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HO HO WHO: Memphis Ukulele Band, a collection of five Tennessee musicians who, one night in 2013, decided to form a uke group while hanging out at Sun Studio. They put out an album of four-stringed covers of pop songs in 2016 and now they’re back with a holiday release.
ALOHA SPIRIT: It seems inevitable that a band dedicated to playing Hawaiian instruments would produce a rendition of this Hawaiian Christmas anthem that Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters popularized in 1950. Many ukulele-obsessed artists have interpreted the song on their own holiday albums, but MUB’s version, featuring multiple ukes, is the most tropical of them all. Considering that Memphis is more than 4,000 miles from Waikiki Beach, this is quite impressive.
CHRISTMAS VACATION: “Mele Kalikimaka” is one of the least relatable Christmas songs in the canon, with its references to island greetings and palm trees. Unless you’re a member of the Obama family or hail from Hawaii, you’re probably not spending your winter break on a beach, soaking up the sun. And yet, like so many standards from the 1940s and ’50s, it’s insanely catchy and just might make you want to don a lei.
CHEER FACTOR: 8/10. Jingling bells and rhythmic drumming can sound tedious at this time of year; ukuleles are instant mood brighteners. And with no direct reference to Jesus, it’s about as secular as a Christmas song can get.