In Before Sully

Sullivan is fond of Mental Health Breaks, but I challenge anyone to top this, the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, performing Shaft (via the comments):

Game over, man. This is just a whole different level of awesomeness. An eleven, if you will.

*** Update ***

A Japanese orchestra performs Smoke on the Water:

Close. But I am stuck on the Ukuleles for now.

76 replies
  1. 1
    eyepaddle says:

    Well, there’s no doubt about it, ’09 is getting off to a good start!

  2. 2
    MMM says:

    I wanted to, but I could not turn this off….

    Instead of a raise or a bonus this year, what do I get?


  3. 3
    MarkusB says:

    Fuckin’ A! You got it, brother.

  4. 4
    Punchy says:

    Yes, I’m here to fire up a flame war.

    Calling TZ, ppGaz, where are you?

    I bring you this. Seems if you’re brown, the mere observation of how loud your flight is likely to be gets you kicked off the plane. This is becoming absurd. Why not just end the Kabuki and simply disallow any Brownies from flying?

  5. 5
    BP in MN says:

    Man, my favorite moment about that video is right after the song gets really recognizable and the camera immediately pans to what appears to be the only black man in the audience.

    Not that the whole thing doesn’t kick ass.

  6. 6
    Dork says:

    @Punchy: the crazy thing is that they kicked off nine passangers, not just the one making the remark. How in hell can they just arbitrarily finger 8 did-nothing-wrong passangers and make them leave, too?

    I hope they sue the living shit out of this shitty airline.

  7. 7
    Ron says:

    Dude! Great find. The free credit report dot com band now moves to my second favorite!

  8. 8
    ed says:

    ukuleles = funny

    (and I know funny)

  9. 9
    droog says:

    Coincidentally, I had just discovered the UOGB last week. But my favourite video is where they multitask the hell out of Life on Mars.

  10. 10
    Jon H says:

    Paraphrasing Nigel Tufnel, "How much more white could it be? None. None more white."

  11. 11
    Comrade Mary, Would-Be Minion Of Bad Horse says:

    Yeah, droog, Life on Mars is wonderful — at least until they start the other songs. They’re British, for God’s sake: they don’t have to follow CanCon rules requiring them to drag Paul fucking Anka into the mix. And Born fucking Free? Seriously?

    Sorry, it sounds like I’m harshing on the song, while it is actually a wonderful cover as long as it sticks to the good material.

    Oh — their version of The Good, The Bad and the Ugly is a lot of fun.

  12. 12
  13. 13
    PattyP says:

    This is the awesomenicity of incredibleness.

  14. 14
    Incertus says:

    That is the whitest thing I have ever seen in my life.

  15. 15
    Laura W says:

    @droog: Agreed. Watched that last night before bed and got all happy and stuff.

  16. 16
    Wilson Heath says:

    DJ Shadow performed live by a high school ensemble:

  17. 17
    Kirk says:

    Punchy, reread that. Not that the engines were loud, but that the engines were right outside his window. He spoke "aloud". A passenger thought that suspicious and reported it to the flight crew, and then the bounce.

    He, his brother, and six others bounced. No refunds, no compensation, just "sorry, get off our plane and don’t let the door hit you on the way out." sigh.

    I’m white, but if I can drive there in 12 hours or less, I don’t fly.

  18. 18
    shortstop says:

    There is no adjective large enough to describe how tasty the ukelele thing is.

  19. 19
    shortstop says:

    "At the end of the day, people got on and made comments they shouldn’t have made on the airplane, and other people heard them," [AirTran Spokesperson Tad] Hutcheson said. "Other people heard them, misconstrued them. It just so happened these people were of Muslim faith and appearance. It escalated, it got out of hand and everyone took precautions."

    Oh, Tad, Tad. I’m thinking you’re new to the spokesgig, because your remarks are going to be Exhibit A in the case against AirTran.

    I had a conversation on a plane just last week about this same thing. My pink ass managed to stay on the plane without challenge.

  20. 20
    SGEW says:

    Ukuleles, represent!

    I gotta say it: Hawaii’s been rockin da world, bra! Obama’s body surfin’ and eating shave ice, CNN is talking about spam musubi (my soul food), and ukuleles are finally getting the respect and recognition they deserve. Even if these dudes are as white as you can ever, ever, possibly get.

