One of the best things about the ukulele is that it’s easy to play a great sounding song in no time. In fact, beginning uke players can learn a song or two in their very first lesson! There are plenty of easy ukulele songs for beginners that will sound amazing – even if they’re simple to learn.
What Are the Best Beginner Ukulele Songs?
The best beginner ukulele songs are tunes you truly love, that you can play with just one, two, or three chords. On ukulele, knowing just a handful of chords means you can have a world of different songs at your fingertips. Think of your favorite songs as the key to learning new strumming patterns and getting the basics down. To help you out on your budding career as a ukulele player, here are the top 80 essential easy uke songs to play. Keep scrolling for videos of each, and a ukulele chord chart.
- I Make My Own Sunshine – Alyssa Bonagura
- I Do / Falling For You – Colbie Caillat
- Upside Down – Jack Johnson
- Riptide – Vance Joy
- Mele Kalikimaka – Robert Alex Anderson
- Tears in Heaven – Eric Clapton
- Tonight You Belong to Me – Prudence and Patience
- Hey Soul Sister – Train
- I’m Yours – Jason Mraz
- Somewhere Over the Rainbow / What a Wonderful World – Israel Kamakawiwo’ole
- You Are My Sunshine – Traditional
- Clementine – Traditional
- Our Town – Iris Dement
- Uptown Funk – Bruno Mars, Mark Ronson
- The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie – Red Hot Chili Peppers
- Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough – Michael Jackson: G, A, Am, D, C
- Don’t Worry, Be Happy – Bobby McFerrin
- In the Aeroplane Over the Sea – Neutral Milk Hotel
- Hard Day’s Night – The Beatles
- Can’t Buy Me Love – The Beatles
- Hit the Road Jack – Ray Charles
- I’m Gonna Be – The Proclaimers
- Ring of Fire – Johnny Cash
- I Hope That I Don’t Fall in Love With You – Tom Waits
- Our Town – Iris Dement
- Hey Good Lookin’ – Hank Williams
- Take Me Home , Country Roads – John Denver
- Always On My Mind – Willie Nelson
- Minor Swing – Django Reinhardt
- Everyday People – Sly & the Family Stone
- Coconut – Harry Nilsson
- The Beat Goes On – Sonny and Cher
- Run Through The Jungle – Creedence Clearwater Revival
- Tomorrow Never Knows – The Beatles
- Chain of Fools – Aretha Franklin
- New Year’s Day – Taylor Swift
- Hey Good Lookin’ – Hank Williams
- Take Me Home, Country Roads – John Denver
- Always On My Mind – Willie Nelson
- Who We Are – Imagine Dragons
- Everyday – Buddy Holly
- Everyday Clothes – Jonathan Richman
- Particle Man – They Might Be Giants
- I Will Follow You Into the Dark – Death Cab for Cutie
- Ukulele Anthem – Amanda Palmer
- Istanbul (Not Constantinople) – They Might Be Giants
- Fly Me To the Moon – Frank Sinatra
- Beyond the Sea – Bobby Darin
- Bird Song – Wailin’ Jennys
- Long Time Traveler – Wailin’ Jennys
- Iko Iko – The Dixie Cups
- Paperback Writer – The Beatles
- Achy Breaky Heart – Billy Ray Cyrus
- Just the way you are – Bruno Mars
- Someone Like You – Adele
- Stand By Me – Ben E. King
- Love Yourself – Justin Bieber
- Hallelujah – Leonard Cohen
- Graceland – Paul Simon
- Child of Mine – Carole King
- On the Radio – Regina Spektor
- City of Stars – Ryan Gosling & Emma Stone
- Do-Re-Mi – The Sound of Music
- My Favorite Things – The Sound of Music
- Out Tonight – Rent
- Good Morning – Singin’ in the Rain
- Singin’ in the Rain – Singin’ in the Rain
- Another Day of Sun – La La Land
- So Long Marianne – Leonard Cohen
- Circle – Harry Chapin
- Le Temps De L’Amour – Francoise Hardy
- Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da – The Beatles
- Eight Days a Week – The Beatles
- Twist & Shout – The Beatles
- Car Wash – Rose Royce
- These Boots Were Made for Walking – Lee Hazlewood/Nancy Sinatra
- Getaway Car – Taylor Swift
- California Dreamin’ – The Mamas & The Papas
- California Stars – Billy Bragg & Wilco
- Walking With a Ghost – Tegan & Sara
Songs With Just One Chord
Yes, you can play these ukulele songs with just one chord. These are great choices for beginner ukulele players looking for easy, rewarding tunes to play.
