What’s In a Name?

While looking at The Billboard 200, which, curiously enough, lists the 100 top-selling albums, I happened to notice that the top of the chart listed All For You by Janet Jackson. It opened at #1. But perhaps I’ve missed something, as I am, admittedly, not particularly interested in her music: The listing didn’t include her surname, it was just “Janet.”

It is supposedly a mark of almost universal success when an individual is known by a single name. Socrates. Plato. Aristotle. Elvis. Madonna. (Although the last-named is a bit tricky, inasmuch as depending on the venue, that moniker may refer to Someone Else Entirely.)

Janet’s brother Michael once tried to pull off being known as “Michael” (and let’s not lose sight of the fact that he also married Elvis’s daughter), but that didn’t work, as if that name broadly signified anyone, it was Jordan. So then he tried to be known as “The King of Pop,” which is certainly distinctive, but fatuous. (Janet’s brother Tito, so far as I’m aware, never tried to push the one name, presumably knowing that it had already been assigned to the former leader of Yugoslavia.)

Bruce Springsteen almost had it, with the “Bruce, Bruce” chant, but it fizzled. (And it should be noted that on the chart in question, Live in New York was at spot 69, down from 52 the week before, and it was charted for a mere 4 weeks.)

So I started looking at the list to see who else might be going for the one-name fame. Plenty. Individuals and groups alike. As in the following:

2Pac, Case, Shaggy, Lifehouse, Dido, Nelly, Eve, 112, Train, Ginuwine, Dream, Ludacris, OutKast, Tank, Enya, Aerosmith, U2, Creed, Incubus, Sade, 3LW, Fuel, Saliva, Jaheim, ColdPlay, Godsmack, Moby, Tantric, Disturbed, Mudvayne.

(Seems like many of these people have learned to spell through Hooked on Phonics.)

Will Janet make it as “Janet” (presumably that hasn’t happened yet, as at least some of us, when we hear Janet, we think “Reno”)? In a word: Maybe. (Hmm. . .that might be a good name. . . .)

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