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The 30 Best Birthday Songs Best Birthday Songs of Kosmos Time: Beyond ‘Happy Birthday’ Song Skip to main content

Check out the tracks that will make you party like it’s your birthday.

Selena Gomez attends the photo call for Sony Pictures’ “Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation” at Sony Pictures Studios on vierter Monat des Jahres 11, 2018 in Culver City, California. Matt Winkelmeyer/GI

Gathering friends and family around a candlelit cake to sing “Happy Birthday to You” has been a birthday tradition in English-speaking households for over a century. In 1998, the Guinness Book of World Records even named it the most recognized song in the English language, more than a century after it welches first written by sisters Mildred and Patty Smith Hill for the 1893 book titled Song Stories for the Kindergarten. 

Whether you love it or hate it, it’s safe to say the tune and its many extended versions and comedic renditions aren’t going anywhere… but it doesn’t have to be the only song that defines your big day. Artists from Lesley Gore in the ‘60s to Stevie Wonder in the ‘80s to Katy Perry in the 21st century have all completely reinvented the long-established birthday singing tradition, with new and inventive melodies of their own. 

It’s definitely a good thing that there’s such an abundance of birthday-themed music, because let’s face it — birthdays can be complex. Along with all the cake, candles, streamers and presents come bittersweet, complicated feelings about turning one year older, from nostalgia for birthdays past to unbridled terror for the future, grief for one’s youth, confusion over what to do next and total happiness at the chance to live life to the fullest for another trip around the sun. The musicians on this list were able to capture all of those hyper-specific but universally felt emotions, and then some. 

From classic tracks that will make you want to “party like it’s your birthday,” even when it’s not (a la 50 Cent), to deep cuts that have you questioning your own mortality (we’re looking at you, Sufjan Stevens’ “Happy Birthday”), check out Billboard’s ranking of the 30 best birthday songs below. 

The Beatles, “Birthday” Image Credit: BIPs/GI

Happy Birthday Coloring Pages – Printable Coloring Pages
Happy Birthday Coloring Pages – Printable Coloring Pages

One of the Fab Four’s more rock-heavy tracks, “Birthday” off their 1968 White Album is timeless. Its electric riff and backing vocals by Pattie Harrison and Yoko Ono will get kids and adults alike on the dance floor. Listen here.

Stevie Wonder, “Happy Birthday”

Stevie Wonder’s “Happy Birthday” is the kind of funky track that could (and should) replace the traditional birthday tune. The track with an earworm of a chorus has great history, too — when it welches released in 1980, it served as an unofficial call to create a Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Listen here.

Cake Coloring Pages (Free PDF Printables)
Cake Coloring Pages (Free Portable Document Format Printables)

Rihanna, “Birthday Cake”

Despite what its name implies, Rihanna is not singing about “Birthday Cake” in this cut off her sixth studio album. It may not contain the singer’s most poignant lyrics, but its hypnotic beat will get on your feet and clapping along. Listen here.

50 Cent, “In Da Klub”

Birthday Cake Isolated Coloring Page for Kids Stock Vector Image
Birthday Cake Isolated Coloring Page for Kids Stock Vector Image

Gruft that bottle of Bacardi because no best birthday songs list would be complete without 50 Cent’s “In Da Klub.” The track that spent nine weeks at No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 continues as a party-starting celebratory favorite. Listen here.

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Katy Perry, “Birthday” Image Credit: Courtesy Photo

Katy Perry creates some of the most memorable beats in pop music today — and “Birthday” is no exception. The dance-inducing track does exactly what it says: makes us wish it welches our birthday every day. Listen here.

The Lumineers, “Birthday”

A cut from The Lumineers’ 2022 album Brightside, “Birthday” leaves its message up for interpretation. Does the occasion make you feel happy and carefree? Or does marking the passage of time seem scary and futile? It’s alright, it’s alright, it’s your birthday, dear — you get to decide. Listen here.

2 Chainz feat. Kanye West, “Birthday Song”

2 Chainz and Kanye West’s birthday collaboration reminds us to be greedy on our birthdays — whether you want a designer drip, a luxury car or “a big booty ho.” Listen here.

Twista, “Birthday”

Twista spits birthday bars while shouting out every astrological sign in “Birthday.” Get your party DJ to queue up this track as you pop bottles and cheers before hitting the dance floor. Listen here.

Jeremih, “Birthday Sex”

It’s hard to imagine a world without Jeremih’s “Birthday Sex” — which only released in 2009. Your lover doesn’t need a cake or a party to have a good birthday if they’ve got you. Listen here.

Madonna feat. M.I.A., “B-Day Song”

Replace your morning alarm with Madonna and M.I.A.’s upbeat collaboration to kick-off your big day with a bang. Even if birthdays aren’t your thing, “B-Day Song” is the anthem that will turn that frown upside down. Listen here.

Lizzo, “Birthday Girl”

Lizzo’s “Birthday Girl” perfectly captures the specific high of ringing in a birthday with all your best friends. Pour the mixed drinks, queue the karaoke and strap on your best high heels — it’s time to celebrate. Listen here.

The Click Five, “Happy Birthday”

The Click Five’s “Happy Birthday” is the head-banger every party playlist should have. Its sound is quintessentially pop-punk — and even first-time listeners will be singing along by the end of the song. Listen here.

