- Associated Press - Thursday, May 5, 2011

Elvis has left the list.

Ending a run that started in 1955, Elvis did not make the list of the 1,000 most popular baby names in the United States compiled by the Social Security Administration. The name never topped the charts, peaking at No. 312 in 1957 and making a slight comeback after Elvis Presley died in 1977. But the King’s first name was in the top 1,000 for 55 straight years, something that cannot be said for, say, Barack, which has never cracked the list.

“I was all shook up,” Social Security Commissioner Michael J. Astrue said. “It’s been a tradition tracking his ups and downs, and to see him drop off the top 1,000, I have to be honest, we took that very hard at Social Security.”

Jacob continued a 12-year run as the most popular name for boys in 2010, according to the list released Thursday. Isabella was the most popular name for girls for a second year at the top.

Nearly 22,000 boys were named Jacob in 2010, followed by Ethan, Michael, Jayden and William. Nearly 23,000 girls were named Isabella, followed by Sophia, Emma, Olivia and Ava.

Names with different spellings were counted separately. For example, Aiden was No. 9 among boys, while Aidan was No. 94, and Aaden was No. 556. Among the girls, Chloe was No. 9, while Khloe was No. 42; Zoe was No. 31, and Zoey was No. 47.

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 kids in class at school.

Many turn to the Bible for inspiration, while others turn to popular culture and, increasingly, reality TV.

The fastest-rising names for both girls and boys came from a pair of reality-TV shows called “16 and Pregnant” and “Teen Mom.” Maci was the biggest riser among girls, jumping 423 spots to No. 232. Among boys, Bentley shot up 414 spots to No. 101.

Maci Bookout has starred as a teen mother on the MTV shows. Her baby’s name is Bentley.

“It certainly tends to say this is what people are watching and what they are connecting with,” Mr. Astrue said. “I’ll leave it to others to explain the phenomenon.”

Laura Wattenberg, author of “The Baby Name Wizard,” said reality-TV stars can have a big influence on baby names because they remind viewers of regular people.

“We have this perception that Hollywood celebrities are on another planet because they choose weird names for their kids,” said Miss Wattenberg, who runs the website BabyNameWizard.com. “The fact is, average Americans are just as creative, and when they find themselves on TV, they are even more influential about names.”

Celebrity baby names have a better chance of catching on if soon-to-be parents are familiar with them, Miss Wattenberg said. For example, Bentley, aside from being the name of a luxury automobile, is well-known to fans of country music star Dierks Bentley.

“A celebrity can only launch a hit name if parents were already ready for it,” Miss Wattenberg said.

That might explain why Snooki hasn’t made the list.



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