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Birthday Songs
Image: Time Out/Everett Collection/Shutterstock

The 30 best birthday songs

We can do so, so much better than another chorus of ‘Happy Birthday.’

Written by
Andrew Frisicano
,
Ro Samarth
&
Andy Kryza
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Birthdays are supposed to be joyful. Yet society demands we make whoever is celebrating stop what they’re doing to endure a group singalong of the most monotone, unexciting song in the world, which invariably sounds like a chorus of sedated donkeys being forced to form an impromptu choir.

‘Happy Birthday’ is hardly the only tune celebrating another year above the ground. And it's certainly not the best. There’s actually a birthday song for everybody, whether you prefer to celebrate with a cocktail in hand or ignore it all together. Pick a few that suit your approach to wrapping up another year, and blast them as you face the next one.

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Best birthday songs of all time

 ‘Birthday’ by The Beatles
Image: Apple Records

1.  ‘Birthday’ by The Beatles

As if they weren't busy enough laying the groundwork for the next 60 years of pop music, the Fab Four also tossed off this bowtied b-day nugget on the White Album.

‘Happy Birthday’ by Stevie Wonder
Image: Motown Records

2. ‘Happy Birthday’ by Stevie Wonder

Stevie penned this birthday tune for Martin Luther King Jr., as part of the campaign to get the day recognized as a national holiday. And it worked! Everybody one for once.

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‘In Da Club’ by 50 Cent
Image: Shady Records

3. ‘In Da Club’ by 50 Cent

Go shawty, you recognize which day of the year it is.

‘It’s My Party’ by Leslie Gore
Image: Mercury Records

4. ‘It’s My Party’ by Leslie Gore

As Leslie reminds, it’s your birthday so do whatever you damn well please, even if it’s making the rest of the people at your party feel extremely awkward.

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‘Happy Birthday’ by Altered Images
Image: Epic

5. ‘Happy Birthday’ by Altered Images

This trippy '80s pop song is a perfect combo of a peppy tune, dreamy synth and catchy lyrics, making it the band’s most successful song and a fun one for celebrating.

‘Birthday’ by Destiny's Child
Image: Columbia

6. ‘Birthday’ by Destiny's Child

Save tune from Beyoncé & Co.'s 1998 debut for when it’s time to slow things down, post-cake and ice cream.

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‘Birthday’ by Twista
Image: Get Money Gang

7. ‘Birthday’ by Twista

The quick-tongued wordsmith breaks it down for your special day... we think. The guy raps really fast, so it’s sometimes hard to tell.

‘Happy Birthday’ by ‘Weird’ Al Yankovic
Image: Rock 'n Roll Records

8. ‘Happy Birthday’ by ‘Weird’ Al Yankovic

Nothing says ‘Happy birthday’ like a rambunctious polka about the end of the world from the guy who brought us ‘Christmas at Ground Zero.’

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‘Happy Birthday (Merry Christmas and Happy New Year)’ by Loretta Lynn
Image: MCA

9. ‘Happy Birthday (Merry Christmas and Happy New Year)’ by Loretta Lynn

Loretta wishes a happy birthday (and a fond farewell) to her ex beau. Efficient!

‘Birthday’ by Migos
Image: Capitol Records

10. ‘Birthday’ by Migos

Even though this banger by the Southern trap squad reveals itself to be about somebody pretending it’s their birthday, the chorus’s ‘Ay, who birthday? Put yo hand up’ is enough to place it next to ‘In Da Club’ as an anthem perfect for calling attention to yourself on your big night.

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 ‘Older’ by They Might Be Giants
Image: eMusic

11.  ‘Older’ by They Might Be Giants

‘You’re older than you’ve ever been / and now you’re even older.’ Happy birthday! Life is a fleeting blip in the universe!

‘Happy Birthday’ by Sufjan Stevens
Image: Asthmatic Kitty

12. ‘Happy Birthday’ by Sufjan Stevens

You might want to save Sufjan’s slowly-finger-picked b-day meditation for after everyone leaves the party.

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‘Birthday Cake’ by Rihanna
Image: Def Jam

13. ‘Birthday Cake’ by Rihanna

‘It’s not even my birthday,’ starts Rihanna, though we’re not entirely convinced... wait, this isn't about cake at all, is it?

