Let Dear Jerks Name Your Kids!: A Look at the Social Security Top Ten Baby Names of 2013

on May 13, 2014
Did you have a son last year and name him Noah? Well, the odds are pretty good that you did, because this past weekend the much-ballyhooed Social Security’s Top Ten Baby Names for 2013 list was released, and ‘Noah’ was numero ein for little dudes. We’re guessing this has something to do with America's super boring paralysis of apocalypse-fixation that has turned so many people into “doomsday preppers” or whatnot. What name would you give the one person in the world you hope survives the big flood? Yeah, we got it.

But, c'mon, ‘Liam’ at number two? Since when is 'Liam’ a name in America?? Compare that to the UK, where ‘Liam’ has a very long history of being a name that someone might actually use. There, last year, it was at fiftieth place. On a side note: in 1995, when I tried to name the new family cat 'Liam' (because I was a huge Oasis fan, obviously), I was shot down, because back then it wasn't even something you would name a cat in the US. How the tables have turned!

Scotland's Eternal Poet Laureate
This alarming trend reminds me of the time when I decided, like all single twenty-year-olds do, what I would name my son if I had one. I was (and still am) a huge fan of the band Arab Strap, and really liked the name of the singer, Aidan Moffat. Flash forward a few years, and somehow Sex and the City absurdly managed to make 'Aidan' one of the most popular names in America, despite not one single person in the US having been given that name before I decided that it was cool (and that’s an indisputable fact). So, naturally, I assumed that stupid television caused this whole ‘Liam’ thing, too, but after some non-intensive online research, the only ‘Liam’ character I can find is on the US version of Shameless, where some character is for reals named 'Liam Gallagher,' because that show is apparently created by an Oasis fan.

Here's your #2 namesake, America!
At what point in time did this generation of American parents all simultaneously decide that Definitely Maybe was their favorite album of all time? And even if so, why would you name your son after the petulant singer who spat a giant loogie on the stage at the MTV Music Awards while performing a song un-ironically titled “Champagne Supernova,” when you could at least name your little pride and joy after the older brother, Noel, who actually wrote all the songs??

Here’s where it gets into “judge not lest ye be judged” territory, though. Let the following be a lesson that sometimes you should hold off on asking a question if you’re not ready to hear the answer…

Here it goes. Somehow, I spent the first twenty-nine years of my life incurious as to why my parents gave me the name they did. Then, one day in 2009, I finally started to wonder, and asked my father why they chose 'Ian.' Now, mind you, I wasn’t expecting to be named after anyone awesome, like Ian Curtis or Ian McCulloch, because neither Joy Division nor Echo and the Bunnymen got much recognition in the US in early 1980 (Ian Curtis’ suicide, on May 18th of that year, happened six weeks after I was born).

Ian Anderson, relaxing at home
What I also wasn’t expecting, though, was that I was indeed named after a very famous rock ’n’ roll front man from the Northwest of England: Blackpool’s beloved son, Ian Anderson. Yep, that’s right: the flute player in Jethro Tull, the arena-packing, costume-loving act whom legendary music journalist Nick Kent basically chose to single out as the lamest band of the ‘70s in his memoir of that decade, Apathy for the Devil. Sometimes your parents are into prog rock...what are you gonna do?

Well, you can start by letting us here at Dear Jerks help name your baby for you! Naming kids is tough work, so before you collapse in exhaustion and just name your precious, precious little man after some random jar you found in the kitchen (‘Mason’: #4 last year!), or find yourself saying “Eff it, let’s just do what Will Smith did” (‘Jayden’: #9!), consider our awesome suggestions, which, if nothing else, will totally prove to everyone how much you like good music.

Instead of ranking eighty-seven possible names in listicle fashion, we’re just going to lay a few ideas out to help get you started. Popularity contests aside (though they totally count for everything), there is no one name that is better on its own merits than all others. And, unless you are planning on having dozens of children, coming up with the title of your wee bairn is not like coming up with the title of a song: it has to be personal, and you have to make it count. Thus, what better way to make it count than by naming your child after a song?! The logic is flawless…

'Jeane': If you are having a daughter, there is perhaps no better name you can pick to show off what a devout fan of the Smiths you are. It’s an early B-side (snob cred!) to their classic breakout single, “This Charming Man” (timeless!). If that wasn't enough, the song also contains perhaps the most vivid eight words Morrissey ever strung together, “there’s ice on the sink where we bathe,” a flash fiction lyric on par with the Hemmingway-attributed “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”

'Seymour': I mean, where do we begin with this obvious top choice? First, there is Seymour Stein the person, the man behind Sire Records. Then there is “Seymour Stein” the song, which Belle & Sebastian wrote about him. Even closer to Dear Jerks’ hearts, there’s the early single by Swell Maps, “Read About Seymour.” Also, Blur were originally named Seymour (possibly inspired by Swell Maps??). Speaking of…

Name Your Kid After One of Blur's 'Character' Songs: Not since the age of the Kinks and early Pink Floyd did a band make so many damn songs that were quirky fictional English caricature sketches. The possibilities here are plentiful: “Colin Zeal,” “Tracy Jacks,” “Ernold Same,” or even Bill Barrett from “Magic America.” Yes, you have to use the full name from the song as a first name, otherwise it doesn't count. "But Dear Jerks, Damon Albarn's new solo album, lovely as it can be, strikes me as a bit, well, 'adult contemporary'..." We agree, but at least 80% of Blur’s catalog is ageless!  

The Kim Gordon and Kim Deal of their era
'Berlin': With ‘Paris’ long played out and ‘Brooklyn’ past its prime, a new hip and artsy city needs to step up and become a name for a human being, and these days cities don’t get much more hip and artsy than Berlin. Plus, it has an impeccable ‘70s rock legacy: Lou Reed named an album after the place, and bosom buddies David Bowie and Iggy Pop made some of their best music there. Sure, the band Berlin’s “Take My Breath Away” is an awful song, but no one’s going to assume that’s why you chose the name, unless all of your turtlenecks have shoulder pads.

"When will the Dandy Warhols write a song about you, Kim?"
'Kim': Name your daughter after Kim Deal or Kim Gordon. Or both. Did it ever get cooler than these two? No, it did not. That is why the Dandy Warhols wrote a song called "Cool as Kim Deal," and not "Cooler than Kim Deal," because being any cooler would be technically impossible. They were pretty much the David Bowie and Iggy Pop of their generation, save for, like, one or two minor differences. Seriously though, take back the name 'Kim' from the land of bad Eminem songs and Kardashians, or whatever.

'Malkmus': A fantastic unisex name! History and sales figures be damned, the general consensus among people now who spend way too much time writing about their opinions of other people's art on the Internet (hello!) is that Pavement were the greatest band during the time when Pavement were the greatest band. But it would be hard to show your popular-but-somehow-still-unique love for Pavement by going with any of their first names, which consisted of two Steve’s, Bob, Mark, and Scott. You could also go with ‘Westy,’ or even ‘Ibold,’ but calling your kid ‘Spiral Stairs’ would be taking it too far.

'Biggie Smalls': Obviously...

Take it away, Jethro!