Birthday Party Playlist: Music to Celebrate Milestones and More

Birthday Party Playlist: Music to Celebrate Milestones and More

Celebrating a birthday soon?

 

While I always get giddy when I start to plan a birthday party—How will I decorate? What will I serve? What’s their favorite flavor of birthday cake?--it took me quite a few years to realize that even if the décor, food and drink are wonderful, the event isn’t complete without this missing ingredient.

 

Music!

 

If you’re lucky enough that live music is an option, go ahead and book that band or singer now. For the rest of us, a party playlist of birthday-inspired tunes can be exactly what our celebration needs to add a fun, festive vibe.

 

In the post below, I’ll share my go-to songs for a birthday party and offer strategies for selecting songs that can make the playlist more personalized.

 

Keep reading or jump to a particular section by clicking below:

 

Top 10 Tips for Making a Birthday Party Playlist 

Building a playlist for a birthday party can be a lot easier if you keep these tips in mind!

1. Build your playlist a few weeks before the party. It’s a fun task, but much harder to do when you are pressed for time.

2. Select a variety of happy, upbeat songs across genres, decades, singers for greater interest.

3. Consider whether there will be dancing at the party. If so, be sure to include songs (Dancing Queen for instance) that always have people racing to the dance floor.

4. The order of songs in a playlist can help create or change the mood at a party. Uptown Funk may not be a great choice to welcome your guests with, but it’s great when you are trying to encourage people to get up and move.

5. Keep your audience in mind. If it’s a younger crowd, adjust the songs to include some contemporary favorites. If it’s an older crowd, you may want to swap some rap songs for classic rock.

6. Include some favorite songs of the birthday person.

7. Assign one person to tend to the music. Though it’s not hard to connect an iPhone to a speaker, let someone else be responsible for doing so. The more party tasks you can delegate to others the more you can enjoy the party!

8. Depending on how many songs you choose for your playlist, you may want to set the playlist to repeat so you’re never without music.
 
9. Turn off any notifications on devices so that your guests don’t have to hear an annoying “ping” every time a message is received.

10. Remember to hit pause on the playlist when it’s time to sing “Happy Birthday.’ No one wants to compete with John Legend’s glorious voice!

  

People dancing at a birthday party - Birthday Butler

Save Time by Using My Playlist for a Birthday Party

Creating a playlist can be a blast, or you can end up falling down the rabbit hole and spend hours listening to songs you haven’t heard in a while (or maybe that’s just me?1)

 

If you’re looking for a playlist, feel free to copy/paste my collection of birthday party songs. You’ll find some pop favorites, classics and tunes that will make you want to get up dance.

 

Think of this list as your starting point. Review the songs, keep the ones you like and replace the ones you don’t like (more on that coming up!).

 

My Go-To Playlist for Birthday Parties

 

Unforgettable – Nat King Cole

 

Celebration – Kool & the Gang

 

Happy Birthday – Stevie Wonder

 

Forever Young – Rod Stewart

 

We Are Family – Sister Sledge

 

Birthday – The Beatles

 

Good Vibrations – Beach Boys

 

Don’t Stop – Fleetwood Mac

 

Hey Ya! - Outkast

 

Birthday – Destiny’s Child

 

Party Rock Anthem – LMFAO

 

Birthday – Katy Perry

 

Stand By Me – Ben E. King

 

Birthday Party – AJR

 

Happy - Pharrell

 

Stayin’ Alive – The Bee Gees

 

We Are Young - Fun

 

All of Me (Tiesto’s Birthday) – John Legend

 

Dancing Queen - Abba

 

I’m Yours – Jason Mraz

 

Born to Run – Bruce Springsteen

 

What Makes You Beautiful - One Direction

 

Party in the USA – Miley Cyrus

 

Everybody Talks - Neon Trees

 

You’re Beautiful – James Blunt

 

Don’t Stop Believing - Journey

 

I Got a Feeling - Black Eyed Peas

 

Sexy and I Know It - LMFAO

 

You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet - Bachman Turner Overdrive

  

Macarena - Los Del Rio

 

Sweet Caroline - Neil Diamond

 

We Are the Champions – Queen

 

Ain’t No Mountain High Enough - The Temptations

 

Bust a Move - Young MC

 

Whistle - Flo Rida  (Note: get the clean version or have some explaining to do to younger party guests! )

 

A Birthday Centerpiece Attuned to Your Party

If you're someone who likes done-for-you playlists, you'll love this easy, elegant birthday centerpiece. In less than 5 minutes, you can have it set-up and ready to go.

Pretty woman celebrating with a birthday centerpiece from Birthday Butler

Seriously easy party decor!
Shop now.

