Google is the go-to tool for understanding what is happening in the world, and each day 3.5 billion searches are made (1.2 trillion each year). It is the first port of call for information on news, celebrity, film, sport, music, video games and just about anything that people have an interest in. Each year Google releases a list of the most popular searches, which always gives a great overview of the year just gone. These are the top “trending” searches, which refers to searches that held the highest spike in traffic over a sustained period of time in 2015.
10. American Sniper
Somewhat of a surprise entrance, the 10th most common search this year was for Clint Eastwood’s biographical war film American Sniper. The film was released at the end of 2014 with a wide release on the 16th of January, 2015, and went on to become an enormous success with worldwide gross earnings of over $547 million. Unsurprisingly, almost all of the searches were conducted in January and mainly came from the United States. The film was so popular and searched for because it follows the life of Chris Kyle, who is the deadliest marksman in U.S. military history with 255 kills in the Iraq war. Although he was celebrated for this, it also took a toll on his life and family. In the film, Kyle is brilliantly portrayed by Bradley Cooper (who picked up an Academy Award nomination), and for the direction of the movie Eastwood received critical acclaim.
9. Caitlyn Jenner
What is particularly impressive about Caitlyn Jenner appearing so high is the fact that prior to June there were no searches for “Caitlyn Jenner,” as she was known as Bruce Jenner up until this point. Now known as the most famous transgender woman in the world, Jenner also received an enormous amount of attention by appearing on the television program Keeping up with the Kardashians, and she currently stars in I Am Cait, which is a show that focuses on her gender transition. Jenner has always been in the public eye following winning the 1976 Olympic decathlon and a subsequent career in TV and film, plus a relationship with Kris Kardashian. In June, Jenner started using her new name along with feminine pronoun self-descriptors. A renaming ceremony took place in July, and her name and gender change became official in September.
8. Ronda Rousey
On the 15th of November, an enormous sporting upset took place which shone a light on a sport that does not always receive a gigantic amount of interest from the public. In her sixth title defense at UFC 193, Ronda Rousey, who is widely considered to be greatest active female athlete, was knocked out early in the second round by underdog Holly Holm for the first loss of her MMA career. The next day, people flocked to Google not only to see the brutal knockout, but also to learn more about Rousey. Rousey’s search figures have been boosted massively by this, but she was also a celebrity prior to the fight and has made film appearances in Entourage and Furious 7. She also fought at the beginning of August and won by knockout after just 34 seconds, seeing a spike in the amount of searches for her name around this time as well.
7. Fallout 4
In terms of Google’s searches, video games are right up there with the latest Hollywood blockbusters. This year, this is most evident was the highly anticipated release of Bethesda Softworks’ Fallout 4, which was released worldwide on the 10th of November. The game sold 1.2 million copies on Steam in the first 24 hours, with many gamers also queuing outside their local stores for the midnight release. Unsurprisingly, searches spiked in mid-November but have remained high throughout December too. The game is an open world role-playing game set in 2287 in post-apocalyptic Boston, where the player must complete various quests and acquire experience points which enable the character to level up. It is the fifth major installment, and takes place 10 years after the events of Fallout 3. The game has been largely praised for the freedom and world depth, as well as the story, characters and soundtrack.
6. Furious 7
The second highest grossing film of 2015, Furious 7 was released at the beginning of April and earned a mammoth $397.6 million within five days. This makes it the third highest grossing opening of all time. The action film is directed by James Wan and stars Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris, Jason Statham and Kurt Russell. The large story surrounding this film, and a contributing factor to its searches and high attendance, was the unfortunate passing of Walker, who died in a car accident on November 30th, 2013. Filming was only half complete at the time, and his brothers and some fancy CGI were used as stand-ins to complete his scenes. Wan decided to finish the movie to honor Walker’s legacy and his memories, and the tribute to him has been praised. Aside from the unfortunate circumstances, the film received highly positive reviews.
Following the tragic attacks that took place in Paris on the 13th of November, Paris became the most searched Google term. Being the capital of France and one of the most popular cities in the world, it was searched heavily throughout the year but this of course spiked in November and has maintained a high level since. On the evening of the 13th, a series of co-coordinated terrorist attacks took place throughout the city. The attackers killed 130 people, including 89 at the Bataclan theater where L.A. rock act Eagles of Death Metal were performing. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attacks as retaliation for French airstrikes on ISIS targets in Syria and Iraq. Following the attacks, an outpouring of sympathy and unity occurred on social media. Landmark structures around the world like the Empire State Building were lit in the colors of the French flag. The war on ISIS has dominated the news since.
4. Jurassic World
Google published their results prior to the release of Star Wars, which means that Jurassic World will take the prize of the most searched film of 2015, as well as the highest grossing film of the year. The highly anticipated movie was released in June and was the first film in the franchise for 14 years. It was heavily marketed around the world, resulting in a record-breaking opening weekend, and it is now the third highest-grossing film of all time (for now) after raking in $1.6 billion in box office revenue. Directed by Colin Trevorrow and starring Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard, the film takes place on the same fictional island as the original and 22 years after the events of the first film. One of the theme park’s new hybrid dinosaurs, the “Indominus Rex” manages to break free and goes on a rampage, causing chaos on the island.
The biggest surprise on the list is the inclusion (and high ranking) of the massively multiplayer game Agar.io. Created by Matheus Valadares, a downloadable Steam version was announced on the 3rd of May, with a mobile version released on the 8th of July by Miniclip. Interestingly, the game has maintained an incredibly high interest in terms of searches, and has been searched more often in December than during the time of its original release. For mobile, there were over 10 million downloads in the first week, and its popularity was also boosted through it being used in Turkey as a medium of political advocacy, with some using the game in election parties as a symbol of support. In the game, the player controls a cell in a Petri dish, where they must gain as much mass as possible by swallowing smaller cells whilst avoiding being swallowed by bigger cells.
2. Charlie Hebdo
Sadly, the tragic November attacks were not the only terrorist attacks in the French capital in 2015. On January 7th, two gunmen forced their way into the Paris headquarters of popular satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and opened fire. Twelve people were killed, including staff and two police officers, injuring a further 11. The gunmen identified themselves as belonging to Al-Qaeda, and managed to escape after the attack. An enormous manhunt started, which culminated in a hostage situation in Dammartin-en-Goele where the gunmen were shot by police as they ran out of the building following a police team landing on the roof. Charlie Hebdo received amazing support around the world, with #JeSuisCharlie trending on Twitter for a long time. The magazine published an edition just a week later, with the cover featuring a cartoon of Muhammad holding a “Je Suis Charlie” sign with the caption “Tout est pardonne” (all is forgiven).
1. Lamar Odom
Somewhat surprisingly, the most searched topic in 2015 around the globe was Lamar Odom. The former NBA player was found unconscious at a brothel in Nevada on October 13th following a drug overdose, and he then fell into a coma and was placed on life support before later regaining consciousness. He had suffered several strokes and kidney failure, and after being unable to recognize his family, he has since improved his brain function and has reportedly taken steps for the first time without assistance and is able to communicate. Odom is also married to Khloe Kardashian and has appeared several times on their show, Keeping Up With The Kardashians, which will also have contributed to the amount of searches and his popularity. The two-time NBA champion’s recovery is being widely reported as he is not out of the woods yet, which is seeing searches being carried out to keep up to date on his condition.