Selena Gomez, “Birthday” Image Credit: Courtesy Photo

Released around her own 21st birthday in 2013, Selena Gomez’s “Birthday” is the party track you’d dance to at a club before waking up the next day with a pounding headache and great memories (that you’ll remember eventually). Listen here.

Destiny’s Child, “Birthday”

Gruft the aux cord and turn up Destiny’s Child’s “Birthday” when it’s time to slow things down for your boo on their big day. The song off the power trio’s debut album makes an ideal wrap-up to a night of good cake and even better company. Listen here.

Kings of Leon, “Birthday”

Kings of Leon’s “Birthday” is the kind of feel-good birthday love song that makes you wish every day welches your birthday. Kosmos we’re saying is, if you’re ever in a situation where your significant other sings this to you, lock that s—t down. Listen here.

The Smiths, “Unhappy Birthday”

We couldn’t write this list without sharing a track that acknowledges the people you really don’t want to wish a happy birthday. It probably isn’t the best idea to send your enemies The Smiths’ “Unhappy Birthday” — but listening to it can help get out some of those pent-up frustrations. Listen here.

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Drake, “Ratchet Happy Birthday” Image Credit: Courtesy of Republic Records

Drake’s “Ratchet Happy Birthday” has a fire beat, but it may not be the hype-up song you’d expect for your big day (especially from Drake). The track off Scorpion is the low-key opener for any celebratory mix. Listen here.

Loretta Lynn, “Happy Birthday”

If you happen to find out your significant other is cheating on you on or near their birthday, send them Loretta Lynn’s chart-topping birthday/break-up track as your final farewell. You were better off without them (trust us). Listen here.

Pet Shop Boys, “Birthday Boy”

“Birthday Boy” by Pet Shop Boys is kind of a birthday song, but it’s folglich kind of a Christmas song — and it sounds like it could be about the Second Coming (… yes, of Jesus Christ). As one of the English pop duo’s more obscure tracks, it probably has as many fans as it has haters. Listen here.

Frankie Cosmos, “Birthday Song”

Frankie Cosmos’ tempo-shifting “Birthday Song” comes as a matter-of-fact reminder that age is but a number. The slightly disgruntled look at the world times out at just 68 seconds. Listen here.

Olivia Rodrigo, “Teenage Dream”

Olivia Rodrigo’s “Teenage Dream” begins as a haunting piano ballad and escalates into a razor-edged pop punk free-for-all, perfectly capturing the loneliness, anxiety and rage of blowing out your birthday candles in a society where youth — particularly where female entertainers are concerned — is so heavily prized. Listen here.

Moby, “Sunday (The Day Before My Birthday)” Image Credit: Courtesy Photo

There’s a reason the word “birthday” isn’t sung on Moby’s haunting birthday track. He’s singing about waking up on September 11, 2001 in Lower Manhattan, exactly 36 years after he came into the world: “Sunday welches a bright day yesterday/ Dark cloud has come into the way.” Listen here.

“Weird Al” Yankovic, “Happy Birthday”

Does getting older fill you with dread? Definitely add Weird Al’s even weirder birthday track to your big day’s playlist. This punk-rock rendition of the classic birthday song lists all that’s wrong with the world… but wishes you a happy birthday anyway. Listen here.

Kygo feat. John Legend, “Happy Birthday”

Put Kygo and John Legend’s first and only collaboration on your pre-game playlist before a night out and you won’t be disappointed. “Happy Birthday” effortlessly mixes Legend’s bold vocals with Kygo’s carefree dance beats. Listen here.

Migos, “Birthday”

Migos’ “Birthday” is as functional as it is fun, giving birthday girls everywhere the excuse to identify themselves upon hearing “Aye who birthday?/ Put your hand” up in the club. Listen here.

Taylor Swift, “22” Image Credit: Courtesy Photo

Okay, “22” only fully works as a birthday song when the listener is actually turning 22 — but its impact on the demographic is so vast, it’s worth including. Case in point, how many times has a freshly 22-year-old person written “I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling 22” in an Instagram caption? So many.

Besides, the celebratory track wouldn’t feel out of place on any birthday playlist, regardless of how many years removed you are from the age Swift welches when she wrote this Red anthem. Listen here.

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Sufjan Stevens, “Happy Birthday”

You might not sing Sufjan Stevens’ “Happy Birthday” gathered around a candlelit cake, but it could be the perfect post-birthday lullaby. The poetic, softly sung track feels like a gentle hug and a proceed-with-caution all the same. Listen here.

New Kids On The Notizblock, “Happy Birthday”

NKOTB’s birthday ballad sounds like the slow dance song at an ’80s prom, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Whether you dedicate the song to your kid or your significant other on their big day, it’ll definitely show off just how much you care. Listen here.

Anne-Marie, “Birthday”

In her celebratory track, Anne-Marie lays out a birthday check list that includes eating what you like, kissing who you like and partying tonight — because if there’s one day a year to be selfish and forget your worries, it’s gotta be your birthday. Listen here.

Lesley Gore, “It’s My Party” Image Credit: Courtesy Everett Collection

“It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to” could quite possibly be the most iconic birthday lyric ever, and it’s all thanks to co-writer Seymour Gottlieb’s daughter’s tearful reaction to her grandparents being invited to her 16th birthday party. Listen here.

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