The two fastest-rising* boys' names of the year were boosted by celebrities with wildly different public images and audiences. One is black, one white. One urban, one rural. One raps, the other makes duck calls. And yet the two names have one very big thing in common: they both sound a whole lot like Jason.
#1 Jayceon. (#206, up from #1,017. Most parents pronounce it "Jason.") A major name in rap, Jayceon illustrates how complicated naming and branding can get in the hiphop world. Rapper Jayceon Taylor has built an enormously successful career over the past decade under the name The Game, which he eventually shortened to simply Game. A top rapper, Game has also done some acting and, starting in late 2012, starred in a reality tv series called Marrying The Game which gave his given name more visibility.
Around the same time, an emerging young hiphop artist started recording under his first name: yes, "Jayceon." While it's his own name, it's a risky branding move. If you Google "rapper Jayceon," after all, you get a whole lotta Game. The more successful Jayceon becomes, though, the more the risk shifts as the Game loses control of the "brand" that is his given name.
#2 Jase. (#89, up from #270) This name is a repeat from last year's fast-rising list, thanks to Duck Dynasty star Jason "Jase" Robertson. Originally a nickname, Jase is streamlined version of Jason for the age of Chase and Gage. Yet it also has a down-home charm via the reality tv personality and his family of mega-bearded Louisiana duck-call makers.
Together, these names point to the power of pure sound in today's baby name choices. Consider that Jayceon/Jason is a mashup of the top-10 names Jayden and Mason, and that Jace, Jayce, Cason, Kason, Case, Kase and even Ace also rose last year. Across styles, across communities, there's remarkable agreement on what sounds good.
More fast risers:
#3 Milan. (#484, up from 1,159) Singer Shakira, who made her Arabic name more common amoung both Spanish and English speakers, did the same for this classic Slavic men's name when she chose it for her son.
#4 Thiago. (#485, up from #828) Thiago/Tiago is a Portuguese form of James that is hugely popular in Brazil. Soccer player Thiago Alcântara do Nascimento goes by the single name Thiago, in the Brazilian style.
#5 Atlas. (#789, up from #1,372) The world-bearing Titan of Greek mythology, Atlas also carries cultural connotations from Atlas Shrugged to Cloud Atlas to Rand McNally Road Atlases. A key character in the BioShock video games is named Atlas, as is the son of actress Anne Heche.
* Rising names calculated with the Baby Name Wizard hotness formula, which balances the percentage rise with absolute number of names affected.
The Social Security Administration has released the official rankings of the most popular baby names in America for 2013, and there's big news at the top: Jacob has fallen out of #1 spot for the first time in the 21st Century.
Meet the new champion, Noah, and the rest of the top names for American boys and girls.
Noah and the new #2 boy's name Liam are both part of the soaring sound category I've identified as "raindrop names." Meanwhile Jayden and Aiden both fell, Aiden slipping out of the top 10.
You can browse the full 2013 popularity list, complete with comparisons to last year's rankings, in our Top 1,000 Baby Names of 2013 page. Stay tuned for the full data and more name news and analysis, including the fastest-rising names of the year
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Each year at this time, we take a look at the buzziest names for babies as chosen by a special panel of experts: the BabyNameWizard.com reader community.
The dedicated name enthusiasts who enter our annual Baby Name Pool make have an outstanding record of identifying "names on the verge." (Read More) Take a look at what happened to the popularity of the four most-predicted rising names from last year's pool:
And this year? The top Pool selections are:
This prediction crop is an interesting mix of newsmakers and name-style setters. Harper and Penelope are repeat choices from last year's Pool. Entrants are betting that they still have further to climb, and they may well be right. Penelope in particular shows signs of major momentum. Asher is a near doppelgänger for last year's top pick Archer, pointing to a red-hot sound.
The other names are all tied to major personalities of the year: New Pope Francis, new heir to the British throne Prince George, and new heir to the Disney throne Queen Elsa. Francis and Elsa in particular seem like strong bets for the year to come.
Beyond those top selections, look for the continued rise of the style I've called "Raindrop Names." Mila, Aria, Arya, Nora and Liam were all popular Pool choices, and I'd keep an eye on L names like Luna and Lena, and even the anagrammatic brothers Leon and Noel.
And now...on to name week! The official United States baby name statistics for 2014 are due out toward the end of next week. We'll have the top names and analysis of the trends and changes here, plus look for timely announcements and commentary on Twitter, @BabyNameWizard.