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There are wholesome birthday songs to play when lauded by your crew, and explicit ones for an evening with that special someone. Some classic birthday songs remind you that it’s OK to cry if you want to (thank you, Lesley Gore) or get super pumped up for a big night on the town.
Then there are funny birthday songs from the likes of “Weird Al” Yankovic and The Smiths. They'll give you permission to dance despite impending doom, or transfer bad birthday luck to your ex (no judgment). So many fantastic birthday songs aren’t even about celebrating someone’s special day — but about treating every day with that same enthusiasm.
Best overall birthday songs
‘Birthday’ by The Beatles
This song is arguably the best and most notable birthday tune other than the classic sung around a cake.
‘Happy Birthday’ by Altered Images
There’s something so fun and montage-like about this hit. Listen to it if you want to feel like a main character in an ’80s movie on your birthday.
‘Birthday Cake’ by Rihanna
While it’s not actually about birthdays or cake, this short song is so catchy it deserves to be on every birthday song list.
‘B-Day Song’ by Madonna and M.I.A.
A pump-up birthday song at its finest, Madonna and M.I.A. make sure you know it’s your birthday and that it means you’ll have a happy, great day.
'Thank You' by Dido
Birthday, anniversary, wedding...this one covers them all. Even though Dido totally intended this '90s song to be ironic, it's still a fan favorite for celebrating the very best days in life.
‘Best Day of My Life’ by American Authors
OK, so it’s technically not a birthday song, but it should be. Who doesn’t want to hear about all the possibilities and joy they can experience on their birthday?
‘Birthday’ by Maxi Priest
A slow-tempo song about someone loving you enough to make every day feel like your birthday. Not a bad way to live.
‘Birthday’ by Anne-Marie
It’s a recent addition to the birthday song lineup, but it perfectly encapsulates what it’s like when you just want to have a great day without the stress of life getting in the way. Plus, it’s a bop.
Best recent birthday songs
‘In Da Club’ by 50 Cent
Is there a line more likely to excite a crowd than “We gon’ party like it’s your birthday?” It’s irrelevant what day of the year it is — for three minutes and 13 seconds, you will act like it’s your birthday.
‘Birthday’ by Kings of Leon
Another wonderful song about treating a loved one the way you would on their birthday.
‘Happy Birthday’ by Kygo feat. John Legend
A lovely, upbeat song to the person you love on their birthday.
‘Birthday’ by Selena Gomez
Gomez says that any day can be your birthday if you’re having a good enough time. Shhh, just don’t tell anyone it’s not.
‘Birthday’ by Katy Perry
Songs about birthdays and euphemisms really go hand in hand. Perry details how she’ll “Make it like your birthday every day.”
‘Happy Birthday’ by Tiny Moving Parts
This is the song to play for your friend who hates birthdays but also secretly loves being celebrated.
‘It’s My Birthday’ by will.i.am and Cody Wise
The duo want you to have the birthday of your dreams, whether it’s with a special person or dancing on your own.
‘Happy Birthday’ by The Click Five
An absolute banger about a guy apologizing after forgetting someone’s — likely an ex’s — birthday and confessing to missing them.
‘Happy Birthday, Johnny’ by St. Vincent
This is the song to listen to on your ex’s birthday when you’re leaning into all the feels. It’s beautiful and heartbreaking all at once.
‘Birthday Suit’ by Kesha
A super catchy song about that anticipation when you really like someone and want to see where it can go. Yes, the birthday suit referenced here has absolutely nothing to do with celebrating your birthday.
Best classic birthday songs
‘It’s My Party’ by Lesley Gore
Everyone should have permission to cry on their birthday if they so please.
‘Birthday Song’ by Don McLean
It’s no ‘American Pie,’ but McLean’s ‘Birthday Song’ will still leave you emotional as he sings about writing this for someone special.
‘Birthday’ by Destiny’s Child
An ode to once the party’s over and you’re just left celebrating with the one you love.
‘Birthday’ by Blur
A somber but very beautiful song about being alone on your birthday.
‘Happy Birthday’ by New Kids On The Block
It’s just a really lovely song celebrating how wonderful the birthday person is today and every day.
‘Happy Birthday’ by Stevie Wonder
This iteration of ‘Happy Birthday’ called on the United States government to make Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday a national holiday.
‘Happy Birthday’ Loretta Lynn
For anyone who is dealing with a breakup or has a birthday over the holidays, this song goes there.
Funniest birthday songs
‘Happy Birthday’ by “Weird Al” Yankovic
If you’ve heard anything by “Weird Al,” then this song is exactly what you’d expect him to create when deciding to wish someone a happy birthday. A notable line goes, “I guess you know the Earth is gonna crash into the sun / But that’s no reason why we shouldn’t have a little fun.”
‘Older’ by They Might Be Giants
Just a really silly reminder that you’re not getting any younger.
‘Happy Birthday’ by Sufjan Stevens
While the song is far from funny, the idea of devoting a whole birthday song to how it impacts someone else is quite entertaining.
‘Birthday Song’ by Frankie Cosmos
Do you feel like age is just a number and youth is forever if you choose? This is the song for you.
‘Unhappy Birthday’ by The Smiths
This is for someone you don’t like and don’t wish well. As the song goes, “I’ve come to wish you an unhappy birthday.”
This article was originally published on TODAY.com