One of the best things about the ukulele is just how easy it is to learn songs on. With just a few simple chords and strumming patterns under your belt, you’re already equipped with everything you need to play along to thousands of popular, chart topping tracks. The only difficult thing is deciding which song you’d like to learn first!
This is where we step in. We’ve put together a comprehensive list of 50 of the best, and more importantly, EASY songs that you can play along to as a beginning ukulele player. We’ve even included both video lessons and tablature to help you along the way. So what are you waiting for? Pick your favorite song and start having some fun!
- I’m Yours by Jason Mraz
- One Love by Bob Marley
- Riptide by Vance Joy
- Whistle By Flo Rida
- All Along The Watchtower By Bob Dylan/Hendrix
- Counting Stars By One Republic
- Leaving On A Jet Plane By John Denver
- Let It Be By The Beatles
- Octopus’s Garden By The Beatles
- Pokerface by Lady Gaga
- Save Tonight by Eagle-Eye Cherry
- Stay With Me by Sam Smith
- A Horse With No Name By America
- All of the Stars by Ed Sheeran
- Achy Breaky Heart By Billy Ray Cyrus
- All the Small Things by Blink 182
- Bad Moon Rising by Creedence Clearwater Revival
- Blowing In The Wind by Bob Dylan
- Chasing Cars by Snow Patrol
- Complicated by Avril Lavigne
- Clocks by Coldplay
- Country Road by Jack Johnson & Paula Fuga
- Don’t Stop Believing by Journey
- Down Under by Men at Work
- Hallelujah by Jeff Buckley
- Happy Birthday
- Hello by Adele
- Hound Dog by Elvis Presley
- It’s my Life by Bon Jovi
- Jambalaya By Hank Williams
- Ring of Fire By Johnny Cash
- Margaritaville by Jimmy Buffett
- Love Me Do by The Beatles
- Love Yourself by Justin Bieber
- Stay by Rihanna
- Surfin’ USA – The Beach Boys
- Paparazzi by Lady Gaga
- Zombie by The Cranberries
- You’re Beautiful by James Blunt
- While My Guitar Gently Weeps by The Beatles
- Uptown Funk By Mark Ronson/Bruno Mars
- Three Little Birds By Bob Marley
- The A Team by Ed Sheeran
- Stand By Me by Ben E. King
- Sweet Home Alabama by Lynyrd Skynyrd
- Someone Like You by Adele
- Sunday Morning by Maroon 5
- Brown Eyed Girl by Van Morrison
- La Bamba by Ritchie Valens
- Hand in my Pocket by Alanis Morissette
I’m Yours by Jason Mraz
Click Here for tab for I’m Yours by Jason Mraz
By far one of the most popular songs to learn on the ukulele, with its soul-stirring vocal melodies and reggae style flow it’s guaranteed to bring happiness to you and anyone you play it to. Released as the first single from Jason’s third studio album titled ‘We Sing. We Dance. We Steal Things’. The song was a massive commercial success for him and was even nominated for a Grammy Award.
For this song you’ll just be using the chords, C, G, Am, and F. For the video lesson version there’s also an E diminished. You’ll be using a very simple ‘folk’ strumming pattern which might seem confusing at first, but just begin on the 1 count with an upstroke and it’ll all fall into place and feel natural.
One Love by Bob Marley
Click Here for tab for One Love by Bob Marley
In keeping with the positive theme, next up we have a song all about promoting positivity and love from legendary reggae artist Bob Marley as part of his group ‘Bob Marley & The Wailers. This is from his 1977 album Exodus and has become somewhat of a cultural classic. It’s been used both on Jamaican television and in several popular movies. It also did quite well commercially hitting the top 10 in the UK, NZ, the Netherlands, and Belgium.
Even simpler than the last song, for this we’ll just be using the chords Bb, Eb, and F. These chords might look challenging at first as there are no open notes on that Bb chord, the easiest way to tackle it is by thinking of it as your open A chord which has just been pushed up by 1 fret, and you just use your index finger to barre over the top two strings to make a new ‘nut’ of the uke.
Riptide by Vance Joy
Click Here for tab for Riptide by Vance Joy
A very striking song from Australian indie/folk/pop musician Vance Joy. Where this coming of age/love song takes a minimal instrumental approach really emphasizing the guitar’s sound which you can easily take and reproduce on the ukulele. The song was a massive commercial success, selling over 6 million copies and charting at the number 6 spot on the ARIA music charts.
You’ll need just 4 chords to play this song which is Am, G, C, and an F chord which is only used during the bridge. The strumming pattern is also very nice and simple to play, where you will perform two downstrokes and then a quick up down up before swapping to the next chord and repeating the pattern, we can notate this pattern as DD-UDU.
