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The word happy is defined in the Oxford English Dictionary as “feeling or showing pleasure or contentment.” Over the years, artists from ABBA to Frank Zappa have recorded songs with happy in the title. The 80 tunes shown below all fit that description. Perhaps they can assist you in making a gratifying music playlist.
1. “Happy Birthday” by Stevie Wonder
Album: Hotter Than July
Genre: R & B
Song Facts for “Happy Birthday”
Wonder’s anthem about Martin Luther King helped lead the campaign to make the civil rights icon’s birthday a national U.S. holiday. Success came three years after “Happy Birthday” was released, when President Ronald Reagan signed legislation designating MLK Day to take place annually on the third Monday of January. (King was actually born on January 15, 1929, a Tuesday.)
“I had a vision of the Martin Luther King birthday as a national holiday" Wonder told Rolling Stone's Michael Goldberg in 1986. “I mean I saw that. I imagined it. I wrote about it because I imagined it and I saw it and I believed it. So I just kept that in my mind till it happened."
Wonder's "Happy Birthday" reached number two in the UK singles chart in July 1981.
2. “Happy” by The Rolling Stones
Album: Exile on Main Street
Song Facts for “Happy”
Keith Richards sings lead on this rocker, from an album filled with up-tempo tunes. The song was recorded in just four hours, and featured just Richards on guitar and bass, with producer Jimmy Miller playing drums and Bobby Keys on baritone sax and percussion. Mick Jagger’s background vocals, Nicky Hopkins’ piano, and horns were added later. “Happy,” the follow-up single to "Tumbling Dice", peaked at number 22 on the U.S. Billboard chart.
3. “Happy Together” by The Turtles
Album: Happy Together
Song Facts for “Happy Together”
“Happy Together,” written by Alan Gordon and Garry Bonner of the New York band The Magicians and recorded by the L.A. based Turtles, spent three weeks at the top of the U.S. Billboard singles chart. Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman provided the lead vocals for the group. Following the band’s dissolution in 1970, the duo, billed as Flo and Eddie, joined Frank Zappa’s Mothers of Invention.. As a trivia note, Flo and Eddie provided background vocals for Bruce Springsteen’s 1980 hit, “Hungry Heart.”
Turtles bassist Chip Douglas, who also arranged the horns on “Happy Together,” produced two albums by The Monkees (Headquarters and Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones, Ltd.). “Happy Together” was covered by Petula Clark, The Captain & Tennille, Weezer, and in a 2015 video release, Miley Cyrus.
4. “Don’t Worry Be Happy” By Bobby McFerrin
Album: Simple Pleasures
Song Facts for “Don’t Worry Be Happy”
“Don’t Worry Be Happy” hit the musical jackpot for McFerrin, earning 1988 Grammys for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance, Record of the Year, and Song of the Year. It also was the first U.S. number one hit to not have any instrumentation on it.
McFerrin, Robin Williams, and Bill Irwin starred in the music video. The tune was also a track on the Cocktail movie soundtrack, along with another number one hit, “Kokomo” by The Beach Boys. The “Don’t Worry Be Happy” slogan was coined by Indian spiritual master Meher Baba.
5. “Happy” by Pharrell Williams
Album: Despicable Me 2 (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Song Facts for “Happy”
Initially, Williams was having a difficult time penning a song about the formerly grumpy Despicable Me character Gru, now seen as cheerful in the film's sequel. In fact, Williams composed nine versions of the feel good ditty “Happy” before he finally was satisfied with the tenth one. The song appears in Despicable Me 2 after Gru realizes he’s in love, and dances in the streets of his neighborhood. “Happy” is credited with being the first 24 hour music video, featuring a group of celebrities and everyday citizens dancing to the song as it played on a continuous loop online.
"Happy" brought a 2014 Grammy to Williams in the Best Pop Solo Performance category.
6. “Happy Trails” by Roy Rogers
Album: Happy Trails: The Roy Rogers Collection 1937-1990
Song Facts for “Happy Trails”
“Happy Trails”, the theme song for NBC-TV’s 1951-1957 Roy Rogers Show, was penned by "The King of the Cowboys" wife and co-star, Dale Evans. Rogers was born Leonard Franklin Slye in Cincinnati in 1911.
In the autobiography, Happy Trails: Our Life Story, Evans talked about writing the tune shortly after the birth of her and Rogers’ daughter Robin in 1950. Evans was at home with the newborn when she decided the song closing the Roy Rogers Show on radio wasn’t western enough. She also wanted to note in the number that a cowboy had to ride the trails regardless of the weather, especially if they weren’t sunny trails. She proceeded to write “Happy Trails” in about three hours. The couple began singing it at the end of the radio show, and then the television program.
