It’s time for the Best Celebrity Baby Names of 2015 awards.
I used to round-up my favorites in a regular ol’ list. (You can read 2013’s post here.) But last year, I decided that was too dull. Instead, these are the stand-out names in categories you probably wouldn’t imagine.
Unless you read 2014’s Best Celebrity Baby Names list.
On to the awards!
Mythological Moniker of the Year
Last year, this award went to Apollo Bowie Flynn, the youngest son of Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale. But Apollo is downright ordinary compared to this year’s winner: Qirin Love, son of Terrence Howard and Mira Pak.
The Academy Award-nominated actor is on top of his game right now, starring in television sensation Empire. This baby name borrowed from a mythological beast is a pure Hollywood name – creative, cross-cultural, completely unexpected. And yet, it’s not so many miles away from mainstream favorite Griffin, also associated with a mythological creature.
While I doubt we’ll see Qirin in the US Top 1000 next year, I wonder if the name could be influential in another way. Parents have been swapping Cs for Ks, even before the Kardashians were a pop culture phenomenon. Could we now see some daring parents swapping Ks for Qs? I’m waiting to namespot my first Qloey.
The Animal Planet Award
There might not be a Disney Darling or a Preppy Hellraiser award every year, but something tells me that I could plan to bestow the Animal Planet Award starting in 2015 and safely continue the practice for decades. Just imagine the awards presentation for this year. Kate Winslet’s Bear Blaze toddles across the stage to hand the trophy to 2015’s winner – Zooey Deschanel’s new daughter Elsie Otter.
Little Miss E. Otter scooped the award from another animal-inspired 2015 arrival, Kimora Lee’s new son Wolfe. Why? I loved how Deschanel acknowledged that the middle name was borrowed directly from the animal, listing the many things she loves about otters. That’s thinking worthy of the Animal Planet Award.
Best Little Sister Name
Will and Kate are one of the world’s most-watched couples. After all, one day they’ll rule Brittania. This means they’re not just naming a child – they’re naming a future monarch. Not only does that amp up the pressure, it also limits their options. The blue bloods got it exactly right with their firstborn: George Alexander Louis. Earlier this year, they once again found the perfect name for their daughter, Charlotte Elizabeth Diana.
Charlotte was already on the rise in the US. In fact, the same week Charlotte’s birth was announced with fanfare in London, the new US baby names data was released in Washington DC, revealing that Charlotte had entered the Top Ten.
That makes Charlotte not only a great little sister name, but a choice that might prove influential throughout the English-speaking world.
Trend Setting Name of the Year Award
Plenty of names catch on without any help from Hollywood. But other names do get a boost when famous parents choose them for their children. Everly, Harlow, and Winter all went from rare to everywhere after headline-making parents bestowed them on their new arrivals.
If I were writing this post a few weeks ago, the Trend Setting Name of the Year award would almost certainly have gone to Marlowe, a name set to soar in 2016. Instead, I’m giving it to Sailor. Liv Tyler welcomed a son named Sailor Gene earlier this year; now Kristin Cavallari is mom to daughter Saylor James. As soon as Kristin and husband Jay Cutler made the announcement, Bristol Palin took to Instagram to declare that she’d already chosen the name for her daughter, due in December.
Sailor is going places.
Best Sports Inspired Baby Name
When a baseball player names his son Gehrig, it’s a name that everyone instantly recognizes as a hero name, a nod to the sport. But when two-time Olympic gold medalist Meaghan Mikkelson and husband Scott Reid, both ice hockey players, named their son Calder Allan William, it was more subtle.
Ice hockey fans know that Calder refers to Frank Calder, the first president of the National Hockey League; the Calder Cup, awarded to the minor league hockey champs annually; or the Calder Memorial Trophy, the NHL’s Rookie of the Year award.
Maybe in Mikkelson’s native Canada, Calder is hockey-specific. But I suspect that it’s nicely under-the-radar in most of the world.
Besides the pitch perfectness of Calder for Mikkelson and Reid, it’s also a name associated with artist Alexander Calder, a possible formal name for Cal, and an ends-in-r surname name less common than Carter – a winning combination.
