8 Iconic Divas of Our Time

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Look up the word diva on the web, and you’ll discover so many layers of meaning that you may be inspired to write a thorough analysis.

According to the first definition in the Merriam Webster dictionary, a diva is a “person who thinks she or he is better than everyone else and who does not work well as a part of a team or group.”

The second meaning defines diva as “a famous and successful woman who is very attractive and fashionable, especially an attractive and successful female performer or celebrity.”

Look up the word diva on the Urban dictionary, and the first word that comes up is “bitch.”

There seems to be a definite lack of consensus when it comes to defining a diva. If we call someone a diva, are we giving him or her a complement, or an insult? Indeed, we have seen T-shirts and license plates proudly emblazoned with the word, suggesting that the owners of these novelties are only too willing to claim the title, yet we have seen celebrities who protest to having been labelled as such. Will the real diva please stand up?

Since there is no definitive answer concerning the connotation of the word, it would probably be best to assume that a diva is a combination of both; that is, someone who is attractive and fashionable, but knows it a little too well.

In an effort to put this into perspective, let’s have a look at some of the great ladies of our time who have been given the title, and judge for ourselves! 

Mariah Carey

Mariah Carey

JStone / Shutterstock.com

If there is any truth to the theory that a celebrity who can be identified by his or her first name alone is a diva, Mariah definitely qualifies. Also, consider that the original definition of the word diva, which is, “a female opera singer,” and the fact that Mariah’s mom is one (a female opera singer, that is), and things begin to get a bit eerie.

Let’s continue our examination, of Mariah. She is undoubtedly talented. She has an eight-octave vocal range, and began singing at the age of four, and was writing her own music by the time she was in middle school. 

She definitely has had her share of dramas; you may remember a much publicized nervous breakdown in 2001, following her not so stellar attempt to cross over into the world of acting in the movie “Glitter,” plus she is a two time divorcee, having once married Columbia record head, Tommy Matola, and later pop star Nick Cannon, with both ending in divorce.

However, her marriage to Nick would result in the birth of a beautiful twin boy and girl, and a boost in her career and social life, plus a triumphant return to acting, in the movies “Precious” and “The Butler.”

So diva? Almost undeniably. Love her? How could we not?

Cher

Another one name wonder, Cher began her career as the female half of “Sonny and Cher” and has since risen to international fame as a singer, and Oscar-winning actress for her lead role in “Moonstruck.”

Dramas? Cher is certainly no stranger to those. Born Cherilyn Sarkisian, if your detecting an Armenian background here, you would not be incorrect), her romantic relationship with Sonny more or less developed in an effort to upset her mother who disapproved of the union, which would result in the birth of daughter Charity, who would ironically prove to upset her mother as much as Cher did her own when Chastity (now Chaz) came out in 2008.

Cher’s romantic life has always been rocky. After divorcing Sonny, she married bad boy, rock n’ roller, and known substance abuser Greg Allman, and has been romantically linked to Warren Beatty, Richie Sambora, and notoriously played cougar to the much younger actor pilot, Robert Camilletti.

Yet Cher’s triumphs are only made more poignant by her personal battles. Now 71, Cher is still knocking them dead in her Bob Mackie feathers and leather pants in Las Vegas, and no one can deny she has earned every reward she has so inimitably accepted, in the way that only a true diva can.

Lady Gaga

In her relatively short career, Lady Gaga has accomplished quite a lot. The Pop Icon is probably just as well known for her bizarre clothing and style as she is for her music, which is saying a lot, as her sophomore album, “Fame Monster” was nominated for six Grammys.

Yet there is no denying the former Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta will go down in history just as much for her famous “meat dress” as her single “Poker Face.”

Also, let’s remember the many faces of Lady Gaga. She’s gone from pop princess to jazz crooner, winning a Grammy for her album of duets with Tony Bennett, she’s channeled both David Bowie and Julie Andrews, won a Golden Globe for her role as The Countess, in American Horror Story,” and took on the cause for assault victims in an unlikely collaboration with Vice President Joe Biden. (non musical of course.)

As for romance, she literally wrote the song on it (Bad Romance) and suffered through one too, with hunky Chicago Fire actor, Taylor Kinney, but her fans are rooting for her all the way. Diva, maybe, but she’s in good company.

Madonna

Who would have guessed when she first emerged to stardom in the 1980’s that Madonna would end up such a household name nearly forty years later?

Generation Xers will remember Madonna as the lace-gloved, rosary-beaded boy toy rolling her eyes at the camera while comparing herself to a virgin; milennials will know her as the gold-toothed Mom of two reminding bitches that she is Madonna.

She’s been married scandalously to Sean Penn, and not so amicably divorced from Guy Richie, and her publicized affair with her personal trainer Carlos Leon, resulted in the birth of daughter, Lourdes.

She’s been “Evita,” starred alongside Roseanna Arquette in “Desperately Seeking Susan,” and adopted a brief English accent, and three children from Malawi. She flashed audiences in France, spoke out in support of LGBT rights in Russia, and even received papal attention in 1989 when Pope John Paul urged fans not to attend her shows in Italy.

An icon, yes. A diva? Perhaps by more than one definition of the term. Madonna? Undeniably.

Rihanna

Rihanna

Debby Wong / Shutterstock.com

Love her or hate her, one thing is clear about Rihanna; she’s not scared.

