by Amy Gold
Finding happy birthday songs is a lot easier than you might think. There have been many songs written over the years to commemorate the day of one's birth. While some people don't like to mark that day as it just reminds them they are getting older, there are many others who have put the celebratory feeling to music to help liven up the party.
Everyone has a birthday and we all tend to go about celebrating them differently. Some are occasions for a big party with family and friends; others lend themselves to quiet introspection. No matter how you might personally feel about your big day, there is bound to be at least one other person who is happy to remember it and they may go so far as to do so in song.
In the 1950s and 1960s, there were a number of happy birthday songs written and recorded by popular artists. From The Crests' "16 Candles" to "Happy, Happy Birthday Baby" by the Tune Weavers, celebrating the birthday of that special someone was as good a reason as any to break into song.
While all birthdays can hold some significance, there are some that stand out and "Sweet 16" seems to be one of the biggest as far as the music industry is concerned. In 1962, Neil Sedaka created his own tribute to that particular milestone with "Happy Birthday Sweet 16." 18 and 21 are other notable ages as they mark milestones in reaching legal adulthood. These are the birthdays everyone looks forward to.
But no matter what your age, happy birthday songs can make the occasion that much more pleasant. Even the prospect of getting another year older seems a whole lot nicer when put to music! Saying happy birthday remained hip even into the 1960s and beyond with artists such as Stevie Wonder and The Beatles recording birthday-themed music.
Of course, the most famous birthday song of all is the traditional "Happy Birthday To You," which is said to be the single most performed song in the entire world. Some of those performances stand out more than others, such as when screen legend Marilyn Monroe regaled President John F. Kennedy with her very unique spin on the song at a party in 1962.
No matter what your take on birthdays and happy birthday songs, it's hard to deny the popularity of the subject among composers and musicians. It seems like almost everyone has taken a shot at extending birthday greetings in song, making for some extraordinary and heartfelt performances. From "Happy Birthday Blues" to "My Birthday Wish," almost every side of the subject has been covered.
And why not? It's a moment that literally celebrates the humanity in all of us, so why not stop and raise our voices in song at the thought? We all deserve a little acknowledgement, and what better way to do so than with a joyous melody and a few smiles. So don't hide from your birthday. Stand up and sing about it, in whichever way you choose!
- 16 Candles - The Crests
- Sixteen Reasons - Connie Stevens
(This song later became a minor hit for LaVerne And Shirley in 1976.)
- Happy Birthday Blues - Kathy Young With The Innocents
- Happy Birthday, Sweet Sixteen - Neil Sedaka
- Happy Birthday, Mr. President - Marilyn Monroe
(This number was performed on May 19, 1962 at a Democratic Party fundraiser held at Madison Square Garden in celebration of John F. Kennedy's 45th birthday.)
- Cindy's Birthday - Johnny Crawford
- It Was A Very Good Year - Frank Sinatra
(This song became a minor hit for Della Reese later that same year.)
- Birthday - The Beatles
(This song was on the Beatles' White Album and later became a hit for Underground Sunshine in 1969.)
- Born To Be Alive - Patrick Hernandez
- Born In The U.S.A. - Bruce Springsteen
- Born In East L.A. - Cheech And Chong
(This song is a comedic spoof of Bruce Springsteen's "Born In The U.S.A.")
- Birthday Suit - Johnny Kemp