2021 Year in Review: The Topics that Topped the Charts

We’re coming to the end of 2021, and it’s time to take a look at the most talked about topics of the year. We measured engagement of our worldwide audience based on volume of online searches, clicks, and shares. So go ahead: make your own guesses and then let’s dive into the most talked about topics of the year. 

Movies

A flash from our past brings theaters back on the map! Dune, the science fiction epic from all the way back in 1965, has hit the big screens. It gained more attention online than the various superhero films, including Black Widow, and took the lead as one of the most widely searched with 285 million signals. And really, Disney nearly swept the entire category.

The movie with the most engagement in 2021 was Dune. The TV show with the most engagement in 2021 was Loki.

TV Shows

When it comes to TV shows, Disney still rules the roost. Loki had the most hits followed by Squid Game. WandaVision from Marvel Studios also made the list. The other leaders—Ted Lasso and Maid—cover the genres of comedy and drama respectively. It’s also interesting to see Arcane make the list as it was only released in November. This is likely due to the hype produced by the video game League of Legends (which made the list for video games) that the show is based on.

Podcasts

The Joe Rogan Experience is the most searched for and shared podcast. This year, Spotify also offered Joe Rogan a deal for exclusivity on their platform. This marks one of the biggest deals for podcasts, and we have to acknowledge just how huge this medium is becoming! In the US alone, there are an estimated 117.8 million podcast listeners, and they can be a great way to advertise. In addition to Joe Rogan, our top 5 podcasts this year included two true-crime podcasts, which is a huge shout-out to the popularity of this genre within the space.

The podcast with the most engagement in 2021 was The Joe Rogan Experience. The influential figures with the most engagement in 2021 are The Kardashians.

Influential Figures

The Kardashians had the most signals of anything else in any other category. Popular for years on their own, their influence continues to spill into other categories—like their influence in the beauty and makeup space. On the other side of the spectrum, Vladimir Putin is listed second, followed by quite a few other politicians. There was some royalty on scene as well—but after Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s huge interview with Oprah, that was largely to be expected. 

Actors

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson had the most interest in the acting category this year. He has continued to grow as a household name and had two movies released this year. Others who reached the top were Angelina Jolie, Jennifer Aniston, and Scarlett Johansson. All three of these leading ladies also had movies or TV shows come out this year. 

The actor with the most engagement in 2021 was Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. The musician with the most engagement in 2021 was Lizzo.

Musicians

Hip Hop and R&B engagements were 12x the average this year, and Lizzo follows that pattern with the highest engagement of any other artist. Adele came up just behind, and she was followed by Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift. Most on the list released an album this year or announced an upcoming one for next year.

Athletes

F1 racing seems to be pulling into first place in the world of athletics. Lewis Hamilton was the most popular athlete worldwide this past year—and that was true even before the large controversy surrounding the final championship F1 race. Lebron James came up just behind him followed by Cristiano Ronaldo. Despite the controversy surrounding Simone Biles and the Olympics, we were surprised to see she didn’t make it higher on the list.

The athlete with the most engagement in 2021 was Lewis Hamilton. The video game with the most engagement in 2021 was Minecraft.

Video Games

Minecraft has been one of the largest topics consumers engaged with this year with 214 million signals. And with Youtube also recently celebrating 1 trillion views of Minecraft content, it’s incredibly clear that people absolutely love the game. League of Legends also made the list in the Video Games category as we noted earlier when calling out the related TV show, Arcane.

Tech

The video game industry gets a double dose as the Nintendo Switch pulls the most attention in the Tech category. Earlier this year, we decided Nintendo had one of the best ads. And they’ve done a good job of keeping that attention. The next tech leaders are the Apple Watch and Fitbit—both of which many people use to keep a track of their healthy habits. All three of them and the next on the list, Airpods, are portable, showing a trend toward “on the go” tech compared to 2020. 

The tech with the most engagement in 2021 was Nintendo Switch. The fashion brand with the most engagement in 2021 was Fila.

Fashion Brands

Interestingly, the top fashion brand is Fila, a sportswear company particularly popular in Europe and South America. Other top companies include Nike and Adidas who also sell sportswear and have pivoted to more loungewear in the COVID era. Of course, companies like Zara are also up at the top, so sportswear doesn’t hold a monopoly on clicks and shares. Overall, more affordable options ranked higher on the list compared to companies like Louis Vuitton.

Health Kicks

Vegan has taken the spot as the biggest health kick, climbing past other popular diets like Keto and Paleo (though those dieting plans are still very popular). Earlier this year, we found wellness audiences looked into vegan trends more than any other type of health content. We also found food blogs with vegan recipes were some of the most popular and successful, and that other dieting plans like FODMAP and Intermittent Fasting have grown in popularity compared to previous years.

The health kick with the most engagement in 2021 was vegan. The global issue with the most engagement in 2021 was climate change and global warming.

Global Issues

Climate change and global warming held the highest engagement among global issues this past year. This may have been due to 2020 being the hottest summer on record and many looking to see if that trend would continue in 2021. Internationally, many countries, like Britain, considered 2021 to have some of the worst weather in years. We also found that eco-conscious groups focused on climate change and sustainability won out over other issues. And although issues like racial equality have a lot of traction in the US一leading in the US as recently as June一globally, climate change and global warming beat them out. Though racial equality still showed up near the top, we can clearly see the difference between US and global audiences here.

Summary

It’s been an exciting year! A wide variety of ideas and topics have been explored by everyone, and we can see through data what is at the top. Soon, it will be a new year, with new topics and new trends. 

Contact us if you’d like to know what’s popular with your audiences.

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ShareThis

ShareThis has unlocked the power of global digital behavior by synthesizing social share, interest, and intent data since 2007. Powered by consumer behavior on over three million global domains, ShareThis observes real-time actions from real people on real digital destinations.

About Us

ShareThis has unlocked the power of global digital behavior by synthesizing social share, interest, and intent data since 2007. Powered by consumer behavior on over three million global domains, ShareThis observes real-time actions from real people on real digital destinations.