Whistle By Flo Rida
Click Here for tab for Whistle By Flo Rida
An extremely popular party track from American rapper Flo Rida which is perfect if you want a song your friends can join in and sing along to. Released as the third single from his third studio album of the same name. It’s a great electropop song that’s a ton of fun to play, especially if you can whistle along with the chorus!
For this song you’ll just need 4 chords which are firstly Am, then we add just 1 more finger to the third string to make the F, then we have C and lastly G. These chords also work great when arpeggiated (played 1 note at a time instead of strummed), but if that’s a little too much to think about just strum them, it will still sound great!
All Along The Watchtower By Bob Dylan/Hendrix
Click Here for tab for All Along The Watchtower By Bob Dylan/Hendrix
At first glance, you might think this is too much of a rock/blues song to play on the ukulele with all the lead guitar playing. But behind it sits a very effective chord progression and wonderful vocal melodies which translates to the ukulele exceptionally well. Originally it was recorded by Bob Dylan, but most people think of the Jimi Hendrix version when discussing the song, as evident by the official YouTube video for the track which has nearly 200 million plays.
For this song you’ll just be using three chords, Am, F, and G. Even simpler is the strumming pattern where you can just play down strokes on every second beat changing chord after each second strum, and that just cycles for the duration of the track.
Counting Stars By One Republic
Click Here for tab for Counting Stars By One Republic
A modern take on a catchy folk style of song brought up to the modern era with pristine production and modern composing techniques. The song has a great feel and the strumming pattern is very satisfying. Taken from their third studio album titled ‘Native’, it is one of their most successful songs ever with the official music video sitting at 3.5 billion (yes, billion) views on YouTube.
This song uses the chords Am, C, G, F, and finally Dm. So although there are 5 chords in total, they are all very easy to hold and shouldn’t pose a challenge for beginners! It uses a classic folky style strumming pattern which you’ll phrase as D-DU-UDU. It might feel a little unusual to start a phrase with an up but once you’ve practiced a little it’ll feel very natural to play.
Leaving On A Jet Plane By John Denver
Click Here for tab for Leaving On A Jet Plane By John Denver
Next up is a welcome change of pace from the upbeat, party songs to a more sad and melancholic one. This shows that the ukulele really can cover a lot of different musical emotions. A promotional release from his album ‘Rhymes & Reasons’, this song details John’s painful experiences of leaving his loved ones behind as he so frequently had to travel for extended periods of time.
Just a simple 3 chord song, we’ll be using G, C, and D. The strumming pattern also requires you to start some phrases with an upstroke so let’s take a look at it visually which makes it easier to digest: the pattern is DDUUDUD but the main thing to focus on is the division which are played as D-DU-UDUD, once you divide it into those 3 ‘sections’ it’s much easier to play.
Let It Be By The Beatles
Click Here for tab for Let It Be By The Beatles
A wonderfully melancholic song from The Beatles last ever album of the same name. All these songs were written very close to the breakup of the band and you can definitely feel that ponderous and reflective feel in the songs. The album came out 1 month after the band had already split. This was also the last released single from the album with Paul McCartney announcing his departure shortly after.
Just using 4 regular chords you’ll no doubt be very familiar with by now, C, Am, F, and G. The strumming is about as simple as it gets, with just 2 easy downstrokes for each chord, it’s also incredibly easy to sing over should you wish to do so.
Octopus’s Garden By The Beatles
Click Here for tab for Octopus’s Garden By The Beatles
An iconically classic and simple pop/rock song that works well as a solo ukulele piece, especially if you want to sing along to it too. Taken from their legendary album Abbey Road which was written by drummer Ringo Starr, that funnily enough was only the second song he had ever written in his life. And as a small additional fun fact, Noel from Oasis uses lyrics from this song when playing ‘Take Me Away’ live.
The song uses just 4 chords but with one being slightly more interesting this time. We use C, Am, F, and G7. Because this song doesn’t have a set in stone strumming pattern, you’re free to use any pattern you’re already comfortable with, or feel free to just hit each chord once and let it ring out, both ways work great!
Pokerface by Lady Gaga
Click Here for tab for Pokerface by Lady Gaga
A song that everybody knows and can sing along with, so when you can play this at a party or social gathering it’s sure to be well received. This was the second single from Lady Gaga’s debut studio album ‘The Fame’ which immediately shot her to commercial success, selling over 14 million copies making it one of the best selling songs of all time. In addition, the accompanying music video also has nearly a billion views on YouTube.
