15 Diva Records to Always Be Musically Thankful For

By Patrick DeMarco

Imagine a world without our beloved music divas? It would be like mashed potatoes without gravy, or a holiday dinner table without your crazy grandma.

Lucky for everyone, there’s lots of diva goodies that have been served to us over the years to be thankful for, so I gave myself the (oh, so difficult) task of rounding up fifteen girl power(#hint) led records that I have a feeling are some of your favorites as well.

Happy Divasgiving, everybody!

En Vogue/Funky Divas 

While the lovely ladies’ self-titled debut set is indeed a pure slice of ’90s R&B girl group truth, we ALL know that when they returned in 1992 with Funky Divas that Maxine, Terry, Dawn and Cynthia achieved the supreme level of diva status. The record’s wide array of styles, from pop and R&B to rap, rock, and reggae, all made the album’s first three singles-“My Lovin’ (You’re Never Gonna Get It),” “Giving Him Something He Can Feel” and “Free Your Mind,” pure pulsating pieces of timeless music. 

Mary J Blige/What’s the 411?

Besides putting Ms. Blige on the music map, What’s the 411 also put a major spotlight on Sean “Puffy” Combs as the future hip hop mogul served as executive producer on Blige’s krunk-a-licious debut set. While we light it up and um, “Reminisce” about singles, “Real Love,” “Sweet Thing,” “Slow Down,” truly it’s opener “The Message” that sets this album off and would lead Ms. Blige down the path of extreme success, as well as entering a reign as one hell of a dancing diva during her live shows.

Yas, Ms. Mary, yas.

Whitney Houston/The Bodyguard Soundtrack

While the second half of Whitney’s breakthrough film’s accompanying soundtrack is an assortment of various music artists, the first half is all Ms. Houston and then some. From “I’m Every Woman” to “Run to You” to the window/soul shattering “I Will Always Love You” and “I Have Nothing,” this was not only album that became the pinnacle of Whitney’s career, but each of these songs resemble a more peaceful time in the dearly departed diva’s life, as this was right before the media circus that would engulf her and Mr. Brown for pretty much the rest of the ’90s.

All that’s left to say is….sigh….

 

Janet Jackson/janet.

The record that turned Janet Jackson from Michael’s kid sister into a grown & sexy diva, janet. is the epitome of all things baby makin’ music. No other Janet album has been packed so deliciously with sex, lace and leather, all while Ms. Jackson provides her trademark breathy vocals on top of the seasoned productions provided by Mr. Jimmy Jam and Mr. Terry Lewis. If tracks “If,” “You Want This,” (the remix, of course), “Anytime, Anyplace,” “Because of Love” and “The Body That Loves You” don’t put you in the mood, it’s time for some Viagra.

And do Janet lead singles get any better than “That’s the Way Love goes?” Absolutely not. 

Aaliyah/Age Ain’t Nothing But a Number

While we can only imagine where the late great Aaliyah would be in her music career these days, she did musically bless us with the generation defining, Age Ain’t Nothing But a Number, which contains such Aaliyah classics as “Back & Forth,” “At Your Best,” and the sensual title track. It’s a timeless record just exploding with ‘Liyah’s street sass and smarts that were gently placed on top of bumpin’ beats (“Throw Your Hands Up,” anybody?) provided by R. Kelly that still sound as trunk ready as they did two decades 

TLC/CrazySexyCool

“Lisa done burn the house down” pretty much sums TLC’s groundbreaking sophomore set all up. We’ll always revel in cherished grooves, “Creep,” “Red Light Special, “Diggin On You,” “Kick Your Game” and of course, “Waterfalls,” a track so timeless that even Ms. Pebbles herself can’t touch. 

Alanis Morissette/Jagged Little Pill

Deliciously wrapped in music moods and melodies that defined a generation, Alanis’ Grammy stealing breakthrough set still plays out as feisty as ever, especially since Ms. “wine, dine, 69 me” has been heavily promoting the twentieth anniversary of her beloved record. If classic tracks “You Oughta Know,” “Head Over Feet,” “Hand In My Pocket” and “Ironic” don’t make want to run to the first karaoke bar you can find, you need your ’90s music card revoked.

Mariah Carey/Butterfly 

One of MC’s most underrated records (have a row of seats, Charmbracelet), Butterfly is not only decked with some of the diva’s best baby makin’ fodder, but this was an album that Mariah’s voice showed the most restraint, resulting in a sensual set that became her first official post-Tommy Mottola opus.