Best Place Name of the Year Award
Sometimes a parent chooses a place name and it’s completely unexpected and totally obvious at once. That was my reaction when model Anne V. – born Anna Vyalitsyna – and her tech exec beau, Adam Cahan, named their daughter Alaska.
Alaska is trending ever so slightly – 46 girls were given the name in 2014, a new high. We love an A name, but this is no vintage Amelia or modern Addison. Alaska is feminine, but only just. It feels rugged and bold and definitely unexpected.
It comes from the Aleut language, but it’s uniquely American, too. The state’s name was chosen over several other possibilities when the US acquired the land in 1867. (It wouldn’t become a state until 1959.)
Alaska is a name with a sense of adventure baked in.
Best Rock Star Surname Name
Bowie could have made the 2014 list. Heck, maybe it should have made the 2014 list. After all, that’s the year Gwen Stefani named her youngest Apollo Bowie Flynn, and Zoe Saldana welcomed twin sons – Cy Aridio and Bowie Ezio. Only Zoe didn’t share her sons’ names until early 2015, so Bowie makes this list instead.
If you’re looking for an Americana appellation, Bowie checks a lot of boxes. Jim Bowie was a larger-than-life pioneer who died at the Alamo. He’s said to be the inventor of the Bowie knife. But the reference that comes to mind for most people is doubtless David Bowie. Part-rock star, part-cultural innovator, Bowie’s career started in the 1960s has spanned six decades and counting.
That makes Bowie a rock star surname name along the lines of Hendrix and Lennon, and a standout choice for 2015.
Color Name of the Moment
Beyonce’s baby Blue wasn’t the first high profile baby to rock this color name. John Travolta and Kelly Preston have an Ella Bleu (the French spelling), and way back when, Cher and Gregg Allman named their son Elijah Blue. This year, candy entrepreneur Dylan Lauren named her son Cooper Blue (and Cooper’s twin, Kingsley Rainbow); Sarah Shai and Steve Howie welcomed Knox Blue, and Rider Strong gave the name Indigo to his son.
But if Blue isn’t new, why does it merit a mention in the 2015 Awards? This was the year that Blue became a standard go-to, a name that feels bold(ish), but not too terribly out-there. And that makes me think that Blue is ready to leave the nurseries and preschools of Hollywood and move into the mainstream, replacing Rose and Grace on girls’ birth certificates, and maybe even James and John for boys.
Awesome Alliteration Award
Stroh played Martha in the High School Musical series, but the Disney Channel alum has long since graduated. She and husband Ben Higginson are also parents to older daughter Zetta Lee.
Lettie Louise picks up our love of the letter L – think Lila and Lily and Layla, too – but takes it in a vintage, unexpected direction. Likewise, the classic Louise isn’t heard nearly as often as you might expect.
Together, it’s playful but not too cute, on trend but completely unexpected. And it makes me want to monogram those LL initials on everything.
Best Ancient Place Name
Of course, Rhodes is still there. It’s an island in Greece, and a popular spot for tourism. But the glory days of Rhodes were a few millennia in the past, when the Colossus of Rhodes – a statue of sun god Helios – stood over 98 feet high during the third century. Ancient ruins abound, and medieval walls constructed by the Knights Hospitaller beginning in 1309 are also noteworthy.
Factor in the famous scholarship program and our growing enthusiasm for boy names ending in s, and Rhodes is a smart choice, indeed.
Best Reclaim Name Award
This took me by surprise: Sasha is the first-ever two-time winner of the Best Reclaim Name Award! The award goes to a name used for a high profile boy, even though the name has trended girl in recent years.
In 2013, I gave the Best Reclaim Name Award to Sasha, the name Elsa Pataky and Chris Hemsworth chose for their son, twin brother to Tristan.
This year, the same name is in the spotlight, thanks to the arrival of Shakira and footballer Gerard Piqué’s new son, Sasha, a little brother for Milan. While the numbers have yet to budget for Sasha in the US, it’s possible that some parents are naming their sons Alexander and calling them Sasha. That’s the route actors Naomi Watts and Liev Schreiber went when they welcomed their son in 2007.
