Top 10 Birthday Songs

Birthday Cake

Porapak Apichodilok / EyeEm / Getty Images

Traditionally, the list of birthday songs is led of course by "Happy Birthday To You" sung just before you blow out the candles on the birthday cake. However, here we present 10 other great pop options to help you celebrate your special day.

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The Beatles - "Birthday" (1968)


Capitol Records

The song "Birthday" marked a return to more traditional rock and roll for the Beatles. It first appeared as a track on the album The Beatles (known widely as The White Album). John Lennon and Paul McCartney have both stated it originated in the studio with 50/50 contributions from each. "Birthday" is played by countless radio stations when celebrating famous birthdays or listing birthdays of their listeners. Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr performed the song together at New York's Radio City Music Hall to celebrate Ringo Starr's 70th birthday. 

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Stevie Wonder - "Happy Birthday" (1981)

Stevie Wonder Happy Birthday

Motown Records

Originally, Stevie Wonder recorded "Happy Birthday" as part of the campaign to have Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday celebrated as a national holiday. That campaign succeeded, and now the song is used much more widely for other birthday celebrations. While "Happy Birthday's" success was limited in the US only reaching #70 on the R&B chart and missing the pop chart, it was a #2 pop hit single in the UK and was performed by Stevie Wonder at the Diamond Jubilee Concert to honor Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee. The first official Martin Luther King, Jr. Day took place on January 20, 1986. Stevie Wonder headlined a large concert in celebration.

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Altered Images - "Happy Birthday" (1981)

Altered Images Happy Birthday

Portrait Records

Altered Images were one of the most promising new wave acts in the UK in the early 1980s. They broke into the US dance chart with the song "I Could Be Happy." The band broke up in 1983. Produced by Martin Rushent, best known for his work with the Human League, "Happy Birthday" became the group's biggest hit in the UK peaking at #2 on the pop singles chart. The song appears on the soundtrack to the film Sixteen Candles. "Happy Birthday" was covered by the Ting Tings in 2008 on the hit children's TV show Yo Gabba Gabba!

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The Crests - "16 Candles" (1958)

The Crests 16 Candles

Coed Records

This doo-wop classic is best known as the title song from the 1984 film of the same name, one of the most popular John Hughes movies. It is the quintessential slow dance track for any 16th birthday celebration. Vocal group the Crests took the original version of the song to #2 on the pop singles chart in 1959. The Stray Cats recorded the cover of "16 Candles" that is included on the movie soundtrack.

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The Smiths - "Unhappy Birthday" (1987)

The Smiths Strangeways Here We Come
The Smiths - Strangeways, Here We Come.

Rough Trade Records

In the case that you need to wish an unhappy birthday to a mortal enemy, the Smiths have your song. "Unhappy Birthday" was included on the band's final studio album Strangeways, Here We Come. The protagonist sings that he is wishing an unhappy birthday, "'cause you're evil and you lie."

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Neil Sedaka - "Happy Birthday Sweet Sixteen" (1961)

Neil Sedaka Sings His Greatest Hits

RCA Records

Neil Sedaka's classic "Happy Birthday Sweet Sixteen" is an uptempo choice for celebrating that special 16th birthday. The song was a top 10 pop hit for Neil Sedaka. It was his fourth song to reach the top 10. Neil Sedaka followed up the success by releasing "Breaking Up Is Hard To Do," his first #1 pop hit, the following year.

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Jeremih - "Birthday Sex"

Jeremih Birthday Sex

Def Jam Records

It is a wonder no one really thought of this type of birthday song before Jeremih had a breakthrough pop smash about sexual birthday celebrations. It topped the R&B singles chart, went all the way to #4 pop and was certified platinum for sales. Jeremih says the song is based on personal experience. 

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Kathy Young with the Innocents - "Happy Birthday Blues"

Kathy Young Happy Birthday Blues

Indigo Records

Kathy Young was a promising teen pop singer of the early 1960s. This is one of her four top 40 pop hits with the Innocents. Once in a while there is a sad birthday to live through, and this is the theme song. Kathy Young has performed numerous times as part of oldies rock and roll shows. In 2014 she was inducted into the Doo-Wop Hall of Fame.

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Destiny's Child - "Birthday" (1998)

Destiny's Child

Columbia Records

Destiny's Child lets you know it is your birthday, and you don't have to do anything but lie back and enjoy it. This track is included on the group's self-titled first album. It included the top 3 charting pop hit single "No, No, No" featuring Wyclef Jean.

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The Click Five - "Happy Birthday" (2007)

The Click Five - Modern Minds and Pastimes

Lava Records

This single from Modern Minds and Pastimes, the second album by power pop group The Click Five, was a major pop hit single in Asia. It went all the way to #1 on the pop singles chart in the Philippines. The group are best known for their hit single "Just the Girl."