Most pioneering pop queen: Cher or Diana Ross?
via AP

Most pioneering pop queen: Cher or Diana Ross?

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Cher and Diana Ross paved the way for future women of pop. Diana broke out as the lead singer of Motown's The Supremes in the '60s. In the '70s, Ross launched a solo music and film career, which has spanned nearly 50 years. Cher was, at first, part of the husband-wife duo Sonny & Cher in the '60s, but her solo career really took off after their marriage fell apart in the '70s. Cher re-invented herself again and again in later years, becoming known as the Goddess of Pop. Who's more pioneering? 🎤

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Cher's sexuality, femininity, androgyny, and deep contralto paved the way for more androgynist and female pop stars to come. She won an Oscar for "Moonstruck" in the '80s and scored the biggest hit of her career with "Believe" in the '90s. Her longevity as a pop star is unparalleled. Billboard's Joe Lynch wrote:

Female pioneers are typically under-celebrated when it comes to critical retellings of popular music's history, and Cher -- Billboard's current cover star who will receive the Icon Award at this Sunday's Billboard Music Awards -- is a partial victim of that.
Yes, it seems odd to say anyone as famous as Cher is under-appreciated: the woman has five No. 1 singles on the Billboard Hot 100, an Oscar for best actress and has remained a household name for half a century. Even so, Cher's impact as a musical force is unfairly disregarded or minimized. Part of that is because music history is typically refracted through a male, rock-privileging lens. But it's also a casualty of music fans' obsession with authenticity -- and by her own admission, Cher didn't always exercise creative control over the direction of her music. Sonny Bono and David Geffen steered her toward music she didn't personally care for, and in the latest Billboard, Cher herself speaks dismissively of key hits in her catalog, saying early '70s smashes such as "Gypsys, Tramps and Thieves" and "Half-Breed" didn't fall in line with her "aesthetic taste." 

Diana Ross was one of the first black female pop stars (alongside Dionne Warwick) in the '60s, even while fronting The Supremes. She broke out on her own in the '70s, garnered a string of #1 hits throughout the decade and received an Oscar nod for "Lady Sings the Blues." Diana brought a star power never seen before to crossover popular music. That star power, glamor, and talent paved the way for future pop singers to come. 

You know someone is a pioneer if they're loved by generations of LGBTQ people, women and people of color. Billboard's Da'Shan Smith wrote:

As a large portion of her fan base, the LGBTQ community has considered the legendary diva an OG gay icon for her dynamic personality and inspirational rise to the top. Billboard Pride celebrates The Boss’ latest accolade with six reasons on why she’s earned the title of gay icon. 

Check out "6 Ways Diana Ross Has Earned Her Gay Icon Status."

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