”Happy Trails” was covered by Van Halen as the last track of their 1982 album, Diver Down.
7. “Happy Days” by Pratt & McClain
Album: Pratt & McClain Featuring Happy Days!
Song Facts for “Happy Days”
For its first two seasons, the sitcom Happy Days used the classic Bill Haley and His Comets tune “Rock Around the Clock” as its main theme song. Starting with the third season premiere in September 1975, the familiar theme written by Charles Fox and Norman Gimbel began airing in its place. Fox and Gimbel also wrote the theme songs for Love American Style, Wonder Woman, and Laverne and Shirley. The duo of Truett Pratt and Jerry McClain were selected to record the theme. The show’s popularity grew that season, especially with the increased airtime for Henry Winkler’s Fonzie character.
Pratt & McClain released a version of the Happy Days theme as a single, backed with “Cruisin’ With the Fonz,” and it made the top five of the Billboard U.S. chart in Spring 1976, and the top 40 in the UK.
8. “Happy Jack” by The Who
Album: “A Quick One”
Song Facts for “Happy Jack”
“Happy Jack” was The Who’s first top 40 single in the U.S., as well as a top five hit in the UK. The track prominently features the heavy bass of John Entwistle and frenetic drumming by Keith Moon. Around this time, The Who were apparently set to appear in their own TV series similar to The Monkees. That opportunity never came to fruition, but the “Happy Jack” music video/promo film has the look of one of The Monkees “romps” or action set to a particular song. Additionally, a 2003 commercial for The Hummer H2 SUV used "Happy Jack" as its soundtrack.
9. “Happy” by Bruce Springsteen
Song Facts for “Happy”
One of the deep cuts in The Boss’ catalog, this tender ballad is found in his 1998 Tracks box set of unreleased songs, single B-sides, demos, and more. It’s surprising “Happy” was never released as a single back then, as it’s such a strong tune. In the chorus, Springsteen sings, “I'm happy with you in my arms/Happy with you in my heart/Happy when I taste your kiss/I'm happy in a love like this.”
Springsteen, on vocals and guitar, is backed on "Happy" by just Roy Bittan on keyboards and Shawn Pelton on drums. Springsteen has never performed the song in concert.
10. “Shiny Happy People” by R.E.M.
Album: Out of Time
Song Facts for “Shiny Happy People”
Not the most favorite track by the band, nevertheless, the tune did make the Top 10 in the U.S. and UK singles charts. The song’s title came from a Chinese propaganda poster at around the time of the Tiananmen Square uprising. Kate Pierson of The B-52’s adds harmony vocals . REM performed the song in a 1999 Sesame Street broadcast, renaming it “Furry Happy Monsters” for the show.
An interesting trivia note is that “Shiny Happy People was being considered as the theme song for the future hit sitcom, Friends. At that point, the series was to be called Friends Like Us.
11. “I’m Happy Just to Dance with You” by The Beatles
Album: A Hard Day’s Night
Song Facts for “I’m Happy Just to Dance with You”
There’s an energy in the early Beatles A Hard Day’s Night soundtrack songs that can brighten your day and make you want to be in a band. “I’m Happy Just to Dance with You” is just one of two John Lennon and Paul McCartney tunes (the other being "Do You Want to Know a Secret”) that George Harrison sang lead on. Lennon told writer David Sheff in a 1980 Playboy magazine interview that "I'm Happy..." was written for Harrison "to give him a piece of the action." In other words, a song for Harrison to perform in the film.
Anne Murray covered the track on her 1980 album, “Somebody’s Waiting.”
12. “Happy Hour” by The Housemartins
Album: London 0 Hull 4
Song Facts for “Happy Hour”
The Kingston upon Hull, England based Housemartins recorded just two albums, but had a string of hits including the UK number one single, “Caravan of Love.” Their first big UK success came with the catchy “Happy Hour,” containing the ironic lyrics about joining your co-workers at the pub after work, but not really wanting to be there. Lead vocalist Paul Heaton sings, “It's happy hour again/ I think I might be happy if I wasn't out with them/ And they're happy, it's a lovely place to be/ Happy that the fire's real, the barman is a she.”
The music video has a charm to it, beginning with the band doing their version of John Cleese’s Monty Python Ministry of Silly Walks sketch. That’s followed by Claymation depictions of the band and the pub patrons and more.