 

Why We Like the Music We Do

Research has shown that our favorite music tends to include songs that we listened to during our high school years and into our early 20’s.

 

These songs tend to evoke strong emotions and result in remembrance—you can place where you were when you listened to the song.

 

Additionally, since so many life events happen from ages 14 to 25 (high school dances, football games, being able to drive, graduation, going to college, starting our first job and more), we’re more likely to remember this time period.

 

This finding resonated with me. Whenever I hear “Walking in Memphis” or “True Companion” by Marc Cohn, I can recall listening to the CD as a 21-year-old.

 

In a nanosecond, my mind flips to the memory of driving my light blue Honda Prelude (manual transmission!) up and down the East Coast as I made road trips to visit family and friends.

 

That period of my life was associated with so many firsts (first real job, first time living alone, first car....), that I can still taste the sweet memory of becoming a self-sufficient adult.

 

Make a Playlist for a Milestone Birthday Butler

   


Personalized Milestone Birthday Music Made Easy

Using this insight, it’s highly likely that the birthday person enjoys the music that was popular from the time they were aged 14 to 25. 

 

As that’s still a wide range, you can narrow it down even more by picking songs that were popular when they were in high school, or even focus on the year they graduated high school.

 

Not sure what year they graduated high school?  No problem! 

 

We offer two ways to do this: a formula so you can calculate the year they graduated in or tables that you can look the information up in.

Use this formula to estimate their year of graduation:

  1. Start with the year their milestone birthday occurs in
  2. Subtract the number of the milestone birthday
  3. This results in the year they were born
  4. Take their birth year and 18 to it. (Assume they graduated high school at 18.)
  5. The resulting number is the year they are likely to have graduated high school
  6. Grab the most popular songs from that year and use them on the milestone birthday playlist.

  

To see how this might work, let's use my sister's upcoming birthday.  In March of 2022, she'll be 50.

  1. The year she has a milestone birthday=2022
  2. The number of her milestone birthday=50
  3. Find the year she was born, 2022-50=1972
  4. Take her birth year (1972) and add 18
  5. The year she graduated high school is (1972+18)=1990

 

Use these Charts to Estimate their Grad Year 

The next two charts make it easy to find what music they likely listened to in high school. Simply:

  1. Find the calendar year of the celebration  will be in (2021 or 2022)
  2. Identify how old they will be on their milestone birthday.
  3. Find their likely high school graduation year
  4. Select songs from the year they graduated high school to make your milestone birthday playlist awesome!

 

Year of Celebration

Milestone Birthday

Likely HS Graduation Year

2021

21 years old

2018

2021

30 years old

2009

2021

40 years old

1999

2021

50 years old

1989

2021

60 years old

1979

2021

70 years old

1969

2021

80 years old

1959

2021

90 years old

1949

2021

100 years old

1939

 

2022

21 years old

2019

2022

30 years old

2010

2022

40 years old

2000

2022

50 years old

1990

2022

60 years old

1980

2022

70 years old

1970

2022

80 years old

1960

2022

90 years old

1950

2022

100 years old

1940

 

Locating the songs that were popular when they graduated high school is as simple as popping that question into Google, Siri or Alexa. 

 

Party decor that's music to your ears! Shop Birthday Butler

 Easy, elegant party decor that's music to your ears!

Add these Songs to Your 50th Birthday Playlist

 

You can do this for any milestone birthday, but if we continue with my sister’s upcoming birthday as an example...

 

For her 50th birthday celebration in March of 2021, I would include popular songs from 1990, the year she graduated high school. No doubt that adding “Pump Up the Jam” and “Nothing Compares 2 U” would be a throwback for her—and the other guests!

 

Billboard magazine’s Top 20 Songs of 1990

Chart position

Song

Artist

1

Hold On

Wilson Phillips

2

It Must Have Been Love

Roxette

3

Nothing Compares to You

Sinead O’Connor

4

Poison

Bell Biv Devoe

5

Vogue

Madonna

6

Vision of Love

Mariah Carey

7

Another Day in Paradise

Phil Collins

8

Hold On

En Vogue

9

Cradle of Love

Billy Idol

10

Blaze of Glory

John Bon Jovi

11

Do Me!

Bell Biv Devoe

12

How Am I Supposed to Live Without You

Michael Bolton

13

Pump Up the Jam

Technotronic

14

Opposites Attract

Paul Abdul and The Wild Pair

15

Escapade

Janet Jackson

16

All I Want to Do is Make Love to You

Heart

17

Close to You

Maxi Priest

18

Black Velvet

Alannah Myles

19

Release Me

Wilson Phillps

20

Don’t Know Much

Linda Ronstadt and Aaron Neville