‘Birthday’ by Katy Perry
Image: Capitol Records

14. ‘Birthday’ by Katy Perry

Katy’s underperforming hit is still plenty good enough to roll out for your special day.

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‘Birthday Song’ by 2 Chainz
Image: Def Jam

15. ‘Birthday Song’ by 2 Chainz

Totally relatable, unless you want something other than a big booty for your birthday.

‘Birthday Song’ by Don McLean
Image: United Artists

16. ‘Birthday Song’ by Don McLean

Mr ‘American Pie’ get expectedly sentimental when it’s time to blow out the candles, gifting an unnamed celebrant this exact song and making the rest of us feel thoughtless for just showing up with a card.

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‘Birthday Sex’ by Jeremih
Image: Def Jam

17. ‘Birthday Sex’ by Jeremih

Jeremih’s gift absolutely one-ups Don McLean’s song.

‘Birthday’ by Blur
Image: Food Records

18. ‘Birthday’ by Blur

You might be surprised that the guys behind ‘Song No 2’ are also responsible for this somber b-day serenade.

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‘Birthday Dethday’ by Dethklok
Image: Williams Street

19. ‘Birthday Dethday’ by Dethklok

It’s the heavy metal b-day banger you've been waiting for all these years, courtesy of the Adult Swim shredders from Metalocalypse.

‘Happy Birthday’ by Tiny Moving Parts
Image: Triple Crown Records

20. ‘Happy Birthday’ by Tiny Moving Parts

This is the emo birthday song for all the emo kids who claim they don't actually do birthdays, ok?

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‘Birthday’ by Selena Gomez
Image: Hollywood Records

21. ‘Birthday’ by Selena Gomez

Like Selena says, even if it’s not your birthday, no one's gonna know! (This also works when you want a free piece of cake at the chain restaurant.)

‘B’day Song’ by Madonna
Image: Interscope

22. ‘B’day Song’ by Madonna

This MDNA bonus track sounds like the kind of thing an exuberant 5 year old might shout out at their party. Just proving Madge is perfect at any age.

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‘Happy Birthday, Johnny’ by St. Vincent
Image: Loma Vista

23. ‘Happy Birthday, Johnny’ by St. Vincent

This particularly chill piano number from the otherwise-electronic Masseduction finds Annie Clark at her most stirring and emotional, and comes in mighty handy should you have friends named Johnny. 

‘Birthday Boy’ by Ween
Image: Twin/Tone Records

24. ‘Birthday Boy’ by Ween

The twisted pop duo crank up the sweet-n-sugary on this birthday tune, which gets an extra-bitter callback on the later album Chocolate & Cheese. 

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‘Death For My Birthday’ by Say Anything
Image: RCA

25. ‘Death For My Birthday’ by Say Anything

Hopefully you’re having a better birthday than Max Bemis.

’Happy Birthday’ by New Kids on the Block
Image: Columbia

26. ’Happy Birthday’ by New Kids on the Block

Somewhere in the Midwest, a very excitable HR specialist is blasting this to celebrate turning 46 right now, and everybody else enjoying a Tuesday dinner at Chilis is all about it.

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‘Birthday’ by The Sugarcubes
Image: One Little Indian

27. ‘Birthday’ by The Sugarcubes

Before she was Björk, she was wishing you a happy birthday with this extremely Icelandic pop tune full of spiders, worms and ravens.

‘Birthday Song’ by Frankie Cosmos
Image: Greta Kline

28. ‘Birthday Song’ by Frankie Cosmos

As Frankie Cosmos, NYC songsmith Greta Kline sings masterfully about getting older and staying the same.

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‘Birthday Song’ by John Lajoie
Image: FX

29. ‘Birthday Song’ by John Lajoie

Most songs tend to celebrate birthdays without also acknowledging in graphic detail the sweaty night of passion parents need to endure to make the celebration possible for their kid in the first place. This lovely acoustic ode to conception from the pilot for The League has you covered.

‘Unhappy Birthday’ by The Smiths
Image: Sire Records

30. ‘Unhappy Birthday’ by The Smiths

Unsurprisingly, Morrissey isn’t super into birthdays.

Need more for your celebration soundtrack?

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