Best Ukulele Songs Of All Time - Into Strings (2023)

Today I'm here to talk about the best ukulele songs of all time! As with any type of music, it can be difficult to sift through all the songs that have been played and written for the ukulele. These are my top 10 best judging by overall sound, technique, cultural influence and popularity.

Ich bin Ryan Burns, aukulele playerand songwriter from Chicago, Illinois. I have been playing and teaching the ukulele for 10 years. I have a degree in Ethnomusicology from the University of Illinois and studied at the Old Town School of Folk Music.

Quick Look: The Best Ukulele Songs of All Time

#1 Best Ukulele Song Overall:somewhere Over the Rainbow

  • Best Traditional Ukulele Song:You're welcome
  • Bester Pop-Ukulele-Song:Springfluten
  • Bester Cover-Ukulele-Song:somewhere Over the Rainbow
  • Best beginner ukuleleLied:somewhere Over the Rainbow
  • Best intermediate ukuleleLied:Dream a little dream of me
  • Best Advanced Ukulele Song:While my guitar gently cries


So sit back and take a look at all these great ukulele songs from many different genres, eras and music styles. I hope you enjoy it!

What Makes a Great Ukulele Song?

There are many different ways to classify what makes a great ukulele song. One type of selection is based solely on how great the game is and how tech-savvy you need to be to play it. There are certainly some songs from this category on the list.

Best Ukulele Songs Of All Time - Into Strings (1)

On the other hand, you can also categorize these songs based on how popular and culturally relevant they are. Many of these songs became an integral part of popular consciousness and made theInstantly recognizable ukulelewhen you hear the first notes.

Types of ukulele music

The ukulele is a Hawaiian instrument with Portuguese roots. It has been used in countless types of music. Over the last century it has been used in genres ranging from traditional Hawaiian music to modern pop.

Traditional Hawaiian

The first place the ukulele was used was in traditional Hawaiian songs. This music is a fantastic sounding relic of a rich cultural heritage, employing many strumming and picking techniques reminiscent of Portuguese fado music.


The ukulele became very popular in America in the early 20th century for performances in vaudeville and tin pan alley. Although many of the songs in this genre are a bit campy, there were many talented and virtuosic musicians known for their playing during this period.


Throughout the rest of the 20th century, pop, folk, and rock artists continued to use the ukulele to create smooth-sounding songs as opposed to heavier guitar-based songs. Many popular singer-songwriters use the ukulele very prominently, such as Jason Mraz and Ingrid Michaelson.


For classical music, the ukulele is often used in a similar way to a ukuleleclassical guitar. Both arenylon string based instruments,So the technique is about the same despite size differences.


One of the most popular uses for ukulele is to play cover songs. Countless artists and YouTube musicians have recorded covers of famous songs on the ukulele due to its mesmerizing and smooth sound that goes perfectly with many voices.

The 10 best ukulele songs

As said, this is by no means a complete list. How could anyone narrow down any type of music to just 10 songs? But these are 10 of the best and most important ukulele songs of all time in my opinion.

1. Somewhere over the rainbow

  • Difficulty:Simply
  • music type:Pop-Cover
  • Artist:Israel Kamakawilo
  • Publishing year:1939 (original), 1990 (cover)

somewhere Over the Rainbowis one of the most famous ukulele songs of all time. It was originally recorded in one take in 30 minutes at 3am in a Hawaiian recording studio. Israel Kamakawilo'ole was unknown at the time, but ten years later the song caught fire and he achieved international fame.

The song itself is notable for its simple but driving ukulele part and the playful approach to the lyrics and structure of the original song. It's an incredibly fun song to play and sing along to, and it's instantly catchy and recognizable.

2. While my guitar cries quietly

  • Difficulty:Hart
  • music type:skirt cover
  • Artist:Jake Shimabukuro
  • Publishing year:1968 (original), 2006 (cover)

While my guitar gently criesis an iconic song that really put Jake Shimabukuro, the Japanese-American ukulele virtuoso, on the map. It was originally just a YouTube video filmed in NYC's Central Park, but it has led to recording, performing and touring worldwide.

In his video you get an impression of what kind of talent Jake brings with him on the ukulele. He combines fingerpicking, advanced fado-style strumming, complex chords and melodies. It took an already great song to another level.

3. Hallo

  • Difficulty:Simply
  • music type:Traditional Hawaiian
  • Artist:Queen Lili'uokalani
  • Publishing year:1878

Before being annexed by the United States, Hawaii was a sovereign nation and the ruler was Queen Lili'uokalani. She was also an avid musician, poet, and songwriter, and she wrote and performed one of Hawaiian culture's most iconic songs,You're welcome.

The song itself is a simple folk song in the Hawaiian language. Simple strumming patterns and chords make this a great song to learn as a beginner. Not only is it fun and easy to play, but it's also a great introduction to learning more about the ukulele and Hawaiian culture.

4. Springfluten

  • Difficulty:intermediate
  • music type:Pop
  • Artist:Vance joy
  • Publishing year:2013

One of the most catchy and instantly recognizable pop songs of the last decade, Vance Joy's Riptide is an undeniable catchy tune. Vance Joy is an Australian musician (and ex-Australian soccer player) with a great flair for melody and voice.

Springflutenis a fairly simple three-chord song for the most part, with a simple strumming pattern, although there are certain sections you can add to make it fun and interesting to play. Add to that the soaring falsetto vocal melodies and it makes a great song.

