When I listen to
David Bowie sing about “Blue Jean,” I want to be literally named Blue Jean. I mean, I’m glad I’m not, but he definitely makes it sound appealing. The only song that features anything close to my actual name is Rick Springfield’s “Jessie’s Girl,” which people used to sing at me back in high school even though Jessie was a boy in that narrative. (And Jessie is a great boy’s name, IMO.)
Songs can be inspired by names, and on the flip side,
songs can inspire baby names. In fact, if you’re looking for baby name ideas, you could just open up Spotify and start listening for names that grab your attention.
Names in songs often roll off your tongue and sound musical, so they’re almost always great fun to say out loud. Think of Phil Collins’ “Sussudio,” which is a nonsense name but a blast to say. Fortunately, there are plenty of choices that are melodious without being that odd. If you’re a music-loving parent looking for a lyrical-sounding name for your little maestro, you can’t go wrong with these 10 chart-toppers.
My son went to preschool with a Delilah, who I always assumed was named for the Plain White T’s “Hey There Delilah” song. But I just looked it up and the 2006 tune would have come out a year after she was born, so I guess it’s just a coincidence. Still, I love the tune, and the name has steadily grown in popularity since the song’s release; Delilah ranked number 547 in the Social Security Administration’s list of the most popular baby girl names in 2006 but hit number 58 in 2021.
The Band sang about “Ophelia” in 1975; The Lumineers revived the name with their (completely different) hit “Ophelia” in 2016, and that’s when it really launched as a baby name. Before 2015, Ophelia was actually unranked by the Social Security Administration because it was not even in the top 1000 for girls’ names. By 2021, it was at 321. That’s a huge jump, but it’s still rare enough that there’s unlikely to be another Ophelia in kindergarten.
Notice a pattern? Girl names with an L in the middle and an A at the end work well for songwriters. My favorite “Gloria” song is by U2, even though I don’t understand the Latin lyrics (sorry, Bono). The Lumineers again have a “Gloria” tune, from 2019, but it’s about an alcoholic mother, so maybe it’s not inspiring expectant parents. Go back to U2, watch their
epic performance of “Gloria” at Red Rocks, and then when your baby is born, you can announce, a la Bono, “This is Gloria.” 04 Grace
True story: Though I named my firstborn child Grace after my grandma, I also played the U2 song “Grace” on loop while I was pregnant. Fave lyrics: “Grace/It’s the name for a girl/It’s also a thought that/Changed the world.” There’s the spiritual “Amazing Grace” song, too. Grace is obviously one of my favorite names ever.
We need a boy name in here, and you can’t do better than Elton John’s “Daniel.” The name is always in the top 20 for boys, but don’t let that dissuade you from using it if you love it. Fave lyrics: “Daniel, you’re a star in the face of the sky.” Daniel is also a
Biblical boy’s name, and stories of Daniel tell of him loyally serving a king while staying true to his religion. 06 Jude
Jude is a beautifully
gender-neutral baby name as well as one of the best Beatles songs. Paul McCartney wrote “Hey Jude” for little Julian Lennon when Julian’s parents split up, and reportedly McCartney originally sang “Hey Jules” but then swapped it out for Jude. Jules, too, is a great baby name — as is Julian. “Hey Jude” is a song about hope through adversity and maybe can instill your child with a bit of resilience. 07 Jolene
While we’re talking J names, there is nothing as magical as Dolly Parton singing to (and about) “Jolene.” If I had a child with this name, I’d be singing the top of that chorus all the time… and I can’t sing in key at all. It’s been growing in popularity, too. It was at the bottom of popular girls’ names in 2010 at 969, but in 2021 ranked 456 — maybe an indication of how much Parton appreciation there is out there. It’s still rare, though, if you want to nab it.
08 Rebecca or Rebekah
Swifties, unite! We have to talk about the characters in Taylor’s songs. You probably already know that Betty, James, and Inez from
Folklore are the names of Blake Lively’s three oldest kids. So take Rebecca of “The Last Great American Dynasty,” the song based on Rebekah Harkness, whose true story of marrying rich and blowing a fortune is full of “I said what I said” empowerment. Rebecca is also a Biblical girl’s name, so you can let the grandparents think you took it from there. 09 Rhiannon
I went into a bit of a Fleetwood Mac rabbit whole last year and played this Stevie Nicks favorite more times than I’d like to admit. For anyone looking for a rare but also not-invented name: Rhiannon has fallen out of the top 1000. It’s here for you! It’s an old Welsh name and is
one of the names that mean queen. 10 Gale
The Lumineers get a lot of attention for all the songs they have named for women (in addition to “Ophelia” and “Gloria” there is “Angela,” “Cleopatra” and “Donna”). But they also have a song named for a boy, “Gale Song.” It’s about Gale from
The Hunger Games stories and is often overlooked, not even making our 255 Fantasy Names list. Katniss has to leave Gale but her love is everlasting; song lyrics include “So when you hear my voice/And when you say my name/May it never give you pain.” Like Rhiannon for girls, Gale is not even in the top 1000 for boys, so you’re welcome, I’ve introduced you to another rarity.
Keep listening to tunes to find more baby-name ideas. Or check out our list of
musical baby names if you just want something that’s music-adjacent. One more tip: The name Song is not in the top 1000 for either gender, so that is available to you as well. Your baby is a tune all their own!