The Ukulele has become quite popular around the world, and considering it is not that difficult to learn the hang of it, in comparison with other options, more and more people are choosing to play it as a hobby. We even have a list of 12 Easy Ukulele Songs for Beginners you might want to look at.
When you first hear the word ukulele, your first thought probably goes to Hawaii, this being the region where the Ukulele is most played for authentic local songs. If you have decided to learn how to play this instrument, knowing which are the best songs to start with can come in handy.
Although there is a wide list you have the possibility to choose from, you probably wish to acquire tips on the easiest ones to learn and the most beautiful and catchy at the same time. All of the following songs are strongly connected to Hawaii, and because their level of complexity is minimal, everyone can learn how to play them on their ukulele, including yourself. So, if the topic interests you, here’s a top 15 easy uke songs from Hawaii:
Easy Hawaiian Ukulele Songs
1. Elvis Presley – Blue Hawaii
There’s no Hawaiian ukulele song list that doesn’t begin with the “king” himself, Elvis Presley, who was known for his passion towards Hawaiian music, recording many songs in this style for his movie. Although dating back to 1937, Blue Hawaii was played by Elvis in 1961. The song can be a bit difficult to learn, considering it requires the usage of #G major chords, but you have the chance to take all the sharps form the chords, and stick to the four simple chord combinations.
2. Israel Kamakawiwo’ole – Over the rainbow
There’ probably not a single person out there who hasn’t heard over the rainbow at least once. This song has Hawaiian origins and is played by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole, being a classic option for any ukulele player’s repertoire. You will need to use 5 chords – C, Em, F, G, Am – and a classic strumming pattern. It will be easy to pick up the rhythm, with just a bit of practice.
3. Queen Liliuokalani – Aloha Oe
Although lesser known, Aloha Oe is a traditional Hawaiian song, dating back to 1878, being composed the Queen of Hawaii. The essence of the song revolves around love and passion, its lyrics being linked with the word goodbye. For an easy way of playing, out a capo at fret two, use the chords A, B, E and Gb=F#, and you can also turn the chords two half steps down.
Being part of classic hula music, Hi’ilawe’s message focuses on a Big island waterfall love affair. Although the date of the composition and the composer remain unknown, it has been made popular by interpreter Gabby Pahinui. You can strum this song using the F, G and G7 chords.
5. Mickey Ioane – Hawaii ’78
A melancholy song revolving around the Hawaiian demonstrators’ clashing over land problems in the year 1978. Being a slow song, it requires the picking of the chords A, F and G, so it will be easy to learn.
6. Waimanalo Blues
It follows a political protest theme linked to the development that had been taking place in Hawaii around the year 1974. This fun song can be played using a flat 7 chord, for a simple form, in the turnaround. During the into you can use a picking technique and later move on to a strumming pattern.
William Kahailii and Amy Hanaialii Giliom’s tune, Palehua, has been recorded, as well as composed right in the location that was used to name the song. This beautiful composition can be played with only D, G, Em, and A, being a perfect choice for beginners.
8. Adventures in Paradise
With the lyrics written by Dorcas Cochran and the music composed by Lionel Newman, the song revolves around a love adventure. To play this tune at the Ukulele you should use EbM, BpM, and AbM. Although it might seem difficult to strum it at first, you will get the hang of it with enough practice.
9. Royal Hawaiian Hotel
Interpreted by Mary Pula’a Robis, this tune has been an emblem for Hawaiian music for a while now, being composed for the opening night festivities at the Pink Palace in 1927. Its beautiful lyrics combined with the slow striking of ukulele G, A7, D7, c, Gbm chords make the piece a perfect choice for players.
10. Tiny Bubbles
Another famous Hawaiian song that can be played at the ukulele, Tiny Bubbles is a positive, and fun tune. It might be a bit hard for beginners, considering it requires the usage of 9 chords, but you can use a simple strumming pattern for it.
A song by Andy Cummings composed in 1947, Waikiki is about love, sorrow and longing. The lyrics will certainly captivate your attention, and if you know to play in the F key, you will not have any troubles learning it.
12. Calm Hawaiian
A peaceful, simple tune that make ukulele playing even more enjoyable. Switch between the chords A, E, C, G and repeat. When it comes to traditional Hawaiian music, this is one song that you cannot miss.
13. Beauty Hula
Composed by Noble, this tune is a misty, rain song associated with the flower of Muilana. The transcription in English will definitely draw your interest. The chords used for this song are C, G and F.
14. Hula Dance by Lion King
Once you learn this song, you will not want to leave your ukulele down, being a tune filled with positive vibes and energy. Requiring the switching between only three chords, C, D and G, you will get the hang of it in no time.
15. Aloha ʻIa No ʻO Maui
With the word Aloha in its title, you couldn’t find a more authentic Hawaiian song than this one. It’s a song about beauty and love, and to play it at the ukulele, you will have to know the G#m, F#m and G chords.
As someone who is just learning how to play the ukulele, you probably want to learn songs that are both fun and easy. The 15 mentioned above are a great start if you are interested in the Hawaiian musical repertoire, and enriching your ukulele playing skills. With just a bit of practice, and perhaps after watching some step by step videos, you can get a hang of each song mentioned, so just give them a try and you will certainly love them.
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Eduardo Perez is a multi-instrumentalist with over 20 years of experience playing instruments such as piano, guitar, ukulele, and bass. Having arranged songs and produced music in a recording studio, he has a wealth of knowledge to share about analyzing songs, composing, and producing. Currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Interdisciplinary Musical Studies at Berklee College School of Music. Featured on Entrepreneur.com. Subscribe to his YouTube channel, or follow him on Instagram.