NEW YORK (Reuters) - Love her or hate her, Britney Spears fascinated people in 2007 with the disgraced pop princess heading a list of the top 10 searches on Yahoo Inc.
Spears, a former Disney Mouseketeer who turned 26 on Sunday, continued to draw attention as she shaved her head, attacked a photographer’s car with an umbrella, went to rehab, fought with ex-husband Kevin Federline over the custody of their two sons, and released her first album in four years.
“People do not know what to expect from her any more and the searches would spike every time she was back in the news,” Vera Chan, senior editor at Yahoo, told Reuters.
“From when she shaved her head and rumors emerged from the rehab mill that she was calling herself the anti-Christ and shaved 666 on her scalp, there was constant tracking of this almost modern-day Greek tragedy happening in front of us.”
Spears has topped the annual Yahoo list for six of the past seven years, only losing out once — in 2004 — to her friend and fellow party girl Paris Hilton. But Chan said overall the Britney Spears searches were up from a year ago.
Hilton, however, was slipping in the search list until May when she was sentenced to 45 days in jail after violating her probation on a previous traffic offense.
She ended up at No. 3 on the list from No. 5 last year.
“The tolerance for her party behavior was fading but her jail sentence popped her back up to that level of attention,” said Chan, adding that scandals broadened the search of celebrities from young women to older people and both genders.
Actress Lindsay Lohan, who also spent a brief stint in jail for a drunken driving and cocaine-possession, came sixth in the search list, up from No. 10 last year.
“It makes you think that maybe these celebrities have become a morality play .. we look at celebrities because they are escapist fantasies but also a cautionary tale,” said Chan.
The No. 2 search, unchanged from last year, was for WWE, World Wrestling Entertainment, with a lot of interest in the death of professional wrestler Chris Benoit who killed his wife and son then hanged himself and his steroid use.
“WWE is a cultural institution at this point and a lot of the former participants are big stars .. this is like the male soap opera on the Internet,” said Chan.
Naruto, the Japanese manga series, came fourth in the list as animee, a type of Japanese cartoon.
Online gaming took two slots in the list for the first time with the free multi-player game RuneScape played in the fantasy realm of Gielinor at No. 7 and Fantasy Football at No. 8.
But it wasn’t only falling celebrities who won attention.
Singer Beyonce Knowles came fifth in the list, up from No 7. last year, as she continued to build her business empire and singer Fergie came in at No. 9.
Jessica Alba arrived on the list at No. 10, helped by being named magazine FHM’s “2007’s Sexiest Woman in the World.”
Off the list? Jessica Simpson dropped off, as did Pamela Anderson, Shakira and R&B star Chris Brown. American Idol was no longer a top search which Chan attributed to the show concentrating more on celebrities than wannabe stars.