LOS ANGELES (TheBlaze/AP) -- It's that time again when year-end lists of everything from tweets to inventions circulate, giving a picture of what mattered most in various markets throughout 2012. But what do the collective searches on the world's most popular search engine -- Google -- say about the year?
The world's attention wavered between the tragic and the silly in 2012, and along the way, Web surfers searched in huge numbers to find out about a royal princess, the latest iPad and a record-breaking skydiver.
Whitney Houston was the "top trending" search of the year, according to Google Inc.'s year-end "zeitgeist" report. Google's 12th annual roundup is "an in-depth look at the spirit of the times as seen through the billions of searches on Google over the past year," the company said in a blog post Wednesday.
People around the globe searched en masse for news about Houston's accidental drowning in a bathtub just before she was to perform at a pre-Grammy Awards party in February.
Google defines topics as "trending" when they garner a high amount of traffic over a sustained period of time. Watch this video of Zeitgeist's year in review:
Korean rapper PSY's "Gangnam Style" music video trotted into second spot, a testament to his self-deprecating giddy-up dance move. The video is approaching a billion views on YouTube.
Superstorm Sandy, the damaging storm that knocked out power and flooded parts of the East Coast in the midst of a U.S. presidential campaign, was third.
Here's a look at the full top searches list:
(Photo: AP/Joel Ryan, File)
(Photo: AP/Yonhap, Bae Jung-hyun)
Waves crash onto the sea wall protecting homes in Longport, N.J., on Oct. 28. (Photo: AP/Joseph Kaczmarek)
Customers wait for an Apple store to open where the new "iPad mini". (Photo: PETER PARKS/AFP/Getty Images)
Diablo III is a video game. (Image: Wikimedia)
Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, recently announced she was pregnant. (Photo: AP/Arthur Edwards, Pool)
Opening Ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. (Photo: AP/Morry Gash, Pool, File)
A young girl holds a pink candle during a memorial honoring teen Amanda Todd in Maple Ridge, B.C., Monday, Oct. 15. Todd who was a victim of bullying took her own life. (Photo: AP/The Canadian Press, Jonathan Hayward)
Actor Michael Clarke Duncan, who died this year, pictured with his fiance Omarosa Manigault-Stallworth in Feb. 2012. (Photo: David Livingston/Getty Images)
- BBB12 (Big Brother Brazil 2012)
But search isn't the only trending topics curated in the Zeitgeist list. It covers these categories as well:
Some trending people, according to Google, were:
- Felix Baumgartner, an Austrian skydiver who became the first to break the sound barrier without a vehicle with a 24-mile plummet from Earth's stratosphere;
- Jeremy Lin, the undrafted NBA star who exploded off the New York Knicks bench and sparked a wave of "Linsanity";
- Morgan Freeman, the actor whose untimely death turned out not to be true.
The Internet also continued its rise as a popular tool for spreading addictive ideas and phrases known as "memes." Remember LOL? If you don't know what it means by now, someone may "Laugh Out Loud" at you.
This year, Facebook said its top memes included "TBH (To Be Honest)," `'YOLO (You Only Live Once)," `'SMH (Shake My Head)." Thanks to an endlessly fascinating U.S. presidential campaign, "Big Bird" made the list after Republican candidate Mitt Romney said he might consider cutting some funds for public broadcasting.
Yahoo said its own top-searched memes for the year included "Kony 2012," a reference to the short film and campaign against Ugandan militia leader Joseph Kony; "stingray photobomb" for an unusual vacation snapshot that went viral; and "binders full of women," another nod to Romney for his awkward description of his search for women cabinet members as Massachusetts' governor.
And people were happy to pass on popular Twitter posts by retweeting them. According to Twitter, the year's most popular retweets were President Barack Obama's "Four more years," and Justin Bieber's farewell to six-year-old fan Avalanna Routh, who died of a rare form of brain cancer: "RIP Avalanna. i love you".