With the beginning of each new year comes news reports about the most popular baby names of the previous year.
Sophia and Liam were at the top of the list in 2019, but that list changes a lot. Names rise and fall, sometimes pretty quickly, while others stay steady.
And a research paper highlighted by JSTOR recently points to one reason why: hit songs.
Ok, all kinds of pop culture can lead to trends in baby names, but there’s research to back up the effect of music.
Sociologist Michelle Napierski-Prancl studied the relationship between the pop charts and our annual records of baby names.
As she writes, the name “Layla” first shows up on the list of popular names after Eric Clapton and his band, Derek and the Dominoes, released their song of that name.
More common names get a boost too. Joanna the name was higher on the Social Security naming list around the time “Joanna” the song by Kool and the Gang rose through the Billboard pop chart.
But there are limits, apparently.
The song “My Sharona” by the Knack was an enormous hit, named for a real person, but the US didn’t see a bunch of parents bestowing that name on their little ones.
And often times when the song drops off the charts, the name sees its popularity drop too.
So if there’s a small boom of people today naming their kids “Old Town Road,” it probably will be a short-lived one.
It sounds like good news for drivers of all names out of the Consumer Electronics Show: a virtual car visor!
It’s based around a transparent LCD screen that scans your face to see where you’re looking.
Then it uses artificial intelligence to shade only the spots where you’re looking.
That means no more sun in your eyes, and no more big clunky visor obscuring your field of vision when the sun isn’t an issue.
It’s a prototype, not in cars yet, so for now keep those sunglasses handy.
The Science of Baby-Name Trends (JSTOR)