The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame + Museum

Causing a Commotion

Madonna and the Pop Explosion


Read the brief bios below to learn about Janet Jackson, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Cyndi Lauper, Madonna, Sheila E., Shakira and Gwen Stefani .  Click on each image to watch vintage performances of these pop artists.


Janet Jackson

While she may have started out as just another member of the Jackson family, Janet Jackson (b. 1966) has established herself as a major pop star in her own right. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, she appeared on the TV sitcoms Good Times and Diff’rent Strokes. Her 1986 breakthrough album, Control, which went to Number One, yielded seven hits, including the title track, “Nasty” and “When I Think of You” and asserted her social and sexual independence. In 1989, Jackson went to #1 with “Miss You Much” off of the album Rhythm Nation 1814. With that song, she began a string of 18 consecutive Top 10 hits that would last until 1998. That streak gave her the third most consecutive U.S. Top 10 hits of all time, besting brother Michael by one and coming in just behind Elvis Presley and the Beatles. Having sold more than 100 million records worldwide, Jackson is ranked as one of the best-selling artists in the history of recorded music.


Britney Spears

Born in Mississippi in 1981 and raised in Louisiana, Britney Spears began her career on the All New Mickey Mouse Club in 1993. She released her first album, …Baby One More Time, in 1999, which reached #1 around the world.  Spears followed that success with a string of hit albums, including 2000’s Oops!....I Did It Again and 2003’s In the Zone, both of which entered the charts at # 1 and she became the first female artist to have her first four albums debut at #1. After a period of personal and professional turmoil, she staged a comeback with her 2009 Circus album and tour.


Christina Aguilera

Born in 1980 in Staten Island, New York, Christina Aguilera appeared on Star Search at age nine and was a cast member of the All New Mickey Mouse Club for two years before recording the duet "All I Wanna Do" in Japan with pop star Keizo Nakanishi. In 1998, Aguilera recorded "Reflection" for the soundtrack to Disney's Mulan. Her self-titled debut album followed that same year, with the single "Genie in a Bottle" becoming the biggest-selling U.S. single of the year. After winning a Grammy in 1999 for Best New Artist, Aguilera topped the charts again in January 2000 with "What a Girl Wants" and "Come on Over Baby (All I Want Is You).” She released a Spanish collection of hits titled Mi Reflejo and a cover version of LaBelle's "Lady Marmalade" for the Moulin Rouge soundtrack with Pink, Mya and L’il Kim. Watch Aguilera's video for the 2004 hit, "Beautiful."


Cyndi Lauper

Born in 1953 in Brooklyn, New York, Cyndi Lauper began playing guitar and writing lyrics at the age of 12. In the mid-seventies she performed as a vocalist with various cover bands in the New York area. In 1980, her group Blue Angel released its self-titled debut album. Her first solo album, She's So Unusual, released in 1984, sold more than 4.5 million copies in the United States. The album was the first by a female artist to score four Top Five singles from a debut album: “Girls Just Want to Have Fun,” “Time after Time,”  “She Bop” and “All Through the Night.” Lauper won two American Music Awards and the Grammy for Best New Artist.


Gwen Stefani

Born in Anaheim, California, in 1969, Gwen Stefani formed No Doubt with her brother Eric in 1987. The band’s released their self-titled debut album, a fusion of eighties pop and ska, in 1992. Tragic Kingdom was released in October 1995 and hit #1 in 1996 and included the hits “Just a Girl” and “Don’t Speak.” No Doubt’s much-anticipated followup, The Return to Saturn, was released in the spring of 2000, and the singles “Simple Kind of Life” and “Ex-Girlfriend” were both critically and commercially successful. Rock Steady, released in 2001, yielded hits “Hey Baby” and “Underneath It All.” Stefani started her L.A.M.B. clothing line in 2003, and the line made its runway debut in 2004. That same year, she released her first solo album, Love, Angel, Music, Baby, which yielded the hit “Hollaback Girl,” which was followed by The Sweet Escape in 2006. Icon, No Doubt’s singles compilation was released in 2010.


Sheila E.

Influenced by her father Latin jazz legend and timbalero Pete Escovedo (then band leader of the influential band Azteca), at 5 years old, Sheila E. made her concert "debut" at the former Sands Ballroom in Oakland, as she was invited on stage by her father to play a solo in front of an audience of 3,000, which is when she became a percussionist. From age 17, Sheila has recorded and toured extensively with renowned artists such as Babyface, Billy Cobham, Natalie Cole, George Duke, Pete Escovedo, Gloria Estefan, Marvin Gaye, Herbie Hancock, Stevie Nicks, Patti LaBelle, Cyndi Lauper, Prince, Lionel Richie, Diana Ross, Ringo Starr, Tito Puente, Don Was, Stevie Wonder and others. In 1983, Sheila caught the attention of Prince and changed her name to "Sheila E.," and Prince helped her record her first solo album, The Glamorous Life. The first single from the album, "The Glamorous Life," written, performed, and directed by Sheila E., was released in the spring of 1984 and earned popular and critical acclaim. This single went on to receive multiple Grammy and American Music Award nominations, and won MTV's Best Video Award.



Born and raised in Barranquilla, Colombia, Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll (born February 2, 1977)  had some commercial flops with local producers on her first two albums. Being little-known outside Colombia, Shakira decided to produce her own brand of music. In 1995 she released Pies Descalzos, which brought her great fame in Latin America and Spain, and her 1998 album ¿Dónde Están los Ladrones? was a critical success selling over 7 million copies worldwide. Four years later, Shakira released two album projects called Fijación Oral Vol. 1 and Oral Fixation Vol. 2. Both reinforced her success, particularly with the best selling song of the 2000s, "Hips Don't Lie." She has won two Grammy Awards, seven Latin Grammy Awards, twelve Billboard Latin Music Awards and has been Golden Globe-nominated.



Born in 1958, Madonna is one of the most recognizable names in the world – and not just the world of music. She became the first multimedia pop icon, crossing from dance-oriented pop music into movies, television, videos, fashion and books while achieving a level of celebrity comparable to that of a primary inspiration, Marilyn Monroe. Madonna has been a ubiquitous and, at times, controversial figure since erupting on the scene with her debut single, Everybody,” in 1982.


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