- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 9, 2009

Barack and Miley have moved up, but the classics still rule. Emma is the top baby name for girls, Jacob for boys.

Emma’s surge to the top in 2008 ended Emily’s 12-year reign as the No. 1 baby name for girls, the Social Security Administration announced Friday.

Jacob held onto the boy’s crown for the 10th straight year in a row.

Barack may have been the man of the year in 2008 as Barack Obama won the White House, but the president still trails the king. Barack moved up a record 10,126 places to No. 2,409. Elvis is still in the building, though he slipped from 673 to 713.

Isha Kallay of suburban Washington named her son — born before last year’s presidential election — Obama. She said she was concerned that Barack might become too popular a name.

“I wanted my baby to have a special name that other people don’t have,” Miss Kallay said from her home in Lanham.

Baby naming experts said Americans are pulled by sometimes conflicting impulses when choosing names for their children. They gravitate toward the popular, wanting their child to fit in. But many also want their child’s name to be unique, so they don’t have to share it with four other children in class at school.

Many turn to the Bible; others turn to TV.

Emma debuted in the top 10 in 2002, the same year that Jennifer Aniston’s character on “Friends” gave the name to her TV show baby. In the latest lineup, Emma was followed by Isabella, Emily, Madison and Ava.

“They might want to emulate the stars, but if they do, the name can’t be too far out,” said Jennifer Moss, author of “The One-in-a-Million Baby Name Book” and founder of Babynames.com.

“You don’t see many Apples,” she said, referring to name actress Gwyneth Paltrow gave her daughter in 2004. There aren’t many Gwyneths, either.

Miley, as in popular teen singer Miley Cyrus, moved up 152 spots to No. 127. But her stage name, Hannah - as in Hannah Montana - fell from No. 9 to No. 17.

Michelle continued a steady 20-year slide, falling from No. 94 to No. 103. But that could change now that Michelle Obama is first lady. The names of the Obama daughters, Sasha and Malia, were in the 300s.

The top five boy names remained unchanged from 2007. Jacob was followed by Michael, Ethan, Joshua and Daniel. Alexander joined the top 10 at No. 6 while Andrew dropped out.

The Social Security Administration started compiling name lists in 1997. The agency offers lists of baby names dating to 1880, and its Web site includes the top baby names by state.

New girl names in the national top 1,000 included Isla (623), Mareli (718), Milagros (731), Dayami (750) and Nylah (821).

Debuting among the boys were Aaden (343), Chace (655), Marley (764), Kash (779) and Kymani (836). Beckham debuted at 893, perhaps a nod to the British soccer star, David Beckham, who now plays for the Los Angeles Galaxy.

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