It has been a long, wild year. You might not even remember everything that happened. You know who does, though? Google. The search giant just released its Year in Search for 2022, and it’s pretty illuminating. It’s both a trip back through the last 12 months, and also a reminder that you likely didn’t keep up with half the inane pop culture 2022 served up.
Google’ Year in Search allows you to browse the top search results from 58 different countries, as well as see global results. Unsurprisingly if you were on social media at all between late January and, say, May, he top search of the year, in the U.S. and globally, was “Wordle.” Of course. The viral puzzle sensation came in three spots above “Queen Elizabeth,” who ruled England for 70 years and died in 2022 and still couldn’t come out on top.
Betty White died too, and even she landed one spot above the late monarch (Betty White is the one true queen?). Her Majesty was upstaged yet again in “News,” coming in second behind “Election results” (which, yeah, I get it). The other top news stories all track too: Ukraine, Powerball numbers, and Hurricane Ian.
It will come as no surprise that “People” and “Actors” were led by the participants in some of the dumbest/most infuriating scandals of the year; namely, “Johnny Depp,” “Will Smith,” and “Amber Heard.” I don’t follow sports, so I’m totally lost in the names in that category, other than “Serena Williams.” I also don’t know why the Phillies were the top sports team search of the year, and I’m sure I’ll be crucified by Phillies fans for it.
“How to pronounce …” was extremely 2022, as people wanted to know how to properly say “Qatar,” “Kyiv,” “Omicron,” “Encanto,” and … “Puzzle?” I guess puzzle is a puzzling world. Encanto, though, shows up a fee more on the list, as it also took the top two spots on “Songs” with “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” and “Surface Pressure.”
In case you still doubt Wordle’s stranglehold on the zeitgeist in 2022, it and three of its variants claimed four of the top five searches for “Games” this year (Quordle, Heardle, and Worldle). Elden Ring was the only AAA video game to make the top five.
When it comes to TV, House of the Dragon was only the fifth most-searched show of the year. Euphoria was number one, followed by Stranger Things, The Watcher, and Inventing Anna. (Sorry The Rings of Power—there are some things Amazon’s billions can’t buy, it seems.)
If you assumed “Taylor Swift” would be the number one ticket searched this year, you’d be wrong. She was number three. “Disneyland” and “Bad Bunny” were in the lead.
I remember the baby formula shortage, and vaguely remember sriracha being hard to find, but apparently there were a lot of other shortages as well, including of diesel, tampons, and Adderall.
I like the “Hum to Search” section. We’ve covered this feature before, and it’s fun to see who’s using it for what. The top five this year were:
- “Everybody (Backstreet Back)“ — Backstreet Boys
- “Never Gonna Give You Up” — Rick Astley
- “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” — Encanto
- “Enemy” — Imagine Dragons
- “Seven Nation Army” — The White Stripes
“Recipes” really gets me, though. I’m on food TikTok, so I see a lot of different dishes across my feed, but I’ve personally never heard of any of these. Sugo, Cincinnati Chili, Marry Me Chicken, quick pancake (which I assume is just making a pancake quickly), and mango pie? Sure.
“How to help” searches are especially humbling, with queries like “Ukraine,” “Ukrainian refugees,” “abortion rights,” “Ukrainian army,” and “Uvalde.” This year had plenty of high points, but they’re often overshadowed by the low ones. To their credit, Google focused more on the positive for its Year in Search 2022 video, which highlights more of the uplifting events on the year. While it’s not as comprehensive as in years past, it’s still worth a watch. (Ending on an image from the James Webb Space Telescope is a nice touch.)