How could Beyoncé's life get any better? Her long, well-respected career is still hot. She's universally regarded as a classy lady. And of course, she's one half of the most powerful power-couple on the planet. But this past year, she added a couple important items to her "plus" column: Her fourth solo album opened the door to her closely-guarded private life, and she welcomed a bundle of joy in the form of Blue Ivy.
Proving some well deserved time off
won't hurt her career, Beyoncé reaffirmed her status as one of pop's most incredible live acts by returning to the spotlight with the promise of a new album and a few history-making performances in her back pocket. Her gig at 2011's Glastonbury Festival
revealed new material and a Prince cover we only dream of replicating in the shower. Bey was the first woman to headline the event in its 30-year history, and she was so good, they had to shut the festival down
a year later.
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Beyoncé's most recent album, 2011's 4
, proved to be her most personal yet, shedding the intimidating skin of Sasha Fierce to reveal an emotional collection of power ballads about her own experience being a woman in love.
Birthing her fourth studio album wasn't enough, though. Beyoncé delivered a big, healthy baby bump at the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards
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The attention lavished on Bey, Jay and the future baby Carter-Knowles wasn't always positive, as conspiracy theorists and the rare hater spent countless hours analyzing everything from entrance angles and fabric choices
to find something wrong with her story. No woman can be that perfect AND carry her own child at the same time, can she?
Bey attempted to take the attention off her pregnancy by releasing a stockpile of amazing 4
videos filmed before her fluctuating belly size could ruin the flawless choreography we've come to expect from her. But "Countdown," the album's best and most ambitious visual, was put together in September, when Bey was roughly six months pregnant
, proudly showing how she and Jay managed to make her song lyrics eerily prophetic.
Enter Blue Ivy—yes, Blue—the First Daughter to pop's First Couple, who was welcomed into the world on January 7, 2012
, quickly earning the title of coolest child on the planet, not to mention a steady arsenal of questions about her unique moniker.
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Even as she adjusted to motherhood, Beyoncé got political in the election year. After singing for the Obamas, Bey has dedicated time to working on behalf of children everywhere, teaming up with Michelle Obama's Let's Move campaign—a mutually beneficial relationship that results in video love letters we can all enjoy.
And motherhood hasn't stopped her from performing: Beyoncé made a triumphant return to the stage
in May. She called her four-night stint at the Revel Resort in Atlantic City her "Back to Business" tour. She told those in attendance it took a lot treadmill runs and lettuce to lose her pregnancy weight before the show, but many will agree she looked and performed better than ever before.
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Even her hubby, a frustratingly infrequent Twitter user, couldn't resist bragging about his wife's skills.
Meanwhile, Bey diversifying her Hollywood career, too, taking on a voice role in the upcoming Epic
(alongside family friend Aziz Ansari
) in addition to her leading role in Clint Eastwood's A Star is Born
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With reports of a new album
and directing credit for a planned documentary
, Beyoncé's coming year looks jam-packed. Bey strolling down New York streets with her beautiful one wrapped in swaddling clothes
already seems like a faint memory. We've yet to see how the Blue Ivy will impact mom's songwriting, but we're guessing she'll need to hire a good nanny or three before she can find out. We're available!PreviousNext