Like you, we’re pop-culture obsessives.
That’s why from stars revealing baby bumps on live TV to the end (or near-end) of two of the most monumental movie franchises in recent memory and the deaths of a pair of the aughts’ quirkiest, most singular personalities, MTV News brought you everything you needed to know about the bold-faced names that mattered to you most in 2011.
We looked back at the many big stories of the year and came up with a list of our Top 10 Newsmakers of 2011:
10. Amy Winehouse’s Death
At age 27, British soul belter Amy Winehouse was found dead in her London apartment on July 23. The “Rehab” singer had lived a life on the edge, with multiple arrests and stints in detox, and while we were pulling for her, the news of her death from alcohol intoxication was a gut punch. As MTV readers flooded us with remembrances of her sultry voice and no-B.S. persona, everyone from Katy Perry and Rihanna to Nicki Minaj shared their love, fellow musicians paid tribute at the VMAs and I recalled the first time I saw her perform in the U.S. and how the pain in her songs set the stage for such confessional singers as her friend Adele .
9. Beyoncé’s Pregnancy Reveal
One of the beauties of working here is that even we don’t always know what’s going to happen on our own shows. That’s why we all had to pick our jaws up off the floor when we saw Beyoncé pat her belly on the red carpet at the VMAs. We had already chronicled her smash comeback from a brief hiatus with 4 and breathlessly awaited her return to the VMAs, but when she hit that stage and confirmed the news ? After years of bugging her to talk about if she wanted to be a mom someday, we had to remind ourselves to do our jobs while shaking our heads at the über-diva way she revealed her big news.
8. Harry Potter Hangs Up His Wand
When the onscreen “Harry Potter” saga came to a close with “Deathly Hallows, Part 2,” we said goodbye to the fictional family that had come to define many a childhood over the past decade-plus. We wept alongside you as we bid farewell to Harry, Hermione, Ron and the gang, all the while dissecting every frame of the most successful movie franchise in history and tapping into the conflicted feelings the cast had about ending this amazing chapter in their professional and personal lives. But hey, we also gave you the “Harry Potter” World Cup , so that was something, right?
7. “Jackass” Star Ryan Dunn’s Death
No story hit as close to home in 2011 as the high-speed-crash death of “Jackass” star Ryan Dunn . Part of the MTV family, Dunn’s energy and wild-boy nature lit up the screen as he doubled us over taking on insane stunts none of his pals were willing to tackle. Your notes of condolence and sadness flooded in, and like most of us, though you didn’t know him personally, you felt like you’d lost a friend.
6. Nicki Minaj’s Breakthrough Year
You love Nicki Minaj for the same reason we do: There’s no way to know which Nicki you’re going to get next. The baddest female rapper in the business changes her look and vocal style almost as often as her eye-popping outfits. She’s often the best thing on the songs she’s featured on, she blew minds with her #1 album, Pink Friday, and was handpicked by Britney Spears as the opening act on the Femme Fatale Tour . We weren’t the only ones who noticed her high-energy Technicolor wonder either, as she wrapped up the year with a Best New Artist Grammy nod and a cameo session for Madonna’s next album .
5. Justin Bieber’s Wild Ride
It should come as no surprise that Justin Bieber is #5 on our list. Bieber blanketed the planet in 2011, drawing props from such unlikely peers as Tyler, the Creator , Jimmy Fallon and Drake while tirelessly promoting his music, books, movies and Bieber brand. The 17-year-old went through all the stations of the pop-idol cross this year: sold-out concerts and #1 albums, a public affair with a fellow pop star (Selena Gomez), mall stampedes, movie plans, paparazzi drama, the obligatory doll and Christmas album, TV cameos, a paternity suit and way, way too much talk about his hair. The more we dug in, the more you wanted to know and the more red-hot the hype machine got for the YouTube-bred sensation.
4. Britney Spears Turns 30
One of MTV’s most iconic video stars, Britney Spears, recaptured our imagination by basically acting like a silent screen diva. Yes, Britney toured the world in support of the electro-fied Femme Fatale and gave her fans plenty of video goodness to chew on. But after several years of personal struggles and a life lived in the too-intense spotlight, Spears made us love her even more this year by not sharing all the details of her offstage life. You scratched for every bit of information about her next single, her stage show and her kids and listened intently as other stars opened up about their love of the pop princess. As if to prove how much she means to us, when we asked you to name her top 30 videos in honor of Brit’s 30th birthday , you inundated us with choices and then argued amongst yourselves (and with us) about the results.
3. Lil Wayne’s Post-Prison Takeover
Lil Wayne had a lot of catching up to do this year after spending most of 2010 behind bars. He did his best to make up for lost time, touring like a maniac , finally releasing the long-anticipated Tha Carter IV, hooking up with everyone from DJ Khaled and Enrique Iglesias to B.o.B and Drake, all while dropping mixtapes, playing “Unplugged” and prepping a pair of sequels to his recent Rebirth and I Am Not a Human Being albums.
2. “Breaking Dawn, Part 1” Arrives
The second-to-last episode in the vamps-and-werewolves series was picked apart like a Thanksgiving turkey, with our experts delving into every scene in the trailer , every morsel of pre-release information on the now-famous wedding and birth scenes, the box-office records it smashed and each note of the soundtrack . Even with bloodsuckers, faeries, shape-shifters and zombies crawling out of every nook and cranny in Hollywood, the tale of Edward and Bella endured.
1. Lady Gaga Starts a Movement
And wouldn’t you know it? At the very top of the list is the woman whose meteoric rise to pop superstardom has packed a career’s worth of highlights and creative peaks into just a few years. If it felt like Lady Gaga was everywhere you looked over the past 12 months, that’s probably because she kind of was. She visited the White House to talk anti-bullying, continued to push the boundaries of fashion and rose to the top of the social-media heap as her Little Monsters made her the most-followed woman on the Net. The year began with the release of the all-inclusive title track from her smash Born this Way album, included some of the most outrageous red-carpet arrivals and TV appearances in history and the release of a string of high-concept videos. Together, we hung on her every move, from the release of lyrical snippets, to cover art and the slow leak of details about her personal life . We can’t take our eyes off her because she won’t let us, and in the process, she’s remaking the very idea of stardom and its limits.
MTV continues our Best of 2011 coverage by looking back at the biggest pop-culture stories of the year. As we count down the newsmakers that mattered to you most, also check out our Best Artists , Best Songs , Best MTV Live Performances and Best EDM Artists of 2011.