What are Singing Telegrams?

R. Kayne

Singing telegrams are a hilarious way to send a message that is a lot more fun than sending a fax, email, instant message or greeting card. Services that provide these telegrams will be happy to send someone over to sing, dance, or act out your message to the recipient. They'll even dress up to do it, in anything from a tuxedo and top hat to a gorilla suit!

Singing telegrams refer to a service provided by individuals who sing a message to recipients, perhaps as a way to say congrats.
Singing telegrams refer to a service provided by individuals who sing a message to recipients, perhaps as a way to say congrats.

Singing telegrams spread cheer by bringing laughs into the workplace, home, public engagement or party. You can hire 'Marilyn Monroe' to sing Happy Birthday to your boss, or 'Elvis' to sing All Shook Up to your wife on your 10th anniversary! Let her know you still find her sexy in a creative and funny way! Is a friend feeling a little down after a break up? Invite her to coffee at your favorite java hut at a prearranged time. Imagine her reaction when a man walks in, stops, take a second look at her, and breaks into chorus!

Singing telegrams are a fun way to help a child celebrate their birthday.
Singing telegrams are a fun way to help a child celebrate their birthday.

Singing telegrams can be a hoot, especially when personalized. You can write the words yourself, usually by changing the lyrics to a well-known song. Want to congratulate someone who already thinks he's one bad dude for a promotion? Have 'Eminem' rap lyrics you've penned about just how cool this guy is. Singing telegrams make everyone laugh at themselves and with each other. After all, no one seems as ridiculous as the person doing the singing!

Depending on the service, singing telegrams might be delivered a cappella or with a portable CD player for accompaniment. Every service has its own staff and options, so pick a service that can deliver the telegram you have in mind, or ask the service about their most successful or funniest singing telegrams. Many services also offer balloons, flowers, or other gifts to be included with the telegram.

Western Union public relations director George P. Oslin is credited with thinking of, and sending, the first singing telegram. Ironically, it was during the Great Depression in July 1933 that Oslin talked operator Lucille Lipps into singing Happy Birthday to Rudy Vallee. Many current celebrities have also been recipients of singing telegrams, including Diane Sawyer, Drew Barrymore, Penny Marshall and Colin Farrell.

Singing telegrams that include humor are usually the most successful.
Singing telegrams that include humor are usually the most successful.

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Discussion Comments


I think the point of a telegram is to do something different. I think it comes across cheesy if it's meant to be serious. You need a little ridiculousness to make a telegram great! It can be funny while still being one of the most thoughtful things someone has ever done for you. 'Gifts' have been given year after year, but a telegram, now that will be something that is remembered forever. I think most of you would change your mind if you saw a good one in person. Do your research though. There are great telegram companies and then there are amateurs trying to make a buck.


In the 21st century, it is not as simple as putting someone in a silly costume and getting them to sing your favorite song. Today, you get a song written all about your loved one, from the information you tell us, a surprise performance of the song by one of our real singing telegram performers, and a full band production audio CD of the fully personalised song.

@jcraig: Yes we only do singing telegrams at this company and I once performed 40 singing telegrams in one day.


@izzy78: There is a singing telegram company in the UK that will write a special song all about your loved one from information that you give them. They produce a karaoke version of the song with a full band production backing track, with no vocals and the lyrics on screen, plus the vocal too. You then ask any local singer or do it yourself.

Also it is the 21st century so if you get a singing telegram you should at least get a CD of the personalised song, like you get here in the UK from at least one company. The way this company does it is much more creative and does not embarrass anyone.


I have to say, I think I would really hate getting a singing telegram just from the awkwardness standpoint. I guess I'm pretty easily embarrassed when it comes to things like this, so I would definitely be uneasy if a random person came up to my door and started singing.

Besides, what is the protocol for when they finish? Do they just turn around and leave, or are you supposed to tip them or something? Like I said, it just seems like it would be a very odd situation for me, because it wouldn't be something I've dealt with before.


I'd have to go with everyone else on choosing the real gift just based on price of the telegram, but I think if you were talking about getting a singing telegram for someone in an office that would be great.

As long as the person getting the telegram wasn't easily embarrassed and it all fell within the norms of the office, a singing telegram would be something fun and offbeat that everyone could pitch in for. It would definitely be something everyone could talk about later, too. I think I might just have to look into it for my office.


I did what the article said and searched for singing telegrams in my area. Unfortunately, the town where I live is pretty rural, so there aren't any companies I could find that are close to me. The businesses doing it, though, were mostly like party talent companies where you can hire clowns and other performers.

I didn't see any prices, but I think I agree with cafe41. If they are that expensive, I'd much rather get a real gift the person could use.


What kind of company actually provides this service? Obviously there aren't companies that only send singing telegrams.

I've never gotten one myself, but when I worked in an office a while back, someone thought it would be funny to get an Elvis singing telegram for one of our coworkers. I don't remember what the words to the song were, but it was some play on Jailhouse Rock.

Have singing telegrams ever been really popular? I know you see them a lot in older movies, but I didn't know if that was normal or just part of what they put in movies back then.


My husband once got me a singing telegram for our anniversary. It was a lot of fun and really a sweet thing to do.

The singer was dressed like a cowboy and he sang a kind of country themed song. I was not expecting it at all when the door bell rang.


@cafe41 - Maybe I’m strung a little too tight, but I think that singing telegrams can be a little corny. I’ve never received one myself, but I see them on TV shows sometimes.

Perhaps if I had one in real life my heart would warm over and I would feel differently about the whole thing. The whole concept seems a little passé to me, however, like a throwback to the era of Jackie Gleason.

The only exception would be artistic singing telegrams for kid’s parties or something like that. I’m sure the children would get a big hoot out of the whole thing.


Birthday singing telegrams are a really memorable way to make someone’s birthday standout, but it is a little expensive to send someone of these singing birthday telegrams.

I was going to send one to my husband, but the company was going to charge me $159 dollars for delivering the message. I figured I could get him a nice present with that $159 and decided against the idea. It is a cute idea, but it was a little too expensive for my budget.

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