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Parents fall out of love with the name Elvis

The name Elvis has finally fallen out of the American top 1,000 baby names list.

It is a rare occasion when Elvis Presley is replaced by a celebrity teenage mother in the charts.

Since his death, Presley has been an irrepressible presence in charts of all kinds, from music and financial earnings to American holiday destinations.

But in the recently released Top Names for 2010 by the social security administration, not even his vast legacy could stop him crashing out of the top 1,000 American baby names.

According to the list, which has been compiled since 1880, Isabella and Jacob were the most popular baby names of 2010.

For Jacob, it is a continuation of the name's 11-year winning streak, but Isabella tops the chart for only the second consecutive year since its 2009 debut.

The press are calling it the "Twilight Effect", citing the phenomenal book sales and film adaptations of Stephenie Meyer's vampire series - in which two of the main characters are called Jacob and Isabella - as responsible for the names reigning supreme.

The latest charts don't spell the end of classic names altogether. Old favourites such as Alexander, Daniel, Sophia and Emma still remain in the top 10 lists for both genders respectively, while Frodo and Shrek remain absent from the top 1,000.

It also marks the continuation of a wider trend of parents drawing inspiration from celebrity culture rather than family or cultural traditions for deciding baby names.

In 2000, the name Jayden was languishing in the 194th slot of baby names. But its rise to last year's fourth place came on the back of the pop diva Britney Spears and the celebrity couple Will Smith and Jada Pinkett using it to name their newborn.

This year's biggest risers were Maci for girls and Bentley for boys, both of which leapt more than 400 places to come 232nd and 101st respectively in the charts.

This can possibly be traced to the mother-son duo Maci Bookout and Bentley Cadence Edwards, from the popular reality television series Teen Mom.

Todd Gureckis, a New York University assistant professor of psychology who co-wrote a study on children's names, said there is no such a thing as a totally unique name.

Speaking on ABC News, he said what parents deem an original name could often come from unconscious snatches of conversations or from the media.

"People may discount the degree to which there's a name environment that we live in everyday: you go around, you meet people, you hear names in the news, on the radio," he said.

"Even if you go look at baby name books, that name environment is going to bias you."

Laura Wattenberg, the author of The Baby Name Wizard and who also runs the popular naming website babynamewizard.com, said the 2010 list shows that it's not only celebrities who are adept at coming up with popular names.

"We have this perception that Hollywood celebrities are on another planet because they choose weird names for their kids," she told the Associated Press.

"The fact is, average Americans are just as creative, and when they find themselves on TV, they are even more influential about names."

Wattenberg said the key to a popular celebrity name depends on its familiarity to would-be parents.

This may be why other baby names chosen by celebrities didn't make the Top 1,000.

No one was swayed by Gwyneth Paltrow's reason for naming her first child Apple because its "so sweet and conjured such a lovely picture", as she told Oprah in 2004.

Parents didn't take to naming their own child Pilot Inspektor, as did the actor Jason Lee, because not many owned records by the indie American alt-country band Grandaddy, whose song He's Simple, He's Dumb, He's the Pilot inspired the moniker.

And it takes a certain amount of brawn to incorporate the word "blood" into your child's name, as the action star Sylvester Stallone did when naming his son Sage Moonblood, after his screen writing pen-name Q Moonblood.

But one thing Elvis fans believe in is The King's staying power.

Michael Astrue, the United States social security administration commissioner, said he was sure Elvis will make another come back.

"This news about Elvis has me all shook up," he said in the press release accompanying the 2010 list.

"But that's all right mama. I'm confident that, next year, America's new parents can't help falling in love with Elvis again."

 

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