Five years ago, Beyonce dropped a surprise that had nothing to do with music—visual album or otherwise. Following a rousing performance of “Love on Top” at the 2011 MTV Video Music Award, where she served up flawless vocals and dance moves, Bey announced to the world that she was pregnant with her and Jay Z’s first child.
It was an innocent time, well before Jay Z, governmentally known as “Sean Carter,” sustained life-threatening injuries due to public dragging. A time when Beyonce was experimenting with the art of surprises and most likely got first acquainted with the phrase, “Life is art.” A time when a pregnancy, not an elevator fight or a rumored infidelity scandal, was the public’s most intimate entree into the life of the Carters. We were lucky to have lived in that moment, and to still be here to re-live it today.
So, let’s take a #lookbackatit.
As ingenious and prolific as Queen Bey is, it’s clear that she’s never been one to exercise subtlety. At the very beginning of her “Love on Top” performance, before the lights are bright enough to show her in full color and not just a silhouette, she commands the audience to stand up: “I want you to feel the love that’s growing inside of me!” Um, okay.
Beyonce shimmies, shakes, and bebops around the stage, not necessarily “dancing” but “moving” with the music in a way that’s unfamiliar, but comfortable. She smiles uncontrollably, as though she’s been charged with “acting normal” to distract a friend when bringing them to their surprise party. In all things she does, Beyonce is exceptional. In this case she’s exceptional at not keeping a secret, even for just 120 seconds.
Throughout the performance, Beyonce struggles to keep her hands away from her abdomen, trying to ensure she doesn’t accidentally draw attention to the bump before her scheduled reveal. This leaves her poor wrist looking limp and slightly atrophied, all in an effort to control her excitement. Luckily, her leg kicks balance out the nervousness of her upper body, maintaining the illusion that all is right in Beyonce’s world, and there are no tricks to be pulled, now or later.
Beyonce’s reveal happens after mere minutes of suspense. The vessel in which your Fave’s Fave, Blue Ivy, was carried, makes her way to the edge of the stage. Beyonce literally drops the microphone, caring not about the expense of the equipment should it break nor the unpleasant sound it makes as it hits the floor. All she cares about is finally exposing the most anticipated baby bump this side of the 21st century.
The audience goes wild while Jay Z is congratulated by his friend, Kanye West. As we know now, Kanye will soon have children of his own, but right now he’s only a father to his own insanity.
We’ve come a long way in these five years, but one question still remains: Could you ever?