Yahoo! Announces Most Popular Searches

Yahoo! Inc has announced the most popular searches, themes, and trends as part of its 2008 Year in Review .

“Every day, people turn to the web to learn more about the world around them. Their searches reveal which news events, personalities and issues made an impact in 2008,” said Heather Cabot, Yahoo! Web Life Editor. “This year people were captivated by the historic U.S. Presidential election and Olympic triumphs. They also closely followed every facet of the economic downturn and enjoyed a little escapism by devouring celebrity gossip and delving into online video games.”

The Yahoo! 2008 Year in Review not only presents the top ten searches, but overall themes and popular trends that bubbled to the surface, including the economy, politicians, news stories, Olympians, rising celebrities, influential women, and notable deaths. Also included in this year’s review are additional top tens in select areas throughout Yahoo! such as Yahoo! Food, Shine, Tech, Green, Shopping, Travel, Games, Movies, Music, Local, Upcoming, Hot Jobs, most Buzzed-Up stories and clicked-on stories from

Britney Spears has been the most popular search term and person for seven out of eight years. In 2008, she made a comeback with a new album, three MTV Music Awards, a sitcom guest star role and documentary on her rise, fall and career comeback.

Barack Obama was the second most searched for person in 2008. Headlines of his election victory received the most clicks than any other story on this year, and he was the third most searched term overall. Obama soared up the search ranks tremendously as the election campaign moved forward with consumers using Yahoo! Search to get informed, learn more about him and decide how to vote in this critically important election.

This year also marked the coming out party for Miley Cyrus, who discarded her Disney persona of “Hannah Montana” and launched her own album under her real name to make the top five. Jessica Alba’s wedding and new baby spurred additional interest for her this year. With success at the box office and new baby pictures, Angelina Jolie continues to be in the public spotlight. Popular entertainment properties also were in demand, including wrestling (WWE), video games (RuneScape), anime (Naruto) and television (American Idol).

As 2008 came to a close, the nation’s economic turmoil battled with the presidential election for the hearts and wallets of searchers. In February, the Treasury Department announced it would be disbursing stimulus checks to boost economic activity and taxpayers clamored to know if the check was actually in the mail. The fallout from the subprime mortgage crisis hit Wall Street hard in October as the Dow Jones Industrials fell to its lowest point, producing the biggest point drop in the Dow’s 112-year history. Gas prices marked the only silver lining, falling sharply late in the year after reaching all-time highs during the summer.

It was an election of many firsts. Not only did the U.S. elect an African American president for the first time but 2008 also had a notable campaign by former First Lady and Senator Hillary Clinton, and the first female nominee for Vice President in the Republican Party, Alaska governor Sarah Palin. Other candidates secured their fair share of searches as well. On the other hand, California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger wasn’t involved in the presidential race, but searches for the “Governator” beat Democratic vice presidential pick Joe Biden and Republican candidate Mitt Romney.

Natural disasters affected virtually every corner of our planet. Hurricanes Gustav and Ike devastated the southern U.S. and the Caribbean. The fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan continued to be a focus throughout the year. But a few surprises to this list included the human interest stories that captivated the curiosity of the country, such as Caylee Anthony, a missing Florida toddler; the pregnant man who allegedly gave birth to a baby girl; and Patrick Swayze’s battle against cancer.

A worldwide audience couldn’t get enough of the Olympics, hungrily hunting down every detail on the characters playing out sports’ most marvelously unscripted drama. The Olympics was a nightly epic story, in which Michael Phelps played the ideal leading man, with the mystery of his estranged father breaking the list of most clicked on stories of

In 2008, tabloid staples cleaned up their acts due to court-ordered conservatorships (Britney Spears), pledges of sobriety (Lindsay Lohan), and motherhood (Nicole Richie). As a result, celebrity publications and bloggers shifted their focus to a new, younger set of headline makers, the New Brat Pack. Like their 1980s counterparts, the New Brat Pack celebs appear in each other’s movies, music videos and social circles. They’re all young (21 and under), popular and major money makers. And, their youth subjects them to greater public scrutiny.Disney proteges are coming into their own with huge success, including Miley Cyrus, Vanessa Hudgens, the Jonas Brothers and Zac Efron.

Not only were Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton closer than ever to the nation’s top elected offices, but many other women were popular among Yahoo! searchers this year. The presidential race fed into a huge rise in popularity for Tina Fey (portraying Sarah Palin on “Saturday Night Live”), Michelle Obama (wife of the President-elect) and Katie Couric (political interviewer and newscaster). Undefeated kickboxing champ Gina Carano also upped her profile in her turn as Crush on “American Gladiators,” then later made television history in the first primetime female fight.

2008 began with the unexpected death of actor Heath Ledger. Ledger’s death launched the world into a stunned Search frenzy over the actor who showed promise of being a Hollywood great. His passing renewed searches for 25-year-oldBrad Renfro, a child actor who died in a heroin overdose a week earlier.

To develop the Yahoo! Year in Review, our editors analyze search queries based upon a number of factors, including absolute volume and growth versus previous periods, to see which themes and trends bubble to the surface. Individual users and their search queries always remain anonymous.

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