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.
Whether you love it or hate it, it’s safe to say the tune (which has several extended versions and comedic renditions) isn’t going anywhere… but it doesn’t have to be the only song that defines the day. Artists from Lesley Gore in the ‘60s to Stevie Wonder in ‘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.
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 25 best birthday songs below.