Names that make you sing

Someone commenting on another post in which the name Jolene is being discussed mentioned that she cannot hear the name without continuing with "Jolene-Jolene-Joleeeeeeene", which is an experience I share. It made me think of the name Roxanne, because in my head that must be followed by "You don't have to put on the red light". Sometimes, a name is so integral to a song's lyrics that it's very difficult to separate them.

That got me wondering what names make all of you sing. 


April 20, 2016 2:55 PM

I know a teenage Jolene who absolutely despises her name because of that song!

One that is a much more obsure song but gets in my head all the time is "Amelia Jean" by Jack's Mannequin. The chorus begins, "Oh Amelia, I can feel ya..." and that rhyme plays over and over when I hear the name (even though I normally pronounce Amelia with 4 syllables, but the song only uses 3).

April 20, 2016 4:40 PM

Laura did a blog on this a long time ago:

I remember there were a lot of other names in the comments, too -- this was back when the blog comments were really hopping.

Jolene is definitely key among the earworms for me. Love the name, love the song, love Dolly Parton (and am bummed that her tour this year won't go close enough to where I live). I only sang at a student by this name once when returning papers but it was hard to resist. When my son occasionally gets called Jolene at the doctor's office, it always makes me happy.

April 20, 2016 7:28 PM

Wow, your memory never ceases to impress me! I know I read the post at the time (more than likely commented, too,) but I don't remember it. I still think it's a fun topic to think about. 

I love that J0ly0n gets called Jolene. It's like the closest familiar name people can come up with. 

This is probably me being an old fogey who is out of touch with current pop culture, but I can't think of any recent songs that prominently feature a name to the extent that the young whippersnappers will have the same experience with contemporary songs. Delilah is the most recent one I can think of, and that's hardly new.

April 20, 2016 7:36 PM

Recent songs seem to feature words like titanium, radioactive, skyscraper, and chandelier, rather than feminine names, for whatever that says about contemporary culture. 

April 28, 2016 10:39 PM

Becky with the good hair is getting some play these days. 

April 29, 2016 5:55 PM

Ha, I recently read a comment from a (white) woman who was expressing that she occasionally gets very smirky/bemused reactions when introducing herself to people of color because the name her parents gave her is, in fact, Becky.

By kbot
May 6, 2016 10:57 AM

I was actually just thinking about that old blog recently! There's a song by The Lumineers called Ophelia that reminds me a lot of Hey There Delilah - sort of a catchy pop song. I was wondering if it would have any effect on the name Ophelia in the same way I think Delilah increased in usage when that song was popular. 

Other than that, though, Jolene is a huge one for me. Susannah a bit too, although not to the same extent.  

May 6, 2016 11:19 AM

You know, I thought that Susannah was one, like Clementine, that would more or less automatically bring the song to mind, and yet I knew a Susannah and didn't want to sing at her once. I think it's the difference between a name in abstract and a name attached to a person.

April 29, 2016 4:55 AM

Long time lurker, infrequent poster (phone surfing is not conducive for posting.) Lucubratrix- Totally off topic, but I just saw that Dolly added Kent to her tour. (Promise I am not a creepy follower. Fellow PNW queer mama so I tend to take note of others.)

On topic, Jolene, Caroline (Sweet Caroline), Roxanne, Lola (Whatever Lola wants...), and Susanna (Oh Susanna) always make me hum when I hear them.


April 29, 2016 5:57 PM

Kerry, thanks so much for the info. Unfortunately, less than 4 hours after tickets went on sale, they are all sold out... so it's looking unlikely for me, since I have some ethical objections about the four-fold-plus markup that the craigslist scalpers are selling tickets for. The good news is that Dolly appears to have loads of local fans, though!

May 2, 2016 3:35 AM

Yeah, I was hoping to drive up from PDX for the show but all the tickets were gone when I tried about 10 minutes after they went on sale. Plenty on sale from third party companies which frustrates the heck out of me as I refuse to support that industry. I will just cross my fingers that she adds a Portland show to the lineup.

April 21, 2016 9:08 AM

Rhiannon! (Fleetwood Mac)

April 21, 2016 10:23 AM

There aren't many who appreciate this one properly, but I met siblings named T0bin and E11is, and have been singing an old Hungarian nursery/nonsense song whenever I think of them: Éliás, Tóbiás, egy tál dödölle, ettél belőle, kertbe mentek a tyúkok, mind megették a magot (

(As I said, it's a nonsense song: Elias, Tobias, one bowl of potato dumplings, you ate from it, the hens got in the garden and ate up all the seeds.)

