10 Ukulele Songs You Need to Know

 

10 Ukulele Songs You Need to Know

Since its creation in the 1880’s, the popularity of the ukulele has occurred in waves. Currently, we are in the middle of one of it’s biggest resurgences yet.

This appears to have coincided with the the rise of YouTube. With the ukulele being low cost, portable and relatively easy to learn, there are countless videos of people strumming away their favorite songs on the beach, in parks, in their cars, or just at home.

During each peak, there are songs that come to define that era. Here are 10 songs that helped define the history of the ukulele.


10 Ukulele Songs You Need to Know

1. Queen Liliuokaloni-Aloha ‘Oe

2. Vaughn De Leath-Ukulele Lady

3. Elvis Presley – Ku-u-i-po

4. George Harrison – Between The Devil & The Deep Blue Sea

5. Queen-Good Company

6. Israel Kamakawiwoʻole-Over the Rainbow

7. Train-Hey, Soul Sista

8. Jake Shimabukuro-While My Guitar Gently Weeps

9. Taylor Swift-Fearless

10. Vance Joy- Riptide


 

1. Tia Carrere & Daniel Ho-Aloha ‘Oe

Probably the most well-known ukulele song, “Aloha ‘Oe” was written by the Hawaiian Queen Liliuokaloni in 1878.The title translates to “Farewell to Thee”. The story goes that she started humming the melody during a horseback trip to Honolulu. It was so catchy that her party hummed along with her for the duration of the trip. Tia Carrere performed this song for the Lilo and Stitch movie soundtrack.

 

2. Vaughn De Leath-Ukulele Lady 1925

One of the earliest hits on ukulele. Vaughn De Leath, known as the “First Lady of Radio”, was a huge radio star in the 1920’s. “Ukulele Lady” helped introduced the infectious jangling chords of the ukulele to the masses. This standard has been covered by titans such as Bing Crosby, Bette Midler and even Kermit the Frog!

 

3. Elvis Presley – Ku-u-i-po from the film Blue Hawaii

This film was released in 1961 while the country was still in the midst of Elvis hysteria. The soundtrack featured the ukulele on several songs.. Seeing “The King” strumming on the ukulele resulted in another surge in popularity for the instrument.

 

4. George Harrison – Between The Devil & The Deep Blue Sea

George Harrison loved playing the ukulele probably more than he loved playing the guitar. His son, Dhani, recently shared that his dad had so many ukuleles that (to this day!) they are still finding random ukuleles George had hidden behind furniture in their residences.

 

5. Queen-Good Company

This deep cut from their “A Night at the Opera” album showcased Brian May’s love for the ukulele. Brian grew up listening to his father playing a hybrid banjo/ukulele which inspired his use of it on this song.

 

6. Israel Kamakawiwoʻole-Over the Rainbow

This haunting cover ushered in a new era of ukulele popularity. It was featured in many movies and TV shows throughout the 90s. The most well-known was on ER during the last episode featuring the final appearance of fan-favorite character, Dr. Greene.

 

7. Train-Hey, Soul Sista

This song, with it’s hopelessly catchy ukulele strumming, reached No.3 on the Billboard charts in 2009. It was also the top selling song on iTunes that year! To this day, It remains Train’s biggest hit.

 

8. Jake Shimabukuro-While My Guitar Gently Weeps

The most well-known modern era ukulele player, Jake Shimabukuro ushered in an unheard of level of ukulele skill. His version of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” is widely credited with being one of the first YouTube videos to ever go viral!

 

9. Taylor Swift-Fearless

Taylor Swift, one of the best selling pop artists of all time, has been known to strum the ukulele from time to time. This live performance is a great testament to her raw talent. Take away all the pop trimmings and she still has it!

 

10. Vance Joy- Riptide

One of the biggest hits of the past 10 years to feature the ukulele, Riptide was featured on the television shows “Grey’s Anatomy” and Hawaii Five-0”. On YouTube, You can even find Taylor Swift covering this song on piano! It’s worth a look.

We hope you enjoy these songs as much as we do and add them to your ukulele playlist. What songs would you add to our “need to know” list?

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