Did you ever watch college basketball and notice a baffling number of players named Jalen? Do your elementary school kids have a surprising number of classmates named Isla?
Baby names chosen by celebrities often make the news. (Who could forget little Apple, daughter of Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin?) But celebrities’ own names have been known to spark naming trends in their own right.
Looking at the annual baby names data released by the U.S. Social Security Administration, it’s possible to find potential links between name surges and the rise of stars in popular culture.
Take Jalen. Before 1992, Jalen didn’t chart in Minnesota at all. Then came Jalen Rose, the former pro basketball player and member of the early ‘90s ‘Fab Five.’ His rise to the top of the court led to a mini-boom of Jalens starting in 1992.
By 2001, the name peaked in Minnesota with 27 births, leading to a handful of Jalens who are now at a prime age for sports stardom themselves. The Gophers have had a handful of Jalens in recent years.
Isla is perhaps the biggest celebrity name success story.
It was the 22nd most popular girls name in Minnesota last year. But prior to 2007, the name didn’t even show up in the database that stretches back to 1910. (There have to be at least five babies with that name in any given year to show up in the data)
Then came actress Isla Fisher, whose breakout role in 2005’s “Wedding Crashers” got her unique name noticed by expectant mothers. It’s been rapidly rising ever since. All told, 578 Minnesota-born girls age 10 and under have been named Isla.
Granted, celebrities’ influence only goes so far. With the exception of Isla, most of the names we looked up didn’t land in Minnesota’s Top 100 for 2016. Minnesota babies are far more likely to be named Henry and Evelyn (this year’s chart-toppers) than Channing and Rihanna.
Still, look up some other famous names — Beyonce, Miley — and you’ll see a pattern. No Minnesotan-born girls were granted those names until a year after the former Destiny’s Child star went solo in 2003, or the 2006 debut of the Disney Channel show “Hannah Montana,” respectively.
The name Adele, which charted from 1910 to 1950 in Minnesota, eventually fell off the charts completely. It came back in 2005, and then got a bump the year after the British singer’s “19” album came out in 2008.
The rise of Taylor as a girl’s name in Minnesota can’t be credited to Taylor Swift. But Swift getting that name probably reflects a wider popularity of the name. All 5,885 Minnesota-born Taylors came after 1982. Swift herself was born in 1989.
Interestingly, her fame didn’t contribute to a boost for the name, which has been sinking in the Minnesota charts even while she has topped the music charts.
These are, of course, celebrities with mass U.S. and global appeal. How about famous Minnesotans?
While there aren’t many Garrisons here, there was a surge in 2006 — the year Garrison Keillor’s “Prairie Home Companion” film came out. Five more boys got the name in 2016, the year of Keillor’s very public retirement.
Kirby Puckett can’t be credited with introducing the name in Minnesota — he was part of a small mid-20th-century trend of boys getting the name — but he could probably be credited with bringing it back in the ‘80s and ‘90s thanks to his career with the Minnesota Twins.
Who are some other distinctly Minnesotan celebrities? Look them and your other favorite celebs up in the database below, to see if their stars’ rise contributed to a rise in their names’ popularity.