April 21, 2016 11:06 AM

Yeah, I'm probably the only one who appreciates that one. Your husband doesn't know the song, and Mother wouldn't recognize E11is and T0bin as the same names as Elias and Tobias.

April 21, 2016 8:39 PM

Funny this thread should appear today. Yesterday I was contemplating the name Alice for our hoped-for third child, and started planning to convince my husband that it is the right name for us, when I remembered the Smokie song Living Next Door to Alice - over here, when this is played at the pub, it's "tradition" for everyone to yell "Alice? Who the f*** is Alice!" during the chorus, and now I can't get it out of my head when I think of the name. Starting to see that selling the merits of Alice might be harder than I anticipated. Ugh. 

There's also a little ditty on a Franz Ferdinand album (their second one?) which starts "Kathryn kiss me" and every time I see Kathryn spelled that way, the lyric pops into my head.

im sure I'll think of more during the day. 

April 21, 2016 9:00 PM

I haven't thought of that song in a long time, but I know exactly what you mean!

And your screen name made me think of Cecilia. It used to be a completely automatic association, but now that I encounter the name in real life much more often, I no longer have the immediate urge to sing.

April 22, 2016 12:52 AM

I love that song... and I think it's tradition for everyone, everywhere to shout out the chorus. I think it might have been related to why I never quite managed to put Alice as high on our list a decade ago, pre-kids. It took making friends with an Alice (and one who is very different in her wholesome level from the song) for me to stop having the song run through my head when hearing the name... which is an impressive achievement considering that there are so many other Alice associations out there (Alice in Wonderland, for example).


April 22, 2016 12:56 AM

Personal associations definitely make a huge difference. For instance, I no longer feel the need to preface Janet with Dammit because of my OB-GYN. (Well, most of the time, anyway.)

April 21, 2016 9:59 PM

My first thought when someone brings up 'names in songs' is Maria, with various songs featuring the name. I also think of all the names in Lou Bega's 'Mambo No. 5', and the lesser known Allie by Patrick Stump.

April 21, 2016 10:04 PM

Oh, I'm torn between Maria from West Side Story and How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria. The former came into my head first, and I find it to be less earwormy while I'm trying to work, so I'll stick with that one for now :)

April 21, 2016 11:19 PM

I usually think of the Ricky Martin song or the classic Ave Maria. I tend to stick to the former as it reminds me of my childhood-my mother was half Latina on her mother's side (and my middle daughter is named after both of them), so it was common to hear that particular song and other popular Spanish-languge songs at family gatherings. :)

April 22, 2016 12:00 AM

Right! And that just reminded me of Santana's Maria Maria.

April 22, 2016 9:21 AM

When I was a kid my parents were huge country fans so Maria always makes me think of Brooks & Dunn's "My Maria," and the several-seconds-long falsetto hold of the second syllable. 

April 22, 2016 4:05 PM

I also immediately thought of My Maria as well (in falsetto, no less).

May 5, 2016 9:35 PM

'Dear Maria, Count Me In' by All Time Low has played at work quite a few times this week, so there's another Maria song stuck in my head. I must show this list of Maria songs to my sister-she's a Maria and constantly looking for songs using her name! :) 

April 22, 2016 4:06 PM

I can't hear the name Alejandro without thinking of the Lady Gaga song. 

April 22, 2016 6:07 PM

I guess it helps to not listen to popular radio. Like for most of these references, my reaction is "what Lady Gaga song?" :)

April 28, 2016 10:41 PM

Same! Fernando also goes to that song for me, now, too.


April 29, 2016 6:02 PM

Fernando goes to Abba for me, still, but Alejandro is an amazing earworm!

(TOH, one of the official divisions of labor in my marriage is that I am the Pop Culture Ambassador, which means that there are regular debriefings in which I fill in the Spouse on the most gossipy of current happenings and make her listen to/watch the most iconic of current pop songs/videos. I find this way more enjoyable a contribution to the household than vacuuming.)

April 29, 2016 6:56 PM

I was going mention ABBA's Fernando, too!

