Blog Posts by Year In Review Staff

  • Female Fights: #2 Elizabeth Warren

    In 2012, women put up a good fight to defend their interests, even as others fought for their favor. Here are the year's top female fights, as measured by search volume and percentage spikes compared with 2011 on Yahoo!.

    No matter which side people took in the election, there was one clear mandate: The time for women was now. Women waded into the fray—more like an all-out melee complete with machetes and sharpened brass knuckles. Few winners were more high-profile than Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, embroiled in a near-$68 million Senate race against incumbent Scott Brown. The Harvard professor had achieved national status for her work on TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program), which included grilling Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner over the AIG bailout, and losing out on heading the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which she had created.

    A win was never assured, given Brown's popularity and the tempest over her undocumented Cherokee roots. A shift happened mid-September,

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  • Obsessions: #10 Titanic

    The 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, on April 15, highlighted our collective obsession with the British passenger liner's fateful maiden journey. Devotees re-created the voyage, and images of bodies preserved beneath the sea went viral. The event also exposed an entire generation to some actual history: The Titanic disaster was real, not just a 1997 Hollywood blockbuster starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet.

    "Wait!" Twitter user Sue D. wrote. "Titanic really happened? I thought it was just a movie."

    "Guys, the Titanic was real!" @BabyDoe22 tweeted. "#mindblown."

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  • Obsessions: #9 "Gangnam Style"

    On July 15, the "Gangnam Style" music video was uploaded to YouTube featuring the infectious, meme-ready dance moves of little-known South Korean rapper Psy. Four months and scores of parodies later, it became the most-watched video in YouTube history, racking up more than 815 million views—knocking Canadian teen heartthrob Justin Bieber off the throne.

    "Gangnam Style" also holds the title of most liked video in YouTube history with more than 2 million "likes," according to the Guinness Book of World Records, which recognized the achievement in September. The video for LMFAO's "Party Rock Anthem" is a distant second, with more than 1.6 million "likes." Bieber's "Baby" is No. 3 in that category.

    The rapper, whose real name is Park Jae-sang, told the BBC that his moniker Psy is short for "Psycho." As for his viral victories, Psy said he had done the same kind of song and dance for 12 years. "I didn't do anything on purpose or honestly I didn't put any effort to be an international

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  • Obsessions: #8 "Call Me Maybe"

    Canadian singer-songwriter Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe" tied with Gotye's "Somebody I Used to Know" for longest No. 1 run in 2012, but the catchy pop tune bumped the break-up song in the Obsessions list. The song became part of the pop-culture landscape, thanks in part to a lip-dub version of the song performed by members of the Harvard University baseball team in a van during a road trip.

    Video of that performance went viral, spawning parodies and leading to a lip-dub faceoff with the Southern Methodist University women's rowing team on the "Today" show.

    Katy Perry, Justin Bieber, the U.S. Olympic swim team and even former Secretary of State Colin Powell and host Gayle King each performed cover versions. Jepsen was naturally thrilled about all the covers: The phenomenon, as she told the Thread, has been "insane." Indeed.

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  • Top Searches: #10 Jennifer Lopez

    Actress and singer Jennifer Lopez has displayed remarkable staying power. She debuted in the Top 10 back in 2002, and then rebounded in 2011 after throwing in her lot with "American Idol." She charmed her way into a comeback, despite the reality show's declining ratings fortunes—although a reported $20 million salary helped boost hers.

    Even potentially devastating news—her divorce from Marc Anthony—carried a whiff of I-am-woman-hear-me-roar (and her relationship with much younger beau Casper Smart didn't hurt). In 2012, she released a best-of album and embarked on her first headlining tour. She queued up two movies for release this year ("What to Expect When You're Expecting" and as a voice actor in "Ice Age: Continental Drift"), with a third co-starring Jason Statham coming out in January 2013. Lopez also made the awards show circuit, in a reunion of sorts with her ex Marc Antony. With a packed schedule, Lopez's announcement that she would quit "Idol" wasn't a surprise. Notably,

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  • Obsessions: #6 "Fifty Shades of Grey"

    "Fifty Shades of Grey," the first in a trilogy of "Twilight"-inspired bondage erotica by E.L. James, became an underground reading obsession for millions of women. Some called it "mommy porn" (which led to inevitable parodies); hotels in the Pacific Northwest offered "Fifty Shades"-themed "sexy weekend getaways"; and at least one man retaliated against his girlfriend when he discovered she was reading it: He squirted her in the face with a bottle of steak sauce.

