Ah, yes, 1995. The year of the internet, Braveheart, the first Beatles single since 1975... oh, and Madisons. Lots and lots of Madisons. To be fair, Madison is not the only baby name that definitely means you were born in 1995, but, uh, it's definitely one of them.
I was 4, my brother was 1, and together, we reigned the Lord's Year Nineteen and Ninety-Five with an overall'ed, big-headed-toddler terror. Neither of our parents wanted particularly trendy names, but both of our monikers (well, variations of them, at least) ended up on the American top 100 in 1995. Gregory was number 84 according to the Social Security Administration's baby name data for the year, and Madeline (my name is actually spelled "Madeleine" but literally no one ever spells it correctly) was number 79. Sorry, parentals; we accidentally ended up a little mainstream.
Personally, I find baby name trends fascinating, because they don't just exist in a vacuum. There are outside cultural explanations and pressures that led, for example, to the creation of a new series of names in the early aughts — Brayden, Kayden, Jaden — that not only rhymed, but were devoid of any old-school meanings and origins. So what were the names that defined 1995? Here are a few, according to the SSA:
Between 1990 and 1995, Madeline rose over 100 spots in popularity, and there's not a clear reason why. Certainly not the meaning of the name: "woman of Magdala" (No, I have no idea either). The Madeline books — "twelve leetle girls in 2 straight lines / the littlest one was Madeline" — have always been kind of vaguely popular, I guess, and there was a spin-off television series that began in 1995. So maybe everyone in 1995 wanted a little redheaded French baby who looked good in hats? I mean, I get that.
The baby names of celebrity offspring do sometimes affect overall popularity, and considering that Daniel Day-Lewis, Jason Alexander, Mia Farrow and Meredith Vieira all named their sons Gabriel between 1990 and 1994, that may have had something to do with the quick rise of the name in 1995. For the curious, "Gabriel" means "God is my strength."
In 1990, Cheyenne was nunber 332. In 1995, it was number 86. I really do hope that Cheyenne did not experience an intense, idiosyncratic burst in popularity in the mid-'90s because it was the name of a truck, but I don't know, man. Do you guys have any ideas?
Devin, an Irish name meaning "poet," rose as the late '80s and early '90s as "Kevin" fell. Devon Sawa (with an "o," rather than an "i"), the kid actor who starred in Now & Then and Casper the Friendly Ghost (both times with Christina Ricci) and on whom I had a killer crush, was a big-time star in the 1990s, and I have a feeling that fame influenced the rise of Devin. Like, I would hope that my son would be as sweet as Casper, you know? Just not a ghost.
Though Morgan now tends to hover around number 120 for girls, in 1995, it was in the top 25. Some suspect it was in part due to soap opera superstar Morgan Fairchild; I think it's because all that King Arthur/Morgan Le Fay fantasy stuff was on the rise in the 1990s.
Jason Priestley's teenage heartthrob role as Brandon Walsh on Beverly Hills 90210 helped boost the name Brandon to the top 10 in the United States by 1995. Brandon has now been replaced by the more Irish-sounding Brendan, but all those Brandons I knew and loved in the fifth grade will forever be in my heart.
Ah, yes, the ubiquitous Madison. So popular that baby name supersite Nameberry produced a book entitled Beyond Jennifer & Jason, Madison & Montana, about ultra trendy names. Parents in the 1990s were almost definitely creating their cultural touchstones in the 1980s, when a little movie about a mermaid, Splash, rocketed the name Madison to popularity.
Cody means "helpful" or "pillow," although since the 1990s, it has dropped out of the top 200. Back in the day, though, there was Cody Madison, a Baywatch character regarded as a babe magnet, and William Frederick Cody aka Buffalo Bill from the Wild West (who is officially credited with the rise in popularity of "Cody").
I mean, the death of Selena, Queen of Tejano music, was a huge, huge, huge loss felt throughout the United States and Mexico. She was incredible, and it's no wonder so many people chose to name their daughters after her.
Christian Slater was a huge star in the 1980s, with his weird voice and his weird appeal. Like, yeah, his character in Heathers wasn't like, a Good Person, but he was hilarious and spooky. Similar thing with my dream man Laurie played by Christian Bale in 1994's Little Women.