The 1990s were a great time for British music. Britpop was in full swing and a number of British singers were making their mark on the music scene. From Oasis to Radiohead to The Spice Girls, these singers brought their unique sounds to the world, ruled the charts and defined pop culture in the 1990s.
So sit back and enjoy some of the biggest hits as we take a look at the careers of 15 of the most famous British singers of the 90s.
1. Elton John
Elton John was already famous by the time the 90s rolled around, but he continued his path to superstardom throughout the decade.
In fact, he had the single highest-selling song of the decade. His tribute to Diana, Princess of Wales, titled “Candle in the Wind 1997”, sold three million more copies than the runner-up.
This rewriting of his original 1970s tribute to Marilyn Monroe became the best-selling single of the decade, the best-selling single in UK chart history, John’s best-selling song, and the second best-selling single of all time!
Despite the song’s success, John has only performed it one time live, which was at the funeral of Princess Diana. He has vowed to never perform it again unless asked by the princess’s sons.
2. David Bowie
Next, we have David Bowie who came into fame in the 60s, but the 90s saw a unique side of his music career.
In the 90s, the London native released five albums in six years and had 13 singles in the top 40 UK hits. Considered his electronic period, in the 90s he primarily used electronic instruments to create his work at the time.
Bowie was also inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996 and continued performing until he passed away in 2016.
Born Gordon Summer, this Wallsend native was first the frontman of the rock band The Police in the 70s and 80s under the name Sting.
In the 90s, he found great success in his solo career. His 1993 album went triple platinum and was nominated for the Mercury Prize and Grammy’s Album of the Year.
In the 90s alone, he was nominated for four Brit Awards and won one, and was nominated for 12 Grammys, winning four.
He had a total of 15 hits on the UK’s top forty charts. Today, Sting continues to make music and tour, showing no sign of slowing down anytime soon.
4. Freddie Mercury
Born Farrokh Bulsara in Zanzibar, Freddie Mercury moved to Middlesex in 1964 during the Zanzibar Revolution.
He fronted the band Queen throughout the 70s. He found great success with his famous four-octave vocal range and theatrical stage presence, becoming one of the most famous rock vocalists in the world.
Mercury passed away in 1991, shortly before a re-release of his famous song “Bohemian Rhapsody.” With this, the song experienced a revival in the 90s, going to number one on the UK chart for five weeks – making it the only recording to be number one in four different years.
Mercury also appeared posthumously on Queen’s 1995 album Made in Heaven, which went quadruple platinum in the UK.
5. Sad Adu
Born in Nigeria but brought up in Essex, Sade Adu (born Helen Adu) began her career as a backup singer but started her band, Sade, in the early 80s.
They found great success in the late 80s. In the early 90s, they released their first compilation album, The Best of Sad.
This album went certified platinum in the UK and cemented Sade Adu as one of the most successful British artists in history.
Today, Adu is regularly commended for her lasting legacy on modern artists and continues to make music for select movie albums and occasionally with her band.
6. George Michael
George Michael was born in East Finchley, England, and spent most of his childhood in London before moving to Radlett as a teenager.
He and a schoolmate, Andrew Ridgeley, formed the duo, Wham! In the early 80s, and found success together as one of the most commercially popular acts in Britain at the time.
By the time the 90s came, Michael had become focused on his songwriting and released Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1.
The album reached number one in the UK, spent 88 weeks on the UK albums chart, and had four singles in the top 40, all without Michael doing any promotion.
He released several other popular singles and albums throughout the 90s, including the compilation album Ladies & Gentleman, which is the 45th best-selling album of all time in the UK. Michaels continued to make music and write songs until he died in 2016.
7. Liam Gallagher
William “Liam” Gallagher was born in Manchester, England, to Irish immigrants. He had a difficult childhood, was prone to fighting, and didn’t have much interest in music until he was injured in a fight.
He joined the legendary band Oasis in 1991 but they didn’t do well at first. But, they eventually got signed and their first album “Definitely Maybe” was released in 1994 and became the fastest-selling debut album in Britain at the time.
Gallagher was praised for his vocals, and the band, Oasis, quickly became a household name and emblematic of British music in the 90s.
Today, Gallegher continues to make music for his solo projects.
Born Henry Samuel in Paddington, London, Seal was originally going to be an architect.
In the 80s, he began singing in local clubs and bars and eventually went on tour with a British punk band. While often unsure of his talents, he released his first album in 1991 to positive reviews.
However, his second album in 1994 catapulted Seal to true fame. His third single from the album was “Kiss from a Rose.”
While it did not make a wave at first, the song was released on the soundtrack Batman Forever and Seal quickly became synonymous with 90s R&B music.
Today, Seal continues to make music and tour.
9. Annie Lennox
Annie Lennox, born in Aberdeen Scotland, studied at the Royal Academy of Music before she found popularity in the 1970s with The Tourists and again in the 1980s as part of the duo Eurythmics.
It was not until the 90s that she began her solo career with the album Diva. The album was a critical and commercial success, entering the UK chart at number one and going certified quadruple platinum.
It has been noted as one of the best albums of the 90s and cemented Lennox as one of the greatest singers of all time.
Related: Check out our list of famous Scottish singers here.
10. Mick Hucknall
Mick Hucknall was born in Manchester but brought up in Denton. His interest in music began after seeing the Sex Pistols playing in the 70s and joined his first band soon after.
In 1985, he helped form the band Simply Red. Simply Red (and by extension, Hucknall as the lead singer) because a super sensation in the 90s, topping the UK album chart for 19 weeks.
their album, Stars, was the second-best-selling album of the decade. Hucknall has since all but retired from music, as his last album came out in 2012.
11. Joan Armatrading
Joan Armatrading was born in Basseterre, which was in the British colony of Saint Christoper and Nevis. As a child, she moved to Antigua to live with her grandmother before rejoining her parents in England.
Armatrading taught herself piano and guitar as a teen and dropped out of school to help support her family at 15. Soon after, she performed her first concert, and soon after she was able to make music for her full-time gig.
In the 90s, she released a compilation album of her best work from the 60s, 70s, and 80s. This album brought her back into the public eye and hit the top 10 on the UK charts.
She released two other albums in the 90s, which received positive critical success.
12. Jarvis Cocker
Jarvis Cocker was born in Sheffield and founded his first band, Pulp when he was 15.
The band found success in the 1990s with their albums His ‘n’ Hers and Different Class. The band, and Cocker especially, became representatives of the Britpop music, a brighter form of alternative pop that emphasized Britishness in the music.
Though Pulp still occasionally plays together, Cocker has dedicated much of his efforts to his solo projects and another band, JARV IS.
Singers 13-15 are coming soon!
Summing Up Our List Of Famous British 1990s Singers
As you can see, the 1990s were a great time for music, and the British singers on this list are some of the best that decade had to offer.
Whether you’re a fan of boy bands or pop stars, there’s no doubt that these singers have left their mark on the music industry.
Who is your favorite British singer from the 1990s and let us know who else you think we should add to this list!