What popularized the baby name Janay in the 1980s?

Freddie Jackson's album "Just Like the First Time" (1986)
Freddie Jackson album

From 1986 to 1987, usage of the baby name Janay increased by more than a factor of 12:

  • 1989: 315 baby girls named Janay [rank: 651st]
  • 1988: 429 baby girls named Janay [rank: 513th]
  • 1987: 596 baby girls named Janay [rank: 388th]
  • 1986: 47 baby girls named Janay
  • 1985: 37 baby girls named Janay

Janay was one of the fastest-rising baby names of 1987, in fact.

Graph of the usage of the baby name Janay in the U.S. since 1880
Usage of the baby name Janay

Not only that, but many similar names also got a boost in that year…


(That last one, Jnay, was also a one-hit wonder in the data.)

When multiple spellings of the same name rise together, the explanation is often audio, and this case is no different.

The influence was the R&B ballad “Janay” (pronounced jeh-nay) by Freddie Jackson.

Notably, the song was never released as a single, so it wouldn’t have gotten much (if any) radio play.

It was simply a track on Jackson’s album Just Like the First Time, which was released in November of 1986. The album ended up reaching #1 on Billboard‘s “Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums” chart in early December and staying there for 26 weeks straight.

The success of the album gave the unreleased track so much exposure that hundreds of baby girls were named Janay (or some variant thereof) the following year.

What are your thoughts on the baby name Janay?

Sources: Freddie Jackson – Wikipedia, Freddie Jackson – Billboard, SSA

One thought on “What popularized the baby name Janay in the 1980s?

  1. I love it! It’s my name!! ??
    I do remember when it started getting popular though. It is a unique and interesting name.

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