In fact, she’s fierce.

She began life in the Barbados as Robyn Rihanna Fenty, and her throaty Caribbean accented voice and effortless glamour soon earned her the attention of rap star, Jay Z, who signed her to his label.

Stardom immediately followed, and Rihanna took to it like a fish to water.

The singer, whose style sense seems to be in ‘the less is more” category, has been know to leave little to the imagination. The most recent Instagram photos of the “Good Girl Gone Bad” show her unabashedly ‘riding’ rapper Christopher “Young Chris” Reis in the buff on a boat in an undisclosed location, and her followers will attest to the fact that this isn’t the first photo of Rhi-Rhi that doesn’t leave a doubt as to the locations of her tattoos ( all twenty of them). However, she cleans up good, and when she makes appearances in full dress, she can give classic Hollywood a run for the money.

Also, let’s not forget, Rhianna is a femme fatale in every sense of the word. Some of the most powerful men in rap have fought both with her and for her, and that’s diva power, in the classic sense. So, you go, Rhi -Rhi! We’re behind you all the way!

JLo

Ok, so JLo isn’t known by first name only, but you can chalk that one up to a few too many Jennifers cropping up at the same time (Anniston, Garner, Lawrence), however, the public has compensated by morphing Jennifer Lopez’s first and last name together to form the distinctive JLo moniker, thus imbuing her with true diva-like properties.

Sure, she’s come from humble beginnings, but her romantic life has been anything but bland. She’s been married, and divorced, three times, to Ojani Noa, Cris Judd, and Marc Anthony, and romantically linked to Ben Affleck, Sean “P. Diddy” Combs, Casper Smart, and Alex Rodriguez, but who’s keeping track?

She helped make big butts beautiful, made a few movies, had a stint as a judge on American idol, launched her own clothing line, starred in her own TV show, had her own run in Vegas, and gave birth to twins.

In short, when it comes to life, JLo wins. 

Diva? Well, she uses 14K gold moisturizer on her legs, drinks from a crystal covered Starbucks cup, but donated a million dollars to help out her homeland of Puerto Rico.

Diva or not, one thing is clear, this is a lady who calls the shots, and one you don’t want to mess with.

Nicki Minaj

Has Nicki Minaj accomplished enough in her relatively short career to earn a place on the same list as such icons as Cher and Madonna? If the list is comprised of divas, the answer is a resounding ‘yes.’

When it came to staking her claim as one of the most prima of donnas, Nicki Minaj went wasted no time in making it clear that she was no small fish in a big sea. It seemed only moments elapsed between Nicki’s rocket to fame and seven Billboard 100 singles chart, the instant in which she was proclaiming herself a “killer queen’ and waving her pointer in the face of all who dare cross her.

Perhaps, though, it was her stint on American idol that left no doubt about Nicki’s status. Apparently, she thought that the idol bench wasn’t big enough for two booty-licious divas, and made it clear when she asked fellow judge Jennifer Lopez to “Scoot over a little bit.” However, it was her highly publicized clashes with Mariah Carey that brought her the most attention on the show, directing exaggerated eye-rolling gestures to the camera while Carey spoke, and even daring to remind the veteran performer that she “had nothing” on Minaj.

However, despite all her wars of words, it seems Nicki still makes the best use of her mouth when she sings. She’s currently preparing for her next album, and most likely, next incarnation. What will that look like? We can only guess, but we can be sure, whatever Nicki does, it won’t be likely to disappoint.

Elton John

Elton John

Andrea Raffin / Shutterstock.com

“The Bitch Is Back” and we’re sure glad he said it first. The first, and only, male on our list, Elton himself would probably not argue with the diva label, although it should probably come somewhere after “musical genius” on the list of things we can call Elton John; however, since this is a diva centric article, we can focus on the trash, and boy, is there a lot of it.

Elton’s reputation as a diva seems to have stemmed largely from his VH1 Fashion Show performance with Tina Turner. Although the details have been swept under the proverbial rug, it seems clear that Elton gave Tina a somewhat unnecessarily hard time at the rehearsal for their appropriate duet performance of John’s “The Bitch is Back.” If only TMZ had been around back then!

However, more recently, in the age where everything is fair game for the very social media, facts about Elton’s war of words with Madonna are quite open to public scrutiny. John made headlines by saying the other “Queen of Pop” resembled a “fairground stripper,” and wished her luck on her Superbowl performance by advising her to, ” Make sure (to) lip-synch good,” in an interview on Good Morning America.”

Add to that speculations about Elton demanding an extra room for his sunglass collection in Brazil, and demands for four vases containing palm trees, and floral displays containing “absolutely no chrysanthemums, daisies, carnations, of lilies,” in his dressing room, and we can make a pretty solid case for diva-hood. But actually, carnations are kind of tacky, and we can only wish we were spending the night in a hotel room with Elton John’s sunglasses, so who are we to talk?

Looking back on our list, it’s clear that these eight have a lot more tying them together them mere diva dom. They’re all brilliant, creative, tough as nails artists that have worked tooth and nail for every bit of their success and fame, and no one can take that away from them. Divas? Maybe, but there’s little denying that if these people are sitting on the throne today, they more than paid their dues to get there.

AAD

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