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.
5. Miley Cyrus
In 2008, Miley Cyrus was criticized for growing up too fast. From leaked pics to a risqué Vanity Fair spread , it seemed like the teen was in a hurry to make the transition from squeaky-clean Disney star to full-grown woman, and the pundits gave her hell for it (though we placed her fourth on our ’08 Woman of the Year countdown ). In 2009, she weathered much of the same criticisms, but she still managed to make giant strides towards adulthood, thanks mostly to a mega-successful tour, a pair of chart-dominating singles and her much-discussed decision to delete her Twitter account. Cyrus might still just be 17 years old, but she’s established herself as a force to be reckoned with and shows no signs of letting up anytime soon.
2009 Highlights: What wasn’t a highlight for Miley in 2009? She came into the year with a Golden Globe-nominated song and an invite to play one of Barack Obama’s inaugural shows . Her “Hannah Montana” movie bowed at #1 at the box office, pulling in some $34 million, the second-highest grossing Easter-weekend debut in history. Within a few weeks, the soundtrack to the movie would claim the top spot on the Billboard albums chart too.
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She released a string of mega-successful singles, “The Climb” and “Party in the U.S.A.,” which not only dominated the charts but earned her critical praise too. She toured and worked on “The Last Song” — a reportedly “more mature” film that paired her with Liam Hemsworth, with whom she’d soon be romantically linked — and filmed a cameo in “Sex and the City 2.”
But, oh, there were still controversies. In February, she rankled Asian-rights groups when a photo of her and her friends making a so-called “slant-eyed” gesture hit the Net. Cyrus said the picture was “taken out of context,” but eventually apologized for it. Then, in August, she offended parents’ groups with a pole-dance during her performance at the Teen Choice Awards.
In October, Cyrus deleted her famous Twitter account and as fans flooded the site with messages begging her to return, it crashed momentarily. Some said she quit at Hemsworth’s insistence , though she denied it, calling the implication “stupid” and saying Twitter should be “banned from the universe.” Then, in November, she made headlines again when she admitted that contrary to the lyrics of “Party in the U.S.A.,” she’s never heard a Jay-Z song.
But Miley never let any of the controversy derail her, and as 2009 draws to a close, she’s winning raves for her cover of Poison’s “Every Rose Has Its Thorn.” Like we said, she shows no signs of slowing down, and we wouldn’t be willing to bet against her in 2010, either.
Among Cyrus’ other newsworthy moments this year, she feuded with Radiohead and Jamie Foxx . She reunited (in song) with ex-boyfriend Nick Jonas , and tweeted through her breakup with model Justin Gaston . She inadvertently complicated Lil Jon’s life when the rapper somehow acquired her old phone number. She made the brave move of dissing the “Twilight” series . And then she met the Queen of England .
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!