Uke Hunt 2017 Ukulele Favourites

It’s award season and time to hand out the most coveted of them all The UkeHunties. Let me know your ukulele favourites of 2017 in the comments. Particularly if it’s something I’ve missed.

Ukulele Record of 2017: Tyrone and Lesley – Optimism

Optimism is the fifth album from Australian uke and double bass duo Tyrone and Lesley and their best yet. It perfectly combines their highly textured, deftly played music with their humorous and silly lyrics. And the album’s overture Ukulele Sunrise is the best opening on any album I heard all year.

It’s great to see people keeping the ukulele weird.

Runners Up
Jeremy Messersmith – 11 Obscenely Optimistic Songs For Ukulele: A Micro-Folk Record For The 21st Century And Beyond: A lovely collection of melancholy, understated tunes.
Sam Trump – Sam Trump Plays the Uke Redux: It’s not often you hear a record that blends the ukulele with R&B, hip hop and modern jazz. And you’ve never heard it done as well as this.
Lil Rev – Sing Song Daddy: Rev has an uncanny ability to channel various styles of American roots music. And they’re all perfectly delivered on this record.
The Burning Glass – Happiness is Egg Shaped: With the demise of Allo Darlin’, it’s great to see another ukulele band packed with infectious indie-pop tunes.

Ukulele Song of 2017: Zoë Bestel – Tail of the Sea

Zoe’s been busy working away on a new album that’s due out in April. Hearing this beautiful track and knowing she’s been recording with fellow Uke Hunt favourite Tobias Elof means it’s up there with Kanye and Arctic Monkeys as my most anticipated records of 2018.

Runners Up
Ukulele Death Squad – Paris On A Train
Bud Sugar – VIRAL
Anne Janelle – In The Morning
The Tallest Man on Earth – All I Can Keep is Now
Swellshark – Ransom
The Burning Glass – Portland Stone
jeremy messersmith – Everything Is Magical
Desirée Dawson – Wild Heart
Tyrone and Lesley – Dung Beetle

Instrumental Performance of 2017: Vinícius Vivas – Santa Morena

I can’t get enough of this version of choro player Jacob do Bandolim’s Santa Morena by Vinícius and his buddies. He has such fluid runs interspersed with punchy strums. Brilliant stuff.

He’s also the second Brazilian winner of a UkeHunty after A Banda Mais Bonita da Cidade’s best video win way back in 2011.

Runners Up
nico’o & the Kapiolani Boyz – Surf y Tequila
Led Kaapana – Nani Ka’ala
Jan Laurenz – The Ukulele Song
Natasha Ghosh – New Rules
Corey Fujimoto & Kalei Gamiao – Hawaiian Medley
Jonathan Lewis – Tri Martolod
EatMyUke – Back To Black Medley
Rachel Manke – Dogstreet Rag

Ukulele Cover 2017: Tiffany Topol – Sonya Alone

Runner-up in this category last year and winner this year. Pretty impressive since she’s only put up two ukulele videos in the last two years. If you want to hear more you can listen to her soundtrack for Monica West’s web series Best Thing You’ll Ever Do.

This song is from the musical Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812 and was performed on Broadway for a spell by fellow uker Ingrid Michaelson.

Runners Up

Karlie G – Havana
Shine – (Little) Coquette
The Poor Boys of Worcester – La La Blues

Most Lusted After Ukulele of 2017: Tie between Jay Lichty Lucky Strike and Beau Hannam Lucky Strike

I loved following the Luthiers for a Cause project in 2017. I first covered the back in March when the luthiers had just received the highly prized wood that would be turned into ukuleles and sold to benefit the Ukulele Kids Club. By the end of the year all six ukes were finished and were sold to a single donor for $100,000 quadrupling the project’s original goal.

You can see all the luthiers involved discuss and play their ukes on the Luthiers for a Cause website.

Favourite Song Chorded: Woody Guthrie – All You Fascists Bound to Lose

2017 was the year to dust off those anti-fascist songs you didn’t think you’d need after the 1940s. But they’re back and once again need reminding they’re bound to lose.

Get the chords here.

Runners Up
Rebecca Sugar – What’s the Use of Feeling (Blue)?
Foals – Spanish Sahara
Old Crow Medicine Show – Wagon Wheel
Radiohead – Paranoid Android (Chords)

Favourite Song Tabbed: They Might Be Giants – Birdhouse in Your Soul

I’ve noticed that the tabs I most like in retrospect are the ones that give me most trouble while I’m making them. And this one definitely had me tearing my (beard) hair out.

Get the tab here.

Runners Up
Camila Cabello – Havana
The Beatles – Blackbird
alt-J – Fitzpleasure
Bon Iver – 00000 Million
Max and Chloe Theme (Life is Strange)

Best Non-Ukulele Record of 2017: Rosalía – Los Ángeles

I was blown away by this album. It’s an incredibly emotionally raw album. And the wails of despair on this album are exactly what I needed in 2018.

The album has 10 updated versions of old flamenco songs (and one old Bonnie Prince Billy song). Usually these “updating the traditional” things mean just adding a bunch of bleeps and bloops over defanged versions of the original. But this is just her and her guitarist and it’s mesmerising.

Runners Up
The Weather Station – The Weather Station: This was so close to being my album of the year. I’ve been obsessed with this album to the extent that I’m now listed as the top Weather Station listener on It’s an absolute must-listen for anyone into Joni Mitchell-ish singer songwriters.
Swet Shop Boys – Sufi La
Julie Byrne – Not Even Happiness

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