    See, also, this ukulele version of While My Guitar Gently Weeps, by da master Jake Shimabukuro (h/t BoingBoing).

  21. 21
    John Cole says:

    @Kirk: The CNN report is much clearer as to what happened. Apparently their crime was to wonder aloud what portion of the plane is the safest, a conversation every single person who has flown has had.

    I have always been told the tail is the safest place in a crash, btw, which makes sense, because if a plane slams into a mountain, it isn’t going to do it in reverse.

  22. 22
    shortstop says:

    I have always been told the tail is the safest place in a crash, btw, which makes sense, because if a plane slams into a mountain, it isn’t going to do it in reverse.

    I avoid it, though, because while my chances of crashing into a mountain are slim, the possibility of my having to smell pee from the lavs and listen to the vapid conversation of flight attendants while we’re all trying to sleep is high. That is, on overnight flights. On short flights I don’t care where I sit.

  23. 23
    Montysano (All Hail Marx & Lennon) says:

    @Kirk: @Kirk:

    I can drive there in 12 hours or less, I don’t fly.

    So true. Air travel used to be exotic and wonderful; now it’s like going to prison for a few hours.

    Well….. let’s drop the final shoe: UOGB doing "You Don’t Bring Me Flowers".

    If it were the Ukulele Orchestra of Des Moines, doing the same songs with the same level of skill, it just wouldn’t be the same, would it?

  24. 24
    Krista says:

    See, also, this ukulele version of While My Guitar Gently Weeps, by da master Jake Shimabukuro (h/t BoingBoing).

    I watch that on YouTube on a regular basis. He seriously, seriously rocks the hell out of that ukulele.

  25. 25
    SGEW says:


    I watch that on YouTube on a regular basis.

    I knew there was a reason I liked you.

  26. 26

    Sullivan is fond of Mental Health Breaks,

    This mental health break, will break you from the doldrums of sanity. Bet you didn’t know Germany has it’s own Tiny Tim.

  27. 27
    Laura W says:

    @SGEW: That’s hypnotic and mesmerizing.
    I love that song bad.

  28. 28
    daryljfontaine says:

    It’s not on the same plane as re-orchestrated popular songs, but this mental health break has been in my YouTube favorites for over a year, and I still love it. The English-language equivalents are somehow not nearly as musical.


  29. 29
    Laura W says:

    stuck on the Ukulele’s

    Plural, not possessive, John.
    Damn. Jan 2 and already I’ve blown my "Dont be so anal about details" resolution.
    Let’s see if I can keep the low carb one going till Jan. 3.

  30. 30
    shortstop says:

    The Helsinki Complaints Choir is tremendous. The best part is where the bystanders join in the "It’s not fair" chorus.

  31. 31
  32. 32
    shortstop says:

    Let’s see if I can keep the low carb one going till Jan. 3.

    Wouldn’t it be "the low-carb one" since "low" is modifying "carb," not "one"?

  33. 33
    Punchy says:

    /punches desk, swears and shakes finger at company’s anti-youtube web filter thang

  34. 34
    SGEW says:

    Ukuleles are funny.

    They are not funny. They are the instrument of my peoples! How dare you insult my cultural heritage!

    . . .

    Ok, they’re pretty funny. Fine. But, in all fairness, so are banjos.

  35. 35
    Montysano says:

    Re: Brown people removed from airplane.

    This is the logical outcome for a country of bed-wetters who believe that a president’s first job is "keep us safe". Not to defend the Constitution, or our honor or integrity or reputation. Not governance. Not innovation or progress. Just a pathetic "keep me safe". What a horrifying sight it is to watch an elderly woman struggle to put her shoes back on (with no place to sit) after being frisked in the name of my safety.

  36. 36
    Dr. Squid says:

    But, in all fairness, so are banjos.

    Why yes. Yes they are.

  37. 37
    Laura W says:

    @shortstop: Probably.

  38. 38
    srv says:

    Since you’re easily amused, here’s the Manualist with the California Guitar Trio. Playing Bohemian Rhapsody.

