Party like it’s your birthday

“We gonna party like it’s your birthday.” — 50 Cent, ‘In Da Club’

Yeah, you know you know that song. In fact the song was a quick international hit when it was released in 1993. A Source columnist even suggested the song challenged Stevie Wonder’s “Happy Birthday” as “the birthday song” of the Black community.”

The song, with “Dr. Dre and his beastly beat making over calmly accurate handclaps and driving synths,” saw 50 Cent, born Curtis Jackson, making way more than his moniker in profits off of the celebratory song’s success.

The central hook, “Go shorty, it’s your birthday/ We gonna party like it’s your birthday…” doesn’t even require it to be a birthday for fun to be had. After all, regardless, “we gonna party LIKE it’s your birthday.”

So, its a hit on your big day and whatever other day you want to rock the house.

It’s the Simple Things

The Source writer in the article, “How 50 Cent’s ‘In Da Club’ influenced birthday themes all over the world,” further noted the song glorifies life. Noting, “This is only logical, with the rapper’s prior near death experience due to nine bullets including one to the face.”

Yet it may be the song’s simplicity that truly drove it to becoming a top birthday song. “Simplicity is a big key to hit music,” said 50 via People. “Don’t overthink things, just organically see what you feel when the production comes in. Like, ‘Go shorty, it’s your birthday.’ It’s not rocket science. It’s a simple statement.”

The song’s simple statement earned it a spot atop the Billboard Hot 100 and several other charts, including internationally in countries like Greece, Switzerland, and Austria.

Today, whether you’re in the Black community or not, if you’re a certain age, there’s a very good chance “In da Club” is on your birthday playlist.

Kids Share Birthday Love with Signing and Singing

My last blog gave two examples of birthday kindness from strangers to little boys. But this one is about kiddos returning the favor for an adult in their lives. And a teacher providing her students with a valuable lesson along the way.

A Tennessee kindergarten class learned how to sign Happy Birthday to surprise the hearing impaired school custodian with the birthday song.

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The custodian, identified by The Tennessean as James Anthony, immediately brought his hands to his head in disbelief, his mouth open in a stunned smile.

The cute video of the children singing and signing to a very shocked Mr. Anthony was posted on the school’s website.

Dozens commented on the video to wish a happy birthday to the custodian, who has served in the county for 20 years.

“Happiest of birthdays, Mr. James! You haven’t aged a bit,” wrote Elizabeth Fox. “What a blessing you have been to the students and staff of many Coffee County schools.”

“I am 34 years old and Mr James was my janitor at Hickerson as well!!!! GOD BLESS this wonderful man!!!!!!!!!!” Jordan Carter commented.

The teacher and students are pretty wonderful too for learning the signs to make this birthday message so special to him.

Queen E. II Rocks Out on Her Birthday

Queen's birthday

Image source Reuters

Many Brits love their Queen, and the fact that she has two birthdays regularly gets a spike in news coverage at this time of year. I’ve mentioned this before — the two birthdays for the monarch goes back to 1748 when England’s King George II, born in November, wanted a fair weather birthday celebration. He decided to make his official birthday in June, and the habit stuck.

This year, though, to celebrate her 92nd birthday, Queen Elizabeth II was feted with a star-studded pop concert. We’re talking Sting, Tom Jones… In fact, the opening number for the night was his “It’s Not Unusual,” which I have long loved for the hilarity of the “oonga shaka” chorus.

Shaggy, Kylie Minogue, Shawn Mendes, and Ladysmith Black Mambo were also among those on the bill for the longest-reigning, living monarch’s shindig in London’s Albert Hall. The Queen took the throne, in case you aren’t old enough to remember, in 1952! At the end of the concert, Prince Charles, 70, took the stage to lead a rousing round of cheers for his mother, who at 92 is also the oldest living monarch.

Birthday Fundraising

The concert was a “break in tradition” for the Queen as she usually celebrates more privately (and maybe noshing on jellied corgis, per a previous blog). Many of the Royal family members joined her in the box for this rocking birthday bash, which was also televised and aired on BBC channels.

The Queen’s actual birthday of April 21 was also marked with an honorary gun salutes in Hyde Park and at the Tower of London and in the town of Windsor.

