For decades, Warner/Chappell Music owned the contentious copyright to everybody's favorite song, "Happy Birthday To You." That meant any public performance — on TV, in film, tableside at chain restaurants — could result in un-happy legal actions to collect outrageous royalties (watch Stephen Colbert thumb his nose at Warner with this modified 2014 performance).
This Tuesday, however, a hero L.A. federal court judge declared the original 1935 copyright invalid, therein releasing "Happy Birthday" from its litigious shackles and placing it in the public domain. To celebrate, the pro-birthday team at City Pages thought it'd be fun to splash around in the freshly liberated public domain waters of "Happy Birthday."
That means we need you, local bands/rappers/singers/yodelers/chanters, to send us your best version of the song to enter in this historic contest. We welcome you to get creative. A powerviolence rendition? Why not! How about a high-art, avant-garde approach? Get after it! Does "Happy Birthday" need a three-minute sousaphone breakdown? Let's find out. At best, a new annual hit will emerge from the primordial soup of creativity. At worst, you get some free publicity, plus a City Pages press clipping for that all-important PR one-sheet.
The winning artist will receive shout-outs from the City Pages social media command center, any random goodies we can scrounge up from around the office, and the distinction of being the Twin Cities' most-festive act.
Please send your version of "Happy Birthday" to music editor Jay Boller ([email protected]) by Sunday evening via SoundCloud or YouTube. We'll post all entrants early next week and declare a winner.