Stop Singing ‘Happy Birthday to You’

Except to kids. Kids don’t care. (Photo by Thanh Tran)

There are 3 ways to have a good birthday:

  1. Don’t entice people we don’t like.
  2. Have your favorite dessert either or not it’s cake.
  3. Don’t sing “Happy Birthday to You.”

The Agony of “Happy Birthday to You”

Singing “Happy Birthday” feels bad. The records feel awkward, a gait feels awkward, a whole conditions feels awkward. The strain lasts twenty vein-tightening seconds, seconds that widen out like Zeno’s paradox, and we can feel any impulse like you’re in bullet time:

  • -0:05. Someone brings out a cake. The throng shuffles closer and gives any other vehement looks, while eyeballing a cake to check that it’ll feed a whole group. Everyone looks to a chairman with a cake to start a song, even nonetheless that’s a one chairman already doing a job.
  • -0:02. One chairman starts singing and everybody fades in, perplexing to find a note and a dash during a same time, given while this is a best-known strain on a world it’s unfit to start in sync, unlike, say, “One Week” by a Barenaked Ladies.
  • 0:00. Now everybody has assimilated in. From here, everybody else will delayed down to compare a schmuck who came in last.
  • 0:01. Everyone completes a word “happy,” though not all during once, given they’re still syncing up.
  • 0:03. About now, a birthday chairman starts removing in her head. Where should she look? Is she grinning enough? Why isn’t this strain over yet? If we devise on commenting that no one panics like this when people sing them “Happy Birthday to You,” afterwards answer this: Why else do some birthday people start singing along?
  • 0:05. The initial line is finally over. The birthday chairman has staid for creation brief, roughly apologetic, eye strike with any guest.
  • 0:06. If you’ve managed to sing any faster than this, someone now decides to supplement a small aptitude by cheering “Hey!”
  • 0:07-0:11. General dread.
  • 0:12. Another hasten to set a tempo, as we stand adult a third line. The birthday chairman is selecting where to demeanour when her name is sung, and any choice is terrifying.
  • 0:15. Everyone slows down for a sparkling bit—hey you, that’s your name we’re singing! Your name is in a song!
  • 0:17. The throng hits tough on a name, given that should be a consummate of a song, though it’s during this uncanny low note. Or during slightest they should strike hard. God assistance we if your name comes out quieter than a rest of a song.
  • 0:18. Everyone pauses, since would we postponement we’re so tighten to finale this, to honour themselves on singing a name.
  • 0:18-?:??. General dread.

Why It’s Objectively Bad

Why does this strain feel like being ecstatic into a ruin dimension, tortured for a thousand lifetimes, afterwards sent behind to a second we left? we asked composer and musician Jason Oberholtzer to name a reason. Turns out there are SEVERAL REASONS.

The initial few records are awkward, Oberholtzer says: “The downbeat of a initial magnitude is unequivocally unwieldy and creates people confused about what pivotal we’re ostensible to be in or where a movement is, given a initial dual records are pickup notes, nearing during a third note (the downbeat) that is a 6th of a chord it arrives on.”

And it doesn’t improve. “The balance proportions are all over a place. The consummate is only hurled (in a form of an octave) into a third phrase.”

The balance doesn’t fit a lyrics, emphasizing opposite tools of a same line any time. “It leaps adult for insignificant words: ‘happy birthday TO you.’ ‘happy BIRthday.’ We’re on a automatic longhorn of importance, and nobody knows how to word a lines.”


The BIRthday is a worst, says Oberholtzer, given it even breaks a settlement set by a TO, that would indicate an importance on DEAR. But that wouldn’t repair it. “A lucid chairman would find a approach to make it:”

Happy birthday to YOU
Happy birthday to YOU
Happy birthday dear NAME
Happy birthday to YOU

Then a finale provides no clever resolution. “We land on a many simple, common end ever and are just…done.”


The balance worked a small improved with a strange lyrics: “Good morning to you, good morning to you, good morning dear children, good morning to you.” Oberholtzer points out that distinct “happy BIRTHday,” “good MORning” follows a common debate pattern. “Properly phrased, it’s a witty bit of writing, really suitable for children and mornings.”

But a birthday chronicle is so awkwardly phrased, “people gaunt into a wrong parts, and we have a monster. We’ve busted a ideally good, seemly morning strain by perplexing to spin it into screaming celebration song.”

What to Do Instead

Look, I’d cite we only don’t sing anything, given bad balance or not, we disgust sitting tongue-tied while people sing to me. But many of we degenerates substantially suffer this experience, so select whatever strain we want. Our sister site Splinter has a plain list of choice songs.

At my Christian propagandize we would sing one that says Jesus’s name, though not a birthday person’s, that seems fair. we mean, sing a uncanny heavy-metal birthday strain from Aqua Teen Hunger Force if we want, during slightest it’s bad on purpose. “Birthday” is a misfortune Beatles song, though at slightest it’s a Beatles song.


Or only sing some non-birthday strain together. Just some strain that we like. Pull adult a karaoke lane on YouTube and go for it. Compared to “Happy Birthday to You,” even “Bohemian Rhapsody” goes by quickly.

And hey, if we wish to sing “Happy Birthday to You” given it’s tradition, fine. But don’t fake we indeed like it.

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Posted by on Jan 12 2018. Filed under Gadgets. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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