An Absolute Classic | The “Happy Birthday” Song
A birthday wish can be the synonym of bliss. Although in the blunt world of numbers there are millions of people with whom we share our birthday, the celebration of this anniversary seems totally personalized. Taking this into account, it is absolutely necessary to be able to choose the right wish: a smart and touching thing to say to each and every one that celebrates their birthday.
This collection of Happy Birthday wishes -along with some funny happy birthday images to share and the “Happy Birthday to you” song to sing or download – will be the best solution for the best words to say, show or sing. Let the quest begin!
- 1 “Happy Birthday to You” Song
- 2 Listen to 24 “Happy Birthday” Songs
- 3 Who Sings “Happy Birthday” and Where (in the World)
- 4 Happy Birthday Song History
- 5 “Happy Birthday” Facts
- 6 “Ultimate Happy Birthday” Album
“Happy Birthday to You” Song
“Happy Birthday to You” is a song that has for over a century been the traditional song sung around the globe at birthday celebrations to the birthday celebrants. Its lyrics have been translated into over a dozen languages and, according to the Guinness Book of Records, it is the most recognizable song in the English language.
You probably know all the words to the Happy Birthday Song, but do you really know the story behind this song? In this post, which is entirely dedicated to this popular tune, we shall not only reveal to you the history behind this much-loved song, but also offer you several free karaoke versions to sing during your party.
Listen to 24 “Happy Birthday” Songs
Audio Files to Download for Free (non-commercial purposes)
If you’re going to sing “Happy Birthday” to a person you care about in a private party or during a family gathering, you might want to stream a karaoke version of the song or store the file on your mobile device.
Ever found yourself in a situation where a “typical” approach of the classic “Happy Birthday” song was not the right version of this festive piece to listen to? Ever needed something like rock, dance, tango, romantic? Here is where BWE’s “Ultimate Happy Birthday Album” comes in! 24 amazing versions of the “Happy Birthday to You” song, ideal for birthday parties and gatherings.
iTunes / Apple Music
Happy Birthday to You (karaoke version)
Happy Birthday to You (Japanese Version)
Happy Birthday to You (Music Box Version)
Happy Birthday to You (Turbo Countdown Version)
CUMPLEAÑOS FELIZ | Versión española
Happy Birthday to You (Short Dance Version)
Happy Birthday to You | Summer Chill-Out Version
Happy Birthday to You | Old-School Hip Hop Version
Happy Birthday to You (Jazz Version)
Happy Birthday to You (Indian Version)
Who Sings “Happy Birthday” and Where (in the World)
The “Happy Birthday” song is sung in many places (mostly in English speaking countries – United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, and more) all over the world during birthday celebrations to make the birthday celebrant feel special about themselves.
The song is often sung only once, after which the guests at the party sometimes ask the birthday boy/girl to make a wish, which he/she does silently before proceeding to blow out the lit candle(s) on his/her cake. After the blowing out of the candles, the cake is often then sliced into pieces and served. Oftentimes, if the birthday celebrant is a young child, the party guests continue the song by singing the lyrics “How old are you now?” four times, to which the celebrant replies by mentioning the age he/she is celebrating.
In several places across the globe, after the singing of the song, one of the party guests instantly shouts out the phrase “Hip hip…”, to which everyone present at the party responds with “… hooray!”. This is done three times.
Happy Birthday Song History
Who Wrote the Happy Birthday Song?
The song, which first emerged somewhere in the latter part of the 19th century under the title “Good Morning to All”, was written by two sisters from Kentucky, United States named Mildred and Patty Hill. Mildred, who worked as a schoolteacher at the Louisville Experimental Kindergarten School, composed the melody of the song. Her younger sister Patty, who also worked in the same school as the school’s principal, wrote the original lyrics of the song. The sisters wrote the song to be used by teachers to greet pupils in their school.
The original lyrics of the song went as follows:
“Good morning to you
Good morning to you
Good morning, dear children
Good morning to all”
A number of years after the Hill sisters introduced “Good Morning to All” to their school children, they went on to publish the song in their 1893 songbook titled Song Stories for the Kindergarten. Shortly after the publication of the song, many teachers from schools across the United States also began singing it to their pupils and vice versa. Not long after that, the lyrics of the song metamorphosed into “Happy Birthday to You” and became a staple at birthday parties in the United States and several countries across the globe. But who was responsible for changing the lyrics of “Good Morning to All” into “Happy Birthday”? And when was the change done? Till date, the answers to these questions aren’t really clear.
