art culture politics music humor

issue 1.1


Fidel if it's a Boy, Xena if it's a Girl

By Angus Johnston

According to Social Security Administration figures, Britney, spelled as Ms. Spears spells it, was the 446th most popular name for girls born in the United States in 1998. It climbed to 206th in 1999-the year that Baby, One More Time came out-and to 139 in 2000, but dropped a little in 2001.

Want more? Aaliyah, spelled like the singer spelled it, showed up among the top thousand girls' names for the first time in 1994, when she released her first album. It cracked the top 200 for the first time in 1997, when her second album went platinum, and the top 100 in 2001, when she died.

Kobe, as in Bryant, made the boys' top thousand for the first time in 1997, after his rookie season, and now stands at 225. Shaquille appeared in the top thousand the year after O'Neal debuted in the NBA, and peaked at 185 in 1993. Sadly, Ichiro hasn't shown up yet.

Austin rose through the early '90s, peaked at 9 in 1997, the year the first Austin Powers movie came out, and now stands at 25.

Russell didn't become a more popular name after Crowe won the Oscar for Gladiator, but Maximus did. Chandler and Phoebe have been given a boost by "Friends," but Ross has not.

Willow debuted in the top thousand in 1998. Xander debuted in 1999, and Faith rose into the top 100 that year. Buffy, Giles, Spike, and Oz have not yet appeared.

Xena showed up in 1996 at number 770, hung around for 1997 at 772, then disappeared again.

Hillary, Chelsea, and Clinton all started slipping in 1993-94, and each took another hit in 1998-99. Hilary (with one L) dropped off the chart in 1994, and hasn't been back since, despite Ms. Swank's Oscar. Monica fell out of the top 100 in 1999, but remains in the top 200.

Clarence and Anita both went into decline in 1992. Reagan showed up for the first time in 1993, and has been rising ever since. Fidel has made the list every year.

Diana didn't spike when Princess Diana died. Teresa has fallen off a bit since Mother Teresa died.

Kurt seems not to have been affected by Cobain's suicide, but Courtney has dropped steadily since his death.

Elvis has been pretty consistently in the 600s, Marilyn pretty consistently in the 400s, and Prince pretty consistently in the 900s since 1990.

The Lexus first went on sale in 1989. The name debuted on the list in 1993, and peaked at 465 in 1996. Maxim magazine began publishing in 1997, and the name debuted on the list in 2000. LaToya Jackson first appeared in Playboy in 1989, but her name remained vaguely popular for a few more years, finally disappearing from the list in 1995.

More people named their sons Xander in 2001 than named them Arnold, Leroy, Barry, or Irving. More named their daughters Aaliyah than named them Amy, Margaret, Erica, or Audrey. More named their sons Talon than Howard. More named their daughters Lyric than Diane.

For more statistics, check out

Angus Johnston lives in Brooklyn with his very pregnant wife, and can be reached at

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