You can tell a lot about the state of the world through what its inhabitants want to know about.
Google recently released its Year in Search report for 2018, which reveals the top trends that dominated the search engine this year. The lists “are based on search terms that had the highest spike this year as compared to the previous year,” Google said.
You can view this year’s top searches by category, and even apply filters to get an in-depth look at what specific countries were most curious about. Globally, the World Cup topped overall searches, while some celebrities who died—Avicii, Mac Miller, Stan Lee—also featured in the top five search trends for 2018. Black Panther was the top-trending film, while Meghan Markle was the most-searched person in the world.
Here is a glance at what was on people’s minds the most in 2018.
“World Cup” was the most-trending search term worldwide in 2018. The FIFA tournament only takes place once every four years, and this year, Russia played host. France took home the trophy, but the lead-up to the final, as ever, captivated the entire globe. Croatia beat England to win a spot in its first-ever World Cup final, Japan made history by becoming the first Asian team to beat a South American side, and France’s players of African descent were caught up in identity politics.
While “World Cup” was also the top term in the news category, the rest of the top 10 was largely concerned with extreme weather events and politics. Hurricane Florence, which made landfall in the Carolinas in September, made headlines for flooding pig-manure lagoons and being a portent of more extreme weather to come. In October, Hurricane Michael tore through Florida, threatened the world’s pecan supplies, and was one of the strongest storms to ever hit the US.
The term “election results” was the fifth-most trending news term in the world. Major elections happened in Zimbabwe, Pakistan, Malaysia, India, and elsewhere. The US midterms also had global consequences, and ended up being a win for female representation especially. “Kavanaugh confirmation” also had traction worldwide. Quartz has you covered on Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, from women’s rights to witches.
…For the most-searched person, that is. Meghan Markle and prince Harry’s engagement was a bright spot among bad news in Britain this year. Almost 30 million people tuned in to the royal wedding, which spotlighted black American culture and the UK’s colonial past. Markle’s entry into the monarchy has sparked conversations about race and new beginnings.
The death of Avicii, the Swedish DJ and music producer whose real name was Tim Bergling, topped the “loss” category. Other musicians also died young this year, including Mac Miller and XXXTentacion, who took the second and fifth spots, respectively. People also wanted to know about the lives and legacies of Stan Lee, Anthony Bourdain, and Stephen Hawking. Of the top 10 people in this category, only three were women: Kate Spade, Aretha Franklin, and Sridevi.
Sylvester Stallone beat out controversial YouTube star Logan Paul, teen heartthrob Noah Centineo, and comedian Pete Davidson—whose former engagement to Ariana Grande is the stuff of hits and skits—to become the most-searched actor on the internet in 2018. In June, Stallone faced a sexual assault allegation that was eventually dropped, and he also starred in Creed II, which builds on the Rocky franchise.
Tristan Thompson is an NBA player for the Cleveland Cavaliers. He was the most trending athlete of 2018 on Google, but Google Trends showed that online users were more concerned with his relationship and subsequent breakup with Khloe Kardashian than his basketball skills. The top searches related to Thompson had to do with Lani Blair, with whom he had an affair. Soccer-player Alexis Sanchez and alpine ski racer Lindsey Vonn came in second and third in this category, but for their sporting skill instead.
The top four most-searched films were superhero movies: Black Panther, Deadpool 2, Venom, and Avengers: Infinity War, in that order. The massive success of Black Panther was largely considered a landmark moment in Hollywood, and stirred up discussions around race, different African cultures, and more. Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody rounded up the top five.
Nick Jonas came in at number 10 in the music category, but the top 25 related search queries were all to do with his wife, Priyanka Chopra, suggesting that online interest was largely fueled by his marital affairs rather than his music. Demi Lovato, who overdosed in July, took the top spot, while Cardi B came in second.
The “Story of Yanxi Palace” is a Chinese period drama set in the 18th century during the Qing dynasty, and topped the list for the most-trending TV series worldwide. The South China Morning Post reports that in Hong Kong, people were more curious about the drama than they were about the US-China trade war or Typhoon Mangkhut. Worldwide, there was a bigger spike in searches for the Chinese series compared to Netflix’s offerings, including Altered Carbon and The Haunting of Hill House.