Before there was Cadence, this musical appellation was popular for girls.
Thanks to Crystal for suggesting Melody as our Baby Name of the Day.
Melody is a noun name, and she was among the first musical terms to catch on for girls in recent decades, before Cadence or Aria.
She comes from the Greek melos – song, and aeido – to sing. Whisper it down the alley through Latin and French, and eventually you’ll arrive at melody in English.
Technically, a melody is line – several musical notes that we hear as a whole. It sounds simple, but it is a pretty nuanced concept. (I’m not sure I’ve got it right.)
So how did Melody go from music to mademoiselles?
That’s a tiny bit of a mystery.
She’s a twentieth century innovation. Her debut in the US Top 1000 came in 1942, at the rather lofty #523. Melody quickly rose to the Top 200 in 1954. Melody hovered around the 200s for a while, declined sharply in the 1990s, and has recently reversed course. As of 2012, she stands at #174.
- She’s quite close to Melanie, a separate name with a longer history of use, that was on the rise in the same era.
- Irving Berlin wrote “A Pretty Girl is Like a Melody” in 1919, and it became the theme song of the Ziegfield Follies. Could the repetition of the name, associated with showgirls, have made it seem like a great name for a pretty girl was Melody?
- Then came the Broadway Melody movies, including the 1940 installment, a Fred Astaire and Eleanor Powell musical extravaganza featuring “Begin the Beguine” by Cole Porter.
- A popular radio show spawned a big screen franchise. One of the Dr. Christian movies was 1941’s Melody for Three.
- Merrie Melodies were produced by Warner Brothers from the 1930s into the 1960s. Where would the world be without Bugs & Daffy? But the cartoons almost certainly didn’t influence parents.
An animated Melody was created around 1963 for the comic book series Josie and the Pussycats. Melody was the not-so-bright blonde in the band. She went along as the series transitioned from comics to a Saturday morning cartoon to a 2001 movie. Tara Reid played the character on the big screen.
- Dr. Who gives us another. His companion River Song, played by Alex Kingston – remember her from E.R. – was also known as Melody.
- In the sequel to The Little Mermaid, Ariel and Eric give this name to their daughter, making her a mermaid name.
- Johnny Depp and Vanessa Paradis have a daughter called Lily-Rose Melody.
One of the more stylish names of our moment is the French Elodie, a name close in sound to Melody. If Melody hadn’t been popular in the 1950s and 60s, I think she’d be a smash hit today, a musical noun name with three syllables and that great ends in -y sound. Today, though, she feels the tiniest bit dated – more mom name than vintage gem. Still, I think she’d fit right in with all of the other musical girls we’re hearing in 2013.