2012 YEAR IN REVIEW

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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.