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Diva Power Rankings

Sam Stryker | Sunday, February 3, 2013


When Super Bowl organizers selected Beyoncé Knowles to perform at Sunday’s halftime show, they weren’t just selecting one of the top performing artists of all time to entertain millions of viewers around the world.

They were selecting a bona-fide diva.

What does being a diva really mean? Is it defined by dramatic behavior, ridiculous demands and a sense of theatricality? Of course not. 

A diva is the best at what he or she does, and a diva knows it – and demands mere plebeians treat him or her as such. Divadom knows no boundaries – you can be a diva regardless of age, race, gender or sexual orientation. 

But how do the greatest divas of all stack up? In honor of Beyoncé’s Super Bowl performance, here is a power ranking of the greatest global divas.

Beyoncé: Following the backlash she received for lip-synching at this year’s presidential inauguration, Beyoncé belted out the National Anthem live at a Super Bowl press conference to silence all of the critics. After the performance, she sarcastically asked, “Any questions?” 

Everything Beyoncé does screams “diva.” She and husband Jay-Z shelled out more than $1 million to rent a hospital floor for the birth of her daughter Blue Ivy, and they had a team of security guards rivaling the Secret Service on hand to keep the media and fans away. Other patients at the hospital were reportedly not able to access certain areas of the prenatal zone because of security. Nothing says “diva” quite like putting your needs ahead of normal peasant folk.

Oprah: America’s moral arbiter is also one of its biggest divas. She actually retired from her daytime talk show so she could found her own television network – essentially, one show wasn’t enough for Oprah, so she needed an entire channel. She was one of the key boosters who launched Barack Obama to the White House in 2008, and she single-handedly dragged author James Frey onto television to confess he fabricated events in his self-described memoir “A Million Little Pieces.” Lesson learned: Don’t mess with the O. 

Anna Wintour: The Editor-in-Chief at Vogue is notoriously known by nicknames such as “the Editrix” and “Nuclear Wintour.” If you’ve ever seen “The Devil Wears Prada,” rumor has it that Meryl Streep based her performance as Miranda Priestley off of Wintour. Being a diva is all about making outrageous demands, and Wintour has written a $200,000 annual shopping allowance into her Vogue contract. Additionally, Wintour is so powerful in the fashion world that her approval alone is enough to spell success or failure for a designer’s collection. Even Notre Dame is in her debt – Wintour persuaded Brooks Brothers to hire then-unknown Thom Browne, an alumnus of the University who went on to design clothing worn by Michelle Obama at this year’s inauguration.

Anderson Cooper:  Ever since he came out last year, CNN news anchor Anderson Cooper has been a one-man sass machine. This has been especially evident on Twitter, where Cooper has put his verbal putdown skills on display. This was no truer than in the fall, when he was reporting from Gaza. An anonymous tweeter asked what would happen if the Palestinians knew Cooper was gay, to which Anderson responded, “Why not use your name and photo, coward? Have some more Fritos and keep typing.” And when a woman called Cooper’s reporting skills into question, he responded with this gem of a tweet: “Perhaps spend less time tweeting about coconut flan and more time actually following the news.” Face it, Anderson is a #diva.

Hillary Clinton: Hillary is proof that you can grow into your diva status. When she was known as a stiff counterpart to her slick husband during her time as First Lady and then the stodgy counter figure to Barack Obama when she ran for president in 2008, Hillary was the exact opposite of diva. Cut to 2013, and Clinton is the coolest cat in Washington. Whether it’s knocking back beers in Colombia, taking selfies with Meryl Streep or being honored with the “Texts from Hillary” website, Clinton has officially earned her diva title. The only way she can top herself is if she is elected to the White House in 2016 as Diva-in-Chief. 

Mariah Carey: A diva is measured by how large her personality is, and very often that means she does not get along with other grandiose figures. Case in point: Mariah Carey, the queen of the celebrity feud. The list of A-Listers she has gotten into beefs with reads like a who’s-who list of Hollywood stars – Eminem, Nicki Minaj, Whitney Houston and Christina Aguilera. If you’re going to step in the ring with those celebs, you better have some credibility. And Mariah backs up her words with talent and success. She’s won five Grammys, sold more than 200 million records worldwide and has had 18 number-one singles in the United States, the most of any solo female performing artist. 

The Queen of England: Kate Middleton may be the darling of Britain, but let’s be real – the Queen runs the show. For starters, she had James Bond personally deliver her into the Opening Ceremonies of last summer’s London Olympics. In addition to England, Elizabeth II is queen of some pretty prime real estate, namely every tropical island you’ve ever wanted to vacation on – Jamaica, Barbados and the Bahamas, to name a few. The Queen knows she is a powerful, independent woman and best of all, she seems pretty content being the biggest royal diva around for even longer – her reign of 60 years is the second-longest ever for a British monarch.  

Britney Spears: Britney isn’t a diva in the sense that she just has a larger-than-life personality (which she does) but because personality-wise, she can do pretty much whatever she wants and can get away with it. She got paid $15 million for doing one season of “The X-Factor” which literally only requires passing judgment on people’s talent, the perfect job for a diva. When she demanded a raise for a second season and was denied, she didn’t stick around and take a pay cut. She said peace to Simon Cowell and co. because, hey, she’s Britney and she doesn’t need them. Britney gets bonus props for selling more than a billion dollars of fragrances worldwide in the past five years. You can’t just act like a diva – you need to smell like one too.

Prince: Further proof that the diva title knows no gender boundaries, Prince is one demanding cat. Let’s look at his qualifications. First of all, Prince doesn’t play by the rules. In 1993, he changed his name to an unpronounceable symbol and in order to accommodate the switch, his record label had to mail out a massive batch of floppy disks containing custom font. In 2007, Prince performed what many consider to be the best Super Bowl halftime show performance ever in Miami. The weather did not cooperate during the show, but in typical diva fashion, Prince used it to his advantage. In honor of one of his most famous songs, he had stage lights turn the cascading rain around him purple. Best of all, Prince kicked Kim Kardashian off his stage during a concert for not dancing. Spoken like a true diva. 

Elizabeth Taylor: Elizabeth Taylor may have passed away two years ago, but she has earned Diva Hall of Fame status. Let’s look at her qualifications, shall we? Jewelry collection worth a reported $150 million at the time of her death? Check. Eight marriages and seven divorces, including two each to Richard Burton? Check. Two Academy Awards? Check. Essentially, Taylor wrote the textbook on how to be a diva, and everyone has been following in her footsteps since.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer. 

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