In 2008, happiness—and ordinariness, commonality, and headline-worthiness—was just a thing called Joe, which nabbed first place in Baby Name Wizard's 2008 Name of the Year contest.
Baby Name Wizard's Laura Wattenberg writes:
That's Average Joe, Joe Blow, a good Joe, say it ain't so Joe...or rather "Amtrak Joe" Biden, Joe Six-Pack and Joe the Plumber. ... After the 2008 presidential campaign, Joe has reclaimed its position as the proud baby-name symbol of the American masses. Even Joe Six-Pack has been elevated from couch potato status to icon, as if we measure our national character in 12-ounce servings.
Second runner-up is Cullen, which showed up on the U.S. Olympic swim team (Cullen Jones) and in the teen vampire movie Twilight (Edward Cullen). "In January, Cullen was barely on the radar as a baby name; from now on it's a player," Wattenberg writes.
First runners-up are all the Palin children's names: Track, Bristol, Willow, Piper, and Trig. Here's what Wattenberg has to say; I've added the emphasis because I find the two final sentences so alarming:
When Sarah Palin became the Republican vice presidential nominee, her children's names became a sensation. Much of the country was fascinated, puzzled, even horrified. Yet in places like Alaska and Utah those names aren't so weird at all, and places like Alaska and Utah are often leading indicators of name trends to come. The Palin kids performed a cultural service, making broad swaths of Americans take their first look at the naming revolution that is sweeping our country. If you still think of Jill and Tracy as popular names, it's time for a wake up call. Neither name ranks in the top 1000 for girls, while Essence, Karma, Shyann, Chasity and Armani all do.
Yes, that's Chasity, with one T; the dictionary version, Chastity, isn't in the U.S. top 1000.
Last year's BNW name of the year was Barack.