Saturday, December 21, 2013

Hottest Baby Names of 2013: Breaking Bad, Duck Dynasty and Girls Offer Inspiration for Parents-to-Be

Just a few months ago, I wrote about a prediction by baby-naming gurus stating that this Fall's favorite TV shows would be the hottest inspiration for baby names. Looks like they were right : ) Here's the scoop on what's hot right NOW from

Posted on in December 2013

From Miley Cyrus to Walter White, popular culture didn't offer many positive role models this year. Still, new parents found inspiration for their babies' names everywhere, from funny guys on late-night TV to presidents of long ago, from the down-home Duck Dynasty clan to a little prince born across the pond. To find out what ruled and what drooled on America's 2013 birth certificates, read on.

Breaking Bad babies

Everyone's favorite drug-dealing drama came to a violent, riveting end this year, so it would be no surprise if Breaking Bad had an effect on parents' baby-naming choices. Still, there were few characters to root for, much less name a beautiful baby after. Walter? No, thanks – the science-teacher-turned-meth-maker's moniker fell 55 spots, or 12 percent, in our baby name rankings. (It's number 520 on our list of popular boys' names.) The names Skyler, Jesse, Hank, Todd, Holly, and Saul also dropped on our lists.

Interestingly, two characters' names saw a significant jump: Mike (up 20 percent) and Marie (up 21 percent). Mike was a killer, but at least he was an ethical, honorable man, and Marie – despite her bossiness and sticky fingers – was a loving wife and sister. In the morally flawed universe of the show, they were good guys – and that may have been enough to inspire some baby Mikes and Maries to be named in 2013.

Duck Dynasty reigns supreme

If you've been living under a rock and haven't heard of Duck Dynasty, here's a quick primer. The A&E reality show features the close-knit Robertson family of West Monroe, Louisiana, self-made millionaires who run a duck-hunting supply company – the Duck Commander. With their long beards and self-proclaimed hillbilly ways, these guys are unlikely stars. Still, their down-home high jinks proved highly watchable: The show broke ratings records this year to become the most-watched nonfiction series in cable history.

Looks like the Robertsons made a big splash in baby names, too. Korie – she's the stunning mom of five and Duck Commander office manager – rose a whopping 89 percent, or 13,262 spots, in our baby name rankings. Her husband, frazzled duck-calling CEO Willie, saw his name jump 4 percent. Jase (Jason), Willie's laid-back older brother, jumped 8 spots on our list.

Family patriarch Phil's name soared 32 percent, or 860 spots, on our boys' list. Who can forget his memorable advice on choosing a wife (homely is good, as long as she can cook and carries her Bible) or his frog-skinning demonstration? The name of his wacky brother Silas (Uncle Si) jumped up the boys' list to 112. Also on the rise are the names of several of the Robertson grandchildren – Mia, Sadie, Reed, and John.

Girls in diapers

The HBO series Girls – a grittier Sex and the City for millennials – is on fire, and so are the names of several of the show's leading ladies. Uptight Marnie has had her share of humiliating moments, but plenty of expecting parents love her name – Marnie is up 62 percent, or 3,286 spots, on our girls' list. Same goes for Shoshanna, the sweet but neurotic friend played by actress Zosia Mamet. The name Shoshanna rose 67 percent (when spelled with one "n"), and Zosia climbed 46 percent. Incidentally, Zosia Mamet is the daughter of famed playwright and author David Mamet, obviously no baby-naming slouch.

What about Lena Dunham, Girls' creator and star? The name Lena jumped 26 percent – no surprise considering that this talented, 27-year-old writer and director won two Golden Globe awards this year. The name Hannah (Dunham's character on the show) dropped 10 percent, however. The fictionalized version of Dunham is an emotional train wreck and has been widely mocked for her over-the-top exhibitionism, which may explain her name's lack of popularity.

Other Girls names on the wane are Jessa – the wild-at-heart Brit with easy breezy sexuality – and the name of the actress who plays her, Jemima (Kirke). Jessa slumped 11 percent on our girls' list, while Jemima dropped 5 percent. Looks like new parents don't see her as a good role model for their baby girls.

All hail George

The royal baby arrived in July to proud parents Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, and he's already had an impact on parents' naming choices. The name George climbed 10 percent for boys and – in a nontraditional twist – it's up 37 percent for baby girls!

Variations on the name for girls and boys, including Georgia, Georgina, and Giorgio, also rose on our baby name lists. Interestingly, George fell out of the top 10 this year on the BabyCentre United Kingdom baby names list.

