If you’ve been playing the ukulele for a long time, you might have run into the problem of not feeling challenged enough with your instrument. After all, the uke is an incredibly easy instrument to pick up. In just a few weeks, you could go from knowing nothing on the ukulele to being able to play scales, riffs and the chords from your favorite songs. But what do you do after that? A lot of uke players get to a comfortable level and don’t know what to do to progress once they’ve mastered the basics. If this sounds like you, we’ve got five hard ukulele songs to help keep you challenged on your instrument.

 

The songs in this article have been adapted from music that features instruments like guitars, strings and keys. Things like complex strumming patterns and harder than average chords are what make the songs in this article challenging. Ready to jump in?

 

hard ukulele songs

 

 

“Viva La Vida,” by Coldplay

 

coldplay
Editorial credit: A.RICARDO / Shutterstock.com

Our first offering of hard ukulele songs is Coldplay’s smash hit “Viva La Vida.” The main challenge of this song will be to learn how to master its syncopated strumming pattern. Syncopation, by the way, is when a piece of music features rhythms that are offbeat and unexpected in some way. To help you learn this song, we recommend practicing with a metronome.

 

coldplay chords

 

[Intro]
D  E  A  F#m    
D  E  A  F#m  


[Verse]
          D        E
I used to rule the world
          A                    F#m
Seas would rise when I gave the word
                    D       E
Now in the morning I sleep alone
         A                 F#m
Sweep the streets I used to own


[Instrumental]
D  E  A  F#m    
D  E  A  F#m  


[Verse]
          D         E
I used to roll the dice
         A                 F#m
Feel the fear in my enemy’s eyes
             D            E
Listen as the crowd would sing:
         A                 F#m
“Now the old king is dead! Long live the king!”
             D        E
One minute I held the key
        A                    F#m
Next the walls were closed on me
                         D        E
And I discovered that my castles stand
    A                    F#m
Upon pillars of salt and pillars of sand


[Chorus]
 D              E
I hear Jerusalem bells are ringing
A             F#m
Roman Cavalry choirs are singing
D                E
Be my mirror, my sword, and shield
  A                 F#m
My missionaries in a foreign field
D                 E
For some reason I can’t explain
A                     F#m             D      E
Once you go there was never, never an honest word
        C#m              F#m
That was when I ruled the world


[Instrumental]
D  E  A  F#m    
D  E  A  F#m    


[Verse]
                     D    E
It was the wicked and wild wind
             A               F#m
Blew down the doors to let me in.
                         D        E
Shattered windows and the sound of drums
      A                     F#m
People couldn’t believe what I’d become
        D      E
Revolutionaries wait
       A               F#m
For my head on a silver plate
                  D      E
Just a puppet on a lonely string
  A                         F#m
Oh who would ever want to be king?


[Chorus]
 D              E
I hear Jerusalem bells are ringing
A             F#m
Roman Cavalry choirs are singing
D                E
Be my mirror, my sword, and shield
  A                 F#m
My missionaries in a foreign field
D                 E
For some reason I can’t explain
 A                      F#m              
I know Saint Peter won’t call my name ,
  D            E
never an honest word
             C#m              F#m
But that was when I ruled the world  


[Instrumental] D  F#m
D  F#m
D  F#m
E   E


[Bridge]
D  E  A  F#m   
Ohhhhh Ohhh Ohhh
D  E  A  F#m   
Ohhhhh Ohhh Ohhh


[Chorus]
 D              E
I hear Jerusalem bells are ringing
A             F#m
Roman Cavalry choirs are singing
D                E
Be my mirror, my sword, and shield
  A                 F#m
My missionaries in a foreign field
D                 E
For some reason I can’t explain
 A                      F#m              
I know Saint Peter won’t call my name,
  D            E
never an honest word
             C#m               F#m
But that was when I ruled the world  


[Outro]
D  E  C#m  F#m              
Oooooh Oooooh Oooooh
D  E  C#m  F#m              
Oooooh Oooooh Oooooh

 

“Breaker,” by Deerhunter

 

This song features a couple of chords that aren’t usually included in easy uke songs. If you haven’t explored the world of extended chords on the uke, “Breaker” is a good chance to get started. Once you’ve memorized this song’s chords, the strumming pattern will be easy to learn.

 

deerhunter chords

 

Verse 1 Chords:

G          C
Christ, or credit?

          G
What’s the prize?

          C
What’s the edit?