Honorable mention in this category goes to Raeven, son of Eve Torres. Raven is almost exclusively used for girls in the US, but there’s no reason this avian name wouldn’t work for a son, too.
Best Vintage Revival Name
Her name? Edith Vivian Patricia.
I’ll wait while you swoon.
This is the year that Edith officially went from fusty to fresh, boosted by our growing affection for nickname Edie and the digraph ‘th’, star of such names as Thatcher and Thea.
The choice of Edith by the Blanchett-Upton family could be just the boost Edith needs to join other vintage charmers like Alice and Charlotte near the top of the popularity charts.
Best Little Brother Name
Alec and Hilaria tied the knot in 2012, and welcomed daughter Carmen a year later. Carmen is a Spanish name immortalized by Bizet’s enduring opera. Appropriately enough, Carmen is the Latin word for song. Hilaria was born in Spain, making the name a logical English-Spanish crossover. But it’s something more than that. It’s a steady name, almost completely outside of trends, without being as conventional as Catherine.
Son Rafael Thomas was born in June, and the name has those same qualities. It’s timeless, but not as buttoned-down as William or James. Thanks to Italian Renaissance painter Rafael, it has ties to the arts. And, just like Carmen, it’s an effortless English-Spanish crossover.
It’s a choice definitely deserving of the Best Little Brother Name award.
Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds were everywhere during her pregnancy. Red carpets galore. Blake was launching a lifestyle website. (It’s since closed.) They had big movies coming out – Blake’s Age of Adaline, Ryan’s Woman in Gold.
They kept quiet about their daughter’s arrival. Rumor had it that they’d named their daughter Violet. Pictures of Blake wearing the color during her pregnancy were touted as proof.
Blake gave an interview and denied it, but it would still be weeks before Ryan revealed their daughter’s name on Today.
And her name? James.
There have been girls with the middle name James before, including James Marsden’s Mary James and AJ McLean’s Ava Jaymes. Both girls were named after dad. (The Backstreet Boys’ AJ was born Alexander James.)
But James as a girl’s given name seemed new, and oh my, was there noise! An uproar, even.
I get it. It’s frustrating to feel like you can’t use a name for your son because it might “go girl.” We’ve all heard that it’s tough to be a boy named Sue. And yet, I don’t think it’s a sign of the apocalypse when girls receive traditionally masculine names, and I think we tend to regard too big a pool of names as gendered. Surname names strike me as a fair game, as do most noun names and place names.
Here’s the thing: we cannot stop parents from choosing specific names for a daughter. What we can do is continue to use these names for our sons, even if Alex and Rowan and Taylor and River and James will sometimes meet girls who share their names.
So while I hesitate to even include James for a girl in this list – because, oh does this one make so many people truly upset! – it was just too big of a story to leave off the Celebrity Baby Names 2015 list.
Best Flower Name of the Year
We’ve been wild about Lily and Daisy. Rose is on the rise, along with dozens of Rose names. But Poppy, long a favorite in the UK, has been rare in the US. Until now, that is. Jenna Bush Hager named her daughter Poppy Louise, inspired by loved ones, in August. That’s only a few months after designer Nate Berkus gave the name to his daughter.
It makes me think that this is Poppy’s year to cross the Atlantic. In 2014, Poppy just missed cracking the US Top 1000 by about twenty births. This is definitely a name to watch.
Best Honor Name
The tragic death of actor Paul Walker in November 2013 took the world by surprise. Close friend Vin Diesel co-starred with Walker in The Fast and the Furious movies. No surprise, then, than Vin’s youngest child with long-time girlfriend Paloma Jimenez was named in his honor.
Vin and Paloma are also parents to Hania and Vincent, so the name’s style seems on-track for the family. But something suggests that they would have honored Paul no matter what. Pauline was born in March of 2015, around the time Paul’s final movie, Furious 7, debuted.
It’s a fitting tribute from one friend to another. And while I tend to like nearly any and every honor name, this one seems especially heartfelt.
What were your favorite celebrity baby names 2015? Are there other celebrity baby names 2015 that you would add to this list?