  39. 39
    Brian J says:

    This is so old, I don’t even think there’s a video of it on the Internet. But back at one of those MTV awards shows about ten years ago, an army of singers at the Metropolitan Opera House performed Kid Rock’s "Ba Witdaba." I normally think he’s kind of lame, but even I liked that, because it was so unusual.

    I’d love for some orchestra and a choir to perform Young Jeezy’s "My President Is Black," with Nas and Young Jeezy actually taking the lead, during the inauguration. Imagine how quickly some of the country would shit itself if it saw this song being performed:

    [Intro: Young Jeezy]
    Yeah, be the realest shit I never wrote
    I ain’t write this by the way nigga, some real shit right here nigga
    This’ll be the realest shit you ever quote
    Let’s go!

    [Hook: Young Jeezy}
    My president is black, my Lambo’s blue
    And I’ll be goddamned if my rims ain’t too
    My momma ain’t at home, and daddy’s still in jail
    Tryna make a plate, anybody seen the scale?
    My president is black, my Lambo’s blue
    And I’ll be goddamned if my rims ain’t too
    My money’s light green and my Jordans light grey
    And they love to see white, now how much you tryna pay?
    Let’s go!

    [Verse 1: Young Jeezy]
    Today was a good day, hope I have me a great night
    I don’t know what you fishin for but catch you a great white
    Me, I see great white, heavy as killer whales
    I cannot believe this, who knew it came in bails
    Who knew what came with jail, who knew what came with prison
    Just cause you got opinions, does that make you a politician?
    Bush robbed all of us, would that make him a criminal?
    And then he cheated in Florida, would that make him a Seminole?
    I say and I quote, "We need a miracle"
    And I say a miracle cause this shit is hysterical
    By my nephews and nieces, I will email Jesus
    Tell him forward to Moses and CC Allah
    Mr. Soul Survivor, guess that make me a Konvict
    Be all you be, now don’t that sound like some dumb shit
    When you die over crude oil as black as my nigga Boo
    It’s really a Desert Storm, that’s word to my nigga Clue
    Catch me in Las Vegas, A.R. Arizona
    Rep for them real niggas, I’m winnin in California
    Winnin in Tennessee, hands down Atlanta
    Landslide Alabama, on my way to Sevana


    [Verse 2: Young Jeezy]
    I said I woke up this morning, headache this big
    Pay all these damn bills, feed all these damn kids
    Buy all these school shoes, buy all these school clothes
    For some strange reason my son addicted to Polos
    Love me some spinach dip, I’m addicted to Houston’s
    And if the numbers is right I take a trip out to Houston
    An earthquake out in China, a hurricane in New Orleans
    Street Dreams Tour, I showed my ass in New Orleans
    Did it for Soulja Slim, brought out B.G.
    It’s all love Bun, I’m forgivin you Pimp C
    You know how the Pimp be, that nigga gon’ speak his mind
    If he could speak down from heaven he’d tell me stay on my grind
    Tell him I’m doin fine, Obama for mankind
    We ready for damn change so y’all let the man shine
    Stuntin on Martin Luther, feelin just like a king
    Guess this is what he meant when he said that he had a dream


    [Verse 3: Nas]
    Yeah, our history, black history, no president ever did shit for me
    Had to hit the streets, had to flip some keys so a nigga won’t go broke
    Then they put us in jail, now a nigga can’t go vote
    So I spend doe, all these hoes is trippin
    She a ain’t a politician, honey’s a polotician
    My president is black, rolls golden charms
    Twenty-two inch rims like Hulk Hogan’s arms
    When thousands of peoples is riled up to see you
    That can arouse ya ego, we got mouths to feed so
    Gotta stay true to who you are and where you came from
    Cause at the top will be the same place you hang from
    No matter how big you can ever be
    For whatever fee or publicity, never lose your integrity
    For years there’s been surprise horses in this stable
    Just two albums in, I’m the realest nigga on this label
    Mr. Black President, yo Obama for real
    They gotta put your face on the five-thousand dollar bill


    [Outro: Young Jeezy]
    So I’m sittin right here now man
    It’s June 3rd haha, 2:08 AM
    Nigga I won’t say win, lose or draw
    Man we congratulate you already homie
    See I motivate the thugs right
    You motivate us homie, that’s what it is
    This a hands off policy, y’all touch him we ridin nigga
    Yeah, first black president, win, lose or draw nigga
    Haha, matter of fact, you know what it is man
    Shouts out to Jackie Robinson, Booker T, Washington homie
    Oh you ain’t think I knew that shit?
    Sydney portea what dey do?
    Haha, my president is black
    I’m important too though, my Lambo’s blue
    I was, I was the first nigga to ride through my hood in a Lamborghini yeah haha

  40. 40
    Bad Horse's Filly says:

    That started my day off just right. Thanks.

