Motown hits, and this would get British people re-interested in the original hits. When visiting the US, she would also record one of the best and critically acclaimed albums ever, Dusty In Memphis.
Okay, so we know what you are thinking… Isn’t Olivia Newton-John Australian? She was indeed raised in Australia, but she was actually born in Cambridge. The ’70s and ’80s would not have been the same without this super talented artist.
From her turn as Sandy in Grease to her getting “Physical”, Olivia Newton-John was able to build a worldwide fanbase for herself with her sweet and melodic voice. We are sure she inspired more than one popstar on this very list.
This Welsh beauty is multi-talented but is probably best known for her music. She likes to mix things up with her style being pulled from soul, pop, and rock. Her first album in 2008, Rockferry, shot to the top of the charts.
The album since then has been certified platinum and has sold millions of copies all over the globe. She was the first Welsh singer in a quarter of a century to take the number one spot on the UK charts. Give it up for Duffy!
Gabrielle is a singer-songwriter who combines classic soul with ’80s British pop to create her own sound. In 1993, she released her debut album, Find Your Way, which climbed its way up the charts quickly.
Though it would be another seven years before her next album, she is still one of the most popular pop stars. Since then, she has been consistently dropping new music that people all over the world love.
Winning an Open Mic in the UK in 2008 at the tender age of 12 set Birdy up for her incredible success. This singer-songwriter from England released her debut album, On the Move, three years later. This album made her well known throughout the world.
Her second and third albums also did really well. Her second album, Fire Within, even garnered her a nomination for the 2014 Brit Awards as the Best British Female Solo Artist. She has even had some of her songs feature in major motion pictures, like the animated film Brave.
In 2014, Dua Lipa traded in the camera as a model for the mic as a singer/songwriter. In 2017, her debut album hit the market and shot to the top of the charts. With her fun and sarcastic pop sound, the album heralded several hits like “IDAF” and “New Rules.”
In 2020, she found even more success with her latest album Future Nostalgia which added a little more dance to the mix. Dua has become one of the most popular pop stars in the world, let alone the UK.