This song uses 4 chords which are Em, C, G, and D. The strumming pattern is a little unique as it uses ‘percussive mutes’ which require you to strike the strings with your picking hand, but instead of holding any notes you just lay your left hand over the string.
Save Tonight by Eagle-Eye Cherry
Click Here for tab for Save Tonight by Eagle-Eye Cherry
Coming in with a very strong start with Save Tonight, which was his first single from his first ever album ‘Desireless’. It’s a great, smartly written, and unconventional song for such a commercially successful release and was very well received by critics. It charted highly in the UK, Sweden, and New Zealand and was even voted as ‘Swedish song of the year’ in 1997.
This is a fairly fast paced song where both the strumming pattern and chord changes can be happening quite fast. But it’s not something to be afraid of and as you feel the rhythm and tempo of the song it will all feel quite natural. The song uses 4 chords which are Am, F, C, and G.
Stay With Me by Sam Smith
Click Here for tab for Stay With Me by Sam Smith
Here we have an incredibly moving, emotional, and heartfelt song from British soul superstar Sam Smith. The song tells the story of someone pleading with their one night stand not to leave them. It’s a tremendously successful gospel-inspired ballad which is one of his biggest singles ever, with the accompanying official music video garnering over 1 billion views on youtube and peaking at number 1 on the UK singles chart.
This song can be played with just 3 chords, Am, F, and G. There’s no predefined strumming pattern so if you are unsure you can just strum each chord in time with the kick drum. Alternatively, if you are feeling creative by all means find your own pattern! That’s half the fun of music.
A Horse With No Name By America
Click Here for tab for A Horse With No Name By America
In keeping with the theme of people achieving huge success from their first ever single release, A Horse With No Name did exactly that. But not in the way you would expect, originally it was only released in Europe and achieved just mediocre commercial recognition, it wouldn’t be until sometime later (and a US release) that the song would gradually grow in popularity to its current status as a classic and must learn song for beginners.
By far one of the easiest songs to learn on this list, you just need to know 2 chords which are Em and F sharp (or G flat) minor. Where this song presents a good opportunity to grow is through the strumming pattern which changes based on which chord is playing. Under the Em7 you will play D-D-DU-DU and under the Gbm you will play U-U-UDU.
All of the Stars by Ed Sheeran
Click Here for tab for All of the Stars by Ed Sheeran
Ed Sheeran has become an incredibly popular choice for people looking to perform covers over the years with his impeccable vocal melodies which are simultaneously catchy and simple enough to players of any level to perform. This song was originally featured in the movie ‘The Fault in Our Stars’ and was later put as a bonus track from his second album ‘x’. The movie is incredibly sad and recounts the story of a teenager stricken with cancer who falls in love with another patient, showing their strength and love in the face of extreme adversity.
You’ll be using 4 chords for this song which are F, C, Am, and G. The strumming pattern can be played all using downstrokes in time with the song, nothing fancy here!
Achy Breaky Heart By Billy Ray Cyrus
Click Here for tab for Achy Breaky Heart By Billy Ray Cyrus
A classic, catchy song that you have no doubt probably already sung to a few times already. Originally this song was written by Don Von Tress but it’s really the Billy Ray Cyrus version that skyrocketed the song in popularity and cultural importance. It’s the first ever song in the world to go triple platinum in Australia which is quite a feat! It’s a true country classic and is worth learning simply because of how fun it is to play along to.
As is usually the case with ultra-catchy songs, this just uses two chords which are C and G7. We will be using the strumming pattern of DUDU-UDU, so almost straight alternate strumming the entire time but we are leaving off the 5th note of the 8 note strumming pattern for a little bit of rhythmic intrigue.
Click Here for tab for All the Small Things by Blink 182
Combining that classic late 90’s pop-punk with a comedic spin, Blink 182 is a very special band to many people. Not only that their music has a timeless presence and iconic nature which makes them every bit as relevant today as they were back then, the song was written in appreciation of all the small things his girlfriend did for him during their relationship.
The song uses 3 chords which are C, G, and F. The strumming pattern is fairly regular, just requiring straight alternate strumming of all 4 strings. The only bit to watch out for is when the main sequence turns around there is a small accent where you have to mute the strings for a split second before continuing.
Bad Moon Rising by Creedence Clearwater Revival
Click Here for tab for Bad Moon Rising by Creedence Clearwater Revival
A great high-energy country-rock song that is sure to get people moving. Although it has prominent use of the electric guitar it translates very well to the ukulele due to its catchy vocal melody and distinct chord progression. Taken from their album ‘Green River’, the song has become quite iconic and has since been covered by over 20 different artists in varying styles, a testament to its versatility.
