George Forman: Friday Links

A flurry of F-words, gaffes and misinformation as the British media has gone on one of their ‘the ukulele is making a comeback’ kicks (as they’ve done a couple a times a year for the last five years). A selection of the goings-on:

– The most amusing was in the Telegraph which was originally sub-headlined, “The ukulele is hard to take seriously thanks to its association with George Forman.”
– The Daily Mail originally had it, “It seems there are several theories as to why the ukelele – or ‘uku’ as it is nicknamed – is enjoying a revival.”
– Michael White laid into the UOGB’s Proms performance pretty viciously (despite being quite positive about it at the time).
– Huffington Post illustrated the story with a picture of Sting playing a guitar.
– The Express headlined “Now the ukulele outsells electric guitars,” but quotes figures that don’t seem to back that up.
The Guardian reckon it’s only possible to play the ukulele (or ‘ukukele’) like George Formby: “Something in the posture required to play the ukulele – shoulders hunched, elbows akimbo – probably encouraged a perky grinning manner: it’s probably impossible to play the ukukele in any other way.”
– And on TV: Channel 4 News and on Daybreak (with Lorraine managing to knock out Sweet Child of Mine at 6:30am).
– One interesting fact in the brouhaha:

180 music shops were surveyed with 42 per cent saying the ukulele had seen the biggest rise in popularity in the last year. 31 per cent stated that keyboards had seen the largest growth, and 16 per cent for acoustic guitars.

I need to calm down after that epic bitch-fest with some Bigfoot and Tiki cartoons.

The UOGB present the Ukulele Podcast of Great Britain with a guest appearance from Glenn Tilbrook. And here’s Will playing what he claims is the world’s smallest playable ukulele (which Alvin Okami may take issue with) (thanks to Ron).

Vo-do-de-o Days charts the history of Tiptoe Through the Tulips.

The Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra are on iTunes.

Lots of intriguing pictures from the Tokyo Hand Craft Guitar FES.

The ukulele bit on Cougar Town (thanks to Anna). If you’re in a location-blocked country you can still watch Josh Hopkins having a bit of a uke here.

View Comments


  1. Lindy Danny June 3rd, 2011 3:01 pm

    The Guardian said: “Maybe if Jimi Hendrix had played the ukulele…”

    I was under the impression that Hendrix did play the ukulele if not in a professional capacity… Maybe I’m misinformed.


  2. claudio June 3rd, 2011 7:24 pm

    Michael White’s article demonstrated what a lazy prick he is.

  3. claudio June 3rd, 2011 7:29 pm

    That didn’t work. I’m still moody about it.
    Article in the evening standard today was at least researched. I was shocked to hear that the Duke has ukuleles up to £700. Gosh ;-)

  4. art Crocker June 3rd, 2011 8:03 pm

    On Maui and fortunately the Ukulele is highly appreciated. In fact I just saw Jake Shimabukuro on TV doing a commercial for Farmers Auto Insurance, very funny, even uses his uke.

  5. Ron Hale June 4th, 2011 6:02 am

    Didn’t realize there would be so much reading here, Al. Just a few words until I can get to it all.

    First, I did mention Alvin’s video to Will in a comment to his video, and his response can be read when people click on your link.

    And you mention Cougar Town. Well, there’s a ukulele bit on Army Wives consisting of Uni playing softly behind the scene –

    Uni & Her Ukelele on Army Wives

  6. Ron Hale June 4th, 2011 9:55 am

    First of all, one of the papers mentions the ukulele in the context of corporate team building. A couple of videos for those with an interest in this, and they’re short:

    Ukulele Team Building

    Uke Can Do It – Team Building by Catalyst Global

    Perhaps it’s just me, but by now I don’t expect much in the way of new information or even accuracy at all in these presentations. They don’t bother me one bit and we should be glad
    for any coverage we can get. No non-ukers reading accounts such as these are going to remember arcane uke details, anyway (I wish I didn’t know so many). They’ll just get a general impression and move along to what’s next. And these presentations are for them, not us.

    What might be disturbing to us by the lack of accuracy, however, is the notion that if mainstream media get so much so wrong, maybe
    our instrument isn’t as mainstream as we think it is. If it were so mainstream, the mainstream media would know that fact and would present accurate accounts to the public.

    But they treat the ukulele as something they’ve barely heard of, and the non-uke playing public by and large does, too. I’ve maintained for a while now and I still maintain that the ukulele is nowhere near as mainstream an instrument as many of us fancy.

    Now, I find the comments to these articles to be much more telling than the writings themselves. First of all, I find Michael White to be entirely tongue-in-cheek, so lighten-up, people. Some ukers are in desperate need of a sense of humor about the instrument. However, he is spot-on about a backlash to the excesses of ukers.

    Ukulele players can be downright embarrassing in
    the ways we carry on. This entirely proper push-back to that carrying-on reminds me of the bit in Mighty Uke about an earlier backlash. You know, the bit with the woman singing with her dog’s accompaniment driving the man crazy. There are comments to these articles from non-ukers who are sick of the ukulele.

    But the interesting, and annoying, comments come from ukers ourselves. Let an article harmlessly mention that the instrument comes from Hawaii, and
    some obsessives will jump right in complaining that Portugal isn’t mentioned. Who the bloody hell cares?

    Ukers rant about all sorts of silly details in these comments as if lives depend on them. They don’t. People act as if the honor of the instrument is at stake. It isn’t. Most annoying of all are ukers seemingly incapable of writing two sentences without six Eddie Vedder references. Stifle, for crying out loud.

    And Al, what does “gurn” mean?

  7. Woodshed June 4th, 2011 10:06 am

    Lindy Danny: You are indeed correct.

    claudio: £700? Who would pay that for a ukulele? *looks sheepish*

    Art: Yeah, I’ve seen those commercials. And I will say no more about them!

    Ron: It means making silly faces.

  8. Claudio June 4th, 2011 11:59 am

    Great Friday post! Rants about rants about rants. I love it.

Got something to say?