Fifteen Songs About Birthdays

Music Lists
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Fifteen Songs About Birthdays

Have you noticed your wallet’s a little lighter this time of year? Been spending an awful lot on birthday presents lately, perhaps?

Maybe it’s because we’re roughly nine months past Valentine’s Day, but it seems like everyone we know was born during the same two-week period. To celebrate, we’ve compiled 15 of our favorite songs about birthdays. Might we suggest going the homemade route and making a few mix CDs of these for those b-day guys and gals? Hey, it’s the thought that counts.

15. Loretta Lynn — “Happy Birthday”
Loretta tells her cheating man she’s had it, wishing him a pre-emptive happy birthday on her way out. As she says, “My best wishes may be early, but I’m not sticking around / to bake you a cake for your birthday while you’re out runnin’ around.”

14. Sufjan Stevens — “Happy Birthday”
This track off of Stevens’ first album A Sun Came lends itself perfectly to the quieter, intimate moments on your birthday, like breakfast in bed with the one you love.

13. The Sugarcubes — “Birthday”
This song by some of our favorite Icelanders may not exactly be about cake and ice cream, but we don’t care. Björk delivers a powerhouse vocal performance.

12. Michael Jackson — “Lisa It’s Your Birthday”
While Jackson recorded this version for his season three appearance on The Simpsons, it never actually made it to air. The King of Pop wanted to play a joke on his brothers, so he requested that a soundalike be used to fool everyone.

11. Ween — “Birthday Boy”
Fuzzy guitars. A sample of Pink Floyd’s “Echoes.” A bunch of awkward voicemails. What more could you want for your birthday?

10. The Crests — “16 Candles”
This doo-wop classic is a must for when you’re turning the big 1-6. It’s also nice for when your whole family forgets your birthday and that dreamboat Jake Ryan doesn’t even know you exist.

9. The Tune Weavers — “Happy Happy Birthday Baby”
The Tune Weavers had their only hit with this 1958 track, which has since been covered by the likes of Wanda Jackson, Dolly Parton and Willie Nelson, and The Four Seasons.

8. The Innocence Mission — “Happy Birthday, Beautiful”
Karen Peris’ ethereal voice is a gift any day of the year, but on this track, she’s wishing you a happy birthday with the promise that “When you wake up, it will be the beginning of the world.” Sounds like a nice present!

7. Lesley Gore — “It’s My Party”
This 1963 classic (covered recently by Amy Winehouse) laid down one of life’s important ground rules: When it’s your birthday, do what you want.

6. Blur — “Birthday”
Those of us who aren’t entirely comfortable with getting another year older can relate when Damon Albarn sings, “I don’t like this day, it makes me feel too small.”

5. Stevie Wonder — “Happy Birthday”
Stevie Wonder penned this 1981 track as part of the campaign to have Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday become a national holiday. We dare you not to sing along during the impossibly catchy chorus.

4. The Smiths — “Unhappy Birthday”
Leave it to Morrissey to take a celebratory occasion like a birthday and turn it into a deliciously vindictive song about an ex. With biting lyrics like “I’ve come to wish you an unhappy birthday, cause you’re evil and you lie, and if you should die, I might feel slightly sad but I won’t cry,” this one isn’t exactly a Hallmark card.

3. Altered Images — “Happy Birthday”
If you’re like us and like to commemorate another year of existence with an epic dance party, these Scottish New Wavers provide the perfect song for the festivities. Kids dig it too: The Ting Tings covered it last year on Yo Gabba Gabba!

2. Andrew Bird — “The Happy Birthday Song”
A beautiful, arresting song from Mr. Bird. Will someone go ahead and sing this guy “Happy Birthday” already?

1. The Beatles — “Birthday”
Sure, it’s a little goofy, and yes, you’ve probably had to sit through good-intentioned well-wishers butchering it, but nobody beats the Fab Four when it comes to penning a novelty birthday song. Now blow out those candles: We’re going to a party-party.