For this song, you’ll just be using the chords C, G, and F. The main challenge in this song (which is still, of course, totally achievable for a beginner) is in the strumming pattern in which you need to line up the D for the following chord. So for example on the C chord, you will play D-D-UD-UD, however, that final D is the next chord, then you will repeat the phrase.
Blowing In The Wind by Bob Dylan
Click Here for tab for Blowing In The Wind by Bob Dylan
A catchy and easy to play song which will make you want to sing along with its memorable vocal section. It has rhetorical lyrics that tackles political and philosophical questions to do with war, conflict, and peace. Where the reference to the wind is actually referring to the answers or solutions to these issues but we are unable to grasp them as they are ‘blowing in the wind’.
Here you’ll be using 4 chords which are F, G, C, and Am. As is the case with many of the songs here you can use any strumming pattern you deem appropriate as it’s not totally set in stone. But if you are struggling for inspiration you can use the pattern of D-Dudu-Du in which the capitalized downs are accented strums.
Chasing Cars by Snow Patrol
Click Here for tab for Chasing Cars by Snow Patrol
A heartfelt and sad love song from the Scottish/Irish alternative rock stars Snow Patrol. Featured as a promotional single from their fourth studio album ‘Eyes Open’. It began to blow up after its US release as this coincided with the songs featured on the popular American medical drama series ‘Grey’s Anatomy’. The song is Snow Patrol’s biggest selling singer ever and received a Grammy Award nomination for Best Rock Song in 2007.
You’ll be using the chords C, G, and F, so all major chords this time. This song might offer a nice change of pace as you’ll be playing somewhat of an ostinato that moves along with the chords, it’s a very easy finger picked pattern and is a great chance to practice that technique if you have not been able to do so yet.
Complicated by Avril Lavigne
Click Here for tab for Complicated by Avril Lavigne
A catchy pop-rock song with an infectious vocal hook that is a joy to play to. This song surely holds a special place for anyone who was a music fan in the early 2000s. Taken from her debut album ‘Let Go’, the song was very positively received, made it to the number 2 spot on the UK Billboard Hot 100, and went on to be certified platinum. It was nominated for two Grammy Awards which were ‘Song of the Year’ and ‘Best Female Pop Vocal Performance’, but unfortunately didn’t win either.
The song uses 4 chords which are Dm, F, Bb, and C. This is a great song to practice your rhythmic groove to as the strumming pattern which goes like DD-UUU-DDU requires some good timing. It will feel unusual at first to play three upstrokes in sequence but stick with it and you’ll master it in no time!
Clocks by Coldplay
Click Here for tab for Clocks by Coldplay
Coldplay always delivers when it comes to offering that sad, melodic, and beautiful soundscape you can sink into and lose yourself in. With singer Chris Martin’s hauntingly beautiful voice creating that feeling that so many adore. This is one of their most well known singles and somewhat of a ‘signature’ song for them. It played a huge part in their overall success and is well worth any beginner’s time to learn!
Although this song uses 6 chords, don’t be intimidated! The strumming pattern is very simple and once you get into the groove everything will slide by very nicely. You’ll be using the chords A, Em, Bm, C, G9, and D here. But the majority of the song just uses those first three chords making it nice and easy for a beginner.
Country Road by Jack Johnson & Paula Fuga
Click Here for tab for Country Road by Jack Johnson & Paula Fuga
Not to be confused with ‘Take me home country roads’, this song is every bit as catchy and amazing as that one! Written by Hawaiian singer Paula Fuga in collaboration with Jack Johnson. The song is from her 2008 album ‘Misery’s End’ which was able to hit the number 10 position on the US Reggae chart.
Just using three simple chords which are C, Dm, and Am. One of the most important things in this song is making sure you are hitting a particular downstroke with a little extra force. This downstroke falls on the 3 count in 4/4. Which you will count as one two THREE four. This allows you to work a percussive element into the song even though it’s a solo ukulele performance.
Don’t Stop Believing by Journey
Click Here for tab for Don’t Stop Believing by Journey
Time to head for some quintessential 80’s rock music now, complete with synths, high gain guitar, and worrying amounts of hairspray! But don’t worry, fundamentally this is a very catchy song with a well-defined progression that translates perfectly as a solo ukulele performance. It’s been used in a tremendous amount in popular media including hit TV series such as ‘The Sopranos’ and for various American football team games.
This one is a 5 chord song in a minor key where you’ll be playing E, B, C sharp minor, A, and G sharp minor. These are all somewhat involved chords that don’t use too many open strings, so it’s going to serve as a great exercise in improving your left-hand dexterity. Fortunately, the strumming pattern is simple alternate strumming but you leave the 5th note in the 8 note pattern empty for a little bit of rhythmic intrigue.
