Spears tops Yahoo!'s searches
Of course, a surge in online voyeurs seeking recently posted pictures of Britney sans panties didn't hurt. But a Yahoo! spokeswoman said "Britney" had the title of No. 1 search term sewed up even before the risque photos surfaced.
That's because the pop star generally draws about equal numbers of male and female Internet surfers hungry for all things Britney, Yahoo!'s Cathi Early said.
Following Spears were a couple of newcomers to Yahoo!'s Top 10 list: World Wrestling Entertainment and Shakira.
Early said WWE owes some of its popularity this year to John Cena, the wrestler starring in this year's film "The Marine," distributed by 20th Century Fox.
As for Shakira, Early said, "Unlike Britney, her popularity came from her music."
Rounding out the search terms Top 10 list were -- as is customary -- lots more celebrities: Jessica Simpson, Paris Hilton, "American Idol," Beyonce Knowles, Chris Brown, Pamela Anderson and Lindsay Lohan.
Even when narrowed to the top news stories searched, celebrities took the top two positions, with the deaths of Steve Irwin and Anna Nicole Smith's son coming in first and second, respectively.
The Iraq War took third.
Not that Sony Pictures Entertainment needed more evidence of the popularity of its biggest hit franchise, but Yahoo! said "Spider-Man 3," not even due out until next year, was this year's most-searched movie title.
Rounding out the Top 5 movies were "X-Men: The Last Stand," "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest," "Star Wars" and "Superman Returns."
The Top 5 TV shows were "American Idol," "Lost," "Days of Our Lives," "Family Guy" and "Deal or No Deal."
Celebrity babies were big this year, and none were bigger than, surprise, the daughter of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes. The offspring of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie was second.
Yahoo! included blogs and bloggers as a category for the first time, and PerezHilton.com was tops. The self-proclaimed "Hollywood's most-hated Web site" is all about celebrity gossip, rumor and innuendo.
Other blogs in the Top 10 include Huffington Post, TMZ.com, Daily Kos, Little Green Footballs and Gawker.
The Drudge Report would have beaten them all, Early said, except that "our editors consider Drudge to be too mainstream to be a blogger."
Yahoo! also assembled a list of its most popular online videos, though it's based on Yahoo!'s esoteric "buzz" mathematical formula rather than simple search numbers. Mostly, user-generated videos dominated, though soccer star Zinedine Zidane, TV host Connie Chung and some Nike commercials broke through the clutter.