Lookups spiked on January 13, 2010.
In an interview in Harper's Bazaar, the musician Sting used the word to describe his passionate marriage: "Romantic? We like tawdry."
Tawdry means "morally low or bad," or "cheap or gaudy in appearance or quality."
Sting used it here as a slightly more refined alternative to a word like "sleazy."
As it happens, the word's origins are romantic. Its initial meaning of "cheap or gaudy" comes from tawdry lace, which was a tie of lace for the neck, which comes from the sound of "St. Audrey" an ancient queen of Northumbria (a kingdom in what is now England), who presumably wore that kind of lace.