Best Hawaiian Songs – 20+ Most Famous Hawaiian Songs You Need to Hear (2023)
Are you looking for Hawaii party songs or just something entertaining to listen to while making travel arrangements to Hawaii? The 20 most well-known Hawaiian songs are listed below.
Over the years, I have heard countless songs about Hawaii. I credit my 20-year career as a professional hula dancer for the majority of that.
In addition, I used to listen to Hawaiian radio stations whenever I was in Hawaii and used to stream Hawaiian music at work for years.
I’ve previously written about well-known Hawaiian musicians that I believe travelers should be aware of before visiting Hawaii.
But today, I thought I’d break down the best Hawaiian music, from old-school Hapa Haole songs to contemporary Hawaiian pop songs. There are even a few songs by Elvis Presley!
There are SO many fantastic songs from Hawaii, so I chose my best 20 favorites – top Hawaiian songs.
FAQs on Hawaiian Music
What exactly is Jawaiian music?
Popular in Hawaii, Jawaiian music is a fusion of Hawaiian and Jamaican/Reggae music. It has an island feel to it and typically has a danceable beat. You can still hear it today even though it was very well-liked in the 1990s. There are numerous Jawaiian songs by Sean Na’auao.
What is Hapa Haole music?
Hapa Haole music is primarily in English while traditional Hawaiian music is entirely in Hawaiian. In the 1930s and 1940s, as more visitors from the Mainland began taking vacations in Hawaii, this genre of music rose to popularity. Typically, it has a jazzy aesthetic.
Who is the most famous ukulele player?
Ukulele master Jake Shimabukuro has released numerous albums. Although you might not immediately recognize his music, you will be awed by the complexity and lovely melody. He performs a variety of well-known Hawaiian songs on the ukulele.
Why is the ukulele so popular in Hawaii?
Hawaii received miniature guitar-like instruments from the Portuguese. They changed into the well-known instrument from Hawaii. It’s a simple instrument for both adults and children to learn because there are only 4 strings and it’s compact.
- See more: How do you say Happy Birthday in Hawaiian? (2023)
Check Out These 20+ Best Famous Hawaiian Songs
#1 Aloha ‘Oe – Popular Hawaiian Songs
I had to begin this list with the most well-known Hawaiian song from Hawaii, which was composed by Queen Liliuokalani, the last Hawaiian monarch.
She saw two people embrace and say goodbye to one another while riding a horse, and that’s when she got the idea for Aloha ‘Oe.
However, this song rose to fame most during her imprisonment in her house during Hawaii’s annexation.
She bid her people farewell by singing this song. Her sorrow is evident in the lyrics and melody.
Kids will be familiar with this song from Lilo & Stitch by Disney! That song is what Nani sings to Lilo.
It is the pinnacle of Hawaiian traditional music and undoubtedly one of the most well-known songs from the state.
Famous Hawaiian Songs: #2 Hawaii Aloha
This is most likely one of the most memorable songs ever written about Hawaii. This is so because its main goal is to bring people together.
It was penned by a missionary by the name of Lorenzo Lyons and features the hymn’s melody, “I Left It All With Jesus.”
At the conclusion of events, parties, celebrations, etc., it’s customary to join hands and sing Hawaii Aloha. It is consistently a crowd favorite.
It’s not just in Hawaii, either. You will probably join in on a Hawaii Aloha sing-along at the conclusion of any Hawaiian cultural event you attend or any live Hawaiian music you hear anywhere in the world.
Famous Hawaiian Songs: #3 Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World
One of the most well-known Hawaiian songs worldwide, without a doubt. It has appeared in numerous films and TV programs (I still cry at that ER scene.)
Israel Kamakawiwo’ole (also known as IZ), a legendary Hawaiian musician, recorded it in a single take. He recorded the arrangement especially for his daughter, and it is absolutely brilliant and special.
The song itself is pretty amazing, but because IZ passed away so young, it also has a haunting quality to it.
This rendition of one of the most well-known Hawaiian songs is beautiful. After hearing it once, all other renditions will seem insignificant.
#4 Hawaiian War Chant – Hawaiian Famous Songs
This is not a chant, to start. Additionally, the song’s original rendition is a love song.
This is a well-known hula song that features a hula dancer (like the split bamboo or feather rattles.)
Although the song is available in both Hawaiian and English, you will typically only hear the Hawaiian version.
This song is frequently performed at free hula shows in Hawaii, and as it progresses, the melody gets faster and faster, turning it into a show-stopping number.
If you enjoy Disney, you will be familiar with this song from the Enchanted Tiki Room ride.
Famous Hawaiian Songs: #5 Pearly Shells/Tiny Bubbles
One of the most well-known Hawaiian musicians from the 1960s is Don Ho. He once gave performances in Waikiki and rose to fame all over the world.
