In the comments of my Atlantic post about the name Mary, and in a number of personal emails, people have suggested pop culture triggers for changes in name direction – like the turnaround in Emma and its eventual peak at #1 in 2002. In that year, Emma jumped 9 places, from 13th to 4th among U.S. girls. There are other examples, but I prefer a few that date back to a golden era of pop songs with women’s names in the titles.
Some hits in the 1960s did not produce name bounces (Sharona, Sherry). But in the 1970s three #1 songs produced name bounces: Maggie (from “Maggie May,” by Rod Stewart in 1971), Brandy (Looking Glass, 1972), and Angie (Rolling Stones, 1973). I added a personal favorite, Rhiannon (Fleetwood Mac, 1975).
Each of these tells a good story.
- Rhiannon and Brandy both debuted in the top 1,000 names the year they made the charts, with Brandy making a credible run for the top before collapsing in the 1990s. Rhiannon hung on as a niche name until the 2000s.
- Maggie changed direction the year of the Rod Stewart hit, reversing a long slide.
- Angie, which gained popularity in the 1950s (Angie Dickinson?) seemed to get a boost from the Stones song, but it was not long lasting (it is a breakup song, after all). I don’t know why Angie came back in the 1990s (1994 movie with Geena Davis?).
My series of posts on names is here.
The names database is here.