Following the band’s split, Heaton and drummer Dave Hemingway formed The Beautiful South and bassist Norman Cook took on the stage name Fatboy Slim ("Praise You, "The Rockafeller Skank").
13. “Put on a Happy Face” by Dick Van Dyke
Album: Broadway Super Hits, Vol. 1
Genre: Stage & Screen
Song Facts for “Put on a Happy Face”
“Gray skies are gonna clear up/Put on a happy face/Brush off the clouds and cheer up/ Put on a happy face…” It doesn’t get much better for a song to make you smile than Lee Adams and Charles Strouse’s tune from the Broadway and film musical, Bye Bye Birdie.
Dick Van Dyke, as Albert Peterson, sings the song in the 1960 Broadway cast recording. In the 1963 film, he performs “Put on a Happy Face” with Janet Leigh as part of a dance duet sequence. The video below is from the film. Van Dyke won a Tony in the category of Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical for his "Bye Bye Birdie" role.
14. “I Could Be Happy” by Altered Images
Album: Pinky Blue
Song Facts for “I Could Be Happy”
Here’s a song whose video takes you back to the early days of MTV. The group’s singer, Clare Grogan, had previously starred in the 1980 film Gregory’s Girl and later appeared in the sci-fi/comedy series Red Dwarf. Grogan told London-based radio presenter Phil Marriott in 2019 that she penned the song about her overprotective roadie at the time.
“I Could Be Happy” made the U.K. Top 10 in December 1981. It also was a top five single in New Zealand. The group achieved their biggest UK success with the title track of their debut album, “Happy Birthday,” different from the Stevie Wonder hit or the traditional “Happy Birthday”/”Happy Birthday to You.”
In a trivia note, Spandau Ballet’s Gary Kemp told The Guardian in 2012 that Grogan inspired him to write the band’s international 80s hit, “True.”
15. “Happy Anywhere” by Blake Shelton (featuring Gwen Stefani)
Album: Not on an album, single release
Song Facts for “Happy Anywhere”
The Voice U.S. judges and engaged couple Shelton and Stefani figured that the summer of 2020 was the right time to release this single, especially with so many people affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. ”We're all still socially distancing, so there's no better time to be happy anywhere with the person or people you love” Shelton told People magazine in a July 2020 interview. “It doesn't matter where in the world you are — as long as you're with them, you're happy."
The upbeat single, the fourth collaboration by the pair, topped the U.S. Billboard Country Digital Song Sales chart a month after the interview. The music video, directed by Stefani’s brother Todd, was compiled from hours of the duo’s home videos.
16. “You’ve Made Me So Very Happy” by Blood, Sweat & Tears
Album: Blood, Sweat & Tears
Song Facts for “You’ve Made Me So Very Happy”
Blood, Sweat & Tours pioneered the brass rock sound which would become popular via bands like Chicago. BS&T's founding member, keyboardist and singer. Al Kooper, coined the band’s name after a jam session at New York’s Café Au Go Go left him with a cut hand and his keyboard covered in blood.
Kooper left the group after just one album, replaced by Canadian vocalist David Clayton-Thomas. The group’s self titled second album became a number one U.S. hit in 1969, with “You’ve Made Me So Very Happy” reaching second on the American singles chart. Motown singer Brenda Holloway first recorded the track two years earlier. The Blood, Sweat & Tears album featured a couple more number two U.S. hits in “Spinning Wheel” and Laura Nyro’s “And When I Die.”
17. “If It Makes You Happy” by Sheryl Crow
Album: Sheryl Crow
Song Facts for “If It Makes You Happy”
Crow won the 1996 Grammy for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance with this song. Before performing the tune during her 1998 VH1 Storytellers broadcast, she told the audience “If It Makes You Happy” was actually a country song “but we did it in a rocked out version so we could get on TV.”
The inspiration for the song was Crow’s feelings that her record label and the media were pressuring her to follow-up the big success of the Tuesday Night Music Club album. She served as producer for the Sheryl Crow album, including “If It Makes You Happy.” Co-written with Jeff Trott, the single reached the top ten on the U.S. Billboard chart. The music video was filmed in the Endangered Species section of L.A.'s Natural History Museum.
18. “Two Shots of Happy, One Shot of Sad” by U2
Album: Not on an album. Bonus track on “If God Will Send His Angels” CD single
Song Facts for “Two Shots of Happy, One Shot of Sad”
While not a cheerful, jump for joy happy song, this number is so strong that it should be on this list. Bono and The Edge wrote the track for Frank Sinatra, but The Chairman of the Board didn’t have the opportunity to record it.