The concert was also a fundraiser for The Queen’s Commonwealth Trust, so she gets to join my list also of people who use their birthdays to raise donations or show generosity to others. The charity, led by her grandson Harry, will “encourage young people to excel in areas like sports, education, health and the environment across the 53 Commonwealth countries.”

Queen's Birthday

Image source Reuters

Birthday Concert Just the Beginning

Of course, the concert is only one of the Queen’s birthday events. I mean, she’s really someone who knows how to keep the birthday going and going, In June, all of London will celebrate her “official” birthday at the Trooping the Colour, an annual military parade which will bring all the royals back to the balcony of the Palace (including, presumably, the by then newly married Henry and Meghan). 

According to the Royal Mint, “during the ceremony, trained and fully operational members of the Household Division greet The Queen with a royal salute. She then inspects the troops, riding past them in a carriage. After the massed bands have performed a musical ‘troop,’ the regimental colour, or flag, is carried down the ranks of troops. Chalk up one more advantage to being Queen — the picture below suggests this pomp and circumstance is probably a bit more exciting than a balloon bouquet!

Queen birthday

Trooping the Colour, from the Royal Mint

Happy Birthday song

Have you heard this Happy Birthday song?

Reading the novel The Hate U Give this year, which I didn’t even think of as a young adult book, I came across a reference to “all the black people” singing the Stevie Wonder of “Happy Birthday.”

Angie Thomas’s book has been lauded for providing perspective and emphasizing the need to speak up against injustice. Still, I wasn’t expecting to find a new perspective on birthdays! Nevertheless, I’ll admit I didn’t know about there being a Stevie Wonder birthday song.

Have you Heard This Happy Birthday?

Of course, with YouTube, it easy to enjoy Wonder’s 1981 release still today.

In the song, per Azlyrics.com, he sings:

…we all know in our minds
That there ought to be a time
That we can set aside
To show just how much we love you
And I’m sure you would agree
It couldn’t fit more perfectly
Than to have a world party on the day you came to be

While this is how I feel about birthdays overall, the song actually reflects Wonder’s campaigning to have Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday become a national holiday. The single was produced and released to raise awareness of the idea.

Encouraging the recognition of King Jr.’s birthday as a way to celebrate peace, he wrote:

It should be a great event
And the whole day should be spent
In full remembrance
Of those who lived and died for the oneness of all people.

The song did not reach Billboard’s Hot 100 that year, but it did chart for R&B and became one of Wonder’s biggest UK hits.

Birthday Song Success

In 1983, President Ronald Reagan signed the holiday into existence. The first official MLK Jr Day, held annually the third Monday in January each year, was later commemorated with Stevie Wonder headlining a large-scale concert.

And despite my enthusiasm for birthdays and reading on the topic, I’d never encountered this before reading Thomas’s novel. This tells me something about where I have been looking for birthday information, but it also reminds me of a main reason I read so much. Picking up a book is a way to expand my perspective on the world.

I not only recommend listening to the Wonder song, but also checking out the book featuring a 16-year-old girl trying to balance two separate worlds. She lives in a poverty stricken neighborhood and early on a friend is shot by a police officer, igniting racial tensions in the area. While keeping her experience a secret from her white boyfriend and other friends at her private suburban private school, Starr Carter grapples with grief and decides whether or not to speak up as the sole witness of the shooting.

In the meantime, I hope you continue enjoying reading this blog and its many perspectives on birthdays customs.

Stretching the Birthday Suit Idea

I regularly follow social media with the hashtag #birthday. You can see what I find if you follow me @birthdaysarebest. In the meantime, I want to weigh in on a phenomenon I’ve noticed — women posting selfies of their birthday outfits.

To begin, let me clear, I do not want to body shame any one in this blog. I am thoroughly impressed with the confidence these women have in posting their barely clad bodies on twitter.

What shocks me is the lack of fabric in the outfits of choice. I didn’t realize I was such a prude until I started seeing these grinning young women in scanty clothes. I have done a mental cataloging of my own past birthday outfits — notice I don’t say birthday suit — and even when I was their age I don’t remember a day where I wore so little fabric!

Birthday Skin

Without naming any names (or twitter handles), I’ve seen an awful lot of birthday skin by virtue of following the #birthday tag.

Apparently birthday outfit means you have to:

  • Show your belly button
  • Barely cover your breasts
  • Keep skirt hemline thigh high at best
  • Wear shoes that are sure to kill you if you have any drinks and attempt to dance.

