Top of the Pops: pregnant performers from Björk to Beyoncé

Melanie Blatt, Beyoncé and Mel B
Melanie Blatt, Beyoncé and Mel B

At the 2017 Grammys, Beyoncé took to a global stage and showed the world her new baby bump. The star announced that she was pregnant with twins in February, spreading joy around the internet with an extravagant photoshoot

But it's not the first time that the Love on Top singer performed while with child: she made her first pregnancy public after a rousing performance during the 2011 MTV Awards – and she'd headlined Glastonbury while accompanied by the foetal Blue Ivy Carter just weeks before.

Being Beyoncé, her Grammys performance was a high-production, and headline-grabbing, affair, but Mrs Carter also became the latest star to enter into a tradition of taking to the stage while very visibly pregnant. Here are some of the most memorable showbiz bumps:

Björk

The Icelandic musician has never been one to shy away from the limelight: she famously wore a dress that imitated a dead swan to the Oscars in 2001 and is known for her outlandish and creative stage outfits. However, she caused a media sensation in 1986 after giving a television performance while heavily pregnant. Björk was at the start of her career at the time, and part of avant-garde rock band KUKL (which translates to "witchcraft"). 

When the band performed on Icelandic television, the youthful-looking star caused viewers to reach for their telephones in outrage. As the band's drummer, Sigtryggur “Siggi” Baldursson, told The Guardian in 2015: "The switchboards were on fire. I was at a party at my grandmother’s when it was broadcast and everyone was shocked and disgusted. Björk was 20, but looked about 14. People were going, ‘My God! It’s a pregnant child!’”

In 2002, Björk's second bump made an appearance with far less fanfare in her video for It's In Our Hands

Neneh Cherry

Cherry broke into the pop mainstream after spending the latter part of her adolescence in a squat with members of all-girl punk group The Slits, and her anti-establishment background came to the fore when she became the first artist to perform heavily pregnant on Top of the Pops in 1988.

Cherry was bravely bucking a tradition whereby managers would suggest musicians avoid pregnancy for the sake of their career. As comedian Jenny Eclair told The Independent in 1999: "In the old days, the managers would have made them have abortions. In fact you weren't a genuine pop star until you had at least three abortions behind you". Cherry's new motherhood went beyond Top of the Pops: the photograph taken for the album cover of her debut, Raw Like Sushi, was done when her daughter Tyson was an infant. 

Neneh Cherry's Raw Like Sushi album cover

"Jean-Baptiste Mondino [who shot the picture] had been to my house and saw me breastfeeding and we did the picture like that. Ray Petri used to say I looked like the female Muhammad Ali," Cherry recalled in 2014.

Victoria Beckham and Mel B 

Mel B, appearing on TV while pregnant in 1998

Suspicions were raised that there was definitely something in the water as far as the Spice Girls were concerned in 1998, when both Victoria Adams (Posh Spice, later Beckham) and Mel B (Scary Spice) fell pregnant within two weeks of each other. With both young women unmarried and at the peak of their fame with the leviathan Nineties girl band, the news that half of the group (by this point Geri Halliwell had left) were pregnant gave newspaper columnists enough fodder for weeks. 

The father of Adams' child was David Beckham, who was engaged to the pop star at the time (they married four months after their first child, Brooklyn, was born). Mel B, meanwhile, was pregnant as a result of a whirlwind romance with troublesome dancer Jimmy Gulzar. The pair met, married, welcomed a daughter and divorced in the space of 18 months. 

Both women were in their third trimester during their first tour, and the information wasn't public knowledge. Once it became so, however, it spelled doom for the Spice Girls, whose success had been rocked by the departure of Halliwell. Everybody had an opinion on the women's pregnancies, including Eclair, who commented at the time: "I honestly think this is another phase in the Spice marketing plan. They can see the fans are getting a bit tired of their current image, so why not make them all mumsy?"

Victoria Adams while pregnant in 1998 Credit: REX FEATURES

Her prediction wasn't too far off: Brand Beckham has become a major player in the showbiz industry. Twenty years after getting married, David and Victoria Beckham have four children and the family is estimated to be worth £500 million. 

Melanie Blatt

Melanie Blatt performing while five months pregnant at Party in the Park

If three makes it a trend, then the expanding waistline of All Saints' Melanie Blatt made pop music firmly pregnant in 1998. Blatt's pregnancy also caused pearl-clutching among family campaigners, as the 23-year-old was also unmarried to Stuart Zender, the child's father and bassist in Jamiroquai. 

If the Spice Girls' demise collided with Posh and Scary's bumps, their girl group rivals, All Saints, were firmly in the peak of their success when Blatt fell pregnant. In 1998, the group won two Brit Awards, racked up two chart-topping singles in May alone and achieved platinum sales for their self-titled debut album. It was rounded off in November with an MTV EMA for Best Breakthrough Act – Blatt couldn't collect the prize as she gave birth eight days later. 

Blatt's bump didn't stop her from performing while five months pregnant at Party in the Park, however: her insistence on wearing the All Saints uniform of low-slung trousers and a crop top during the show has gone down in pop fashion history. 

M.I.A

Mathangi Arulpragasam, better known as M.I.A,  has never been one to shy from controversy. In fact, in comparison to her lifting her finger while guest-appearing during the Super Bowl halftime show and making contentious comments about the Black Lives Matter movement, performing at the most prominent music awards show of the year while nine months pregnant seems relatively tame. But that's not to say M.I.A didn't do it with style – and enough of it to totally outshine her on-stage collaborators, T.I., Lil Wayne, Jay-Z and Kanye West

Christina Aguilera

By 2014, when Aguilera performed at the New Orleans Jazz Fest while six months pregnant, the Mickey Mouse Club graduate was used to the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune that fame can supply. This was the woman, after all, that reached the top of the US charts with the lyrics "I'm a genie in a bottle / You've got to rub me the right way" at the tender age of 16.

Fifteen years later and Aguilera was challenging convention at the historic music festival, both by making her debut as a former pop star who could legitimately cover Etta James classics such as At Last and Nina Simone's By My Husband and doing it while with child. 

 

Please review our commenting policy