    G
I’m alive

       C
I don’t credit..a source

      G
I just drive

            C
And then the fog rolls in

                G
And then they’re blind

  C
My enemies

            G
They’re just trying

         C
Trying to kill me

 


Chorus 1 Chords:

Dsus2        Em
Breaking the waves

Em          Cmaj7  
I can’t and know (I tried)

   Dsus2    Em
The ocean is strong

Em       Cmaj7
I cannot stem the tide

Dsus2        Em
Breaking the waves

Em          Cmaj7
I can’t and know (I tried)

Dsus2           Em
I can’t seem to stem

Em           Cmaj7
The tide and know I tried

 G   
I tried
            C
Drive me to

 


Verse 2 Chords:

            G
I’ve got the time

             C
And it’s been too long since I’ve been driving

   G
All night

                  C
On the back road’s winding

         G
Under the stars

               C
That are slowly dying (oh no)

 

Chorus 2 Chords:

Dsus2        Em
Breaking the waves

Em          Cmaj7  
I can’t and know (I tried)

   Dsus2    Em
The ocean is strong

Em       Cmaj7
I cannot stem the tide

Dsus2        Em
Breaking the waves

Em          Cmaj7
I can’t and know (I tried)

Dsus2           Em
I can’t seem to stem

Em           Cmaj7
The tide and know I tried

 G
I tried

 


Bridge Chords:

G///////Fmaj7///////
G///////Fmaj7///////
G///////Fmaj7///////
G///////Fmaj7///////


Verse 3 Chords:

G
Jack-knifed

                  C
On the side-street crossing

          G
I’m still alive

          C
And that’s something

          G
And when I die

             C
There will be nothing….to say

        G
Except I tried

      C
Not to waste another day

                  G
Trying to stem the tide

 

“Back In Black,” by AC/DC

 

acdc
Editorial credit: dean bertoncelj / Shutterstock.com

 

 

The chords in this song are simple enough, but the unpredictable rhythms in “Back In Black,” make this a fun challenge for uke players. Like with “Viva La Vida,” practice each of this song’s sections with a metronome before you put the whole thing together.

 

acdc chords

 

[Intro] E  D  A     A    E  D  A     A
E  D  A     A    E  D  A     A


  [Verse 1] E            D
Back in black, I hit the sack
A
I’ve been too long I’m glad to be back
   E             D
Yes I’m, let loose, From the noose
A
That’s kept me hanging about
      E                  D
I keep looking at the sky, ‘’Cause it’s gettin’ me high
  A
Forget the hearse ’cause I’ll never die
     E         D
I got nine lives,Cat’s eyes
A
Abusin’ every one of them and running wild


  [Chorus] A              E  B
‘Cause I’m back
A    B  A   E  B
Yes, I’m back
A     B  A  D  A
Well, I’m back
G     A   G  D  A
Yes, I’m back
G      A  E B  A  B  A    E  B  A
Well, I’m back,           back
      B  G
(Well) I’m back in black
        D
Yes, I’m back in black


  [Verse 2] E               D
Back in the back, Of a Cadillac
A
Number one with a bullet, I’m a power pack
        E   D
Yes, I’m in a bang, With a gang
A
They’ve got to catch me if they want me to hang
         E
Cause I’m back on the track
   D
And I’m leadin’ the pack
A
Nobody’s gonna get me on another rap
  E                 D
So look at me now, I’m just makin’ my play
A
Don’t try to push your luck, just get out of my way


  [Chorus] A              E  B
‘Cause I’m back
A    B  A   E  B
Yes, I’m back
A     B  A  D  A
Well, I’m back
G     A   G  D  A
Yes, I’m back
G      A  E B  A  B  A    E  B  A
Well, I’m back,- – – – – -Back
      B  G
(Well) I’m back in black
        D
Yes, I’m back in black


  [Instrumental] E  D  E    E  E    
E  D  E    E  E  A  E  A        X6


  [Chorus] E      A   E  B
Well I’m back
A   B  A  E  B
Yes I’m back
A   B  G  D   A
Well I’m back
G    A  G  D   A
Yes I’m back
G    A  E  B  A  B  A  E  B  A
Well I’m back – – – – – – Back
    B   G
Well I’m back in black
      D
Yes I’m back in black


  [Instrumental] E     E     E     E
A     A     E     E


  [Chorus] E      A   E  B  A  B
Well I’m back
A   E  B  A  B  G   D  A  G  A
Back – – – – – – – – Back
A   D   A  G   A  E   B  A  B
Back – – – – – – – – Back
A   E  B  A
Back – – – – –
      B  G
(Well) I’m back in black
        D              A
Yes, I’m back in black, I wanna say it


  [Outro] E  D  Asus2   Asus2  E
E  D  Asus2   Asus2  E  A  E  A

 

“Everybody Wants To Rule The World,” by Tears For Fears

 

This song’s use of complex chords and syncopation put it in the category of hard ukulele songs. You’ll need to spend some time memorizing the 6th and major 7th chords in this song before you attempt to put it all to rhythm.

