It’s your 21st birthday (congratz!) and in two hours, roughly a thousand and one people will show up at your place for your party. You’ve spent the last year getting everything ready and the living room looks like a party bomb exploded onto every surface. Now, all you’ve got to figure out is the music. When your guests arrive, you don’t want to be picking through the million songs you have; you want to set up a playlist and leave it be so you can enjoy the night. Don’t worry; we’ve compiled a list of great 21st birthday songs that’ll make your 21st your best year yet.
Get ready to jam out to all the best 21st birthday songs.
1. “It’s My Life” by Bon Jovi
The world is at your feet; take hold of the reins and make the most of your abilities.
Need more jams for your 21st? Check out 9 songs for any type of 21st birthday mood.
Written by Cameron Opartkiettikul
21st birthdays amount to more than just a signal of coming of age for those who drink because they also provide an opportunity for reflection after a year in the second decade of your life. Graduation inches nearer, you probably have somewhat genuine friends by now, maybe you know what you want to do with your life and maybe you have no idea. Whatever you might be feeling can hopefully be captured by these songs from some students who celebrated their 21st.
22. “9 to 5” by Dolly Parton
Perhaps just feeling yourself? Like, “hey, guys look at me I’m an adult now.” Whether you started working and making that mula or you feel like a responsible queen, birthdays are truly days to treat yourself. “I barted to SF with a friend and we went to Cheesecake Factory and ate on the balcony thing and spent like $100 for just the two of us. Also, ‘9 to 5’ by Dolly Parton defined my 21st because when you listen to that you just feel like powerful adult vibes, you know?” UC Berkeley senior Kaiya Pittman said. Try starting your morning with some Dolly Parton and you won’t regret it.
23. “To Dance is to Love” by Charlie Burg
Maybe you want to dance your way into the next year of your life? If so, please give a listen to alternative R&B singer-songwriter and producer, Charlie Burg. The best way to listen to his song “To Dance Is To Love” is by yourself in your room as you dance, nonchalantly. With infectious energy, Burg depicts extremely specific settings in his lyrical narratives, accompanied by usually some sort of pining. Obviously, would not recommend for the lovesick.
24. “Scott Mescudi Vs. The World” by Kid Cudi
Your 21st can also mark all the challenges you overcame. Maybe doing well academically, living life lavish, or a sense of contentment? Have a festive time then with Kid Cudi. “My song was “Scott Mescudi Vs. The World” because it’s like my favorite song. For my birthday I hosted a pimp fest, which was basically just drinking with my friends over Zoom,” UC Berkeley senior Dewey Ellwood said. Sometimes you just need a comforting listen to your favorite jams — no surprises, just go straight for a good time with your buddies.
25. “It Would Be You” by Ben Rector
For some wholesome tunes check out “It Would Be You” by a pop-rock enthusiast, Ben Rector. He captures how it feels to appreciate and love someone and on birthdays, you need some classic gratitude for the people in your life. Plus, the music video actually proves worth watching: a bunch of dads in bathrobes with a cup of joe and sunglasses while dancing goofily. What more can you want?
26. “hot girl bummer” by blackbear
Ever feel just done with everyone and everything? Life, people and school seem too overwhelming and dealing with it seem like the least probable course of action. Completely get it, which is why you should listen to “hot girl summer” by blackbear. “For my birthday I ate some ribs and subpar fruit cake with my family. I chickened out of taking real alcohol shots and practiced with sprite instead. Then I went to my friend's house, drank a bottle of vodka and played Mario Kart,” UC Berkeley senior Nathalie Orozco said. “Hot girl summer” definitely sums up whatever her chaotic day was.
27. “Good Day” by Surfaces
If you wanna keep your 21st chill listen to this bop from Surfaces, an American music group from Texas that plays around with a lot of genres like soul, reggae, and jazz. Sometimes you need a peaceful day with nothing too crazy going on. The chorus in “Good Day” easily encapsulates Surfaces’ Horizon album and could also set your birthday mood: “Not much to do but just lay around / Yeah, it was a good day / I’m so glad the sun stayed around.”
28. “the 1” by Taylor Swift
Being alive and well for two decades is an accomplishment with the gift of much more life left to be lived. A time for reflection and learning. “'The 1' by Taylor Swift was my song because it set the tone of the year. Always good to be on some new shit. It’s a little simpy but it’s also really encouraging to sing ‘it’s alright now’ especially after leaving behind the 20s. It’s like acknowledging the hardships of the past but also being excited about new opportunities entering the 20s. I spent my birthday in quarantine but had some lowkey zoom catchup times with my buddies individually and wrote a letter to my 30-year-old self and sent it via email,” UC Berkeley senior Julian Lopez said. “The 1” remains the ideal choice for those feeling grown, mature and a little emo.
29. “The Weekend” - SZA x Calvin Harris (Funk Wav Remix)
People need breaks and so do you. “My 21st birthday I had a midterm so my friends showed up outside my house with food from all my favorite Berkeley restaurants, one of which is fried chicken sandwiches from Popeyes. Some people sent me food through doordash and didn’t know about the other people bringing food, so I ended up with about 11 fried chicken sandwiches by the end of the day. So my song would be ‘The Weekend’ by SZA, but the Funk Wav remix because it’s a vibe and it’s funky,” UC Berkeley senior Vivian Chai said. For Vivian, the vibe seemed just right with friends visiting and too many chicken sandwiches to eat. “The Weekend” remix could embody just the right kind of energy for you too.
30. “Start Over” by B.Reith
Set your worries and anxieties aside with this optimistic vibe from Christian hip hop/pop singer and rapper. Even if you didn’t reach a personal high this year, there still remains time to start over. The world has descended into chaos and the early 20s seem characterized by endless midterms, the drama of college life and just all the anxieties our generation faces. Whether or not life thus far has proved fulfilling, and thinking about the future makes you panic, here comes a chance to reset. So make the most of it!
Let's have some fun when listening to these songs about turning 21.
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*Updated April 7, 2020 with awesome products and links to get them.
*Updated October 16, 2020 by Cameron Opartkiettikul to include 9 more songs.