That said, it is suspected that the birthday lyrics began to make their way into the song in the kindergarten and primary schools where they were frequently sung. Many believe that teachers and pupils alike naturally replaced the “good morning” with “happy birthday” whenever someone in the classroom was celebrating his/her birthday. And like that, the lyrics of the song gradually morphed into the “happy birthday” lyrics that we all know and love today.
Appearance of “Happy Birthday” in Print
The “happy birthday” lyrics first appeared in print in writer Edith Goodyear Alger’s poem titled “Roy’s Birthday”. The poem was published in Alger’s 1901 copyrighted book titled “A Primer of Work and Play”. However, the poem didn’t include the melody of “Good Morning to All”.
The 1911 copyrighted book titled “The Elementary Worker and His Work” became the first book featuring a publication date to include a combination of both the lyrics of “Happy Birthday” and the melody of “Good Morning to All’.
Period When “Happy Birthday” Was Copyrighted
“Happy Birthday” was first copyrighted in 1935 by The Clayton F. Summy Company (who published “Good Morning to You”) who gave credits to writers Mrs. R. R. Forman and Preston Ware Orem. It is worth noting that prior to the Summy Company copyrighting “Happy Birthday” and crediting Forman and Orem as the writers, none of the early publications displayed any credits to the creator(s) of the work.
In 1988, the American music publishing company Warner/Chappell Music, Inc. gained ownership of the song after purchasing Summy Company for an amount of $25 million. Warner/Chappell went on to receive the bulk of the money the song generated from royalties throughout the validity period of the copyright. Since the Hills sisters died without having any children, their share of royalties reportedly went to a nephew of theirs called Archibald Hill. After Archibald’s death, the sisters’ share of royalties went to the Association for Childhood Education International.
Period when Copyright of “Happy Birthday” Was Released
In 2013, American documentary filmmaker Jennifer Nelson filed a class action lawsuit against Warner/Chappell for falsely claiming to own the copyright to the song after they charged her an amount of $1,500 for the rights to use the song in her documentary.
In September 2015, U.S. federal court judge George H. King ruled that Warner/Chappell Music’s ownership of the copyright of the song was not valid and that the 1935 copyright registration the Summy Company had over the song only covered certain piano arrangements of “Happy Birthday” and not its melody or lyrics. This meant that Warner/Chappell could no longer charge for the commercial use of the song.
In February 2016, in a settlement approved by Judge King, Warner/Chappell paid an amount of $14 million to thousands of organizations, business entities and individuals who it had in the past charged for the rights to use the song commercially. After all settlements were made, in June 2016, the court finally declared the “Happy Birthday” song is in the public domain. This ruling means that the song, as a composition. is no longer subject to copyright or protected by any legal restrictions and can therefore be used without paying for it – unless of course there is a version played, produced or recorded by a specific artist, which is most probably copyrighted.
“Happy Birthday” Facts
Interesting Facts about the “Happy Birthday” Song
• In 1998, the Guinness World Records placed this song at number one on their list of the most popular songs in the English language.
• “Happy Birthday” is one of the highest-earning songs of all time having made in the region of US$50 million in earnings since it came into existence several decades ago.
• During the Apollo 9 mission astronauts sang “Happy Birthday” to the then NASA space operations director Christopher Kraft in honor of his birthday, thereby making this song the first song to be performed live in outer space.
• On the first anniversary of NASA’s Curiosity Rover’s landing on Mars on August 5, 2013, NASA scientists at the Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) programmed Curiosity to “sing” the “Happy Birthday” song to itself in a crater on the Red Planet, more than million miles from earth.
• One of the most notable performances of this song was on May 19, 1962 when famed American actress and singer, Marilyn Monroe, sang it to the 35th President of the United States, John F. Kennedy, as he celebrated his 45th birthday at the third Madison Square Garden. Monroe was joined on stage by noted jazz pianist, Hank Jones. Monroe’s version of the song was titled “Happy Birthday, Mr. President”. Monroe died tragically at the age of 36 about three months after that legendary performance.
• Prior to the song entering into the public domain in 2016, Warner Chappell Music, who had ownership of the song, had been generating as much as $2 million every year from the song through licensing it to be used for commercial purposes.
“Ultimate Happy Birthday” Album
Whether you’d like to listen to a rock, pop, classical, jazz, bossa nova or Indian version, this album includes them all!
Play them according to the style, personality or musical background of the person whose birthday you are celebrating – and always remember to have fun!
You can also listen to the entire album for free on Spotify:
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Click here for our best birthday wishes.