With 2010 all but over, search giant Google has released Zeitgeist, a list of the hottest topics of the noughties. Spiderman, Big Brother, James Blunt – What have been the most popular search terms in the UK for the first decade of the twenty-first century, and, more importantly, why?
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They say that no man is an island, but a country certainly can be. Especially an island. Especially Britain.
The release of 2009’s annual Google ‘zeitgeist’ report, the list of hot topics and search trends throughout the year, has been supplemented with the search giant’s results for the last decade. Whilst the noughties has seen major world events such as the 9/11 attacks, the Asian Tsunami and the Iraq War, Briton’s search terms have remained decidedly Anglo-Saxon. Worst still for those who maintain that the country is the hub of learning, the hottest topics rarely brush upon intellectual pursuits, news and current events, instead highlighting our national obsession with celebrity and tawdry gossip.
Whilst disappointing, it is perhaps not surprising that in a country whose TV schedules are dominated by reality shows and talent contests, the rising topics as recorded by Google should be dominated by the kind of names favoured by the red-tops and trashy magazines.
Below are the hottest topics throughout the last decade, and why the UK was searching for them.
2001 – Nostradamus. It should come as a shock to nobody that the internet be used to research cranks and conspiracies, and 2001 was the year of the famous French fraudster. The fall of the Twin Towers in New York was followed by a chain email,(falsely) purporting the prediction of the tragic events, the contents of which provided a spike in popularity for the Middle-Age’s answer to Mystic Meg.
2002 – Spiderman. After a rash of sequels, it is unlikely that the webbed-wonder will capture the public’s imagination quite like it did in 2002. That was the year that Tobey Maguire swung onto our screens and into our hearts. We never fell for it again.
2003 – Prince Charles. The tree-loving heir to the British throne topped the polls in 2003, after another wave of internet speculation and gossip threatened to make reputable news sources redundant. Rumours abounded about the Prince’s sexuality, and his involvement in an ‘altercation’ at the Palace. Though we searched and searched, our hunt for Royal smut was ultimately fruitless.
2004 – Big Brother. 2009 saw Channel 4’s announcement that it was to drop it’s flagship reality TV show, as the concept had become ‘tired’. Roll back to 2004, when Big brother was the hottest topic on everybody’s lips, and the fifth series gave us the will-they-won’t-they Stuart and Michelle romance and the shovel-handed winner, Nadia.
2005 – James Blunt. In mid-2005, everybody was searching for James Blunt – by the end of 2005, people were searching for places where they could escape from the all-pervasive songster and his over-aired hit ‘You’re Beautiful’. The song earned Blunt the Ivor Novello for ‘Most Played Song’, an award which nobody with functioning ears would dispute.
2006 – Steve Irwin. In 2006, Australian crocodile botherer Steve Irwin finally met his match when was killed by a particularly nasty stingray, his death making him the hottest topic of the year. Imagine the load on Google’s servers were Sir David Attenborough to be mauled by a meerkat.
2007 – i-Phone. Apple’s overpriced and overhyped assault on the telecoms market caught the imagination in 2007, confirming that whilst Wales may be known for its sheep, the UK as a whole is a nation of them.
2008 – i-Player. Britain’s obsession with i-prefixes continued in 2008 with the i-player, the BBC’s online catch-up service, the introduction of which allowed British women to go out on a Saturday AND watch Strictly Come Dancing. Rebranding his product as i-Porn, a savvy smut peddler could become a billionaire.
2009 – Stephen Gately. 2009 saw the tragic loss of an iconic entertainer, a hero of popular music, a (previously) living legend. And Stephen Gately died too. The Boyzone crooner passed away in less than salubrious circumstances, something expanded on by journalist Jan Muir to great effect. 2010 could perhaps be her year, when she is stoned to death in Trafalgar Square.
For more Google related fun, continue with a look at the funny suggestions generated by Google suggest here.