TORONTO - Who would think of arguing that Justin Bieber had an off year in 2012?

Well, according to Google's annual exploration of web search data, the Canadian pop star was taken down a peg this past year.

"Justin Bieber's kind of taking some licks, at least in terms of how he ranks in Google searches this year," says Google Canada spokesman Aaron Brindle.

He wasn't eligible for the year's Top 10 list of Canadian "trending" searches — representing newer queries that have broken out for the first time — but surprisingly, he wasn't named Google's biggest music-related search of the year.

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  • Trending Searches

    1. Pinterest 2. Hurricane Sandy 3. Olympics 4. Diablo 3 5. Gangnam Style 6. Hunger Games 7. SOPA 8. Star Académie 9. KONY 10. Zerg Rush

  • Trending Celebrities

    1. Whitney Houston 2. Jeremy Lin 3. Michael Clarke Duncan 4. Morgan Freeman 5. Felix Baumgartner 6. Kate Middleton 7. Neil Armstrong 8. Carly Rae Jepsen 9. Lance Armstrong 10. Katie Holmes

  • Most Searched Canadian Politicians

    1. Stephen Harper 2. Justin Trudeau 3. Vic Toews 4. Thomas Mulcair 5. Peter MacKay 6. Bob Rae 7. Jason Kenney 8. Marc Garneau 9. John Baird 10. Elizabeth May

  • Most Searched Musicians

    1. One Direction 2. Justin Bieber 3. Drake 4. Whitney Houston 5. Rihanna 6. Adele 7. Taylor Swift 8. Nicki Minaj 9. Katy Perry 10. Madonna

  • Most Searched Canadian Musicians

    1. Justin Bieber 2. Drake 3. Carly Rae Jepsen 4. Hedley 5. deadmau5 6. Nickelback 7. Avril Lavigne 8. Neil Young 9. Bryan Adams 10. Leonard Cohen

  • Most Searched Retail

    1. eBay 2. craigslist 3. Canadian Tire 4. Walmart 5. Future Shop 6. Home Depot 7. LesPAC 8. Costco 9. Ikea 10. Sears

  • Most Searched Athletes

    1. Tiger Woods 2. Steve Nash 3. Michael Phelps 4. LeBron James 5. Usain Bolt 6. Sidney Crosby 7. Christiano Ronaldo 8. Kobe Bryant 9. Roger Federer 10. Marta

  • Most Searched Canadian Sports Teams

    1. Toronto Blue Jays 2. Toronto Maple Leafs 3. Vancouver Canucks 4. Montreal Canadiens 5. Winnipeg Jets 6. Edmonton Oilers 7. Calgary Flames 8. Ottawa Senators 9. Toronto Raptors 10. Montreal Impact

  • Most Searched Canadian Olympians

    1. Milos Raonic 2. Alexandre Despatie 3. Christine Sinclair 4. Clara Hughes 5. Ryder Hesjedal 6. Simon Whitfield 7. Adam Van Koeverden 8. Paula Findlay 9. Mary Spencer 10. Jessica Zelinka

  • Trending 'How To... ?'

    1. How To Rock 2. How To Love 3. How To Shuffle 4. How To Kiss 5. How To YouTube 6. How To Twerk 7. How To Wakeboard 8. How To Snorkel 9. How To Live 10. How To Embroider

  • Trending 'What Is...?'