Down Under by Men at Work
Click Here for tab for Down Under by Men at Work
Next, we’re off to Australia for what has been voted as (and this isn’t a joke) ‘the second most Australian song of all time’, which it just narrowly lost to Cold Chisel’s “Khe Sanh”. Originally released as a B-side single from the album ‘Business as Usual’. Although the tempo and arrangement were adjusted slightly from the initial composition after they signed to the Columbia record label.
Here you’ll be using 4 chords that you are no doubt already familiar with, Am, G, F, and C. Generally speaking strumming patterns don’t get given names, but this one has actually become known as the ‘cowboy’ strum which is simply D-DU, and we are really accenting that second D as it acts as somewhat of the snare hit on the 2 and 4 beats of a standard rock groove.
Hallelujah by Jeff Buckley
Click Here for tab for Hallelujah by Jeff Buckley
While this song was originally written by Leonard Cohen, its undeniably iconic and soul-stirring vocal melody makes it an extremely desirable song for other artists to perform. Ignoring its huge boost in popularity after being used in the hit movie Shrek, it was actually popularized by the Jeff Buckley version which is every bit as well known as the original, with the official music video sitting at nearly 200 million views on YouTube.
Here you’ll be using the chords C, Am, F, G, and Em. The video tab details a really cool way of playing this as a finger-picked arrangement. But if you plan to sing along at the same time and this is too challenging, by all means just strum the chords.
Click Here for tab for Happy Birthday
This isn’t so much a ‘you might like to learn’ as it is a ‘you absolutely must learn’ song. Not only because of how much use you’ll get out of it, but if you find yourself in a sudden bind without a birthday gift, you’ll thank us for suggesting this song as it makes a great emergency gift if you can play this to someone on their birthday!
The strumming pattern for this is as easy as it comes, you’ll just play 2 downstrokes for each chord and then move on to the next one. Try to strum the chords a bit slowly so it ‘drags’ a little bit, this helps with the tempo and tone a lot. The chords you’ll use are F, C7, and Bb.
Hello by Adele
Click Here for tab for Hello by Adele
Since her debut Adele has gone from success to success, maintaining a level of momentum from album to album that would make even the superstars jealous. From her third studio album, this song became one of her biggest singles, topping charts the world over and the official music video has over 2.9billion views on YouTube.
For this song, you’ll be playing the chords, Em, G, D, C, and Bm. The strumming pattern requires you to count the ‘off beats’. So you will think of this as 1& 2& 3& 4& and you’ll be playing chords on the 1 and the & of 2. It’s not as hard as it sounds, and if you are unsure the video lesson also demonstrates how to do this.
Hound Dog by Elvis Presley
Click Here for tab for Hound Dog by Elvis Presley
Originally this was a classic blues track written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, and although this became a hugely popular music standard that’s been covered by more than 250 artists, you no doubt know this best for its rendition by Elvis Presley. Which has been ranked as one of the best songs of all time by Rolling Stone magazine!
Hound Dog just uses three chords which are C, F, and G. The strumming pattern for a single bar of music looks like D-DU-UDU and the final upstroke sits on the last 8th note before the next bar then you’ll immediately hit the first D again to begin the next measure of 4. It’s a very common pattern and is one you should definitely learn if you haven’t yet!
It’s my Life by Bon Jovi
Click Here for tab for It’s my Life by Bon Jovi
At first glance, you might think this song is a little ‘larger than life’ for the ukulele, but you will soon be heavily impressed by just how versatile the instrument is that even songs designed to play at large arenas can translate so well on it. This is the main single from Bon Jovi’s seventh studio album titled ‘Crush’ and helped maintain the band’s career as it resonated so much with the younger audience.
Most of the chords in this song repeat 4 times before moving on, you’ll be playing Cm, Ab, Eb, and Bb. None of the strumming patterns are individually difficult to play, but as this is more a ‘full’ song with a traditional structure you will need to learn unique parts for each section.
Jambalaya By Hank Williams
Click Here for tab for Jambalaya By Hank Williams
Going a little old school next and heading back to the 50s with legendary country artist Hank Williams and his classic song about the delicious Creole and Cajun dish known as Jambalaya. It’s considered a classic and has been covered by numerous artists over many genres throughout the years and is one that is well worth every budding ukulele player adding to their song repertoire.
Just using 2 chords which are C and G7, this is a perfect song to learn when you only have a limited amount of time to spare and need something quick. The strumming pattern of D-DUD-UD-U might look a little busy, but as long as you accent the downstroke on the second and fourth beat it’s going to sound great!
