Was the baby name Kasara influenced by misheard song lyrics in 1987?

Singer Lisa Lisa (born Lisa Velez) in the "Lost in Emotion" video
Lisa Lisa

Do you ever mishear song lyrics?

I do. All the time. (Though I’m not nearly as bad as my husband.)

I ask because I believe today’s baby name(s) can be traced back to a specific set of lyrics misheard by dozens of parents a little more than 20 years ago.


The Names

Casara, Kasarah, Cassara, and Casarah all debuted in the U.S. baby name data in 1987. The same year, Kasara returned to the data after popping up only once before (in the mid-1970s). And, in 1988, Cassarah made its first and only appearance.

*Debut, †Peak usage

At first I couldn’t figure them out. They didn’t look like alternative spellings of a more popular name. They all emerged at about the same time, pointing to a single pop culture source, but the origin wasn’t obvious (as it had been with names like Daughtry and Cheetara.)

Finally, months after discovering them, I came up with a decent theory.

The Song

Let’s set the scene. Artists on the radio back in 1987 included U2, George Michael, Whitney Houston, Tiffany, Billy Idol, Madonna, The Bangles, Bon Jovi, Kim Wilde, Los Lobos with “La Bamba,” Belinda Carlisle, Exposé, Atlantic Starr…and Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam.

In fact, 1987 was a great year for Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam. Their second album, Spanish Fly, went platinum in August. Two songs from the album ended up hitting #1 on Billboard‘s “Hot 100” chart — “Head to Toe” in June, and “Lost In Emotion” in October.

Below is the video for “Lost in Emotion.” Pay special attention to the following lines (starting at 1:27):

Que sera, que sera
Baby, whatever will be
Que sera, que sera
Between you and me

(How awesome is all that ’80s fashion/styling, btw?)

The Connection

That “que sera, que sera” in the chorus is a corruption of the phrase “que sera, sera,” which was created for the earlier song “Que Sera, Sera” (1956).

The phrase “que sera, sera” — commonly thought to mean “whatever will be, will be” — is an hispanicized form of “che sera, sera,” which itself is an ungrammatical corruption of the Italian phrase quel che sarà, sarà, meaning “that which will be, will be.”

Anyway…to someone casually listening to “Lost in Emotion” on the radio, the words “que sera” blend together and sound just like Kasara, Casara, and the other names above.

Singer Lisa Lisa (born Lisa Velez) in the "Lost in Emotion" video
Lisa Lisa

The Proof

Well, not “proof” exactly. But an enticing bit of evidence.

I did a search for anyone (a blogger, say) who’d written about mistaking “que sera” for a girl name. Just to see if anyone could back me up.

Check out this comment I found at song site Am I Right:

Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam’s, “Lost In Emotion”

The Misheard Lyrics:
Kassarah, Kassarah

The Real Lyrics:
Lost in emotion Que sera, que sera.

The Story: My sister named my niece Kassarah after this song. Ooops, oh well a beautifully unique name for a beautiful, unique girl! – Submitted by: Sandee

Jackpot. :)

(Incidentally, the spelling Kassarah has never appeared in the U.S. baby name data.)

Singer Lisa Lisa (born Lisa Velez) in the "Lost in Emotion" video
Lisa Lisa

The Conclusion

So that’s what I suspect — in the late ’80s, dozens of expectant parents heard Lisa Lisa’s “Lost in Emotion,” interpreted “que sera” as a female name, and used the mondegreen as a baby name, spelling it various ways (e.g. Kasara, Casara, Kasarah).

But I’d be happy to hear other theories if anyone out there has a better explanation.


Images: Screenshots of Lisa Lisa from the music video for “Lost in Emotion”

8 thoughts on “Was the baby name Kasara influenced by misheard song lyrics in 1987?

  1. Fascinating, Nancy! Cassara in all of her spellings is definitely dated to the late-1980s.

    People got the sound into their heads unconsciously, from the song itself and then hearing/reading it being used on babies around them – that’s how these fads go.

    I was having a discussion with a Kysira (pronounced something between ‘Cas-SAR-a’ and ‘Ca-SEAR-ah’) the other night about the origin of her name. She was born in 1989, and the story goes that the name ‘came to’ her Mother during her epidural.
    Kysira herself has argued with her Mother that her name isn’t spelt phonetically and it definitely has caused her problems, though she’s come to peace with them over time.

  2. my mom named me after this song in 1989 when she randomly heard it on the radio. Spelt is Casarra and changed the pronounciation to (Ka-Sar-Ra). i almost died when i heard it today on the radio cuz my mom could never find the song again after that day 22 years ago.

  3. We chose to name our second daughter this because we were looking for a name with a strong meaning. I found it on an international website, while living in Kuwait, that said it means prophet (meaning of Cas) and princess (meaning of Sara) so we named our little one Cassara Zoelle. Prophet and princess of abundant life!
    We pronounce it Cah-SAH-ra instead of Ca-sar-ah.

  4. My daughters name is Kasara yes in part it was a misheard BUT its also Indian (from india) which means “the pond”. But she’s also the ONLY one with her name in the ENTIRE state :P so not jennifer c. or ashley r. or Becky number 4 please answer the question in her school. she will be popular to to her name and her being the only one with it LMAO there will never be a which amanda for her ever.

  5. We also more compliments on her name because it so unique and it’s really pretty. Even the nurses at the hospital when she was born had never heard of it. I don’t even think anyone assumes we named her after mid heard song lyrics.

  6. Hello My Name is Kasara Irene and i am adopted but i was told my Birth Eufemmia Ann got it from her favorite song Lost in Emotion.

  7. I named my daughter CaSara. I was named after my grandma Sara so wanted to continue the tradition. Just a variation. Nothing to do with the song

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