No. 5: Britney Spears

2005. 2006. 2007. 2008. After a four-year Britney Spears reign, the King of Pop knocked the pop princess off her Search perch—down into the fifth slot for 2009.

The lower ranking reflects her lower (but calmer) profile. In the last couple of years, the singing sensation has been known as much for her antics—her shaved head, breakups, and boyfriends—as for her music.

But this year the comeback kid got serious—and showed her show-biz stuff. The “Circus” tour has gone global, and breakout hits from the album are topping the charts. The blond bombshell can console herself knowing that now that she’s got her mojo back, No. 5 is really the new No. 1. CZ