And this a service that you offer to others or only those living in your household? 

April 29, 2016 11:01 PM

Ha, it's only been offered on an intra-household pilot program so far, but I'd be open to reconsidering!

April 30, 2016 8:11 PM

If you need external beta testing, I'm interested :D

May 2, 2016 3:35 AM

Well, after this thread, I am going to have a lot more names that make me think of songs. :)

May 4, 2016 9:34 AM

Matilda has recently been added to this list for me because of the song by Alt-J

May 6, 2016 11:34 PM

Helena reminds me of Nickel Creek's "Helena", and they have songs named "Eveline" and "Anthony" that I'll always associate with those names.
Punch Brother's also have songs called "Clara" and "Alex" 

May 7, 2016 6:13 AM

Now that you mention Helena, I remember the My Chemical Romance song of the same name! (Although I don't feel the urge to sing it, as upon reading over the lyrics, it turns out Helena is never actually said in the song and it's just the title!)

May 9, 2016 5:59 PM

Gloria. So many Gloria songs that are so so catchy, from the 80s pop to the Christmas carols.

I also get the 80s songs about Rosanna and Sarah in my head when I hear about people with those names.

May 9, 2016 7:04 PM

THE Gloria song dates from the mid-60s (long before the 80s), the one by Van Morrison and the Them that spells out G-L-O-R-I-A in the chorus and has since been covered by just about everyone.  The other "name" song that sticks in my ear, also from the 60s when I was at university, is Bernadette by the Four Tops. 

My thesis is that the music of your school years (high school and college) is the music that sticks with you for the rest of your life no matter what you listen to later.  My favorite grocery store plays golden oldies from the 50s and 60s.  I don't know if they are seeking an older clientele, or if they can be assured due to the censorship of the time that there will be no Darlin' Nikki lyrics (also a name song) floating through the store.  Back in the day the lyrics had to be sly double entendres at best (or worst depending on your point of view).  I didn't understand what the Coasters' Poison Ivy (yet another name song) was about when it came out while I was in junior high.  I was quite a grownup before I got it.  The other day when I was making groceries, I was singing along with the background music, when I noticed a gentleman of a certain age doing the same. Before long the two of us were rocking out together in the cracker aisle.  Good times!

May 9, 2016 9:17 PM

I can't tell you how much I love that visual :)

I love the music from when I was in high school, but I also grew up listening to my parents' '60s music, so there are a lot of songs and musicians from that era that I love, too. Cherie is a song that frequently makes me sing, too.

By kbot
May 10, 2016 10:54 AM

I know this is mentioned in the old blog, but I can't believe I forgot to mention Elvira! This is the strongest song association for me, probably even more than Jolene. (And this coming from someone who never even heard the song growing up, but it's still such a strong association).

By EVie
May 10, 2016 9:56 PM

"Oliver, Oliver, never before has a boy wanted more..."

There was a dorm at my university called Joline, pronounced the same as the song. Strangely, even though a ton of my close friends lived there, I don't think I ever heard anyone sing the song while at school. I don't think I even ever heard the song until graduate school, but shortly thereafter when I was talking to a classmate who had graduated from the same university, the dorm was mentioned and someone else who hadn't gone to school with us immediately started singing.

May 11, 2016 8:31 AM

Love this thread! 

One of mine is Mariah, as in "They call the wind Mariah" from "Paint Your Wagon". Which I heard at high school and have always remembered (totally agree about that period as being the most fertile for song data input!).

On a different note, one of my closest friends is a classical singer who used to sing "Jenny Rebecca" as an encore at concerts and named her daughter after the song. And I just looked up who wrote the song (Carol Hall), and discovered an article mentioning that Fredericka von Stade also used to sing it, and named HER daughter after the song too. 

OK, time to pull my head out of the rabbit hole!

May 21, 2016 6:52 PM

Sherrybaby... The bane of my existence. My parents even have that as their ringtone when I call their cells.

October 6, 2016 12:10 AM

For me it's Wendy (And Windy has stormy eyes, that laugh at the sound of lies) and Dominique (I don't speak French well enough to type lyrics, but the chorus is Dominique, qu'nique, qu'nique, very catchy)

October 7, 2016 8:59 PM

Oh, Windy, great song! Do you pronounce Wendy like Windy or does it just remind you of the song?