There's no denying the U.S. music industry is difficult to break into. Typically, extreme international fervor over an act translates into stateside success (e.g. Beatlemania, the late '90s Latin explosion, One Direction), but sometimes an artist just never clicks with American audiences.
From pop goddesses to metal rockers, here are six artists who boast incredible musical achievements in seemingly every country except the United States.
With more than 25 years in the biz and over 70 million records sold, Australian pop diva Kylie Minogue certainly isn't unknown in America—remember "Locomotion"?—but she's on Madonna's levels in most other countries.
A fellow style chameleon, the 45-year-old has racked up multiple No. 1s in Australia, Europe, Africa, Asia and South America, and her last world tour hit everywhere from Mexico to Indonesia to South Africa.
While her 2001 album Fever earned platinum certification in the U.S. thanks to her Top 5 single "Can't Get You Outta My Head," Kylie doesn't seem to sweat major stateside recognition. She told Billboard of her just-released Kiss Me Once LP, "I'm always asked, 'Is this the album that's gonna work over there?' I don't know. I can only make the album that feels right for me." You do you, Kylie!
The best way to think of British pop singer Robbie Williams is as the Justin Timberlake that never broke America. The 40-year-old started as a part of '90s English pop group Take That before launching a super-successful solo career. His albums have gone No. 1 in countries in Europe, Australia, South America and North America, while his last world tour hit every continent.
On that 2006 tour, Williams landed in the Guinness Book of World Records when 1.6 million of the concert tickets sold out in one day. Guess who he stole the previous record from? 'N Sync's No Strings Attached tour in 2000. Sorry, Justin...
You'd be hard pressed to find an Indian musician who's received as much worldly acclaim as the 41-year-old producer/rapper. In his 20-plus-year career, Panjabi MC (real name Rajinder Singh Rai) has taken his mix of bhangra and hip hop to earn recognition at the World Music Awards, MTV Europe Music Awards, MOBO Awards, UK Asian Music Awards and Punjabi Music Awards.
America—and its award shows—continues to sleep on him.
With two decades in the business and more than 45 million albums sold, Italian-pop singer/songwriter Laura Pausini has a career to rival America's biggest pop divas. Her albums have shaken up the charts in Europe, South America, North America and Asia, but she hasn't even been able to crack the Billboard 200 yet. Meanwhile, her Greatest Hits World Tour hit everywhere including Europe, South America, Australia and North America, but made just four U.S. stops, all in major cities.
German rock band Scorpions made a small dent on U.S. charts in the late '80s/early '90s, but most Americans would hardly put them in the same category as Motley Crue, Nirvana or Green Day. But with 75 million records sold, the hard rock outfit is one of the world's best-selling bands. And there's still major love for the band around the globe: Scorpions' Get Your Sting and Blackout World Tour performed on every continent, even hitting countries like Lebanon, Bahrain, Thailand and Morocco.
English classical singer Sarah Brightman is known as The Phantom of the Opera's original female lead, lending her voice to the soundtrack that sold 40 million albums around the world.
Brightman is also the first artist to perform at the Olympic Games twice. At the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games, she sang with Spanish singer Jose Carreras to an estimated global audience of a billion people. And 16 years later in Beijing, she performed with Chinese singer Liu Huan to an estimated four billion people worldwide. If that doesn't get you on a first-name basis with America... what does?