Kanye comes out on top

Although they've become a family many love to hate, the Kardashian clan is still influencing the baby name choices of America's parents. Few are copying Kim Kardashian's directional baby name (North West) – we couldn't find a single other baby North in our extensive database. But the name Nori – little North's nickname – rose 5 spots on our list. And the name West for boys is taking off, rising 22 percent, or 436 spots.

The real winner in all this naming drama was Kanye West. The acclaimed producer and recording artist is known for his massive ego, so let's hope he doesn't hear that some expecting parents are naming their kids after him. The name Kanye jumped 38 percent, or 2,228 spots, on our boys' list to number 3,652.

Bad girls' club

After her jaw-dropping performance at the Video Music Awards in August, you wouldn't expect Miley Cyrus to be a hit with parents. (Who wants their baby to grow up to wave a foam finger while prancing around on stage almost naked, twerking on anything that moves?) But Miley just won't stop – the name skipped up 3 percent, or 16 spots, on our girls' list.

Other tween-stars-turned-bad-girls aren't as magical. The name Amanda (like Amanda Bynes) slipped 37 percent, and the name Lindsay (Lohan) sank 17 percent.

Reese, which had been riding high, dropped a whopping 45 percent and fell out of the top 100 names for girls. Could actress Reese Witherspoon's April arrest for disorderly conduct be to blame?

Paula Deen also saw her name tumble down our baby names list. The moniker Paula fell 20 percent, or 123 places, to number 748. Seems folks want their sweet-talking Southern chefs to keep it sweet off-camera, too.

Triple-threat Indie girls

Of course, there are plenty of young women getting attention for positive accomplishments – Lena Dunham, whose first name is rising up our rankings, as well as Lake Bell, who wrote, directed, and stars in the film In a World.

Lena and Lake do it all – write, direct, and act – so it's no wonder their names hold appeal. The first name Bell jumped 67 percent for girls to number 6,311, and Lake skipped up 24 percent to number 3,915. Both are far, far below the top 100 girls' names, but check back in five years and they may have stealthily worked their way up the list.

Being an indie-girl phenomenon isn't enough to vault your name to widespread popularity, however. Take, for example, Greta Gerwig, who co-wrote and stars in this year's Frances Ha. Her first name dropped 15 percent to number 451.

Funny guys

Who doesn't want their kid to have a good sense of humor? It looks like some new parents are trying to stack the deck by naming their baby boys after successful comedians.

Alec (think Baldwin) jumped 12 percent, or 51 spots, on our boys' list. The droll funnyman has been omnipresent thanks to seven seasons on 30 Rock and his funny TV spots for Capital One ("What's in your wallet?").

Fred (like Armisen) also got a boost, up 88 spots, or 7 percent. It's fitting that he'd be on our minds, considering he just wrapped up an 11-year run on Saturday Night Live and continues his hilarious work on Portlandia.

Other funny guys are killing it on our popular boys' names list too: Jimmy (Kimmel and Fallon), Jason (Sudeikis), Vincent (Vince Vaughn), and Stephen (like Stephen Colbert, whose show just won an Emmy, and Stephen Merchant from the breakout HBO hit Hello Ladies). Laughter must be the way to new parents' hearts.

Looking for heroes

While plenty of parents drew baby-naming ideas from pop culture, many others did not. According to BabyCenter's annual baby names survey, 63 percent of moms say they dislike names inspired by celebrities.

Instead, some parents are looking to American heroes. This year marks the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy's death, and his name is soaring up our lists of popular baby names. The name Kennedy rose 25 percent for boys and 21 percent for girls, and the classic boys' name John saw a 2 percent lift.

Others looked further back in American history to presidents Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Jackson. The name Abraham jumped 20 percent in our rankings, and Lincoln rose 11 percent. Though Andrew dropped 14 percent, Jackson is number one for boys born in 2013. The fiery seventh president's last name is now the most popular first name for boys. It unseated Aiden, which had held the top spot for eight years straight.

Although President Obama's approval ratings have been up and down this year, his first name – Barack – rose 48 percent, or 5,137 spots, on our list of boys' names. His wife's name, Michelle, jumped 13 percent. And if baby name trends are any predictor, Texan Wendy Davis has a bright future. The state senator made headlines in June with an 11-hour filibuster (made while sporting hot-pink sneakers). Her name zoomed up 733 spots, or 35 percent, on our girls' list.