SAN FRANCISCO — It took a man-made disaster to topple a celebrity from the top spot on Yahoo Inc.'s annual list of most popular search requests.
BP PLC's massive oil spill in the Gulf Coast drew the most interest among the tens of millions of people that used Yahoo's search engine during 2010. The Internet company released its top 10 rankings Tuesday.
Michael Jackson was Yahoo's most requested subject in 2009, the year that the entertainer's death stunned the world. Britney Spears, another star-crossed singer, held the No. 1 position on Yahoo's search list from 2005 through 2008.
After falling to No. 5 last year, Spears dropped to No. 10 on Yahoo's list this year.
Although Yahoo's search engine is the second most used on the Web, it's not the best barometer of people's online interests. That's because Google fields billions more search requests than Yahoo, Microsoft Corp.'s Bing and AOL Inc. combined.
Bing and AOL released their top searches earlier this week, with reality TV star Kim Kardashian topping Bing's list and golfer Tiger Woods leading the pack of celebrities at AOL. Kardashian came in fourth on Yahoo's list and seventh in AOL's celebrity rankings; Woods was third on Bing and didn't appear among Yahoo's Top 10.
Google doesn't plan to break down its top searches until later in December so it can get an even better handle on what piqued Web surfers' curiosity this year.
As usual, pop culture dominated the rest of Yahoo's Top 10. Other celebrities on Yahoo's list included teen singer and actress Miley Cyrus (No. 3), singer Lady Gaga (No. 5), actress Megan Fox (No. 7), teen heartthrob Justin Bieber (No. 8) and TV's top-rated show, the "American Idol" singing competition (No. 9).
Soccer's World Cup, which drew huge crowds and television audiences in June, grabbed the second spot on Yahoo's list while Apple Inc.'s most hot-selling gadget, the iPhone, came in sixth.