- Coconut – Harry Nilsson: C7
- The Beat Goes On – Sonny and Cher: F
- Run Through The Jungle – Creedence Clearwater Revival: D
- Tomorrow Never Knows – The Beatles: C
- Chain of Fools – Aretha Franklin: C7
Songs With Two Chords
Looking for a little more of a challenge? These ukulele tunes have just two chords, so they’re great for learning your first chord changes.
- Uptown Funk – Mark Ronson: Dm, G7
- Everyday People – Sly & the Family Stone: C, G
- Iko Iko – The Dixie Cups: C, F
- Paperback Writer – The Beatles: G7, C
- Achy Breaky Heart – Billy Ray Cyrus: A, E
Songs With Three Chords
These three-chord ukulele songs will give you a little more a challenge, and help you practice your chord changes. but they’re simple to play and perfect for beginners.
- Just My Imagination – The Temptations: C, F, G
- Particle Man – They Might Be Giants: C, G, F
- Ring of Fire – Johnny Cash: G, C, D
- Our Town – Iris Dement, A, D, E
- I Hope That I Don’t Fall in Love With You – Tom Waits: C, F, G
- I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) – The Proclaimers: D, G, A
- Just The Way You Are – Bruno Mars: C, A, F
- Le Temps De L’amour – Francoise Hardy: Am, Dm, E7
- California Stars – Billy Bragg & Wilco: A, E, D
- Walking With a Ghost – Tegan & Sara: D, E, Gbm
Here are some tips for playing simple songs, as well as transitioning between chords:
Ukulele Songs By Genre
Here is a full list of beginner ukulele songs sorted by genre.
I Make My Own Sunshine – Alyssa Bonagura
Thank you JadeWanMusic for the use of this video!
Another great easy ukulele song is one of my favorite good time tunes: “I Make My Own Sunshine” by Alyssa Bonagura. This song heavily features the ukulele and is infectiously catchy! You can even perform the song with a ukulele solo, like this woman’s unique interpretation.
The uke chords are simple: G, D, Em, and C. Keep in mind that you may have to tune your uke a half-step down to match the original. Did you notice that the oldies progression keeps cropping up again and again on this list?
I Do / Falling For You – Colbie Caillat
Thank you XESqueleto for the use of this video!
Next up on this list of easy songs to learn on ukulele is a combo of “I Do” and “Falling for You” by Colbie Caillat. Both Colbie Caillat and Jason Mraz were at the head of the modern ukulele movement. Caillat has many songs that are great for the ukulele. I recommend learning both of these songs and playing them as a medley.
“Falling for You” isn’t necessarily a ukulele song, but it works great with “I Do.” “Falling for You” is in the key of D using D, A, Em, and G. “I Do” is in the key of G and uses the chords G, D, C, D7, Em, Am, B7, and Cm. The Cm might give you a bit of a challenge, but if you can tackle “Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What A Wonderful World,” I know you can handle this song as well!
Upside Down – Jack Johnson
One of my all-time favorite easy uke songs to play is “Upside Down” by Jack Johnson from the movie Curious George. “Upside Down” only has 5 chords (E, F#m, A, B, and G#m), and the lead lick is very simple to play.
I personally like to play this song in the key of G (G, Am, C, D, and Bm). Like I suggested for Colbie’s songs, feel free to segue some of Jack’s songs together to create a good medley!
