Every #1 Country Single of the Eighties: Ronnie Milsap, “Happy, Happy Birthday Baby”

“Happy, Happy Birthday Baby”

Ronnie Milsap

Written by Gilbert Lopez and Margo Sylvia

Radio & Records

#1 (3 weeks)

April 18 – May 2, 1986


#1 (1 week)

June 7, 1986

Ronnie Milsap went all in on the bobby sox decade with his Lost in the Fifties Tonight album.

One of the biggest hits that came from the project was a cover of a lost fifties hit: The Tune Weavers’ “Happy, Happy Birthday Baby.”

Milsap stays true to the spirit of the original, but is unable to prevent mid-eighties bloat from creeping in.  As beautifully as he sings the record, there was no need for it to be stretched out to nearly four minutes.  The musical break and additional chorus feel overlong for a song about a birthday card message.

It’s also just a bit less interesting sung by a male vocalist, forcing a rewrite of the bold for its era lyric, “I’m not acting like a lady.”  Crystal Gayle would’ve done wonders with this.

Milsap still gives a memorable performance, of course, and it has a retro charm that still holds up today.  It’s just in need of an edit.

“Happy, Happy Birthday Baby” gets a B.

Every No. 1 Single of the Eighties

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1 Comment

  1. This song is all about the sound and the swirling emotions around the relationship, not the mundane sentiment of the generic note.

    I think Milsap sounds as good as he ever has here.

    As a kid, this nostalgic productions seemed exotic and cool.

    Chalk another mid-’80s up to a great vocalist.

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