Her first ever recorded song was “Ganraj Rangi Nachato” which is a cover version of a Marathi song originally sung by Lata Mangeshkar. Her first studio album was Bendhechhi Beena, which was released on 1 January 1998, with 14 tracks. Some of her earlier albums are O Tota Pakhi Re, Ekti Katha (1999), and Mukhor Porag (2000). Ghoshal recorded Bengali studio album Rupasi Raate (2002). Ghoshal recorded devotional songs in albums like Banomali Re (2002), and later, Krishna Bina Ache Ke (2007).
Shreya Ghoshal career, 2008–14
After singing for films such as U Me Aur Hum, Sirf, Ghatothkach, Dashavatar, Mere Baap Pehle Aap, De Taali, Haal-e-Dil, Thoda Pyaar Thoda Magic and Kismat Konnection, Ghoshal recorded another hit song for Singh Is Kinng (2008), titled “Teri Ore”, composed by Pritam Chakraborty. It received mixed reviews from music critics. The song earned her a fourth Filmfare Award for Best Female Playback Singer and overall fifth Filmfare Award. After that, she lent her voice for films like Bachna Ae Haseeno, God Tussi Great Ho, Welcome to Sajjanpur, Kidnap, Karzzzz, Ek Vivaah… Aisa Bhi, Dostana, Yuvvraaj and others. She won her fourth National award for singing “Pherari Mon” for the Bengali film Antaheen (2008), and “Jeev Rangla” for the Marathi film Jogwa (2008).
She debuted in the Tamil cinema through the song “Yen Chellam” in Vasanthabalan’s film Album (2002), and she received success after singing “Munbe Vaa” from Sillunu Oru Kaadhal under composer A. R. Rahman. She received her first Tamil Nadu State Film Award. She made her Telugu debut for music director Mani Sharma in Okkadu (2003). She made her debut in Kannada cinema with the song “Krishna nee begane baaro” in the movie Paris Pranaya (2003). Ghoshal debuted in Malayalam cinema through a studio album of composer Alphons Joseph and later gave voice to his song “Vida Parayukayano” from Big B (2007). In 2010, Ghoshal sang for the English independent film When Harry Tries to Marry. In the same year, Ghoshal rendered her voice for a song “Aadha Ishq” from film Band Baaja Baaraat which composed by Salim-Sulaiman. Satyajit of Glamsham stated, “Shreya Ghoshal’s feminine vocal textures have always been reliable in ballads”.
In 2011, Ghoshal recorded hit duet song “Saibo” in film Shor in the City with Tochi Raina, a composition by Sachin-Jigar. Satyajit from Glamsham reported, “Sweetly toned and mesmerized with mellifluous flows of Shreya Ghoshal singing, the first outing “Saibo” is a smoothening surprise that extols the feel of romanticism to perfection”. Later that year, Ghoshal sang the duet “Teri Meri” in film Bodyguard with Rahat Fateh Ali Khan. A Himesh Reshamiya composition, the song received positive to mixed reviews. NDTV labelled the song as “moderately paced and average”. Ghoshal later collaborated with Bappi Lahiri in the duet “Ooh La La” from film The Dirty Picture. Abid from Glamsham stated that Shreya Ghoshal manage to keep up the fun tempo with an improvised and highly entertaining and excellent renditions. Ghoshal received further two nominations that year at Filmfare Awards for songs “Saibo” and “Teri Meri.
In 2012, Ghoshal rendered her voice for popular item song, “Chikni Chameli” from film Agneepath. The song was composed by Ajay-Atul and was a remake of their own Marathi song “Kombdi Palali” from film Jatra. Joginder Tuteja of Bollywood Hungama stated, “A special word for Shreya Ghoshal too who changes her singing style in a big way and comes up trumps. She gets the kind of rustic flavour that was the need of the hour and is superb in her rendition.” Ghoshal received her one of the two Filmfare nominations of the year for the song. Later, she revealed that she “wasn’t very comfortable” singing the song because of its vulgar lyrics and requested the makers to change few words in it. The same year, she performed four songs, all composed by Sajid–Wajid for film Rowdy Rathore which received mixed reviews from critics. For the duet song “Dhadang Dhang Dhang” performed by Ghoshal alongside Sajid, Devesh Sharma of Filmfare remarked, “Shreya Ghoshal puts the ’90s ka tadka’ in her rendition” and for lullaby song “Chandaniya” he said, “Shreya Ghoshal sounds uncannily like Alka Yagnik and proves that she is a singer for all occasions”. Joginder Tuteja from Bollywood Hungama stated in relation to “Chandaniya”, “Shreya Ghoshal can fit into any mode as per the demand of the situation”. The song “Tera Ishq Bada Teekha” received mixed reviews from music critics. Ghoshal then lent her voice in a Four-part harmony song, “Radha” from Student of the Year alongside Udit Narayan, Vishal Dadlani and Shekhar Ravjiani which garnered critical appreciation. In the same year, she again collaborated with A.R. Rahman for a duet song “Saans” from film Jab Tak Hai Jaan along with Mohit Chauhan. The song received positive to mixed reviews by critics. At the poll conducted by Indiatimes, the song Saans won the title of “Most Romantic Song of the year 2012”. The song earned Ghoshal second of her two Filmfare nominations of the year.
In early 2013, Ghoshal sang two duet songs “Naino Mein Sapna” and “Taki O Taki” for film Himmatwala. The songs were originally composed by Bappi Lahri and re-created by Sajid–Wajid. Both songs received positive reviews from music critics. For “Naino Mein Sapna”, critics of NDTV mentioned, “Ghoshal sounds tailormade for the track” and for “Taki Taki” they remarked, “Ghoshal proves yet again her mettle in the industry”. For “Naino Mein Sapna”, Shivi from Komoi stated, “Shreya Ghoshal replace Lata Mangeshkar and do a decent job”. Ghoshal sang the female version of Sunn Raha Hai in Aashiqui 2 composed by Ankit Tiwari and written by Sandeep Nath. She garnered critical praise over Ankit Tiwari who sang the male version of the song. Apart from rendering vocals for A.R. Rahman composed “Banarasiya” in Raanjhanaa, Ghoshal lent her voice for duet “God, Allah aur Bhagwan” in Krrish 3 alongside Sonu Nigam. Though the former song was met with largely positive reviews, the latter was poorly received. Ghoshal next performed two tracks in Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela namely “Dhoop” and “Nagada Sang Dhol” both composed by the director of film, Sanjay Leela Bhansali. She earned positive to mixed response for former and mostly positive reviews for the latter. Mohar Basu of Koimoi stated in regards to “Dhoop”, “Shreya Ghoshal’s voice croons hauntingly and this song evokes a range of deep emotions. Passionately sung and flatteringly themed, this song makes evident the reason why Ghoshal can be compared to music veterans of the industry.” Ghoshal received two Filmfare nominations for songs “Sunn Raha Hai” and “Nagada Sang Dhol” that year.
In 2014, Ghoshal recorded three songs for film PK namely the solo “Nanga Punga Dost” and duets “Chaar Kadam” and “Love is a Waste of Time” with Shaan and Sonu Nigam respectively. Later in the same year, she sang the duet “Manwa Laage” with Arijit Singh for film Happy New Year composed by Vishal-Shekhar duo and written by Irshad Kamil. After its release, “Manwa Laage” crossed two millions views in 48 hours on YouTube worldwide. Ghoshal got another nomination at Filmfare Awards for the song.