Whitney Houston, who died in February, edged past "Gangnam Style," "Hurricane Sandy" and "iPad 3" to top the list of global trending searches in 2012, according to Google's annual review of popular queries.
Houston, famous for such songs as "Greatest Love of All" and "I Will Always Love You," was at the top of the list. Searches for "Gangnam Style," a music video clip by Korean singing artist Psy with a record 930 million YouTube views, came in second. Grabbing the No. 3 spot was "Hurricane Sandy," the storm that lashed the New York area in late October. They were followed by Apple's "iPad 3" and then Activision Blizzard's "Diablo 3" video game.
Google, operator of the world's most-used search engine, has been rolling out its annual year-end "Zeitgeist" reports of top search topics and terms since 2001, offering a snapshot what people, topics or other matters were consuming the attention of online users.
"Zeitgeist means 'the spirit of the times,' and we strive to capture this spirit through exploring the year's new and exciting search terms," Google said in an e-mailed statement.
In the United States, the 2012 presidential election was the third- highest trending search after Whitney Houston and Hurricane Sandy, with "Gangnam Style" slipping to No. 8.
"Trending" searches are queries with the highest amount of traffic over a sustained period in 2012 compared with last year.
Facebook, which surpassed 1 billion users this year, also unveiled its own "Year in Review" on Wednesday, highlighting top topics and trends during 2012.
Within the world's largest social network, the U.S. presidential election was the top event, followed by the Super Bowl and death of Whitney Houston.