    The steak sauce assault happened in the U.K., where "Fifty Shades of Grey" has become the best-selling book of all time, according to the London Telegraph. The book recently surpassed "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," selling more than 5.3 million copies.

    "The 'Fifty Shades of Grey' phenomenon is perhaps one of the most extraordinary experiences of my entire publishing career," one Random House executive told the paper. "The speed and sheer size of the sales is incredible."

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  • Top Searches: #9 Lindsay Lohan

    Occupying the spot in our list once dominated by Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan is another child star turned troubled adult. Lohan first appeared in the Top 10 Searches in 2005, when she was flush with success from "Mean Girls" and her new album. Since then, her fortunes have waned as she has gone through a revolving door of rehab. Lohan fell off the list in 2009 and 2010 but reappeared last year with the notoriety over her frequent court appearances.

    With the end of her probation in 2012, she chronicled some hopeful turning points, including a primetime "Glee" guest episode and several projects—notably her turn as the late Liz Taylor and a photo shoot in Playboy. But November brought more bad news from both coasts: Lohan was charged with crimes in New York and Los Angeles.

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  • Top Searches: #8 Political Polls

    "Political polls" didn't just make the Top 10 Searches on Yahoo!, which is calculated by the search volume of related keywords. The term also made the Obsessions list, thanks to a combination of search volume and a significant percentage spike in searches for "polls" from 2011. Although the election campaign had been going on for two years, the focus on polls became more intense once Mitt Romney had won enough primaries to secure the Republican candidacy for president.

    America has developed a hyperfocus on numbers, including those in government budgets, Wall Street finances, deficits and campaign spending. In a time of sabermetrics and Freakonomics, voters closely monitored ever-shifting, often contradictory political polls. Pollsters themselves even became the story, from Gallup being criticized for declaring a 7-point Mitt Romney lead 16 days before Election Day to Nate Silver's statistical sweep. The Signal on Yahoo! also played the predictions game, projecting that President

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  • Top Searches: #7 Olympics

    Fans gathered in London, around TV sets and online to witness a 16-day gathering of nations at the Olympics. Surprising Twitter missteps led to a couple of expulsions, but the keenest athletes displayed their talents in jubilant competition. Particularly buzzy were the advances for female athletes: the first-ever women's boxing matches, a very pregnant competitor, and the women on the U.S. team outnumbering men for the first time in Olympic history.

    The U.S. women's gymnastics team, dubbed "The Fierce Five," captured American hearts along with the team gold medal. Disappointed silver medalist McKayla Maroney inspired imitators online and in real life (including in the Oval Office) with her "not impressed" face. Teen sensation Missy Franklin delivered, as did the U.S. women's soccer team and the dominant U.S. basketball teams.

    And then there was Michael Phelps. Competing in his final Olympic Games, Phelps won six medals, four of them gold. In doing so, the Baltimore swimmer became

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  • Top Searches: #6 Whitney Houston

    Like Michael Jackson and Amy Winehouse before her, superstar Whitney Houston galvanized an online rush with her unexpected death on Feb. 11. The singer-actress, who had a well-chronicled drug addiction, had been missing in action for some time.

    Yet with news of her death came reports that a long-promised comeback had been under way (notably, her first film role in 16 years), making her fatal accident ("drowning and effects of atherosclerotic heart disease and cocaine use") all the more heartbreaking. Death came 24 hours before her return performance at a pre-Grammy gala. The awards ceremony paid tribute to Houston the next day; at the time, her room at the Beverly Hilton was still considered a crime scene.

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