5. Tonight you're mine

  • Difficulty:intermediate
  • music type:Early jazz
  • Artist:Multiple (written: Billy Rose and Lee David; performed: Gene Austin, Patience and Prudence, SteveMartinand Bernadette Peters)
  • Publishing year:1928

As with many ukulele songs,You're mine tonighthas a long and interesting history. Originally written and performed in 1928 for various crooners including Gene Austin and later Patience and Prudence, it was later played on the ukulele and gained new popularity in the film The Jerk.

The song has many interesting twists and turns on the ukulele, accenting the melody with several different alternating beat patterns. Additionally, the whimsical harmony lines make this a wonderful song to sing as a duet.

6. I'm yours

  • Difficulty:Simply
  • music type:Pop
  • Artist:Jason Mraz
  • Publishing year:2008

I belong to youis another instant catchy tune that really took the pop music world by storm when Jason Mraz first debuted it. With its fast-paced syncopated lyrics and laid-back beach-bum vibes, it pulls you in with its first little ukulele lick.

This is always one of the first songs I teach my ukulele students because most of them are just four chords and a simple strumming pattern. But if you take a closer look, there are plenty of additional details to add. Singing this song at the same time requires a bit more work due to the rapid-fire lyrics.

7. Bohemian Rhapsody

  • Difficulty:Hart
  • music type:skirt cover
  • Artist:Königin (Original), Jake Shimabukuro (Cover)
  • Publishing year:1979 (original), 2011 (cover)

Here's another incredibly virtuoso performance from Jake Shimabukuro, who seems capable of making any song an instant classic. The original version of coursebohemian Rhapsodyby Queen is also iconic in its own right.

Once again, Jake combines complex strumming and picking patterns, utilizing the entire ukulele to create a sound that seems to transcend the small instrument into an almost full band. Not for the faint of heart, but definitely worth listening to.

8. House of Gold

  • Difficulty:Simply
  • music type:Pop-Rock
  • Artist:21 pilots
  • Publishing year:2013

2013 was a good year for ukulele-inspired pop and rock music. The same year that Vance Joy's Riptide was released, 21 Pilots' House of Gold was released. This song deviates a little from their other rap and electro rock music but is an absolute gem of a tune.

Despite some tricky chords, a key change and some voice jumps,house of goldis a fairly accessible song to play. Most of it is a beat pattern and just a few harder chords. It's another favorite for teaching and playing.

9. Dream a little dream of me

  • Difficulty:intermediate
  • music type:Pop
  • Artist:Written by Fabian Andre and Wilbur Schwartz, performed by Mama Cass
  • Publishing year:1931 (written), 1968 (performed by Mama Cass)

Like many of the great ukulele songsDream a little dream of meis a song from the classic American Standard songbook, later updated through the use of the ukulele. The version in the video below with Mama Cass is by far my favorite. It features wonderful finger picking on the ukulele.

Although it can be played with strumming, I particularly like playing this song with a lazy fingerpicking style to accompany the warm vocal lines. With some fun and interesting chord changes, this is a really fun song to play and sing, whatever the instrument, and especially the ukulele.

10. You & Me

  • Difficulty:Simply
  • music type:Pop
  • Artist:Ingrid Michaelsen
  • Publishing year:2008

Again we have a repeat year showing that the ukulele every now and then pulls the world of pop music into its gentle and enticing clutches. Ingrid Michaelson is known for her enchanting voice and her often playful songs accompanied by the ukulele.

You Iis another great song to sing as a duet, with the harmonies kicking in towards the end of the song. The ukulele part isn't too difficult to play but paired with the melody line makes for a really wonderful song to play on any occasion.

Best Ukulele Players

The greatest ukulele players of all time draw from many eras and genres. There are three that I think have a combination of technique, authenticity and popularity that helps them stand out from the rest.

Best Ukulele Songs Of All Time - Into Strings (2)

Israel Kamakawiwo'ole

Also known as "Izzy" or "IZ", he was one of the most popular and beloved musicians of his generation in Hawaii. Not only was he a great player with an amazing and clear voice, but he was also a campaigner for and brought up Native Hawaiian rightsHawaiian musicto the American mainland.

Jake Shimabukuro

Shimabukuro is a Japanese-American ukulele player and composer who is by far one of the best ukulele players and instrumentalists of any instrument in the world. His virtuoso cover versions of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" and "Bohemian Rhapsody" brought him international fame, among other things.

Cliff Edwards

Cliff Edwards was an early twentieth-century musician also known as "Ukulele Ike" who was known for his jazzy interpretation of standards and standardsnew songs. With his unique style and voice, he gained widespread popularity in the 1920s and is perhaps best known as the voice of Pinnochio's Jiminy Cricket.

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Table of contents

  • What Makes a Great Ukulele Song?
  • Types of ukulele music
  • The 10 best ukulele songs
  • Best Ukulele Players
  • Finally


The ukulele is a fantastic instrument with a rich heritage. It has enchanted generations with its sweet and alluring tones. Ukulele players have written and performed countless fantastic songs for this magnificent instrument.

I hope you enjoyed reading about the best ukulele songs of all time and settled on some of these 10 songs and how important and great they sound. If you enjoyed this, please read more about these players in my article on the best ukulele players of all time.

Feel free to comment below with any questions, comments or thoughts, and let us know your favorite ukulele songs that didn't make the list. Thank you again and have a wonderful day!

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