In 1995,Bono and Edge, backed by an orchestra, recorded a live video of the song in London for use in the U.S. ABC-TV broadcast honoring Sinatra’s 80th birthday. The audio portion is what’s found on U2’s “If God Will Send His Angels” CD single.
Nancy Sinatra did record the tune in 2004, with U2’s Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen on bass and drums. That same year, Canadian jazz singer Matt Dusk released his take on the song.
19. “Happy Days Are Here Again"
Album: The Barbra Streisand Album
Song Facts for “Happy Days Are Here Again”
Songwriters Milton Ager and Jack Yellen wrote and recorded “Happy Days Are Here Again” in 1929. Three years later, Franklin D. Roosevelt used it as the campaign song for his winning U.S. presidential campaign. Following that, it became the Democratic Party’s unofficial anthem for years to come.
Soon after Joe Biden was announced as the winner of the 2020 presidential election, Barbra Streisand sent out a tweet of herself belting out the song. Streisand has a history with the tune, as her 1962 debut single was “Happy Days Are Here Again.” She re-recorded the song for 1963’s “The Barbra Streisand Album,” and it’s been part of her concert repertoire ever since.
20. “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)" by John & Yoko/Plastic Ono Band With The Harlem Community Choir
Album: Gimme Some Truth
Song Facts for “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)"
Lennon and Ono’s 1971 song combined both a Christmas and anti-Vietnam War protest message together. The title goes back to December 1969, when the couple rented billboards in London, New York, Paris, and other major world cities. The black and white posters read, “WAR IS OVER! If You Want It-Happy Christmas From John and Yoko.”
In October 1971, Lennon recorded an acoustic demo of “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)" in his room at New York City’s St. Regis Hotel, where he and Ono were living at the time. Later that month, they recorded the song in the studio, with Phil Spector producing. The Harlem Community Choir, made up of children four to 12 years of age, provided backing vocals in the chorus. “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)" was released in 1972 in the UK, a year after the U.S. edition, where it reached number four on the singles chart.
Sarah McLachlan, Diana Ross, Celine Dion, and The Moody Blues are among the artists who have covered the song.
Even More Songs With Happy in the Title
21. Be Happy
Mary J. Blige
22. Sha-La-La (Make Me Happy)
23. My Happiness
24. Oh Happy Day
The Edwin Hawkins Singers
25. Happy Nation
Ace of Base
26. My Happy Ending
28. Are You Happy Now?
29. Get Happy
30. Make Someone Happy
31. You Could Be Happy
32. She Makes Me Happy
33. Happy Talk
34. C'Mon Get Happy
The Partridge Family
35. Only Happy When It Rains
36. Happy Hawaii
37. I Hope You're Happy Now
38. Violently Happy
39. Happy Birthday, Sweet Sixteen
40. If You Wanna Be Happy
41. Happy Anniversary
Little River Band
42. Happy Does
44. Happy Feelin's
Maze Featuring Frankie Beverly
45. Makin' Happy
46. Junk of the Heart (Happy)
47. Girl Happy
48. Happy House
Siouxsie and The Banshees
49. Happy Man
Greg Kihn Band
50. Happy Now?
51. I’m So Happy I Can’t Stop Crying
Toby Keith With Sting
52. Happy With You
53. Life’s A Happy Song
Mickey Rooney-From The Muppets Soundtrack
54. Everybody’s Gonna Be Happy
55. If That’s What Makes You Happy
Dayl Hall and John Oates
56. Happy When It Rains
The Jesus and Mary Chain
57. Happy Shades Of Blue
58. Happy, Happy Birthday Baby
59. Love (Can Make You Happy)
60. Happy Valentine’s Day
61. I’m So Happy I Could Cry
62. Happy Boys & Girls
63. Sing A Happy Song
64. Happy People
Prince Ital Joe Featuring Marky Mark
65. Make You Happy
66. A Mess (Happy 4 U)
67. Happy Happy Joy Joy
Ren and Stimpy
68. Happy When I’m Sad
69. Happy Christmas, Little Friend
70. Happy Heart
71. I Just Wanna Be Happy
72. Happy Now
73. Think Happy
74. Merry & Happy
75. Dance ‘N’ Be Happy
76. We’re A Happy Family
77. Are You Happy?
78. I’ll Keep You Happy
Hank Ballard and The Midnighters
79. Are You Happy Baby?
80. Happy Now
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