The 1990s was a great time for music. New genres emerged, such as grunge and hip-hop, while others like pop and rock peaked in terms of popularity thanks to the rise of boy bands and girl groups. The decade also saw solo artists become more prominent thanks to the rise of artists like Michael Jackson, Prince, and George Michael who released their first albums during that period. There were plenty of solo artists in the nineties who managed to leave a lasting impression on both their genre and the general public. These are some of the biggest solo artists from that decade, ranked by their peak position on the Billboard 200 Albums chart in December 1999.
The King of Pop, Michael Jackson, had a huge year in 1999. The Bad 25 album was released on October 26, and on November 13, his first concert since the early 80s took place in New York City's Madison Square Garden. The show was recorded and released as a live album on CD and VHS on December 2. The album went multi-platinum thanks to hit singles such as "Gone Too Soon", "Ghosts" and "Black or White", and the concert and its video release were equally successful. The Bad 25 album and concert were a great opportunity for Michael to reconnect with his fans and the public four years after being accused of child molestation, and his public image and reputation were greatly improved thanks to these projects.
Mariah Carey's reputation was still taking off when the 1990s began, but she hit her stride during the second half of the decade. She first became famous in 1990 with her debut album, but the release of her self-titled follow-up in 1995 marked her breakthrough. The album was a major commercial success, being certified 10 times platinum and spawning six Top 40 singles. The most popular songs on the album were "Fantasy" and "One Sweet Day", which were both No. 1 hits on the Hot 100. The success of the album earned Mariah a Grammy Award for Best New Artist, marking the first time that an artist won the award after having already released several albums.
Whitney Houston had an incredible year in 1999, with her album My Love Is Your Love being released on October 12. The album was the first one to be released after the tragic death of her husband and fellow singer, Bobby Brown. The album sold over 10 million copies and produced four hit singles including "When You Believe", a duet with Mariah Carey for the DreamWorks film The Prince of Egypt. On November 8, Whitney performed a concert at the Lincoln Center to a sold-out audience. The performance was recorded, and the album was released on December 14. It was a major commercial success, being certified platinum. The whole year was a triumphant return to the spotlight for Whitney after the tragedy in her personal life.
George Michael had a great year in 1999, with new albums, tours, and awards. The Faith Tour was launched on March 10, and the Live album was released on July 25. The album sold over 5 million copies and produced two Top 10 singles. The album was a smash hit, which greatly contributed to the massively successful Faith Tour. The Automatic Tour was launched on October 9, and the Patience album was released on November 23. The album sold 9 million copies and produced two hit singles. The success of both albums earned George three BRIT Awards, three American Music Awards (AMAs), and two Grammy Awards.
Britney Spears' debut album, ...Baby One More Time, was released on January 12, 1999. It was a smash hit, selling over 10 million copies and spawning seven hit singles, including the title track and "Sometimes". The album also won two Grammy Awards thanks to the success of these singles. The second single, "1999", was a remake of the 1982 song by the same name by the band Prince. The song was a hit and was even featured in the film Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me. The success of her debut album, combined with her two Grammy Awards, made Britney one of the biggest solo artists of the decade.
Although he had been rapping since the late 1980s and had released some albums in the late 1990s, the 1999 release of Eminem's third album, The Slim Shady LP, was a landmark moment in his career. The album became a commercial and critical success, being nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Rap Album and winning an American Music Award for Favorite Album. The album featured some of Eminem's most famous singles, including "My Name Is", "The Real Slim Shady", and "I'm Back". The great commercial and critical success of the album made Eminem one of the biggest and most influential artists of the decade.
The 1990s were an incredibly busy and productive decade for solo artists. New genres rose and fell, and existing ones flourished, along with a slew of new artists who created lasting legacies. All of the artists on this list were incredibly successful in their own right, and they each left their mark on the decade. From Michael Jackson's child molestation allegations and comeback to Whitney Houston's tragic death, the 90s were a decade of extremes.