Britney Spears Is MTV News’ #6 Woman Of The Year

With her Circus tour, jaw-dropping videos and a new, take-charge attitude, Brit had a very good 2009.

Which stars had the biggest year? All this week, we’ll be unveiling our top nine men and women of 2009, counting down to the #1 man and woman on Friday.

6. Britney Spears

In 2008, Britney Spears placed second on our Woman of the Year countdown , mostly because she managed to keep her career together in the face of bad press , very public meltdowns and a pair of court cases . This year, she made the list for entirely different reasons: Not only did she keep her career on track; she took it to triumphant new heights with a sold-out world tour, record-setting singles and a string of videos that dropped jaws and raised temperatures. Spears did it all in 2009, and she did it her way.

2009 Highlights: After months of hype — and a legal hurdle or two — Britney kicked off her big-budget Circus tour in March, with a triumphant show in her (sorta) hometown of New Orleans. A two-hour, four-act spectacle, featuring scores of dancers (and even more costume changes), a massive stage, pyrotechnic displays that would’ve put Metallica to shame, a martial-arts sequence and a cameo by Perez Hilton, Circus was a gleefully over-the-top show, wowing critics worldwide and proving that Spears was back and better than ever.

The Circus tour was Spears’ most triumphant moment of the year (it didn’t hurt that it ran for nearly all of ’09 ), and its success served as the launching pad for the rest of her comeback. Sultry singles like “If U Seek Amy” (with its censor-tweaking chorus) and “3” (the lone new track from The Singles Collection) were smashes. The latter made Billboard Hot 100 history when it debuted at #1 on the chart (the first time a non-“American Idol” contestant had accomplished the feat in more than a decade).

Perhaps Britney’s biggest accomplishment was that, for the first time in her career, she appeared to be the one calling the shots. She slapped restraining orders on her former self-proclaimed manager, paparazzo ex-boyfriend and attorney, made peace (and agreed on a joint custody deal) with ex-husband Kevin Federline and seemed to have found love with boyfriend/manager Jason Trawick. She was also savvy enough to poke fun at both herself and the public’s perception of her, with high-profile cameos on “The Late Show With David Letterman” and Madonna’s Sticky & Sweet tour .

Among her other newsworthy feats, Britney raged against smokers during her Circus tour stop in Vancouver . She earned seven nominations at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards , including a Video of the Year nod for “Womanizer,” and flirted telepathically with VMA host Russell Brand . Her music inspired director Quentin Tarantino during the filming of his “Inglourious Basterds.” And she even launched her very own iPhone app , complete with “sparkler feature.”

Which stars had the biggest 2009? Over the next week, we’ll be unveiling our top nine most newsworthy, controversial and fascinating men and women of the year. We based our list on factors like music sales, box-office performance, MTVNews.com headlines and traffic, overall reach (crossover singles, appearances in movies, licensing of songs for commercials, clothing lines, etc.), plus X-factors like “impact” and “buzz.” (And no, President Barack Obama didn’t make the list — we’ll leave that to the folks at Time.) This is by no means an exact science, but we think the list we’ve put together represents the men and women who helped make 2009 the most exciting and memorable 12 months in recent history.

We’ll be rolling out our list of the Top 9 Men and Women of 2009 two per day until Friday, when we unveil MTV News’ Man and Woman of the year! As always, we also want to know what you think, so weigh in with comments below, or upload them to Your.MTV.com!