I may have done one of these at most in my younger days — Ok, maybe two in my wildest days — but all four at once? Man, clearly I am over the hill (and should probably start regretting my age at birthdays more).

I am certainly over the hill enough to regret the evening when I ended up viewing an unexpected eggplant shot. Some guy thought it was a great gift to a girl to share his engorged self on social media. For a hilarious take on this phenomenon check out Famous Authors Reply to Your Unsolicited Dick Pic on McSweeney’s.

Hey! hint…that is not really something that gets many girls going…dress sharp and take a photo. Tell her you dressed up for her because she’s so classy. See where that gets you instead. You can thank me later.

In the meantime, I have come across a song that probably inspires some of the birthday outfits I’ve seen. Thanks Rihanna:

 

Reactions to Singing the Birthday Song

Birthday song

Photo credit: mag3737 via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

What do you do when someone sings you the “Happy Birthday” song?

The last time I heard it directed at me, I danced and sang along. But, I am seldom afraid to make a fool of myself if it earns laughs, and I love being celebrated on my birthday.

Recently, though, I was part of a group of women singing out loud to a friend. She had told us in advance that this group meeting would coincide with her birthday. She had reminded us the week of when we were planning the buffet contributions. She had welcomed the cake bought in her honor. Yet, when the singing started, she became completely embarrassed. Head in her heads, she tried to make herself small, as we sang around her. Please note: this was not in public and we weren’t that off key!

She said, blushingly after, she didn’t know what do when people sang to her. Other women suggested singing along. Sometimes you’ll see a person fixate on the cake as if she could cut it with the force of her stare. But, what do you do? What’s your reaction to the attention? Is it different if you’re home, among family and friends, or out in a public space celebrating?

The question intrigues me because I’ve recently encountered a psychological study on birthdays that talked about narcissists and their birthdays. This article made me question my own mental health a little — is my love for birthdays a sign that I have a narcissistic personality disorder? Here I am, after all, sharing my thoughts about birthdays with the world via this blog as if my ideas matter…

Oh well, in the meantime, I will continue to comfort myself with the knowledge that I love not only my birthday but those of others too. I enjoy the opportunity to share the joy of birthdays with my friends, family members and co-workers and doing what I can to make them feel special. Yes, even if that means singing while they hide behind their hands in embarrassment!

 

 

 

Birthday Party Song Disruption

Those who read The Verge will know the publication regularly covers disruptive technologies and innovations. Much to my surprise, though, there was recently an article on a man seeking to “disrupt the Happy Birthday song.”

Of course, I had to read on. I expected I would want to be sarcastically dismissive (you probably did too if you’re a loyal reader of this blog). Yet, I like Greg May’s idea.

He has recorded thousands upon thousands of versions of a personalized “Happy Birthday” song he wrote. As of this writing, May’s YouTube channel, named 1HappyBirthday, featured over 310,000 videos for 31,479 different names.

The Verge reported: “All of the songs have been individually recorded by only two singers. The first singer quit after two years; the second, a part-time singer, has recorded nearly 20,000 of May’s birthday songs. Which, intentionally or not, makes her one of the most prolific recording artists of all time.”

May started out with his project by looking up the 400 most popular names in America and writing and recording his own birthday songs for those names. Now, though, he’s expanded internationally, and his site claims more than a million people have enjoyed a personalized birthday song.

The site announces: “It’s fun. It’s one of a kind. It’s wild. It’s catchy. It’s 1 personalized Birthday song just for your birthday.”

May himself told Verge: “Some people just hate it and write that the song is out of tune or ridiculous. Others write to me with amazing stories of how important the song was to them or a child or friend. I recognize that the song may not be for everyone [..] If taken too seriously, is just plain weird. But it also features a person’s name 10 times, so hopefully they like at least that part of the song.”

My own name was the most popular girl’s name in 1972, so I didn’t even bother checking the list for that. Instead, I searched for my niece Kiera. The song for the name with that spelling has a different pronunciation. I tried Kiara as well, but it is the Kiira version that suits. Good thing, because the request form actually says no more name can be added to the production list until 2017!

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My niece turned 18 last month! This was her 10 years ago; I didn’t want to get in as much trouble for putting her picture on the blog!