Ring of Fire By Johnny Cash
Click Here for tab for Ring of Fire By Johnny Cash
This is a song you will have no doubt heard a few times before whether you realize it or not. It’s a classic that, while songwriting credit is given to June Carter and Merle Kilgore, was actually written by Johnny. In the autobiography of Johnny’s first wife, Vivian Cash, she revealed that he gave June credit for it as she needed the money. Then later when Johnny ‘covered’ the song, his rendition still became the most popular and widely recognized version.
For this song, we’ll just be using three chords, C, D7, and G. The strumming pattern here is quite long, but it’s possible to break it up into smaller sections to make it a little more digestible. D-DU-UDU-D-DU-DD-D-DU-UDU, the easiest way to approach this is to imagine ‘D-DU-UDU’ sandwiching a phrase of D-DU-DD in the middle, making a sequence of 121.
Margaritaville by Jimmy Buffett
Click Here for tab for Margaritaville by Jimmy Buffett
This is an upbeat, fun, and laid-back kind of song in which you can just imagine yourself living in a tropical climate sipping on a margarita. This is from his popular album titled ‘Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes’. Because of its importance to music as a whole, it was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2016.
The song primarily uses the chords D, A, and G, but if you know how to add the 7th onto these chords it will help you a lot as that extra color in the chords helps out a lot. If not, it’s a great time to brush up on your chordal vocabulary! Fortunately, the chords are the only spot here that poses a challenge as the strumming pattern is the good old, tried, and true D-DU-UDU.
Love Me Do by The Beatles
Click Here for tab for Love Me Do by The Beatles
As the best-selling band of all time, The Beatles are responsible for revolutionizing the world of pop and rock and roll. Seldom will you see a band have such a massive impact on the culture of a generation. This is their first single, and despite being written long before the Beatles actually released it, it’s still considered a classic and quintessential Beatles tune that everybody should try their hand at learning.
Here we’ll just be using some standard and basic chords which are C, D, F, G, and G7, so for the theory guys out there, you’ll see it’s heavily rooted in C major and aside from that one seventh chord is all very straightforward. Strumming wise we just use a nice and simple D-DU-UD pattern.
Love Yourself by Justin Bieber
Click Here for tab for Love Yourself by Justin Bieber
Justin Beiber has come a long way since his beginnings as a simple YouTuber before being snapped up by record executive Scooter Braun, going on to become a worldwide pop sensation and the subject of much adoration from teenage girls. Nevertheless, he does have a tremendous number of world-class catchy pop songs under his name that are a ton of fun to learn and play on the ukulele.
This is from his fourth studio album titled ‘Purpose’ and just uses a few easy chords which are C, G, Am, Dm, and F. The interesting thing about this song is after you downstroke the chords you will be required to quickly mute the strings, but you want to ensure the string actually hits the frets creating a little ‘click’ sound, which adds a great percussive element to the performance.
Stay by Rihanna
Click Here for tab for Stay by Rihanna
Rihanna slows it down for this powerful and moving ballad that also features American record producer/writer Mikky Ekko. This is the second single from her seventh studio album ‘Unapologetic’. It’s (coincidentally) an unapologetic love ballad about temptation and people’s futile attempts at resisting true love. It did generally well commercially, hitting the number 3 spot on the US Billboard Hot 100.
Here you’ll essentially be mimicking the chords of the piano, but also giving it a slightly more ‘ukulele’ spin with the strumming pattern which perhaps comes off a little more groovy than a solo piano piece. You’ll be using the chords C, Dm, Am, F, and G using the strumming pattern D-DU-UDU. If you can ‘slap’ the strings a little more on your second and third downstroke it adds a really cool percussive feel to the song.
Surfin’ USA – The Beach Boys
Click Here for tab for Surfin’ USA – The Beach Boys
An absolute classic 60’s rock and roll song from The Beach Boys. Although written by Chuck Berry on his original version ‘Sweet Little Sixteen’, The Beach Boys heavily reworked the song putting entirely new lyrics to it. It was then released as the main promotional single, and the opening track of the album of the same name and immediately hit the number 3 spot on the US Billboard Charts.
Obviously, this song has a ton of vocal layers and guitar parts, as was the trend back then. But when it comes to playing this on the ukulele you are mainly following the main rhythmic electric guitar using three chords, C, G7, and F. An easy strumming pattern you can use is DD-UU-DU.