    1. What Is Love 2. What Is SOPA 3. What Is Gluten 4. What Is Yolo 5. What Is Instagram 6. What Is Scientology 7. What Is Tumblr 8. What Is Pinterest 9. What Is Dubstep 10. What Is Autism

  • Most Searched Cities In Google Maps

    1. Toronto 2. Montreal 3. Calgary 4. Vancouver 5. Ottawa 6. Edmonton 7. Winnipeg 8. Niagara Falls 9. Quebec City 10. Mississauga

  • Most Searched Canadian Food

    1. Bacon 2. Poutine 3. Maple Syrup 4. Yorkshire Pudding 5. Bannock 6. Smoked Meat 7. Kraft Dinner 8. Butter Tarts 9. Sucre a la creme 10. Sugar pie

  • Most Searched Beer

    1. Molson 2. Guinness 3. Budweiser 4. Coors 5. Labatt 6. Moosehead 7. Sleeman 8. Kokanee 9. Keith's 10. Rickard's

  • Most Searched Craft Beer

    1. Granville Island 2. Amsterdam 3. Big Rock 4. Muskoka 5. Creemore 6. Wellington 7. Okanagan Spring 8. James Ready 9. Mill St. 10. Dead Frog

  • Most Searched Career/Job

    1. Teacher 2. Nurse 3. Designer 4. Accountant 5. Mechanic 6. Electrician 7. Therapist 8. Lawyer 9. Chef 10. Retail/Sales Associate

  • Trending Career/Job

    1. Civil Engineer 2. Pharmacist 3. Truck Driver 4. Veterinarian 5. Paralegal 6. Retail/Sales Associate 7. Electrical Engineer 8. Dancer 9. Software Developer 10.Financial Analyst

  • Most Searched Destinations In Google Maps

    1. Hotel 2. Restaurant 3. Camping 4. Walmart 5. Parking 6. Starbucks 7. Costco 8. Home Depot 9. Golf 10. Grocery

English-Irish boy band One Direction had more searches than Bieber, who did finish second in the category.

"He still has tons and tons of searches, but it's interesting, this is kind of a hard year for Justin Bieber because he was outpaced by One Direction and then we also saw ... 'Gangnam Style' (by PSY) passed Justin Bieber's ('Baby') as the most watched video of all time last month."

"Gangnam Style" was No. 5 on Google Canada's list of top trending searches of 2012, behind the social media site Pinterest, hurricane Sandy, the Olympics and the video game "Diablo 3." "Gangnam Style" outranked the book-turned-film "Hunger Games," SOPA (an acronym for the Stop Online Piracy Act), the Quebec reality show "Star Academie," head of the Lord's Resistance Army Joseph Kony, and Zerg Rush, a search term that launches a secret video game at Google.com.

Bieber was also shut out at Yahoo! Canada, which said its top searches of the year were Kate Middleton, iPhone 5, Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson, "Fifty Shades of Grey," Higgs boson, hurricane Sandy, Jessica Simpson, Jessica Pare, Scientology and Miss Universe Canada Jenna Talackova.

But Bieber did top the Bing.ca charts, followed by Miley Cyrus, Kim Kardashian, Selena Gomez, Kate Middleton, Jennifer Aniston, Taylor Swift, Kristen Stewart, Katy Perry and Lady Gaga.

A new category Google Canada tracked this year was "how to" searches and Canadians most wanted to learn "how to rock." Second was how to shuffle, followed by kiss, YouTube, twerk, wakeboard, snorkel, live and embroider.

Google also ranked searches that started with "what is." The top result was "what is love," followed by SOPA, gluten, yolo (which stands for you only live once), Instagram, Scientology, Tumblr, Pinterest, dubstep and autism.

And what is Canada's favourite sports team, according to Google searches? Baseball's Toronto Blue Jays.

Blame the ongoing NHL lockout, combined with the Jays' recent flurry of acquisitions, for hockey's unexpected fall out of the top spot. The Toronto Maple Leafs were second on the list, followed by the Vancouver Canucks, Montreal Canadiens, Winnipeg Jets, Edmonton Oilers, Calgary Flames, Ottawa Senators, Toronto Raptors and Montreal Impact.

"Sometimes this can be distilled down to a popularity contest, but sometimes it's also just where there's actual news and I think the Blue Jays' bunch of really interesting trades (helped)," said Brindle.

"The NHL in general has taken a huge hit on Google in terms of hockey-related searches."

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