7 of the Best Happy Birthday Songs (Traditional and Funny)
There's one thing in life that we all have in common, and that's a birthday—a day to celebrate once a year, whether we like it or not! In most English-speaking countries, it's traditional to sing "Happy Birthday to You" to honour the person celebrating a birthday. In fact, the "Happy Birthday" song is thought to be the most frequently sung melody in the world. It's not the only option, though. Below are some of the best birthday songs in existence.
The Top 7 Birthday Songs
- "Happy Birthday to You" (Traditional)
- "Happy Birthday, Mr. President" by Marilyn Monroe
- "Happy Birthday" by Stevie Wonder
- "Happy Birthday" by Altered Images
- "Happy Birthday We Love You" by Daniel Dancer
- "Happy Birthday" by the Chipmunks
- "The Happy Happy Birthday Song" by The Arrogant Worms
1. "Happy Birthday to You!" (Traditional)
The "Happy Birthday" song was written by the sisters Patty and Mildred Hill, who were both American composers and teachers. This song was written in 1893 and initially called "Good Morning to All" for kindergarten children to sing. Now, it has become the most popular song ever written, and it's also played in many different countries and languages around the world.
- The music publishing company Warner Chapel Music Incorporation owns the copyright to the song "Happy Birthday to You."
- "Happy Birthday to You" is the highest-earning song of all time.
2. "Happy Birthday, Mr. President" by Marilyn Monroe
On May 19, 1962, Marilyn Monroe made an appearance at Madison Square Garden in New York, USA, especially to sing "Happy Birthday, Mr. President" for President John F. Kennedy (although, technically, it was not his actual birth-date. He was born on May 29).
After Monroe's performance, JFK joined her on stage and said, "I can now retire from politics after having had 'Happy Birthday' sung to me in such a sweet, wholesome way." The dress that she wore to the event was sold for a world record $1.26 million.
- Marilyn Monroe's real name was Norma Jeane Mortenson.
- Her birthday was on May 21, 1926.
- She was an award-winning American actress, singer, icon and sex symbol. Marilyn's well-known films include Some Like It Hot, How to Marry a Millionaire, The Seven Year Itch, Gentlemen Prefer Blonds and Diamonds Are a Girls Best Friend.
3. "Happy Birthday" by Stevie Wonder
Stevie Wonder's hit songs include "You Are the Sunshine of My Life," "Superstition," "I Just Called to Say I Love You" and, of course, "Happy Birthday," which he wrote himself. He has performed this song for many notable figures, including King Carl XVI Gustaf and Oprah Winfrey (for her 50th birthday).
- Stevie Wonder's real name is Stevland Hardaway Judkins.
- He celebrates his birthday on May 13, 1950.
- He is a blind American singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and record producer who has recorded numerous hits and won many awards for his work.
4. "Happy Birthday" by Altered Images
This is an alternative "Happy Birthday" song by the 1980s Scottish post-punk rock band Altered Images. This song was their biggest hit at the time. Their other hits include "Don't Talk to Me About Love" and "See Those Eyes."
- Lead singer Clare Grogan celebrates her birthday on March 17.
- Clare also starred in the Scottish romantic comedy film Gregory's Girl and the science fiction comedy series Red Dwarf.
5. "Happy Birthday We Love You" by Daniel Dancer
When Daniel Dancer's daughter turned 11 in 2004, he realised he was tired of the same old birthday song, so he decided to write another one. The video above is a recording of the song with images to go with the words.
This song has become a special feature of Dancer's popular “Art for the Sky” artist in residency program (see artforthesky.com) that he leads at schools across the country. At the final assembly, before revealing the school’s creation in the project film, he invites kids who had a birthday that week to come up on stage and share the song. Everyone always loves it!
6. "Happy Birthday" by the Chipmunks
This birthday song, sung by the squeaky-voiced Chipmunks, is especially popular with children.
- The Chipmunks band was "born" in 1958.
- The animated cartoon premiered in 1961.
7. "The Happy Happy Birthday Song" by The Arrogant Worms
This is a good choice for a hilarious birthday song, with lyrics like the following:
Now you're one year older!
Your life still isn't over!
You did not accomplish much
But you didn't die this year
I guess that's good enough
- This song was released in 1995.
- It appeared on the album C'est Cheese.
Funny Birthday Jokes
- The most effective way to remember your wife's birthday is to forget it once.
- The secret of staying young is to live honestly, eat slowly and always lie about your age.
- Inside every older person is a younger person wondering what happened.
- Birthdays are good for you. Statistics show that the people who have the most live the longest.
- It's nice to be here. At my age, it's nice to be anywhere.
- Forget about the past, because you can't change it. Forget about the future, because you can't predict it. Forget about the present, because I didn't get you one!
- A diplomat is a man who always remembers a woman's birthday but never remembers her age.
- Were any famous men or women born on your birthday? No, only babies.
Special and Traditional Birthdays
The most significant date-of-birth digit changes—for example, one's 1st, 10th, 20th, 30th, 50th or 100th birthday and certain "coming of age" years—are often accompanied by more legal privileges and responsibilities. In Western nations, these traditionally happen at the ages of 12, 15, 16, 18, 19 and 21, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90 and 100.
In most legal systems, one becomes a legal adult on a particular birthday (one's 18th or 21st). At different ages, one gains more rights and responsibilities, such as being able to vote, purchase alcohol or tobacco, legally buy lottery tickets, get married or obtain a vehicle driving license. One also becomes eligible for the military draft or voluntary enlistment at particular ages.
Traditional Birthday Gifts by Age
Just like weddings, birthdays are traditionally celebrated with gifts which vary in different countries. The following traditions are for both the UK and the USA, unless otherwise noted.
- 1st birthday: Cotton, UK; paper, USA
- 5th: Wood
- 10th: Tin
- 15th: Crystal
- 20th: China
- 25th: Silver
- 30th: Pearl
- 35th: Coral, UK; jade, USA
- 40th: Ruby
- 45th: Sapphire
- 50th: Gold
- 75th birthday: Diamond
More Fun Birthday Facts
- If you're the Queen of England or another notable figure, you might celebrate your birthday on more than one occasion. The Queen's official birthday is on April 21st, which is marked by a 2nd public celebration in June and celebrated in London by a ceremony called "Trooping the Colour," also known as the "Queen's Birthday Parade."
- Many adults avoid celebrating their birthday because it reminds them how old they're getting. Some people cannot afford to have any celebrations at all, and there are some people in deprived and Third World countries who have no idea what date their actual birthday is or how old they are.
- On the day of your birth, you're generally thrown a party by family and friends who give you gifts in celebration of the blessed event. It is also customary for people to treat you very special on your birthday.. Of course, some would rather have a quiet time on their birthdays.
- Celebrating one's birthday is not universal. Jehovah's Witnesses don't celebrate birthdays because they consider the origins of this celebration to be pagan festivals, much like Christmas and Easter.
Don't Forget Your Pet's Birthday!
Pets don't know when their birthday is, but they'll soon know it's a very special day for them, especially when you give them their favourite treats, extra attention, a new toy to play with, and—of course—a rendition of "Happy Birthday." If you don't know your pet's exact birthday, make one up.
Questions & Answers
© 2008 Compu-Smart