Google on Wednesday provided a look at the "spirit of the times" based on what people sought online using the world's most popular search engine.
"While there are perennial themes - 'what is love?' topped the list in ten countries - it's the unusual and surprising that caught our attention in 2012," Google senior vice president Amit Singhal said in a blog post.
Whitney Houston's unexpected death resulted in information about the singer being the most explored topic globally on the Internet, according to the Google Zeitgeist 2012 report.
The "Gangnam Style" dance by performer PSY of South Korea made him the top query in many countries and second only to Houston globally, according to Google.
PSY's video was also crowned the all-time most-watched clip at Google-owned YouTube.
"PSY's 'Gangnam Style' signature dance took the world by storm," Singhal said.
Hurricane Sandy that devastated a portion of the US East Coast was the third most explored topic on Google, followed by Apple's iPad 3 tablet computer, videogame Diablo 3, and mother-to-be Kate Middleton the Dutchess of Cambridge.
The Summer Olympic Games in London also made it into the Top 10 list of trending search topics for the year.
"Then there was the superhuman," Singhal said of the Zeitgeist report, which was broken down into 838 categories from 55 countries.
"Austrian skydiver Felix Bumgartner's epic freefall jump made him the number six globally trending person of the year."
"The 2012 Olympics and its various athletes made it into almost every country's top trends," he continued. "And NBA player Jeremy Lin also rose on the charts this year, making him the Number One trending athlete globally."
Hot topics research on the Internet included proposed legislation, such as SOPA and ACTA to regulate the Internet, and the fiercely fought US presidential election along with political gaffes.
"We hope you enjoy exploring what people around the world were searching for in 2012," Singhal said of the insights posted online at google.com/zeitgeist/2012.
"It's quite a snapshot of what makes us human: a blend of guilty pleasures and higher pursuits."