  41. 41
    eyepaddle says:

    I am going to have to change my vote–Japanese Smoke on the Water is da bombz diggity.

  42. 42
    jrosen says:

    You should have heard the Beethoven Violin Concerto on steel drums, as I did once long ago on a Sunday afternoon on the beach of the Caribe Hilton Hotel in San Juan PR.

  43. 43
    fliegr says:

    @Montysano: Amen brother. When did so many of us become such pussies? It’s all so sad.

  44. 44
    Montysano says:


    @Montysano: Amen brother. When did so many of us become such pussies? It’s all so sad.

    Geez…… my apologies for the bitter rant. Ukuleles iz much better.

  45. 45
    shortstop says:

    Geez…… my apologies for the bitter rant. Ukuleles iz much better.

    No, it’s true, and it’s infuriating and saddening, and every time I have to pay $15 to check a bag because I can’t carry it onboard due to some fool at the TSA deciding that banning liquids in excess of the magic formula of one quart bag full of three-ounce bottles would make Americans feel protected and secure, I get in a brand-new rage. And write run-on sentences.

  46. 46

    The same group does a "incendiary" (just watched "Almost Famous" again the other day) version of "Smells Like Team Spirit". Pretty sure it’s on YouTube.

  47. 47
    canuckistani says:

    The music store close to my office sells "Flying V" ukeleles. Nobody can tell me that isn’t the shizzle.

  48. 48
    ChrisB says:

    When the Israelis killed that Hamas leader they also killed his four wives and most of his children. So the airline was right to be concerned about an anesthesiologist and an attorney traveling with their families. After all, they were Muslim (and looked like it, to boot).

    My first attempt at wingnut logic.

  49. 49
    fliegr says:

    @Montysano: Easy dude, agreeing with you. After watching my airline pilot gig destroyed in both quality and quantity by the insane rush to make air travel "safer" I try to avoid the airport as much as possible. Nobody discusses the fact that on that day the hijackers hadn’t actually committed any crime until they started cutting up flight attendants. There will never be another event like 9/11 because flight crews and passengers will not behave like they were conditioned to prior to that date. X-raying our shoes and throwing away our toothpaste if it’s too large has nothing to do with any of it, it’s all Kabuki.

  50. 50
    Punchy says:

    I can’t carry it onboard due to some fool at the TSA deciding that banning liquids

    I dont even tell them about my liquids anymore. They usually dont ask, I dont tell, and if they ask, I say no to having any. Never been checked out, never been asked to open mah bag. Course, I’m a cracker, which is probably negative on their "probability of this punk to start shit" list the TSA uses for racial profiling.

    Dear FBI –I’m just joking. I would never openly flaunt such rules. Please no Gitmo.

  51. 51
    Montysano (All Hail Marx & Lennon) says:


    @Montysano: Easy dude, agreeing with you.

    I realized that. It was just a general, snarky, insincere apology for stinking up our lovely uke talk.

    X-raying our shoes and throwing away our toothpaste if it’s too large has nothing to do with any of it, it’s all Kabuki.

    Hmmm…… is it possible that some well-connected corporation has made large $$$ by selling X-ray machines to the TSA? After all, the reason the the USA, with 5% of the world’s population, has 25% of the world’s prison population has nothing at all to do with crime, and everything to do with business. When a govt, in the service of the corporate bottom line, will hassle old ladies and lock up pot smokers, then we all should be afraid.

  52. 52

    […] morning John Cole features a pair of videos that have to be seen to be appreciated, including the Ukulele Orchestra of Great […]

  53. 53
    Thlayli says:

    @Comrade Mary, Would-Be Minion Of Bad Horse:

    Hey, don’t knock CanCon — it gave us the McKenzie brothers, eh?

