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.
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.
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.
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?)
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.
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:
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
(Incidentally, the spelling Kassarah has never appeared in the U.S. baby name data.)
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.
- Lisa Lisa and Cult Jame – Wikipedia
- Lisa Lisa and Cult Jame – Billboard
- Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be) – Wikipedia
- Que sera sera – Wiktionary
- Che sera sera – Wiktionary
Images: Screenshots of Lisa Lisa from the music video for “Lost in Emotion”