It's that time of year: The Social Security Administration has released its popular baby names list for 2013, and we learn the sometimes odd inspirations — "Duck Dynasty"?! — behind them.
Sophia has retained its crown as the most popular name for girls with (2) Emma, (3) Olivia, (4) Isabella, and (5) Ava rounding out the top five. Meanwhile, Noah topped the list for boys followed by (2) Liam, (3) Jacob, (4) Mason, and (5) William. None of the monikers is a big surprise, they were all in the Top 10 last year, but there are many other surging names that might shock you.
Laura Wattenberg, who runs the website Baby Name Wizard, dug deeper into the data and shared the fastest-rising names of 2013. For boys it's: Jayceon (No. 206, up from No. 1,017), Jase (No. 89, up from No. 270), and Milan (No. 484, up from No. 1,159). For girls: Daleyza (No. 585, up from No. 3,769), Everly (No. 383, up from No. 907), and Sadie (No. 50, up from No. 120). For the most part, these names all have ties to reality TV — with the biggest show influencer being "Duck Dynasty."
"Reality TV stars are the biggest source of new names today. There is no question that, against all odds, the bearded guys from Louisiana are big style makers. 'Duck Dynasty' hits both the boys and girls lists with Jase and Sadie," Wattenberg says. The show, which debuted in March 2012, was "the cool and beloved new thing in 2013."
Well, for most of 2013. We probably don't have to remind you of the controversy involving the patriarch's anti-gay remarks, which resulted in a ratings drop. But that happened at the very end of December, after most of the babies were already named.
"[The 'Duck Dynasty' controversy] is actually a really good thing to point out," Wattenberg says. "It would be really easy with that in mind to say, 'Look, people don't care' or 'People are rallying behind them,' but that's not how the actual chronology works out." And scandal or no scandal, "Duck Dynasty's impact will probably never be as great as it was last year," she notes. "It's likely that it's not going to reach the same cultural peak again."
Reality TV also gave a boost to the top two fastest-rising names: Jayceon and Daleyza. At first glance, they may seem largely unfamiliar, but rap fans may know that The Game's given name is Jayceon Taylor. And while he's been in the limelight for a decade, Wattenberg points to his reality series "Marrying The Game," which debuted in late 2012, for giving the name more visibility.
"I think it's really amazing — you can't find a more different pair of celebrities than The Game's Jayceon and Jase Robertson, yet it's the same sound," she says. "It's the sound of the moment."
As for Daleyza, that name is a little more obscure, but not to viewers of the Spanish-language reality "Larrymania." It's one of the daughters of series star Larry Hernandez, who is a singer.
Even celebrities who aren't sharing their personal lives on TV are name influencers as well. Another new favorite among Americans is Everly, which was given a boost by one-time "Sexiest Man Alive" Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan, who welcomed their daughter last May.
"I have been waiting for this name to hit," Wattenberg says. "It seems like a natural choice because it has the rhythm people love in a surname, it has a smooth flow to it." Then there's the rock star appeal stemming from the Everly Brothers. "Jagger and Presley already became popular names. Lennon rose fast this year and there was also a boost for Hendrix — not quite as fast though. Everly is a more feminine style in the rock star pantheon."
Meanwhile, "The Voice" coach Shakira, who has been a name influencer herself, has helped popularize Milan, after giving the name to her son in January 2013.
"Shakira is from Colombia, but she's of Lebanese heritage and her name is Arabic. We ended up with a big spike of Latinas named Shakira because of her," says Wattenberg. "Now we're getting all these Latinas named Milan. It is a very traditional name in Eastern Europe, but in the U.S. it sounded like a city — until now."
As for why parents want to name their kids after professional duck hunters, rappers, and the children of famous singers, Wattenberg said it's more about the name than it is the person.
"It's not even the case that people are necessarily admiring the bearded duck hunters. It's just that people are looking for names. Reality TV, especially with how many cable channels there are and how many shows, has opened up a huge realm of new names every year."