 

tears for fears chords

 

[VERSE]
               Dmaj7   G6
Welcome to your life
                  Dmaj7   G6
There’s no turning back
               Dmaj7   G6
Even while we sleep
(G6)
We will find you


[CHORUS 1]
Em             F#m
Acting on your best behavior
G                 F#m
Turn your back on mother nature
Em    F#m   G      A           Dmaj7   G6   Dmaj7   G6   Dmaj7   G6
Everybody wants to rule the world


[VERSE]
             Dmaj7   G6
It’s my own design
             Dmaj7   G6
It’s my own remorse
             Dmaj7   G6
Help me to decide
(G6)
Help me make the…


[CHORUS 2]
  Em               F#m
…most of freedom and of pleasure
G             F#m
Nothing ever lasts forever
Em    F#m   G      A           
Everybody wants to rule the…


[BRIDGE]
G                          D    D     A    A
There’s a room where the light won’t find you
G                          D    D   A   A    G
Holding hands while the walls come tumbling down
(G)                     D   D   A  A
When they do I’ll be right behind you


[CHORUS 3/BRIDGE 2]
Em             F#m
So glad we’ve almost made it
G           F#m
So sad they had to fade it
Em   F#m   G        A         G   D   A      G   D   A
Everybody wants to rule the world


[CHORUS 4]
Em               F#m
All for freedom and for pleasure
G              F#m
Nothing ever lasts forever
Em    F#m   G      A           Dmaj7   G6
Everybody wants to rule the world


[OUTRO]
Dmaj7   G6   
Dmaj7   G6   
Dmaj7   G6   
Dmaj7   G6

 

“All You Need Is Love,” by The Beatles

 

This song’s unique usage of the 7/4 time signature is what makes it a challenging song to tackle on the uke. “All You Need Is Love” switches between a 7/4 rhythm in the verses and 4/4 during its choruses. Again, practicing some of these more rhythmically complex songs with a metronome will be helpful.

 

beatles chords

 

[Intro]
G      D      Em
Love  Love  Love
G       D      Em   
Love  Love  Love  
            
                
Am    G      D    D       D7      Bm      D         
Love  Love  Love


[Verse]
G                        D                Em
There’s nothing you can do that can’t be done
G                 D                  Em   
Nothing you can sing that can’t be sung
Am                G               D                  
Nothing you can say but you can learn to play the game,
    
     D       D7      Bm      D    
It’s easy

G                        D                  Em
There’s nothing you can make that can’t be made
G                D                  Em
No one you can save that can’t be saved.
Am               G               D                                   
Nothing you can do but you can learn how to be you in time,
   
     D       D7      Bm      D    
It’s easy


[Chorus]
G        A        D     D7     
All you need is love
G        A        D     D7
All you need is love
G        B7      Em   G    C       D       G
All you need is love love, Love is all you need.


[Instrumental break] (same chords as verse)

G D Em
G D Em
Am G D
D D7 G D


[Chorus]
G        A        D     D7     
All you need is love
G        A        D     D7
All you need is love
G        B7      Em   G    C       D       G
All you need is love love, Love is all you need.

G                        D               Em                   
There’s nothing you can know that isn’t known.
G                D              Em   
Nothing you can see that isn’t shown.
Am               G              D
Nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be,
    
     D       D7      Bm      D    
It’s easy


G        A        D     D7     
All you need is love,
G        A        D     D7
All you need is love,
G        B7      Em   G    C       D       G
All you need is love love, Love is all you need.

G                        D               Em                   
All you need is love (all together now)
G                D              Em   
All you need is love (everybody)
G        B7      Em   G    C       D       G
All you need is love love, Love is all you need.

G
Love is all you need
G
Love is all you need

 

learning ukulele

 

If you need extra help tackling these hard ukulele songs, we recommending working with an experienced teacher in your area. For more helpful articles about the world of music, check out what else we’ve got posted on the Musika Lessons blog.

 

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