In this article, we will show you some of the best and most popular ukulele songs to play. Some of these tunes have been ukulele staples for years, while a few are more recent hits.
To get the most out of this list it is helpful to have a few things ready to go.
- Have your ukulele tuned and ready to play with your favorite chord dictionary available. It can be online, an app, or even old fashioned real books! When you find a chord you don’t know you simply look it up until you remember it!
- Look up videos of those playing covers and/or ukulele tutorials, below we have one link for each famous ukulele song on the list. And be sure to listen to the original version of each tune. You want to really get the song stuck in your head!
- It is helpful to search sheet music and chord sites when looking how to play your best ukulele songs. Of course sheet music isn’t free, but tab/chord sites are. They exist in a legal gray area so they are made with free user contributions. Which means sometimes the music has been tabbed or chorded wrong! Use your ears to filter out what sounds bad.
- Use this chart below to transpose any music when necessary. It’s ok if you don’t know what it all means now, by the end of these famous ukulele songs you will understand more. And as you continue to play new songs the chart will help you connect the dots of music theory.
1. Hey, Soul Sister
This Train hit is one of the most popular ukulele songs around. You will have no problem finding plenty of videos from many different sites and teachers. It has such a catchy riff and pop vibe that it makes for a fun and cool ukulele ditty.
It has only four chords throughout both the chorus and verse, however the original key of this song is in E. The E major chord is a bit of a hassle for many as it is quite the finger stretcher.
The original chord progression is E-B-C#M-A which corresponds to 1-5-6-4 or I-V-vi-IV depending on your preference. Since all those chords are hard for some, it helps to transpose to an easier key!
Using the chart above you can find the corresponding chords for the key of C. These 1-5-6-4 in C will be C-G-Am-F, much friendlier chords for a beginning or intermediate ukulele player. Most tab and chord sites will have a handy transposing tool but that chart works just as well.
Regardless of the key you pick just be sure it matches your voice (which you can tell by what sounds best!). And be sure to keep a very upbeat strum moving the “Hey, Soul Sister” song along and it will sound great.
You can bet most audience members would love to hear this hit that is simply an all-around good ukulele song.
2. Here Comes The Sun
George Harrison loved playing the ukulele, so it wouldn’t be right to leave him off a list of popular ukulele tunes! Paul McCartney helped renew interest in the uke when he played “Something” at the tribute for George.
“Something” is also one of the best songs to play on the ukulele, but “Here Comes The Sun” is a little easier for most. The original key was A, but you will find it is commonly played in G, as that is simply an easier ukulele key!
If you wish to stick to the original A the chart above will help you transpose.
One of the best aspects of this tune is the little riffs you play in between the chords. Most tutorials and tabs will break these down. The addition of these riffs can really make your playing appear much more polished.
The Beatles and all their solo work is pretty much always great music to play on your ukulele. If you are ever looking for more cool and fun songs to play on your uke you can never go wrong with that band.
And if you ever decide to branch out into creating and composing your own ukulele songs, The Beatles catalog is a solid songwriting education.
3. Can’t Help Falling In Love
This was originally recorded by Elvis on his 1961 album Blue Hawaii, and he never played it on ukulele. However he did play the ukulele for another song in that same movie!
But now it is recently one of the most popular songs to play on the ukulele thanks to the band Twenty-One Pilots. And it’s no surprise they had a hit with it because it is a really great song.
There are a lot of chords but the changes are mostly simple. This tune is also great practice for the chart above as it has all the chord scale degrees, including a major VII. As you learn more songs you will see many similar patterns, a secret to understanding music theory.
If you haven’t played ukulele long just take it slow, which luckily is a fine tempo for this love ballad. And since it is in the key of C it should be within singing range of most voices.
One of the reasons you learn the most famous ukulele songs is because that is what many folks like to hear. And a song like this is perfect for any audience, it is known by all generations and has a very pretty and lasting melody.
This isn’t just a popular ukulele song, it is pretty much a standard acoustic hit even if you play guitar, mandolin, autoharp, or any plucked string! And it cleverly ties back into the chart at the start of the list!
The point of that chart is to help you transpose between chord progressions, and in this song Leonard Cohen literally breaks down the chord movement! When he sings, “Well it goes like this the fourth, the fifth…” that is what your chords are doing! In the key of C above on the chart the fourth and fifth are F and G.
This beautiful song is basically good music theory study! This particular tutorial above is nice because it includes chords higher up the neck. Usually beginners play first position chords but as you advance it is wise to learn different positions along the fretboard. And this song will sound better played in a fingerstyle as opposed to a strum pattern.
It is simple to play yet has room for advanced technique making it one of the best ukulele songs. And if you especially have a good voice “Hallelujah” will be perfect for you to play, many of your listeners will know this popular uke tune and sing along!
5. Tonight You Belong To Me
This belongs on the best and most popular ukulele song list due to its place in movie history. In the Carl Reiner classic The Jerk Steve Martin plays this pop standard on a soprano ukulele as he sings with Bernadette Peters.
If not for this cute scene in such an absurd movie this song may never have become a ukulele staple.