- New Year’s Day – Taylor Swift: Am, C, Em, F, G
- Getaway Car – Taylor Swift: A, C, D, Dm, Em, F, G, Gm
- Hey Good Lookin’ – Hank Williams: C, D, F, E
- Take Me Home , Country Roads – John Denver: A, D, E, E7, Gbm, G
- Always On My Mind – Willie Nelson: C, G, Am, F, Dm7, Dm, G7
Riptide – Vance Joy
Thank you DEE for the use of this video
“Riptide” is the song that launched Vance Joy’s career worldwide, and even if you don’t recognize the name, you’ll know the song. After stumbling across this cover on YouTube, I was impressed by how great this tune sounds with the ukulele. Though the original song uses a classical guitar with a capo, this young lady does a killer rendition on the uke.
This is a good song to learn on ukulele, especially for beginners. That’s because you’ll only need three chords to get it down: Am, G, and C.
In the Aeroplane Over the Sea
This is the title song on the second album by American indie rock band, Neutral Milk Hotel. The album is characterized by vivid, surreal lyrics and a lo-fi sound quality. This is a gorgeous song that is easy to adapt to the ukulele, will capture your imagination, and help you continue to practice your musicianship and chord changes.
This is an easy tune for beginner ukulele players, and is an excellent choice because there are only a handful or chords. The intro is G, Em, C, and D, and the rest of the song cycles through the easy chords G, Em, C, and D.
- Who We Are – Imagine Dragons – A, Abm, Bm, D, Dm, Db, E, Gbm
- I Will Follow You Into the Dark – Death Cab for Cutie: Dm, F, Bb, Bbm, C, A
- Ukulele Anthem – Amanda Palmer: A, C, C7, Fsus2, G7, G7sus4
- Istanbul (Not Constantinople) – They Might Be Giants: Am, E7, Dm
- On the Radio – Regina Spektor: A, Am, C, F, G
I’m Yours – Jason Mraz
Thank you Ridwan Azman for the use of this video
I probably wouldn’t be writing articles about the ukulele if you hadn’t heard the song “I’m Yours.” The fact is, Jason Mraz took a simple ukulele line and married it to a tremendously catchy tune, giving us this instant-classic ukulele song that won’t go away once it’s in your head. The budding uke players out there will appreciate how simple this song is to play, from the basic lead intro to the shuffling strumming pattern.
This song uses chords known as the “oldies progression” because they are common to a lot of popular songs from the ’50s. These chords are really just C, Am, F, and G. Jason also throws in a D for the turnaround section to build a bit more tension. Give yourself a few hours of practice and you’ll have this song in the bag.
Tonight You Belong to Me – Prudence and Patience
Thank you WorldMind for the use of this video
At some point in your ukulele career you are going to be asked to play this song, made popular by Steve Martin’s rendition in the movie The Jerk. This playful, lighthearted tune was originally written in the 1920s, but made a comeback in the ‘50s and ‘60s with the sisterly vocal duo, Prudence and Patience.
If you have a coronet player to play with you, or a friend to harmonize vocals with, it’s even more beautiful! This is one of the most basic ukulele songs out there – using only the chords A, D, G, and E with a Dm and an Eb thrown in for good measure. Let the sparks fly with this sweet, romantic tune!
- Poker Face, Lady Gaga: Em, C, G, D
- The Lion Sleeps Tonight: The Tokens: F, Bb, C
- One Day – Matisyahu: C, G, Am, F
- Someone Like You – Adele: C, G, Am, F
- Stand By Me – Ben E. King: C, Am, F, G
- Love Yourself – Justin Bieber: C, G, Am, Dm, F
- Graceland – Paul Simon: A, B, D, Dbm, E
- Child of Mine – C, G, B, Bb, F, D, D7
- These Boots Were Made for Walking – Lee Hazlewood/Nancy Sinatra: A, A7, D7, C
Somewhere over the Rainbow / What a Wonderful World – Israel Kamakawiwo’ole
In 1993, Israel Kamakawiwo’ole brought us his interpretation of two classic ukulele songs that have been inscribed into the American consciousness for decades: “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and the Louis Armstrong classic “What a Wonderful World.”
