What's wrong with deviantart search?
If I search an arts by popularity - it mixes all arts in random manner.
For example: I choose anime&manga category, popular of all time.
1st art (Akko) has (Views - 55,610 Favourites - 11,395 Comments - 201)
5th art (Fisheye Placebo: Facescreen) has (Views - 264,195 Favourites - 19,743 Comments - 988)
How do you mark it as popular? It's obvious that 5th is more popular than 1st!
My suggestion is to make a "normal" search, which will show really popular arts!
Probably adding this filters will be OK:
- by views
- by favorites
- by downloads
- by comments