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 Inc.'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.
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The No. 3 spot was Hurricane Sandy, the superstorm that lashed the metropolitan New York area in late October. They were followed by Apple Inc.'s iPad 3 and then Activision Blizzard Inc.'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 emailed 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.
As for U.S. stocks, Facebook Inc., the social network that went public in May, was the top-trending search. Zynga Inc., the social-gaming company that's seen its stock fall by more than 70 percent this year, grabbed the No. 2 spot. That was followed by Yelp Inc., the review site, and Samsung Electronics Co.
Apple led in devices among trending tech gadgets in the U.S. Apple's iPad 3 was at the top, followed by iPad Mini. Samsung's Galaxy S3, a smartphone using Google's Android software, was No. 3, and Amazon.com Inc.'s Kindle Fire was No. 4.