The best part about music is that extraordinary singing talent can come from anywhere around the globe, male or female, young or old.
European singers have particular appeal since their music style and lyrics are often influenced and inspired by various aspects of their respective countries, like culture, politics, or social progress.
In this list, we want to honor 10 of the greatest and most famous European singers to grace the stage in the last few decades, so read on to learn about them. Hopefully, you’ll find a new singer to listen to and enjoy.
1. Elton John
Known for his iconic vocals and stage costumes, London-born Elton John is one of the most successful musical artists ever, with over 300 million records sold worldwide.
His successful, long-term collaboration with lyricist Bernie Taupin, whom he met when they answered an ad for songwriters, has resulted in a number of chart-topping hits like “Rocket Man” and “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” (featuring Kiki Dee).
John has also lent his musical composition skills to films like The Lion King, The Road to El Dorado, and Mona Lisa Smile, and Broadway musicals like Aida and Billy Elliot.
The contributions of Elton John are extensive, and for his works, he was inducted into both the Songwriters and Rock and Roll Halls of Fame. In 1998, Queen Elizabeth II knighted him for his musical services as well.
Johann “Hans” Hölzel—best known as Falco—is currently the best-selling Austrian singer of all time, with over 20 million albums and 40 million singles sold worldwide.
Falco was also known for successfully creating a non-English rap song called “Der Kommissar” in 1981. It was his first #1 single on the Austrian and German charts.
This was not his only hit, however: His single “Rock Me Amadeus” in 1985 reached #1 on the charts of his homeplace and in several countries, including the US, UK, Canada, New Zealand, and Ireland, to name a few. This made him the only artist to score a vocal #1 hit in the US despite his principal language being German.
3. Amy Winehouse
The deep contralto of Londoner Amy Winehouse is unmistakable. Her vocals defined English music for a few years with her blend of soul, jazz, and blues.
The singer-songwriter rose to fame after the critical success of her 2003 debut album, Frank. One of its songs, “Stronger Than Me,” won her the Ivor Novello Award for Best Contemporary Song.
After Frank, her second album, Back to Black, was even more successful, reaching worldwide acclaim. It was nominated for a Grammy Album of the Year but won instead Best Pop Vocal Album.
Sadly, Winehouse’s career was cut short in 2011 after her untimely death. By then, however, her influence had reached so far and wide she was named best singer by several awarding organizations, landing a spot on the list of 100 Greatest Women in Music.
Singer-songwriter Gotye (pronounced “GOT-ee-ay”) is from Bruges, Belgium. Most know him for his one-hit wonder “Somebody that I Used to Know,” which helped him break mainstream success in 2011.
The song reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was one of the bestselling hits of 2012. It also won Gotye five ARIA and three Grammy Awards.
Since then, the singer-songwriter has released three independent studio albums and one remix. Though his work has not charted since the aforementioned song hit the airwaves, Gotye is still actively creating new music, with plans on a fourth album.
5. Enrique Iglesias
From Madrid, Spain, the renowned singer-songwriter heartthrob Enrique Iglesias is credited as one of the leading singers to pave the way for Latin music in the English-language market.
He started his career during the mid-90s with several rock ballads that sold half a million copies in their first week. His first album, eponymously titled, holds the record for having the most #1 hit songs on Billboard’s Hot Latin songs chart.
Iglesias is probably best known in English-speaking countries for his 1999 album Enrique, which included the smash single “Bailamos,” which topped the Billboard Hot 100 and Promusicae charts.
Hailing from Norway, Sigrid has been writing music since she was 16 years old but got her start with the single “Don’t Kill My Vibe” in 2017, which charted in Norway, the UK, and Australia.
She consequently performed at several European music festivals and eventually won the BBC Music Sound of 2018.
In 2019, her debut album Sucker Punch came out to critical and commercial acclaim. That same year, she toured with Maroon 5, headlined a North American and European tour, and was also the support act for George Ezra’s tour.
This helped Sigrid gain quite the following and was soon included on Forbes‘ 2019 “30 Under 30” list. The singer has continued to perform for fundraisers and live music series and released a new album in May 2022.
Related: For more, check out our list of famous Norwegian singers here.
Next up, Dorota Aqualiteja Rabczewska—Doda to us fans—is among the most successful Polish artists ever, known for her music videos and sometimes controversial performances.
Doda had her musical start as a member of the Polish rock band Virgin. When the band separated, she continued a successful career as a solo artist in 2007.
Her first solo album, Diamond Bitch, was highly successful, reaching Platinum status as well as the top spot on the Polish chart. Her other albums fared well, too, as all were within the top five on the charts.
Despite the controversy attached to her name, Doda has been featured on several lists of the most famous Poles in history, including Viva!‘s list of the ten most influential women in Poland in 2011.
Our next singer is the Iceland native known as Björk. The singer—whose sound combines electronic, trip-hop, classical, pop, experimental, and more—has been active since the late 1970s.
She began a solo career after a short stint as the lead singer for the Sugarcubes, with six of her albums and singles (each) reaching #1 on the Iceland charts, with “Oh So Quiet” considered her best hit.
Björk’s work has earned her a number of several accolades over her four-decade-long career, including 15 Grammy nominations and an Order of the Falcon.
9. Natalie Horler
If you’ve ever danced to “Everytime We Touch” or “Evacuate the Dancefloor,” you’ve danced to the pumping voice of Natalie Horler and the rest of the Cascada dance group from Germany.
Although Cascada is considered a music and dance act, most people know them for Horler’s vocals. Not surprisingly, the group earned several accolades and is considered the third-best German music act of the 21st century.
They’ve also covered other artists’ songs, like Savage Garden’s “Truly Madly Deeply” and Avril Lavigne’s “Sk8er Boi,” among others. Their success has continued till today, including representing Germany at the Eurovision Song Contest in 2013.
10. Sinéad O’Connor
Last on our list, we have Irish singer Sinéad O’Connor, whose music reads like an autobiography detailing her views on the world, activism, and mental health struggles.
She achieved international fame with her debut album, The Lion and the Cobra, in 1987, but it was her second album, I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got, that was a smash hit.
I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got contained one of her greatest single, her cover for Prince’s “Nothing Compares 2 U,” which topped global charts in 1990 for four weeks.
The singer considered herself on a spiritual journey and was even ordained as a priest once in her life. She renounced this in 2018 once she converted to Islam, but lucky for her fans, she continues creating music to this day.
Summing Up Our List Of Great European Singers
We cannot possibly name all the great European singers in one list, but we hope we have done justice by discussing a few distinct names.
Each of these singers we have included here is an essential part of music history, and we hope you’ll check out their music. Perhaps you might even find more songs to add to your playlist.
Who have we left off that should be on this list? Let us know, and we’ll add them!