I believed for a long time that Dardanella was the first of these introduced-by-song names. It bounded onto the charts in 1920 — before the widespread usage of radio and record players, impressively. This must make it one-of-a-kind, right?
Nope. I’ve since gone back over the early name lists and discovered a musical name that debuted on the charts a whopping 17 years earlier, in 1903. That name is Anona:
1908: 8 baby girls named Anona
1907: 6 baby girls named Anona
1906: 12 baby girls named Anona
1905: 22 baby girls named Anona
1904: 22 baby girls named Anona
1903: 7 baby girls named Anona [debut]
The SSA’s early name lists are relatively unreliable, so here are the Social Security Death Index (SSDI) numbers for the same time-span:
1908: 24 baby girls named Anona (SSDI)
1907: 24 baby girls named Anona (SSDI)
1906: 38 baby girls named Anona (SSDI)
1905: 48 baby girls named Anona (SSDI)
1904: 57 baby girls named Anona (SSDI)
1903: 18 baby girls named Anona (SSDI)
1902: 1 baby girl named Anona (SSDI)
The song “Anona” was published in mid-1903. It was written by Vivian Grey, which was a pseudonym for either presidential niece Mabel McKinley or prolific songwriter Robert A. King, sources don’t agree.
The song became very popular and was recorded multiple times. (Here’s Henry Burr’s version, for instance.) This is the chorus:
My sweet Anona, in Arizona,
There is no other maid I’d serenade;
By camp-fires gleaming, of you I’m dreaming,
Anona, my sweet Indian maid.
So-called “Indian love songs” were becoming trendy around this time, thanks to the success of the song “Hiawatha” (1902). Here are a few more that, like “Anona,” have titles that were also used as female names in the songs:
D’Ussé [doo-SAY] is a cognac that was introduced by Bacardi Limited in mid-2012.
But I didn’t hear about it (and I’ll bet a lot of other people didn’t hear about it) until Jay Z’s Magna Carta… Holy Grail (2013) came out in early July. D’Ussé is mentioned three times on the album, in the songs “F.U.T.W.,” “Part II (On the Run),” and “BBC.”
Since then — now that I’m looking — I’ve noticed that Jay Z has hosted various D’Ussé launch parties, is being featured in a D’Ussé advertising campaign, and even drank D’Ussé from a Grammy back in February.
Now, I know endorsement deals between celebs and brands are nothing new, and that few of them inspire the creation of brand new baby names.
But Jay Z is extremely popular, and the French word “D’Ussé” has a rather pleasant sound, so I wonder…will this particular pairing put D’Ussé on the map as a baby name in 2013?
After all, Jay Z was one of the celebs who helped popularize the name Alize 20 years ago (back when he still had his hyphen).
This week let’s finish checking out the top baby name debuts of all time.
I’ll be counting down the 50 most popular boy name debuts in five posts, from today until Friday. (I did the top girl name debuts a couple of weeks ago.) I didn’t break any ties, so this “top 50” list actually has 93 names.
I came up with explanations for as many names as I could, but I’m still stumped on a few of them. I’d love to hear your thoughts on these.
Here’s 50 to 41:
Cordaryl, Devaunte, Jeffren, Naksh, Sanjaya, Tige & Trysten, 7-way tie for #50
Cordaryl debuted with 28 baby boys in 1986. Inspired by Cordero Roberts, a character on the soap opera “One Life to Live.”
Devaunte debuted with 28 baby boys in 1992. Inspired by singer DeVante Swing, a member of Jodeci.
Jeffren debuted with 28 baby boys in 2010. Inspired by soccer player Jeffren Suarez.
Naksh debuted with 28 baby boys in 2012. Inspired by Naksh, a character on the Indian TV show “Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai.”
Sanjaya debuted with 28 baby boys in 2007. Inspired by Sanjaya Malakar, a contestant on the TV singing competition “American Idol.”
Though vast majority of the baby names on the Social Security Administration’s yearly baby name lists are repeats, every list does contain a handful of brand-new names.
Below are the highest-charting debut names for every single year on record, after the first.
Why bother with an analysis like this? Because debut names often have cool stories behind them, and high-hitting debuts are especially likely to have intriguing pop culture explanations. So this is more than a list of names — it’s also a list of stories.
Here’s the format: “Girl name(s), number of baby girls; Boy name(s), number of baby boys.” Keep in mind that the raw numbers aren’t too trustworthy for about the first six decades, though. (More on that in a minute.)
I’ve already written about some of the names above, and I plan to write about all the others as well…eventually. In the meanwhile, if you want to beat me to it and leave a comment about why Maverick hit in 1957, or why Moesha hit in 1996, feel free!