These Don Ho songs are distinct from one another, but I listed them together because they share a melody and are occasionally performed as a medley by musicians.
People frequently use the song Pearly Shells when learning how to hula dance. The song’s hand motions are simple to perform and have clear lyrics.
The main focus of Tiny Bubbles is wine consumption.
Famous Hawaiian Songs: #6 Blue Hawaii
If you weren’t aware, Elvis Presley adored Hawaii and made several films there (including Blue Hawaii, Paradise Hawaiian Style, and Girls!)
The movie Blue Hawaii, and especially the title song, is probably the most well-known of all of them.
It’s a song you’ll hear at almost every bar in Hawaii, especially if live music is present. The older generation loves it in general.
They invited a group of us hula dancers up to perform our own renditions of Blue Hawaii the last time I was on Kauai. Definitely cool!
Famous Hawaiian Songs: #7 Hawaiian Wedding Song
Despite the fact that this song was written in the 1920s, Elvis Presley popularized it in his 1961 movie Blue Hawaii. Additionally, it was recorded by Andy Williams and Bing Crosby.
The majority of this well-known classic is in English, but there is one verse in Hawaiian.
Its name might give you an idea of how popular it is to play at weddings. At my own wedding in Seattle, I actually walked down the aisle to the Hawaiian wedding song.
This song is also played at Hawaiian luaus in honor of all newlyweds, honeymooners, and anniversary celebrants.
Although Elvis Presley made it popular, numerous Hawaiian musicians have recorded their own renditions of the song.
Famous Hawaiian Songs: #8 Ka Uluwehi O Ke Kai
This is actually a traditional Hawaiian song that gained enormous popularity after being covered by the band Hapa. Even their own unique Ka Uluwehi O Ke Kai ending was added.
It appears to be about gathering seaweed from the ocean. However, Hawaiian songs are renowned for having “hidden meanings,” and in this case the comparison between the various kinds of seaweed and the various lovers is true.
The majority of hula dancers are familiar with some variation of this song, and many Hawaiian cultural festivals feature performances of it.
Many famous Hawaiian singers have also covered Ka Uluwehi O Ke Kai.
Famous Hawaiian Songs: #9 Hawaiian Roller Coaster Ride
Hawaiian Roller Coaster Ride from Lilo & Stitch will be recognizable to parents who have children and enjoy Disney films. It can be seen in the opening scene of the film, when Lilo is swimming in the sea.
Additionally, Disney Pandora plays it nonstop.
This song is unique because it was created by Mark Keali’i Ho’omalu, a musician and hula instructor, and the Kamehameha Schools Children’s Chorus.
The entire song is about surfing, which is like a roller coaster in Hawaii.
Famous Hawaiian Songs: #10 My Little Grass Shack
Most people think of the Hapa Haole music from the 1930s and 1940s when they consider Hawaiian music.
Originally, My Little Grass Shack was intended to be a parody of the song “Back in Hackensack, New Jersey” from the 1920s. But after a lot of alterations and the addition of regional flavor, it evolved into a well-known Hawaiian song.
It’s difficult to drive through the town of Kealakekua Bay on the Big Island of Hawaii without hearing this traditional Hawaiian song, which is set there.
In essence, My Little Grass Shack is about a person who is homesick for the Big Island and all of its unique characteristics.
Famous Hawaiian Songs: #11 I’ll Remember You
Almost every time this song plays, I start to cry. That’s typically because it’s performed frequently at funerals or in honor of people who have passed away.
This song was popularized by both Don Ho and Elvis Presley. However, there are numerous other renditions that are breathtakingly haunting.
The song’s beginnings are also depressing. After his wife left him, Kui Lee wrote the song. He later developed cancer and passed away at a young age.
One of the most exquisite yet depressing Hawaiian songs you’ll ever hear.
Famous Hawaiian Songs: #12 Fish and Poi
Okay, I guess I would have loved this in the 1990s! It’s a really entertaining song about Hawaiian cuisine and island life.
It is definitely in the Jawaiian style and has a light reggae beat; it is by Sean Na’auao. And in the middle, there is an entire reggae verse.
A Hawaiian man who misses all of his favorite foods from home is the subject of the story. He reminisces and names off a variety of delectable dishes, including Lau Lau, Lomi Salmon, and Beef Stew.
It’s so simple to sing along with friends and is so catchy! And it’s among the best Hawaiian party songs around!
- See more: 10 Best Bars in Maui, Hawaii 2023
Famous Hawaiian Songs: #13 Better Together
One of my favorite musicians, Jack Johnson, resides in Hawaii. Although his songs aren’t in Hawaiian, they unmistakably have a laid-back island vibe.
Although he has many great songs, Better Together is my favorite. My husband and I danced to this song at our wedding.