This track was featured on Iz’s album Facing Future, and has since gone on to be a staple in many movies. It was featured in Meet Joe Black, Finding Forester, 50 First Dates, Son of the Mask, and several others. Fun fact: the album Facing Future holds the record for the bestselling album by a Hawaiian national to date.
There are eight chords in this song, but they are not particularly difficult chords to play: C, G, F, Am – typical chords for the key of C, with E7, D, Dm7, and Em thrown into the mix for fun. I chose this song as #10 since it will probably require the most work, but it will definitely be appreciated by your audience.
Mele Kalikimaka – Robert Alex Anderson
Thank you Gianni and Sarah for the use of this video
When you play the ukulele, you won’t always be playing around a campfire or on the beach. Sometimes you may get a request to play holiday music, and “Mele Kalikimaka” is a classic ukulele song for the holidays.
“Mele Kalikimaka” was popularized by Bing Crosby, but unlike most crooner songs, this one is pretty simple to play. G, D7, E, C, A7, and Am should get you through most of the song. It’s immediately recognizable and if you can croon along, you’ll really wow your audience!
City of Stars – La La Land
Composed by Justin Hurwitz, the soundtrack from La La Land is jam packed with gorgeous songs that are great for beginners to play on uke. City of Stars is one of our all-time faves. The chords are a little complex at first, but it’s worth the effort to learn a couple of extras. You’ll need to know A, A7, Am, Bbmaj7, C, C7, Dm, Dm7, Dbdim, F, F7, and Gm.
- Do-Re-Mi – The Sound of Music: C, C7, D7, Dm7, E7, F, G, G7
- My Favorite Things – The Sound of Music: Ab, Abm, B, Bbm, C7, Db, Eb, Ebm, Fm, Gb
- Out Tonight – Rent: B, Bb, C, D, Eb, F, G, Gm
- Good Morning – Singin’ In the Rain: C, Am7, Dm7, G, Dm, G7
- Singin’ in the Rain – Singin’ in the Rain: C, A, C#dim7, G7
- Another Day of Sun – La La Land: A, Ab, Ab7, Abm, B, Bb, C, Cm, Dbm, E, Eb, Fm, G, Gm
Hey Soul Sister – Train
Thank you Christine Kiberg for the use of this video
After Jason and Colbie hit the charts, ’90s wonder band Train came back with a Jason Mraz-sounding groove entitled “Hey Soul Sister.” The song is very similar in structure to “I’m Yours.” Now I’m not saying Train copied Jason Mraz – well, maybe I am. I think the legal term is “heavily influenced.”
If you check out the chord structure, “Hey Soul Sister” is basically the same song as “I’m Yours,” but with different lyrics and a different pattern to the chorus. Essentially, if you can learn “I’m Yours” and transpose it to the key of G, you’ll have this song down. In G, the chord progression will be G, Em, C, and D.
Tears in Heaven – Eric Clapton
Thank you Jacob Tiffer for the use of this video
A song that you may not have expected to see on this list is “Tears in Heaven” by Eric Clapton. This beautiful song, which was written after the tragic loss of Eric’s son Connor, is one that has brought tears and healing to countless people after their own losses. It is definitely a great song to have in your repertoire.
It’s not a very difficult song to play on the ukulele, but the bridge might take some extra attention. The main chords in the song are A, E, F#m, and D with a C#m thrown in. But in the bridge, Clapton goes into the key of G for a minute, throwing in the G and C as well.
It might sound like a bit of a challenge, but it will be worth it to learn this meaningful tune.
- Hard Day’s Night – The Beatles: Bm, C, D, Dm7, Em, F, G
- Can’t Buy Me Love – The Beatles: Am, C7, Dm7, Em, F7, G7
- Hit the Road Jack – Ray Charles: Am, G, F, E7
- Everyday – Buddy Holly: A, Ab, B, Bb, Bb7, Db, Eb, Eb7, Gb
- Everyday Clothes – Jonathan Richman: F, G, C, Am
- Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da – The Beatles: Bb7, Bbsus2, Eb, F, F7, Gm
- Eight Days a Week – The Beatles: A, Bm, D, E, E7, G
- Twist & Shout – The Beatles: A, A7, C, D, G
- California Dreamin’ – The Mamas & The Papas: A, Ab, Ab7, B, Dbm, E
Released in November, 2014, this addictive song was written by British artist Mark Ronson, and featured Bruno Mars. For new ukulele players, this song is a gem. That’s because you can play it well on just two chords: Dm, G7. But, it also lends itself to improvisation, riffing, and is the ideal song to practice your soloing skills.
The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie – Red Hot Chili Peppers
This funk song has outstanding opportunities to practice your fingerstyle ukulele, a catchy bassline, and a memorable melody to help you practice your singing while playing. This song is from the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ tenth album, I’m With You.
While the song may sound complex, it contains a collection of chords that you likely already know: Am, Bm, C, D, Em, and G.
- Tell Me Something Good – Chaka Khan: Bm, C, D, Em, G
- Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough – Michael Jackson: G, A, Am, D, C
- Car Wash – Rose Royce: D, G#, C, C#, F, F#, E, Gm, Gmaj, Gmaj7
You Are My Sunshine – Traditional
Although this song’s origins are unknown, it has been covered by countless artists, including Johnny Cash. A classic sing-a-long, this song isn’t without sad lyrics, but it’s a beautiful and popular tune to cover. All you’ll need to know for this tune is C, F, G7.
So Long Marianne
A Leonard Cohen classic, this song is almost addictive to learn on the ukulele. This is a great piece to play at folk jams, strum along with friends, or to add to your set when you play your first ukulele gig! You’ll just need to know A, Asus4, D, E, E7, Esus4, G, and Bbm.
- Clementine – Traditional: G, C, D7
- Bird Song – Wailin’ Jennys: A, E, D
- Long Time Traveler – Wailin’ Jennys: G, D, C
- Hallelujah – Leonard Cohen: C, Am, F, G, Em
- Circle – Harry Chapin: C6, C7, Dm, Dm6, Dm7, F, G
Minor Swing – Django Reinhardt
Minor Swing is a 1937 classic covered by everyone from brass bands to folk duos, so it’s a good one to have in your tool belt. This legendary gypzy jazz tune was crafted by Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli.
Good news for uke players, this tune only six chords, and they’re all accessible for beginners. Start by strumming along to the melody, and build up to fingerpicking along with recordings of Django. The chords are simply Am, Dm, Em, C, D, E
Other Swing Tunes on Uke:
- Fly Me To the Moon – Frank Sinatra: A7, Am, Am7, C, C7, Cmaj7, Dm, E7, Em, Em7, F, G7
- Beyond the Sea – Bobby Darin: A, A7, Am, Am7, Ab, B, B7, Bm, C, D, D7, E6, E7, Em, G, Gm7, Gb7
Ukulele Chord Chart
If you’re looking for a great place to find ukulele chord charts for the songs above, check out the Uku Tabs website. Or, simply use the video below and play along by ear.
These 80 Beginner Ukulele Songs Will Open a World of Opportunity
Well, there you have it: the top 80 easy ukulele songs for beginners. Remember that the more you build up your uke skills, the easier it will be to pick up new tunes. Though there are many resources for learning the ukulele online, nothing beats having a private ukulele lesson tailored to you. Search for a ukulele teacher today and you’ll be playing all of these songs in no time!
Author: Willy M. teaches guitar, ukulele, and mandolin lessons in Winston, NC. He is the author of the Dead Man’s Tuning series of mandolin songbooks, and is a former member of the American Federation of Musicians. Willy has been teaching for 20 years, and his students have ranged in age from young children to folks in their 80’s. Learn more about Willy here!
Photo by Khoi Tran