Paparazzi by Lady Gaga
Click Here for tab for Paparazzi by Lady Gaga
Following on from her hit single ‘Pokerface’, Lady Gaga continued her successful run of quirky pop hits which combined striking imagery and fashion choices with catchy and commercial pop hooks. This was the fifth (and final) single from her debut album ‘The Fame’ which details Lady Gaga’s pursuit of fame and fortune and managing her personal life while being pursued by a stalker.
There are quite a few chords involved in this one but they are nicely separated by the traditional verse chorus verse structure which makes it easier to tackle part by part. We’ll be using the chords Bm, G, Em, D, and C. The strumming pattern you can use for this song is D-UU-D-UU-DU.
Zombie by The Cranberries
Click Here for tab for Zombie by The Cranberries
It’s with great pleasure that we can include a song from the Irish alternative rock powerhouse that is The Cranberries. Although singer/songwriter Dolores O’Riordan is no longer with us, she has without a doubt made a huge impact on music as a whole with her unique and distinctive vocal style. Zombie was their biggest single ever, reaching the number 1 spot throughout Europe and the US, and is a favorite amongst fans. It was even covered by the American metal band ‘Bad Wolves’.
However, we shall not be playing a metal rendition today. To play this on the ukulele you’ll need the following chords: Em, C, G, and if you know how to add the 7th onto the G you can also add in the Gmaj7 chord in some spots.
You’re Beautiful by James Blunt
Click Here for tab for You’re Beautiful by James Blunt
Here we have a loving and tender song from the soft-spoken English singer-songwriter James Blunt. It was the second single from his debut album ‘Back to Bedlam’ and right from the get-go garnered him massive commercial success. With the single shooting to the number 1 spot in both the UK and the US. To this day it remains a fan favorite and a staple of his live performance setlist.
As this is a softer, more tender song than many others on this list, it’s important to pay attention to the dynamics here. Often as a beginner, your desire to make chords ring out nice and clear can cause you to hit the chords a little too hard. Here you’ll serve the song much better using a lighter touch. You’ll need the chords C, G, Am, and F.
While My Guitar Gently Weeps by The Beatles
Click Here for tab for While My Guitar Gently Weeps by The Beatles
This song, apart from being a great demonstration of world-class songwriting, carries with it a lot of behind the scenes meaning for The Beatles. Lyrically it discusses how the world has so much potential for universal love yet we don’t realize that potential, instead choosing hatred which leads to conflict and wars. But at the same time, it also represents the disharmony and conflict within the band themselves, which we now know would lead to their eventual breakup.
From a technical perspective, there’s nothing too challenging about the song and it’s something any beginner can try their hand at. The difficulty comes from the sheer volume of chord voicings that are used, it becomes more of a test of memory than skill. The song uses the chords Am, Am6, F, G, D, E, A, Amaj7, F sharp minor, and B minor.
Uptown Funk By Mark Ronson/Bruno Mars
Click Here for tab for Uptown Funk By Mark Ronson/Bruno Mars
Switching gears from the slightly depressing to ridiculously groovy and optimistic, next we have Uptown Funk by Bruno Marks which is a feel-good funk/soul song written between Bruno Mars and Mark Rhonson (who produced the album). Featured as the first single from his fourth studio album titled ‘Uptown Special’. This is a ton of fun to play and is no doubt going to get you some attention if you can bust it out at a social gathering.
This is an exceptionally simple song to play requiring just 2 chords, Dm7 and G7. If you haven’t learned a funk strumming pattern before now is a great opportunity to, the pattern is D-D-U-UD-DU. The most important thing is getting that first upstroke muted nice and fast for that plucky and percussive feel.
Three Little Birds By Bob Marley
Click Here for tab for Three Little Birds By Bob Marley
Next, we have a classic 80’s reggae tune from the brilliant Bob Marley, this is another feel-good song that’s sure to put a smile on people’s faces when you play it to them. This is considered one of his signature songs and is a favorite amongst fans. Featured as a single from his fourth studio album ‘Exodus’, the song went on to achieve good commercial success and be covered by numerous other artists.
A nice and simple 3 chord song, you’ll just be using the chords C, F, and G. The strumming pattern is also as easy as it gets needing just a simple downstroke on each quarter note of the bar.
The A Team by Ed Sheeran
Click Here for tab for The A Team by Ed Sheeran
A wonderfully melodic song that discusses the dark topic of prostitution and drug addiction. He was inspired to write this song after visiting a homeless shelter and hearing some of the residents’ stories.
This is the first song on the list that will require (or at the very least become easier to play) if you can use a capo on the second fret. If you don’t have one to hand don’t worry! You have 2 options available: You can play the barred versions of the chords, this is much more difficult to finger and you may have to make some concessions on the odd note if you don’t have enough fingers. Alternatively, you can simply move the key of the song down by 2 and play them as open chords, it’ll also make the song a little easier to sing to as it’ll be in a lower key.
