If you traveled back in time one year and told me that Lana Del Rey—the puffy-lipped indie chanteuse whose debut tune was met with equal parts hatred, ambivalence and excitement—would be the most-searched woman of 2012, I wouldn't buy it. And if I did believe you, I'd assume you were from an alternate reality that didn't include Rihanna, Katy Perry, Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga... basically, just about any pop star on the planet.
Enter CoEd Media's annual list of the 50 Most Popular Women on the Web. According to them, the Born to Die songstress was the most-Googled lady on the planet with 722 million searches.
Pretty shocking when you consider that she was a virtual unknown in 2011. Even crazier, she far surpassed the second-most-searched woman of 2012: LDR netted 214 million more searches than Rihanna. In other words, this supposedly niche singer is more popular online than the world's biggest pop star.
Or is she? When you take a look at how CoEd achieved their search results, it doesn't come across as the most rigorous methodology: They just Googled each name in quotes and tallied up which women had the most search results. That's problematic, because the number of results aren't necessarily synonymous with the number of yearly searches.
Compounding our confusion is the fact that Whitney Houston is only the 28th most-searched woman according to this list. It's pretty hard to imagine more people searched "Demi Lovato" than "Whitney Houston" this year, right? After all, Houston was Bing's most-searched for female musician. But then again, no one uses Bing but people employed by Bing (and only then when they're at work).
Even so, the results from this casual investigation are pretty surprising. Overall, 30 of America's most-wanted women are singers according to CoEd. And the Top 10 most-searched-for women of 2012 are all singers. In order, they're Cher (umm, what?), Lady Gaga, Britney Spears, Adele, Madonna, Taylor Swift, Jennifer Lopez and Katy Perry.
So the moral of the story is this: Even if no one knows who you are right now, you can still make a big splash in 2013. All you have to do is release two albums, bomb on SNL, play Jackie O to A$AP Rocky's JFK and get a queen's ransom of advertising gigs. Oh, and spend a suspicious amount of time with Axl Rose. It's as easy as that five-point plan!