RSS Feed

Fine girls and good wives.

Posted on

Someone named Brandi called my workplace today … which inevitably set off references to good wives, lonely sailors and finest silver from the north of Spain.

Forty years ago around this time of year, Looking Glass’ “Brandy (You’re A Fine Girl)” had the look of a big hit on the rise, cresting into the Top 20 airplay charts at stations in Philadelphia, Birmingham, Memphis, Phoenix and Tucson.

The song continued to grow in popularity all summer, peaking in the Number One spot for the week ending Aug. 26, 1972.

And all these years later, it’s still the first thing people think of (well, people over 30 or so, anyway) when they encounter someone named Brandy, Brandi, Brandie, Brandii or any other variant.

Seems remarkable for a song that’s really not that much more special than a couple hundred other hits from the Seventies.

Sure, it’s catchy and well-arranged, and it tells a good story, but you can say that about a lot of Seventies hits. It’s not that incredible or memorable. (Looking Glass’ sole follow-up hit, “Jimmy Loves Mary-Anne,” is at least as good a song, and possibly better.)

At any rate, the Brandi connection made me wonder just how many Brandy/Brandi/Brandies there are out there, squirming at every stranger who shakes their hand and says affably, “Brandy! You’re a fine girl.”

The song’s Wiki entry mentions that the name “Brandy” spiked in popularity the year after the song was released.

A longer view of Social Security name trends tells a slightly different story: The name was already on the upsurge in popularity before the song came out.

Between 1967 and 1971 — the year before “Brandy (You’re A Fine Girl)” — the name Brandy rose from No. 804 in popularity among American girls to No. 353. And the variant Brandi rose from No. 851 to No. 330 in the same period. The lads in Looking Glass were on the cutting edge of a trend, whether they knew it or not.

(I am powerless to explain the name’s pre-Looking Glass rise in popularity. I am similarly powerless to explain why anyone would choose to spell Brandi with an “i.”)

“Brandy” rose to No. 82 in popularity in 1973, and stayed in the top 100 most popular girls’ names every year until 1988. “Brandi,” meanwhile, made the top 100 every year from 1975 to 1989.

I tend to doubt people in 1988 were naming their daughters Brandy because of a pop single from the ’70s. My guess is baby names tend to build up momentum, and once they get popular, they ride high for a while.

Oddly, despite being a member of the Brandy Generation, I do not recall going to elementary, middle or high school with a single Brandy. I guess that whole trip happened somewhere else. (I do vaguely remember a Brandi from one or two of my college classes; or maybe she lived on my floor freshman year. She was kind of obnoxious and I would be content to forget her.)

The more recent popularity of R&B singer Brandy does not seem to have lifted the name back into vogue.

According to the Social Security Administration, the name Brandy fell from No. 400 in popularity in 2000 to No. 887 in 2007 — a decline mimicked almost exactly by Brandi. Neither name has cracked the top 1,000 since then.

Everything comes around, of course, and maybe in 20 years another influx of Brandys will crowd America’s day-care centers.

And unlike the first batch, they might get to be 25 or 30 before someone tells them their eyes could steal a sailor from the sea.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: