2013's Most Popular Names Are In, So We Know Everyone's Into Soft Syllables And 'Game Of Thrones'

Ah, baby season — a time filled with adorable cheeks, less-adorable diapers, and the age-old dilemma: what to name the little munchkin. This year's list of top 2013 baby names has just been released by the Social Security Administration, and there is a new winner amongst baby boy monikers. For the first time since 1960, we've moved away from Michael and Noah as the most popular male names, and have instead opted for Noah, just in time for Russell Crowe's movie!

Just kidding — this list is for 2013, and the Darren Aronofsky film was only released a couple months ago. But baby names certainly do have their roots in pop culture and in current events.

Sophia remained the most popular girl name for the third year in a row, and was joined by Emma and Olivia for the top three spots. Interestingly enough, the top six girl names end in an 'a', suggesting a trend towards softer, feminine-sounding names. This trend doesn't only apply to girls: The top two boys names, Noah and Liam, lack many of the harsher consonant sounds that have previously characterized popular male names. Without any sharp sounds, Noah and Liam are both very mellow-sounding names.

Laura Wattenberg, creator of Babynamewizard.com, commented on this new trend: "You compare Jacob with all its hard, punchy consonants, versus Noah and Liam, you can really see where style is heading." Others agree with Wattenberg's analysis of the new pattern, with Bruce Lansky, who has authored several books on baby names, telling USA Today:

Parents are choosing softer names because the image of what they want in a son is a kinder, gentler, more considerate and more empathetic son. They're thinking soft and sensitive rather than hard and hyper-masculine.

Noah's popularity is particularly interesting because of its seemingly biblical influence — there are few pop-culture references to the name, while many other names, including Liam, can be seen as a reflection of popular people, characters, or even events. For example, the name Arya, which came to popularity thanks to HBO's Game of Thrones series, made a meteoric rise in the list of popular names between 2010 and 2012, shooting up more than 500 slots in a mere two years.

This year, Daleyza was the most improved name in terms of popularity among girls. The increased attention given to the name is likely due to the Spanish reality TV series, "Larrymania," whose star, Larry Hernandez, has a daughter named Daleyza. On the boys side, the fastest rising name was Jayceon, the real name of rapper The Game, who aired his reality show in late 2012.

So why is there so little variation within baby names? According to a report by Time, it seems that the most straightforward (and probably most accurate) explanation is simply that people think similarly. Baby names are just like any other trend — for the most part, no one breaks too far from the norm when it comes to fashion or music, and the same can be said of baby names. Additionally, people react similarly to various factors, which may explain why individuals in the same geographic location are more likely to give their children the same names.

Of course, there are always the frustrating parents who subject their children to a lifetime of mispronunciation and confusion when it comes to their names. For example, Gwyneth Paltrow's penchant for naming her progeny after fruit probably shouldn't become a trend that the rest of us follow.

Images: HBO