While not very beginner friendly it isn’t that hard of a tune to play. Some of the chords may not seem familiar, but none are that difficult. In fact it is a good practice for when to use minor 7th and 6th chords.
As you get better at playing your ukulele you will want to use more extended chords, like seasoning just a little added can make the song sound so much better. And don’t forget if you do a cover of this tune it helps to have another singer (who also plays the trumpet or cornet like Bernadette Peters!).
If you like seeing actors in movies playing ukulele, besides Elvis and Steve Martin there was Buster Keaton, Marilyn Monroe, and Adam Sandler. Of course with the recent boom in the past 15 years they show up in a lot more shows and movies now. Because everyone loves and plays the ukulele these days!
6. 8 (Eight)
Here we have a great example of a recent fun and popular ukulele song. Thanks to the love Billie Eilish shares for the ukulele she has encouraged many new players to pick one up. She even has her own Fender Signature Series ukulele model for sale!
There are a few different Eilish popular ukulele songs, but we chose this one because it uses a capo. A capo is used by string players to quickly change the key of the song you are in. It does the same thing as the chart above, just faster. And it’s ok to use both methods, depending on what is easiest or sounds best.
At least with the capo you can use familiar chord shapes to change the key. But you need to make sure your chords sound ok as you move up the neck, some cheap ukuleles don’t have the best intonation. As always your ears are your guide.
Otherwise this song is relatively easy to learn, as are most of her hits. Whether her famous ukulele songs stand the test of time remains to be seen, but at least she has influenced many new musicians!
7. Tiptoe Through The Tulips
If you asked anyone who lived during the 60’s what the most famous ukulele song is, they would likely say this one. It is a bit of a silly novelty hit, but its influence in the world of ukulele is huge.
Tiny Tim was a large man with a falsetto voice and a tiny soprano uke. This awkward pairing is what got the attention of the audience, and then his great talent took over.
Despite that talent this high pitched sometimes hated song is his legacy. The original version of Tulips is a 20’s jazz hit with a ragtime like chord progression, which means lots of 7th chords! In general the chords aren’t that hard but singing that high might be!
If you are a younger musician and you start playing the ukulele your parents or grandparents will likely ask to hear this Tiny Tim hit.
And there are a few more famous ukulele players from past generations worth checking out. George Formby was known for his fun banjo ukulele songs. And another well-known ukulele artist was the actor Peter Sellers! That’s right, the Pink Panther star was an accomplished musician and he loved his ukulele!
8. No Woman, No Cry
This is a good ukulele song because it is very popular, sounds perfect on the uke, and it is mostly the same four chords over and over. The chords are usually easy in that genre, it’s the strum (sometimes called the skank) that gives it the right vibe.
You can play it in just the open position or move up the fretboard as he does in the video. It will be the same chords just higher pitched and maybe a different order of the chord notes (this is called a chord inversion).
It is also pretty easy to sing and nearly everyone knows it. Most people love Bob Marley and many of his songs work great on the ukulele. In fact reggae music is understandably quite fitting for a little island instrument! The ukulele may have been developed in Hawaii but it sounds just as great in the Caribbean styles!
This is another one of the recent and best songs to play on the ukulele, it has that perfect upbeat pop feel. It was originally written in the key of Db but many like to transpose it to the easier key of C, as they show in the video below.
Regardless of key though it uses the same four chords throughout the song making it easy to sing and jam to. The strum also stays the same much of the time so it’s simply a great song for beginning and intermediate ukulele players.
There are a few other artists like Billie Eilish, Train, and Vance Joy that write songs that are the most popular on the ukulele. Ed Sheerhan and Taylor Swift are two artists whose songs nearly all sound good when played on it also.
Which makes sense, light pop/rock and adult contemporary will usually make for a cool ukulele song. Some genres like Scandinavian death metal probably won’t cover that well. But no one is going to stop you if you try!
10. Somewhere Over The Rainbow/What A Wonderful World
This is actually a medley of two songs; the first originally sang by Judy Garland and the second the Louis Armstrong hit. It was made famous on the ukulele by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole. Or just IZ for short!
And even though he is no longer around his mark on the ukulele world is incredible. For many this is THE most popular ukulele song (or medley) to learn and what many listeners like to hear! It definitely deserves the number one spot for must know ukulele songs!
You have probably heard his version as it is on many modern movie soundtracks. IZ is one of the main musicians responsible for the recent revival of the “jumping flea” instrument.
Besides the medley, another aspect made popular by IZ was the low G string on his tenor ukulele. Usually your ukulele has a high G followed by the low C, but in this medley he used a special wound low G string which gives it a unique sound with a little more bass.
And now it is common for many players to buy sets of low G strings! If you play ukulele long enough you will likely own more than one, so you can always keep one tuned like IZ had!
So, there you have 10 of the best and most popular ukulele songs around. As mentioned if you want more great tunes to play on your ukulele you can start by looking up more music by the artists mentioned above!
Look more chords up and use your ears to know what sounds right! Keep using that chart above to learn your chords and keys, and before you know it you will be a great ukulele player with a solid understanding of music! Just keep practicing!