You’ll hear Jack Johnson on the radio a lot in Hawaii because he was born and raised there.
Another well-known Hawaiian wedding song is this one.
Famous Hawaiian Songs: #14 You Ku’uipo
In other words, the Hawaiian word “ku’uipo” literally means “sweetheart.” It can also be found on a lot of jewelry.
Actually, Maui is the subject of this song, which is a love song. In the 1980s, the composer fell in love with Hana, Maui, and worked with famous Hawaiian singer Willie K. to release it.
One of Willie K.’s most well-known songs about island life is still popular today. Additionally, it’s one of the cheeriest songs, ideal for a Hawaiian playlist.
Famous Hawaiian Songs: #15 Honolulu City Lights
I must admit that whenever I hear about the same-named Hawaiian Christmas festival on Oahu, I can’t help but hum this song.
But the song has nothing to do with the holiday.
This island-style song is about a man (Keola Beamer) who is moving from Hawaii to the Mainland and is a little sad to leave his beloved city behind.
This was one of Keola Beamer’s most well-known Hawaiian songs, even though he was one of the most famous Hawaiian singers
Famous Hawaiian Songs: #16 Hi’ilawe
One of the most well-known Hawaiian songs is Hi’ilawe. It was created many years ago and is now a popular song for hula dancing.
It all revolves around a scandalous love affair that occurs at the Hi’ilawe waterfall on the Big Island. The song bemoans the rumors spread about the lovers, but it has no effect on them.
Gabby Pahinui made this well-known Hawaiian slack key guitar tune popular. The Descendants soundtrack includes it as well.
Famous Hawaiian Songs: #17 Henehene Kou ‘Aka
This is one of the classic Hawaiian songs that you can hear all over Hawaii on the radio, in shops, and at Hawaiian music festivals. No one really knows why Andy Cummings wrote it, but it was copyrighted by him.
It is based on a true account of a couple traveling in a streetcar in 1920s Hawaii. It discusses the various locations they visit and the activities they engage in once they arrive.
Israel Kamakawiwo’ole increased the appeal of this well-known classic Hawaiian song, which had already been one of those old songs you hear.
Famous Hawaiian Songs: #18 Kawaipunahele
Choosing which Keali’i Reichel song to include in this list was difficult. It was difficult to decide which of his many well-known Hawaiian songs to include.
Kawaipunahele, the album’s lead single and the song that made him famous, is the song I ultimately chose to list.
In essence, the Hawaiian love song is about a man pleading with his partner to return to him. A modern classic.
Who sings the Hawaiian Christmas song? #19 Mele Kalikimaka
This Christmas song from Hawaii is now well-known worldwide. Who sings the Hawaiian Christmas song? Bing Crosby made this Christmas song with an island feel well-known in the 1950s.
The fact that it was the first Hawaiian Christmas song is what made it so unique. Of course, both in Hawaii and on the mainland, it is played a LOT during the holiday season.
The phrase “Mele Kalikimaka,” which is the Hawaiian equivalent of “Merry Christmas,” is the only part of the song that is not in English.
There are numerous renditions, but Bing Crosby’s is unquestionably the most well-known.
Famous Hawaiian Songs: #20 Hawai’i ’78
“Hawai’i ’78” is a powerful and poignant song written and performed by late Hawaiian musician and activist Israel Kamakawiwo’ole, also known as “Iz.” The song was released in 1993 and is a tribute to the native Hawaiians and their struggles for sovereignty and cultural preservation.
The lyrics speak of the loss of land, language and culture that Hawaiians have experienced since the Hawaiian monarchy was overthrown in 1893.
The haunting tone of the song and Iz’s amazing voice make it a beloved and iconic Hawaiian song that continues to inspire and resonate with people around the world.
- See more: How to Say Thank You in Hawaiian Language?
Famous Hawaiian Songs: #21 Beyond the Reef
This list of well-known Hawaiian songs is being concluded in a peculiar manner.
The song Beyond the Reef isn’t actually from Hawaii. Hawaii isn’t mentioned in the lyrics, which were written by Canadian Jack Pitman.
However, it became extremely well-known in the islands thanks to famous Hawaiian singer Alfred Apaka.
This song, which is about someone who loses their true love, is incredibly heartbreaking. It is frequently played during funerals.
Hawaii Songs Wrap Up
This list of my top 20 favorite songs from Hawaii will make you feel as though you’ve never been away if you’re thinking about visiting the Hawaiian Islands. These are available for listening both before and during your trip to Hawaii.
When you return home, keep listening for that distinct Hawaiian sound to serve as a reminder of why people adore Paradise. We have you covered with everything from Don Ho and Elvis Presley to contemporary Hawaiian music.
Topic: Best Hawaiian Songs – 20 Most Famous Hawaiian Songs You Need to Hear (2023)
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By: Travel Pixy
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