The time is now to give singles, “Honey,” “My All,” “Breakdown,” and especially, “The Roof,” (seriously…it’s one of MC’s BEST tracks) the attention they truly deserve. 

Spice Girls/Spice 

“Set your spirit free, it’s the only way to be,” harmonizes Scary, Posh, Sporty, Posh and Ginger on “2 Become 1,” the third blockbuster single from their world dominating Spice set. While it’s a cheesy pop album at is very best, it still does a great job of taking us into a carefree music place, especially with Spice serenades, “Wannabe,” “Say You’ll Be There,” “Who Do You Think You Are” and “Last Time Lover.” 

And when it comes to (sigh) “Mama,” you’ll be reaching for a tissue faster than listening to any one of Adele’s soul shattering records…and that’s a fact. But, excuse me, I’ll be right back…I have, um, something in my eye..yeah, that’s what it is. 

Madonna/Ray of Light

While music tea could be spilled all day about any one of Madonna’s records, there’s only one album that goes straight to the top of everyone’s list–her electronica soaked ’98 album, Ray of Light. From the coos of opener “Drowned World/Substitute For Love” to the Jetsons-esque feel of “Skin” to the eerie waves of “Mer Girl,” Madonna simply delivered a record still sounds a trillion years ahead of its time.

This was the album that proved Madonna to be the mother of all things reinvention–and we will always revel in every William Orbit produced minute of it.

Destiny’s Child/The Writing’s on the Wall

The album that was the true start of transforming Beyoncé into Beyoncé, The Writing’s on the Wall is just delightfully packed with flavorful ’90s R&B heat. DC’s breakthrough record was as stylish as it was sassy, being that it still constantly reminds us upon every listen that ‘Thou shall not think you got it like that.” However, thou shall always pay your respects to tracks, ‘Bills, Bills, Bills,” “Bug-A-Boo,” “Say My Name,” Temptation,” and the best song on the record, “So Good.”

Plus, it’s always nice to hear from LaTavia and LeToya again, isn’t it? 

Missy Elliot/Under Construction

Is there really any need to explain THIS album? And always remember, in life we must always “Work It” like Ms. Elliot.

Xtina/Stripped

Now this is how you shed your Disney skin, Ms. Lovato and Ms. Gomez. Vowing to no longer keep the genie in her bottle, in 2002, Christina Aguilera, or Xtina, if you will, served us with Stripped-an album that truly cemented her place in early ’00s diva-dom. Loaded with gusto, soaring vocals, and the delightfully gritty groove, “Dirrty,” the gorgeous, “Beautiful,” the strong, ‘Fighter,” and the best ode-to-one-night stands ever, “Get Mine, Get Yours,” listening to the album now truly makes you miss those days when Xtina ruled the music world….this album is the closest the “Dirrty” diva ever came to true music perfection.

Britney Spears/Blackout 

From the stripper pole grabbing feel of opener and lead single “Gimme More,” to its tender “Why Should I Be Sad?” finish, Blackout is just that Britney album. Stacked with filthy beats (“Get Naked” for life) provided by Danja, Bloodshy & Avant, and many other top-notch producers, there’s a reason why Britney’s fans are craving for a Blackout 2.0.

But when it comes to this record, you just can’t duplicate its grimy power and the fact that it came out during a time when Britney was just a bit disheveled truly makes it one-of-a-kind. Lucky for us, the music on Blackout still manages to take us to a much happier Britney place, despite how dark and devious the record  truly is. 

Lady Gaga/The Fame

An album that put Lady Gaga not only on the music map, but into all of our heads as she delivered a romping record of pop tunes and polished beats that remain in a music class of their very own. From her back-to-back number one singles, “Just Dance” and “Poker Face,” to delightful album cuts, “Starstruck,” “Beautiful Dirty Rich” and “I Like It Rough,” The Fame is Gaga at her absolute strobe lit best. 

Adele/All the ages 

Whether you’re living that young love life on 19, being a lover scorned through 21, or healing your broken heart through 25, Ms. Adele is always there for us no matter what stage of relationship life we’re going through. While 21 is certainly the big music sister of Adele’s trio of music industry saving gifts, there’s no denying that each of these records will move your music soul and will always have you stocking up on Kleenex and cookie dough in no time flat. 

Very honorable mentions….

Celine Dion/The Colour of My Love

Katy Perry/Teenage Dream

Cher/Believe

Gwen Stefani/Love.Angel.Music.Baby 

Rihanna/Good Girl Gone Bad 

 

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