Google's Zeitgeist Report is Here: The All-Seeing Eye Takes a Long, Hard Look Into Britain's Soul

By Chris Mills on at

Like a mum trawling through her teenage son's internet history, there's nothing more revealing than peeking under Google's covers at what Britain's been searching for this year. 2012's been eventful, for sure; but what tops the list of fastest-rising search terms? The Olympics? Diamond Jubilee? Why is Apple Maps so terrible? Ah, you wish.

The fastest-rising search term of 2012 is...drumroll please..."Euro 2012", showing that what Britain lacks in imagination, it maintains in dedication to watching our footie team fail, over and over. Unsurprisingly, "OIympic tickets" were number two, which is positive -- if we're gonna spend all our time as a nation watching sports, at least let's bother to go watch them in person. The rest of the list is a mix of celebrities, music and a few bits of tech; perhaps the oddest appearance is "Natwest online" -- maybe they need to work on their internet banking site?

Tech has a reassuringly strong showing in the top terms, with iPad 3 (NO! DON'T CALL IT THAT! IT'S THE NEW iPAD YOU MORONS) clocking up a healthy 8th position. Netflix has also seemed to land in the UK with something of a splash, racing all the way up to 6th. Sorry Amazon, Lovefilm doesn't even merit a mention.

The Zeitgeist report (which doesn't measure most-searched-for terms, by the way; it ranks terms based on how quickly they grow -- it's a more effective measure of popularity, otherwise the list would be filled with "How do I make money?") doesn't just reveal the overall popular searches though; no, it delves deep into our twisted and sordid minds, revealing our top musicians, favourite celebrities, and all the things we ask Google for help with. Top of the "how tos" this year was "drawing" (maybe due to that two weeks when everyone was obsessed with Draw Something?); "crochet" and "knit" also showed up, revealing a bizarre (but encouraging) trend towards the arts and crafts. Maybe we'll even be able to kick-start the UK economy with a grass-roots knitting industry.

An economic knitting resurgence is more likely than some kind of nation of super-sportsmen, anyway. In a year that's been really quite awesome for British sport (we won the world shin-kicking contest again this year, didn't you hear?), what, dear readers, do you think came top? Olympics? Euro 2012? Tour de France? No, it was synchronised swimming -- probably through searches on Google Images, you nation of dirty bastards. Second was murderball (and I don't even know what that is); the 100 metre sprint was all the way down in 6th -- though why anyone would need to Google "100-metre-sprint" to find out what sort of sport it is, is beyond me.

Still, it's not all doom and gloom. Overall, the X Factor's dropped off the list (thank god), with its only entry in the musician's field being X Factor drop-out Lucy Spraggan. 3G featuring in the "what is" results is also encouraging, showing that maybe people are starting to wonder about the wizadry crammed inside their handsets (even if people are about 10 years behind the curve here). Justin Bieber's also not anywhere to be seen -- looks like we've rid our fair shores of the dwarfish Canadian brat, for now at least. And the number one song? Of course, it's everyone's favourite panto-horse-riding K-Pop special, Gangnam Style.

And look at it this way -- last year, the top of the films was Breaking Dawn, top of the TV was X Factor, and the top celebrity was Kim bloody Kardashian (and a year on, I still haven't worked out what exactly she does). This time around, the film's Skyfall, the TV is Mike the Knight, and the celeb is Whitney Houston. So are we better off in 2012 than 2011? Hell yeah. Full list's below for your viewing pleasure. [Google via TechRadar]

Trending Searches 2012

1. Euro 2012
2. Olympic tickets
3. Whitney Houston
4. Kate Middleton
5. April Jones
6. Netflix
7. Natwest online
8. iPad 3
9. Gary Barlow
10. Gangnam Style

Trending People

1. Whitney Houston
2. Kate Middleton
3. Gary Barlow
4. Tulisa
5. Jessica Ennis
6. Fabrice Muamba
7. Michael Clarke Duncan
8. Morgan Freeman
9. Prince Harry
10. Usain Bolt

British Olympians

1. Andy Murray
2. Tom Daley
3. Jessica Ennis
4. Mo Farah
5. Victoria Pendleton
6. Bradley Wiggins
7. Chris Hoy
8. Rebecca Adlington
9. Laura Trott
10. Louis Smith

Global Olympians

1. Usain Bolt
2. Michael Phelps
3. Roger Federer
4. Yohan Blake
5. Ryan Lochte
6. Venus Williams
7. Rafael Nadal
8. Novak Djokovic
9. Tyson Gay
10. Missy Franklin

Trending TV Shows

1. Mike the Knight
2. Homeland
4. The Jonathan Ross Show
5. Celebrity Big Brother
6. Sherlock
7. The Great British Bake Off
8. Game of Thrones
9. Big Bang Theory
10. How I Met Your Mother

Trending Movies

1. Skyfall
2. Prometheus
3. The Hunger Games
4. Magic Mike
5. Taken 2
6. The Avengers
7. The Woman in Black
8. The Dictator
9. Sinister
10. The Devil Inside

Trending Music Artists

1. Lucy Spraggan
2. The Military Wives
4. Emeli Sande
5. Psy
6. One Direction
7. The Spice Girls
8. Muse
9. Girls Aloud
10. Dizzee Rascal

Trending Songs

1. Gangnam Style
2. Call Me Maybe
3. Blow Me One Last Kiss
4. Beneath Your Beautiful
5. The Official Olympic Song (Survival by Muse)
6. Skyfall
7. Somebody That I Used To Know
8. We Are Young
9. Too Close
10. 212

Trending Sports

1. Synchronized Swimming
2. Murderball
3. Wheelchair Basketball
4. Volleyball
5. Archery
6. 100 metre sprint
7. Taekwondo
8. Gymnastics
9. Cycling
10. Athletics

How to (top searches for 'How to' in 2012)

1. draw
2. kiss
3. make
4. crochet
5. knit
6. meditate
7. flirt
8. sing
9. hack
10. pronounce

What is (top searches for 'What is' in 2012)

1. love
2. icloud
3. 3G
4. scientology
5. instagram
6. autism
7. diabetes
8. yolo
9. illuminati
10. ms