Beauty Evolution: Pop Stars Then & Now

Updated on July 30, 2019
Rachel M Johnson profile image

Rachel M. Johnson is a lover of all things pop culture. She's been writing about music and entertainment online for over two years.

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With talented acts like Beyoncé, Taylor Swift and Britney Spears, the pop industry is full of musicians with rare star qualities and staying power. Their unique and ever-changing style and sound has helped cement their place in the music world. Let's take a look at the beauty evolution of pop's biggest stars.


Arguably one of the biggest music superstars of all time, Beyoncé Knowles-Carter first rose to fame in the late 1990s as the lead singer of the R&B girl group, Destiny's Child. With 4 studio albums and 60 million records sold, the ladies became one of the best-selling girl groups in history. In 2003, Beyoncé branched out and released her mega successful solo, debut album Dangerously in Love. She would go on to release an impressive five more albums, racking up over 100 million record sales and 23 Grammys. With a lucrative acting career in films such as Austin Powers in Goldmember, Dreamgirls and most recently The Lion King, the songstress has proven to have staying power.

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Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift first broke into the music industry with her self-titled debut album in 2006, which became the longest-charting record of the 2000s in the U.S. Originally a country crooner, Swift dabbled in pop music as her albums and musical style progressed. Her second album, Fearless was a major pop crossover success, having sold 3.2 million albums in 2009. She would go on to release 4 more commercially and critically successful albums; each had sales of over 1 million their first week. Swift has sold more than 50 million albums and has earned 10 Grammys. As her genre shifted to a pop focus, so did her style. She left behind her country curls and cowboy boots, in exchange for a more glamorous and mature beauty look. Her upcoming album Lover is due to be released in August, and is certain to be another hit.

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Britney Spears

Often referred to as the "Princess of Pop," Britney Spears is regarded as a pop icon and helped influence the massive wave of teen pop in the late 90s and early 2000s. Her debut studio album ...Baby One More Time (1999) sold over 14 million copies and was certified platinum 14 times, and the lead single of the same name reached number one in 18 countries. Spears would go on to release 8 more studio albums, amassing record sales of over 150 million. Throughout her career she developed a sexy and risque style, a complete 180 from her once bubble gum image. Though her personal struggles were heavily covered by tabloids and the media, she persevered and came out on top. With a lucrative perfume business and most recently a Las Vegas residency, the pop princess has remained a powerful force for over 20 years.

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Christina Aguilera

Pop icon and music sensation Christina Aguilera burst onto the music scene alongside fellow Mouseketeer Britney Spears in the late 90s, with her self-titled debut album. Her bubble gum image and powerful pipes helped showcase her star quality, and the record went on to be certified platinum 8 times. In 2000, she won Best New Artist at the Grammy Awards (Aguilera would receive 4 more in her career). She shed her good-girl image with 2002's Stripped, embracing a more risque and sexual image. With 8 studio albums under her belt, she has sold an estimated 75 million records, becoming one of the best-selling music artists of all time. Aguilera also starred in financially successful musical Burlesque, served as a mentor on The Voice and had a Las Vegas residency.

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Katy Perry

Katy Perry first rose to fame in 2008, with the release of her pop rock album One of the Boys. The lead single "I Kissed a Girl" topped the charts and sold over 4.7 million digital copies alone. Her style during this time was very bold and vintage-esque, a look she pulled off very well. She embraced a more bubble gum image with her next album, Teenage Dream. With hits like "California Gurls" and "Teenage Dream," Perry proved she had staying power. She went on to release two more studio albums, and has sold more than 100 million records globally. Perry is currently a judge on American Idol, and recently dropped a shoe line. Her fashion is often wild and daring, as she enjoys incorporating bright colors and humor into her outfits.

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The Barbadian beauty is known for embracing various musical styles and images, and has been since her debut in 2005. Her freshman and sophomore albums Music of the Sun and A Girl Like Me both were influenced by Caribbean music and were commercial successes. Rihanna's third studio album, Good Girl Gone Bad (2007) incorporated an edgier vibe and established the songstress as a sex symbol. It's chart-topping single "Umbrella" earned Rihanna her first Grammy Award. Since then, she has released 5 more albums, each proving to be chart successes. Her style constantly evolves and has become more daring and edgy; she is a red carpet queen. She has sold over 250 million records, ventured into acting in 2018's Ocean Eight and released the cosmetics brand Fenty Beauty.

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Mariah Carey

With more than 200 million records sold throughout her nearly 30 year career, musical diva Mariah Carey is one of the most decorated singers of all time. Her 1990 self-titled album topped the Billboard charts for eleven consecutive weeks and spawned hits like "Vision of Love" and "Emotion." She was arguably the queen of the 90s, and has 11 consecutive years charting a U.S number-one single. Carey has released 15 studio albums, accumulated 18 number-one singles, and has spent 79 weeks at the number one position on Billboard Hot 100 (the greatest for any artist in U.S chart history). With 5 Grammys, 15 Billboard Awards and 10 American Music Awards, Carey continues to dominate the music industry and inspire a generation of singers.

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Jennifer Lopez

With the ability to sing, dance and act, Jennifer Lopez has proven herself to be a triple-threat in the entertainment industry. Her role in the 1997 Selena biopic of the same name highlighted her acting chops, as did films like Out of Sight, The Wedding Planner, Maid in Manhattan and Enough. She ventured into the music world with her debut studio album, 1999's On the 6. This helped propel the Latin pop movement and skyrocketed her popularity. With the release of 2001's The Wedding Planner and her album J.Lo, Lopez became the first woman to have a number one album and film in the same week. She released 6 more albums, sold 80 million records and has a cumulative film gross of $3 billion. Most recently, Lopez embarked on her first concert tour in over 7 years and will star in the upcoming film, Hustlers.

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Lady Gaga

Few artists made as big of a splash as Lady Gaga did when she first hit the music scene in 2008. Known for her wild and outrageous ensembles, she became infamous for her visual experimentation and unconventional work. Her debut, electropop album The Fame spawned the chart-toppers "Just Dance" and "Poker Face." Her follow-up EP The Fame Monster was released in 2009 and featured hits like "Bad Romance" and "Telephone." Gaga has never shied away from bold and unique sounds and styles, as reflected in her albums Born This Way and Artpop. She embraced a softer, "stripped down" style for her most recent record, 2016's Joanne and her fashion has reflected that. Gaga ventured into acting with American Horror Story and the critical and financial success A Star is Born, earning an Academy Award for Best Original Song for "Shallow."

© 2019 Rachel M Johnson


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