That Happened This Year? Jennifer Lopez Joins the Judges Table On ‘American Idol,’ Reinvigorating Her Career

Welcome to “That Happened THIS Year,” MTV News’ look back at the huge entertainment stories that were absolutely everywhere for a hot minute in 2011 but feel like they happened forever ago or faded so quickly from our collective memories that when we were brainstorming the year that was, we literally couldn’t believe they happened this year!

Even the idea that Jennifer Lopez‘s career comeback began less than a year ago seems to defy physics. Did she somehow interrupt the space-time continuum in an effort to alter the very nature of time, where one year seems like three or four, to fool us into thinking she never really went anywhere?

For all intents and purposes, La Lopez’s return to the top began on January 19, 2011 (we can’t believe it either), when the tenth season of “American Idol” premiered on FOX. And in one fell swoop, nearly six years of box office flops and album misfires were erased and Lopez was suddenly everywhere again!

In the spring, Lopez’s single “On the Floor” debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart at number nine (the highest debut of her career) and went on to peak at No. 3. It marked her first top ten hit since 2003′s “All I Have.” With about 445 million views on YouTube, the video for “On the Floor” eclipsed Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” in November to become the most watched video by a female artist ever on the video-watching website. (Justin Bieber’s “Baby” remains the YouTube champion by a substantial margin with nearly 675 million views.)

She was even chosen for the cover of Glamour magazine’s Women of the Year issue.

And that’s far from all.

With Lopez seated behind the “Idol” judges table, the juggernaut show posted its first season-over-season ratings gain since 2007. Her album Love? was released in April and debuted at No. 5, her highest position on the US album chart since 2005. Even film roles are starting to crop up again; this year, Lopez filmed two movies, director Taylor Hackford’s (“Ray”) thriller “Parker” opposite Jason Statham and Clifton Collins Jr. and “What to Expect When You’re Expecting,” an ensemble comedy in the vein of “He’s Just Not That Into You” and “Valentine’s Day” (both of which were box office hits) co-starring, ahem, Cameron Diaz, Elizabeth Banks, Matthew Morrison, Chase Crawford, Chris Rock, Anna Kendrick and many more, and voiced a character for the sure-to-be-huge fourth “Ice Age” film.

Then there are her myriad endorsement deals. She earns millions for her appearances in commercials and print advertisements for companies as varied as Gillette, L’Oreal and Fiat. She also has her own clothing line at Kohl’s and a Spanish-language reality show, “¡Q’Viva! The Chosen,” with Marc Anthony.

Speaking of Anthony, he and Lopez divorced in 2011 (an event that itself seems like it happened forever ago), causing a media stir that continues to this very moment as the tabloids breathlessly catalogue Lopez’s exploits with her new boyfriend, backup dancer Casper Smart.

So all that went down in the last 12 months. No, we can’t believe it either.

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Can you believe the J.Lo renaissance happened THIS year? Sound off in the comments.