VH1’s Pop Queen Faceoff is well underway, and 19 of music’s brightest female stars are gunning for the throne. However, there are many incredible—and iconic—goddesses who unfortunately didn’t make our cut.
It doesn’t make them any less fabulous, though. There are just so many dynamite divas out there that it was difficult narrowing down the list. We want to make sure our runners-up get the proper recognition they deserve. From masters of the trade like Cher and Kylie Minogue to relative newcomers like Ariana Grande and Selena Gomez, here are the 15 ladies that were just rhinestones away from making our Pop Queen Faceoff. And speaking of which — get over there and vote for your top pick!
15. Kelly Clarkson
American Idol’s first winner has had an incredible career with two No.1 albums and 10 Top 10 hits; however, Clarkson has a few more sports arenas to fill before she can reach pop queen status. Regardless, our lives would suck without her.
14. Avril Lavigne
With two No.1 albums and a string of hits like “Complicated,” “Sk8er Boi” and “Girlfriend,” Lavigne has certainly made her mark on music. But we’re sure she would hate it if we classified her as a diva. She was once dubbed the “anti-Britney,” after all.
13. Nicki Minaj
With two consecutive No.1 albums and another surefire-hit LP, The Pinkprint, due out next month, Minaj is one of music’s brightest stars. But Minaj’s crossover sound — “Anaconda,” while amazing, is technically hip-hop — made us hesitant to put her on the list. We still give props to the “Superbass” singer for breaking barriers for ladies in music and taking risks with her artistry. (The 2012 Grammys, anyone?)
P!nk is undoubtedly pop music’s most fearless woman. With strong record sales, sky-high performances and an abundance of hits, she is a strong contender for our faceoff. But like Lavigne, we think P!nk would reject the notion she is a pop queen. Pop badass, maybe.
11. Hilary Duff
Even though Duff’s first three albums all debuted in the top three on the Billboard 200 charts, she still has to make more of a splash to be considered a pop queen. With her two new singles out and album due this fall, she may be on her way.
10. Mandy Moore
Moore bursted onto the bubblegum scene — alongside pop queen contenders Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera — in 1999. But with only two poorly-charted singles and six albums that didn’t even crack the top 10, she doesn’t have the foundation to make our cut. But “Candy” will always be our guilty pleasure!
9. Jessica Simpson
Despite an array of frothy pop hits, Simpson never reached the fever pitch of her peers.
8. Selena Gomez
Gomez is well on her way to becoming a pop queen — her first solo album Stars Dance debuted at No.1 in 2013 and the accompanying tour dazzled audiences with dance-tastic goodness — but she still has a ways to go. A few more hit albums and headlining tours will do the trick.
7. Gwen Stefani
Her two standalone albums Love. Angel. Music. Baby. (2004) and The Sweet Escape (2006) are chock-full of hits. With Stefani returning to music this year, she is well on her way to joining our pop queens.
6. Toni Braxton
Despite a powerhouse presence in the ’90s — “Un-Break My Heart,” anyone? — Braxton just wasn’t pop enough to make our final cut. Either way, she is an icon.
We hate that Shakira didn’t make our cut. But with only one Billboard Hot 100 No.1 single to her name (2006’s “Hips Don’t Lie“), she needed just a little bit more.
4. Ariana Grande
Grande is pop music’s brightest star at the moment, and she is well on her way to full-blown diva status (she’s certainly got the attitude to prove it). But she’s too spring a chicken to make our list right now — maybe in a few years, if she keeps her fire going.
3. Kylie Minogue
Minogue is a veteran pop goddess who parallels Madonna in her constant image and sound reinvention. Her 2001 international smash “Can’t Get You Out of My Head” is ranked No.4 on NME’s “Greatest Pop Songs in History” list. She’s turned out iconic looks (“Spinning Around” hot pants, anyone?) and packed arenas around the world with her dazzling live concerts. We’re upset Minogue hasn’t received the U.S. recognition she deserves — she’s shockingly never had an American No.1 album or single. It’s her head-scratching absence from America’s pop scene that made us unable to include her on the list; our other contenders are relatively well-known throughout the world. C’mon, U.S.! Get on the Kylie train. You won’t regret it.
2. Celine Dion
Dion has arguably the greatest living female voice in pop. Unfortunately, that’s about it. The “Loved Me Back to Life” singer doesn’t really make bold creative choices or write her own music. While she is certainly a glamorous diva, her lack of career variety makes her miss our faceoff. But no singer delivers the feels quite like her.
Before everyone else, there was Cher, and it killed us that one of pop’s pioneers didn’t make our list. Cher’s chart performance — with the exception of 1998’s “Believe” — is surprisingly weak, and she hasn’t truthfully made as much of a cultural splash as our other contenders in the past 30 years. That doesn’t make her contributions to pop music as a whole any less valid. Her constantly evolving images and looks are unparalleled; we just wish that it translated to our criteria more clearly. Make no mistake, though: we eternally bow down to Empress Cher.
[Photo: Getty Images]