  54. 54
    Alan says:

    Sorry, but the Japanese band is vastly superior.

  55. 55
    The Dangerman says:

    I’ll put up Apocolyptica and their version of "One". Hope I don’t jack up the link.

    In case you don’t know them, 4 from Finland that cover Metallica on Cellos.

  56. 56
    Montysano (All Hail Marx & Lennon) says:


    Sorry, but the Japanese band is vastly superior.

    Is that supposed to be flame-bait? If so, please try harder.

  57. 57
    demimondian says:

    @Thlayli: And this is supposed to be a *good* thing, eh?

  58. 58
    Punchy says:

    Here’s a band that plays–wait for it–kitchen appliances for instruments.

    I shit you not. Cant linky to youtube at werk, just follow the wiki link to them. Most insane thing I’ve ever seen in concert.

  59. 59
    Punchy says:

    Here’s a great link to that band

  60. 60
    iluvsummr says:

    @Punchy: Worst cover evah. Barf.

  61. 61
    droog says:

    @Comrade Mary:

    Well, the thing about My Way and Born Free is that they share a brief melodic similarity with LoM, enough to get wedged in a the right moment. That’s the fun part of a mashup. I agree the first half is sublime, but parody bands have to make the funny acts as well, and by those standards that mashup is golden.

  62. 62
    bernarda says:

    If you haven’t seen it already, here is the tap dance scene from Zatoichi by Kitano. It is better on the DVD of course.

    "Zatoichi Ending Credits".

    I too preferred the Japanese band.

  63. 63
    Vlad says:

    Little bit late to the party, but here are a few I enjoyed:

    *James Brown and Luciano Pavarotti, singing "It’s a Man’s World".
    *A Bollywood cover of Michael Jackson’s "Thriller".
    *And, of course, the Black Lodge Singers’ cover of the theme from "The Flintstones".

  64. 64
    Vlad says:

    Oh, and if anybody here is in Wisconsin, a friend of a friend of mine is in a theremin-based Ramones cover band.

  65. 65
    Montysano (All Hail Marx & Lennon) says:

    @Vlad: I may get some flames for this one, but here’s Christina Aguilera covering "It’s A Man’s World". I like it.

  66. 66
    Comrade Mary, Would-Be Minion Of Bad Horse says:

    OK, I’ll see your ukelele orchestra and raise you a vegetable orchestra.

    I shiitake you not.

  67. 67
    Batocchio says:

    Love the Shaft one. I featured it, too, a couple of months back.

  68. 68
  69. 69
    Brett says:

    I’m not sure that this beats the other links in this thread, particularly the veggie orchestra (!), but here is some good music for dark times: Nhut Bui playing a Hendrix tribute on the dan bau. Needs a bit more shredding, but still good.

  70. 70
    Gary Farber says:

    I am sad no one reads my blog. Tragically sad. Given that I posted this a month ago. Woe.

  71. 71
    passerby says:

    An eleven, if you will.

    Yes! I will. Second that 11.

    They embodied the polar opposite of funk.

    Soaring creativity.

    High art.

    Yes, 11 it is.

  72. 72
    OriGuy says:

    I wish I could find the Wicked Tinkers playing Radar Love on the bagpipes, drums, and didgeridoo. It’s not on YouTube.

    I was in a gift shop in San Jose’s Japantown today that had a lot of Hawaiian stuff. Coincidentally, there were posters for ukulele lessons and CDs of Jake Shimaburuku.

  73. 73
    jc says:

    Japanese version of Smoke on the Water is more awesome.

  74. 74

    […] Balloon Juice OregonLive Reddit// Share and […]

  75. 75
    bago says:

    @The Dangerman: Ya know, this whole thread started off as a link to an Apocalyptica video.

  76. 76
    john b says:

    my uncle formed the new york ukulele ensemble and holds a yearly convention or something. he also wrote a musical "sex, drugs and ukuleles". i simultaneously find it amusing that he has done this, but also, knowing him, i know that anyone who pays money to go to the ukulele convention is being scammed. and no, his real name is not uke jackson.

    new york ukulele ensemble

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