Britney Spears, not President-elect Barack Obama, was the most-searched item on the Yahoo! search engine in 2008.


“The singer’s steep trajectory to redemption restored her to the top of searches,” according to the “2008 Year in Review” section at Yahoo! “Her year began with a police visit, hospital stay, and psych evaluation. She returned under her father’s shelter and, by summer, settled custody with her ex. Professionally, she guested on a sitcom, won thrice at the MTV Video Music Awards, broke records with “Womanizer,” relaunched her site, and released a documentary detailing her fall and comeback … by age 27.”


Last year the pop singer was the most-searched celebrity, while Saddam Hussein was the most-searched news item. In 2006 and 2005, Spears was the top search item overall, just as she is in 2008.


This year, Barack Obama lost even the No. 2 overall search spot to the WWE, or World Wrestling Entertainment.


Obama claimed the third spot.


“His campaign defied political wisdom and made history at every turn,” Yahoo!’s editors explained. “His Web strategy set the groundwork to make him the first wired president and, in an unprecedented Search surge, landed him at No. 3.”


Last year, both Obama and Hillary Clinton made the top 10 in the search for items classified as news.


Rounding out the top 10 in this year’s most-searched items overall were: singer-actress Miley Cyrus at No. 4; RuneScape (a role-playing game) at No. 5; actress Jessica Alba at No. 6; fictional character Naruto at No. 7; actress Lindsay Lohan at No. 8; actress Angelina Jolie at No. 9; and the show “American Idol” at No. 10.


Five of the ten most-searched items in 2008, then, were white women under the age of 34.


Though Obama didn’t take the top search slot, a news item on Yahoo!’s front page about Obama’s electoral win was the most-read article from Yahoo! this year. Other top articles included news about the death of actor Heath Ledger, and various reports about the Beijing Olympics.


No figures or topics known mostly for their religious or spiritual significance made any of Yahoo!’s lists.


Cliff Vaughn is managing editor for

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