Juno: So have you and Vanessa thought of a name for the baby yet?
Mark: Well, sort of. Vanessa likes Madison for a girl.
Juno: [aghast] Madison? That is so... gay.
I must admit that I choked on my Coke Zero the first time I heard that. It sums up my feelings exactly for trendy baby names. There are many popular names that I like but there are just as many trendy names that make me cringe everytime I hear them. A friend of mine knew someone that was pregnant and had a top secret baby name--it ended up being Madison. It made me laugh. If it weren't for the move Splash, I wonder if it would have stayed on the down low. Madison first appeared on the charts in 1980s at 538, jumping to 29 by the '90s and it's been in the top 10 since 1999. It's very similar to Tiffany, which came out of nowhere in the '60s to number 311 and skyrocketed to 11 by the '80s. They are both generational names--though Tiffany is still hanging at 212 on the charts (I have never met a baby Tiffany).
It's much more common to be uncommon with names now. When I grew up I all my friends were named Sarah, Katie, Erin, Michelle, Jennifer and Jessica. I've known Jennys, a Jenni, Jens, Jenns and once in a blue moon, a Jennifer. I like it's base name, Guinevere, best. And no 'Gwen' names are in the top 1000--no Guinevere, Gwen, Gwyneth or Gwendolyn, which is odd considering Gwen Stefani and Gwyneth Paltrow.
This leads me to my next issue with modern names--the Y. Unless it's a classic name like Lydia, Sylvia, etc I cannot stand when people insert random y's into names. It does not make it feminine. It makes it misspelled. I will tolerate the occasional Kathryn or Hayley but Madisyn, Mariyah, Camryn and Kristyn just look off. Kre8ve spelling just isn't my bag. Maybe it's the English major in me but unless you are using an ethnic spelling, a surname or a family name it's just wrong. And don't even try to tell me that you had a great grandma named Madysyn. You did not. Her name was Ethel. If you want to call a kid Maddie so badly then name her Madeline, Madeleine, Madelena (how pretty is that name?) or use Mattie with Matilda, Mattea or Mattingly (I know one!).
I have less issue with boy names simply because they are harder. It's also harder to screw up a boy's name--you can only misspell Michael so many ways, unlike the endless opportunities with girls' names.
You can always add an 'a' to a common girl name (Caroline to Carolina) and if you want a Lily you can use Lily, Lilian, Liliana or Lilia. It's not so easy for boys. It's almost impossible to find a usable yet uncommon boy name not in the top 1000. I've tried. So far we have one classic (James) and one surname inspired (Bennett) but if we have another boy I just don't know what I will do. You can pretty much guarentee that it will be English/Irish influenced, with a meaning we love and hopefully not in the top 100.
Also, babycenter has up its list of the top 100 of 2008 according to their members--they are usually pretty spot on since their members are mostly pregnant or have young children. Check it out.