SONG: Hula Girl
ARTIST: Sol Hoopii
Listen to it here:
There’s not a lot of information on the song itself, other than it was recorded in 1934 by Hawaiian Sol Ho’opii. There was a big Hawaiian craze in America starting in 1915 when slack key guitar players and grass-skirted hula dancers entertained at the San Francisco-Panama Expo.
Solomon Ho’opi’i Ka’ai’ai was born in Honolulu, Hawaii in 1902, the 21st child born in his family (!!). At age 3, Sol was taught how to play ukulele and by his teenage years was playing steel guitar. At age 17 he and some friends stowed away on an ocean liner headed for San Francisco and eventually made their way to Los Angeles, where they started playing in clubs. Sol’s friends returned to the Islands, but Sol stayed in California and formed a trio, who would play in Polynesian themed nights at venues. Most of Sol’s recordings were done between 1933 – 1938, mostly hula and hapa-haole songs. In 1938, Sol gave up his secular song singing for joining a Christian ministry.
Trey Parker of South Park fame is a huge Hawaiian music fan, and did his own cover of Hula Girl for one of his episodes (questionable taste level, proceed with caution!)
Woooooow this is such a snapshot of the time! I have mixed feelings about this song due to my torrid history with Hawaiian music (I used to be in a ukulele ensemble. You read that correctly). I love how fun and kitschy this is. The steel lap guitar gives it such a distinctly Hawaiian flavour, totally unmistakable, even if it’s hard to hear what the lyrics are (and that there’s no ukulele present, that I could tell! What’s a hula girl without a ukulele??). It’s not a song that I would throw on my turntable for a listen, but I appreciate the historical significance of Sol Ho’opi’i.
Ah. Hawaiian music. I feel like I should sit back and let Kelly review this one, since she has much more experience with it than I do. I actually had to try 3 times before even spelling Hawaiian right, so…
I liked this song! I found it really full of energy with kind of quirky guitar playing, and definitely unmistakably Hawaiian. I don’t know if I’m just falling for the kitsch factor of the guitar playing, but I really liked the guitar solos. On the other hand though, I just can’t help but feel like it sounds a little bit like a novelty song!
It does have some historical significance, though, since the slack-key guitar playing craze influenced blues slide guitar playing later on, which is a really cool connection between these two styles.
Average mark out of 10:
Other notable versions of this song:
Sorry friends! No other versions of the song really fit on the blog this time!
Listen with us!
Link to 1,001 Songs to Hear Before You Die spotify playlist: