5 Songs Better Than 'Happy Birthday' to Sing During a Vigorous Hand Scrub

A few 20-second snippets you actually won't mind having stuck in your head while you anxiously wash for the "right" amount of time.
Katie Way
Brooklyn, US
March 3, 2020, 9:04pm
washing hands at sink
Photo by Moyo Studio via Getty Images

Singing “Happy Birthday to You” twice in its entirety might be an accurate way to measure the amount of time a good hand-washing session takes (20 seconds, for the unanointed), but that doesn’t make it enjoyable. “Happy Birthday to You” is, to be blunt, a pretty bad song. It requires a vocal range most people don’t possess; it’s not a banger, a jam, or a bop; and outside of a birthday context, it’s straight-up creepy in a “horror movie about a possessed child” kinda way. Not the kind of thing we want to be muttering to ourselves as we wash our hands in the VICE office bathroom’s distinctly trough-like sinks!


Luckily, it feels like everyone agrees “Happy Birthday” sucks, even if we can’t agree on whether surgical masks and bogus “protection kits” are necessary (nope), if taking public transit is safe (it is if you wash your hands after), and which soap we should be using (God, just use it!). That’s why people have taken to Twitter to crowdsource alternative musical measurement options. Here are a few of our favorite 20-second snippets that won’t make you feel like you’re living in a trailer for Insidious IV. We’re talking about the crème de la crème of welcome and enjoyable earworms—although, based on a casual canvas of the Life desk, it seems like many songs have 20-second choruses, so feel free to time out your favorite and see how it stacks up!

9 to 5 - Dolly Parton

There’s no need for an excuse to listen to the working person’s anthem, but we’re giving you one anyway! The opening verse of “9 to 5” and the first line of its chorus are a great way to complete best hand-washing practices while thinking about the job you’ll have to do from home if you get quarantined.

Love On Top - Beyonce

Try not to smile while washing your hands from “Baby it’s YOU!” up until “Finally, you put my love on TOP!” Beyonce’s ode to doing the work in love is uplifting, it’s catchy as hell, and it will remind you that you deserve a relationship that fulfills you… and clean hands. You definitely deserve clean hands.

Welcome to the Black Parade - My Chemical Romance

Between their reunion tour and the fact that VICE recognized them as artists of the decade, it’s pretty clear that an MCR revival is in full swing. What better way to inject some angst into your bathroom routine? Save the broken, the beaten, and the damned from coronavirus with good hand-washing hygiene.

All Star - Smash Mouth

SomeBODY once told me that it’s important to wash our hands before eating, after coughing or sneezing, after going to the bathroom, before and after taking care of a sick person or helping a child use the bathroom, after touching our cell phones and personal computers, and after using public transport. That somebody? The CDC.

Landslide - Fleetwood Mac

This is a great choice if you’re looking to cry in public. Just make sure the people around you know it’s because you’re mourning the inevitable passage of time, not because you’re scared of getting coronavirus!

Bonus track: Everybody Wash Your Hands (CoronaVi) - Sally Burtnick

Just a little ditty from VICE’s own to all of you. Wash responsibly!

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