Stand By Me by Ben E. King
Click Here for tab for Stand By Me by Ben E. King
A classic 60’s soul song that has been able to remain popular and relevant today, with the official music video sitting at over half a billion views on YouTube. This is a single released as part of the album ‘Don’t Play That Song!’. The song has been covered by so many artists it’s estimated that it’s earned over $22 million in royalties alone!
You’ll be using just 4 easy chords, C, Am, F, and G, and some more of those ‘percussive mutes’ you’ve encountered a few other times which I’ll mark as an X on the strumming pattern which is DUXD-UX.
Sweet Home Alabama by Lynyrd Skynyrd
Click Here for tab for Sweet Home Alabama by Lynyrd Skynyrd
One of the most popular country rock songs of all time, with an iconic opening riff that even people who are not intimately familiar with the song will no doubt be able to recognize. This was part of their 1974 album titled ‘Second Helping’. It is to date, the band’s highest charting single.
Of course, the provided lesson/tab versions of the song are intended to be easily accessible to beginners and not get too involved. However, if you’re up for the challenge we highly recommend learning a ‘finger picked’ version of just the intro riff as it’s so iconic.
Someone Like You by Adele
Click Here for tab for Someone Like You by Adele
Adele is a modern legend in the making, as one of the best selling artists of all time we are seeing her make a lasting impact on music as a whole. With her unbelievably powerful singing voice and emotive lyrical content, she is a truly world-class musician. This song is part of her second album titled ‘21’ and was inspired by the idea of separating from a life partner.
You’ll just need 4 easy chords for this, A, E, Gbm, and D. The strumming pattern is also exceptionally simple needing just 4 downstrokes on each quarter note of the bar followed by a quick upstroke on the & of the 4 before heading back to the 1.
Sunday Morning by Maroon 5
Click Here for tab for Sunday Morning by Maroon 5
Containing a nice mixture of groovy blues, rock, jazz, and a little funk. This is a song that can get anyone tapping their foot to the beat. Released back in 2004 as the fourth promotional single from their album ‘Songs About Jane’. It charted in both the UK and the US and had an accompanying promotional video which is currently at 192 million views on YouTube.
While the song just uses three easy chords, the strumming pattern is a little more involved as it needs a unique pattern for the final chord. Let’s go through it in order, the first two chords are Dm and G which you’ll both play with the strumming pattern D-DUD, then for the final chord you’ll be playing a C with the strumming pattern DDUU-UDUD.
Brown Eyed Girl by Van Morrison
Click Here for tab for Brown Eyed Girl by Van Morrison
Back to the 60’s one more time with the pop-rock classic from Irish singer Van Morrison. Released as a single from the album ‘Blowin Your Mind’ which achieved a good amount of commercial success, hanging in the charts for an incredible 16 consecutive weeks. It’s now considered a quintessential Van Morrison song.
You’ll be using the chords C, F, G7 and you can use 1 cycle of the ‘island strum’ (if you can’t remember it’s D-DU-UDU) for each chord. For the chorus, there’s also an Am introduced which you can check the video lesson for clarification on where that sits.
La Bamba by Ritchie Valens
Click Here for tab for La Bamba by Ritchie Valens
While the original is considered just a Mexican folk song and is not actually credited to any specific artist (much like songs such as Happy Birthday), for everyone who has made their own rendition of the song the Richie Valens interpretation is by far the most popular. He converted it into a more accessible verse chorus verse structure and is generally the one people will reference when thinking of La Bamba.
Here you’ll just be using 3 easy chords which are C, F, and G, and if you are already familiar with G7 that can also be used. The progression moves quite quickly so let’s break down what you’ll be playing for each chord:
C – DDU, F – DUD, G(7) – U-UD-U-UDU
Once you’ve spent a little time practicing and listening to the song it’ll feel very natural to play.
Hand in my Pocket by Alanis Morissette
Click Here for tab for Hand in my Pocket by Alanis Morissette
Anyone staying abreast of charting pop music during the 90s will no doubt be familiar with this one for its heavy radio play and features on things such as MTV and England’s Top of The Tops. This is a single from her third album ‘Jagged Little Pill’. The single was greatly praised for its unique personality and character which is quite unlike anything else.
For this song, you’ll need just 5 easy chords which are G, F, C, and D using the strumming pattern DDU-U-UD-DU which has a nice and groovy feel to it. This one will feel a little bit more like you are playing an acoustic guitar so do feel free to throw in any percussive mutes you wish and give it more of that signature ukulele flair.