Performed on a Hawaiian ukulele guitar, this acoustic version of “Over the Rainbow” (often referred to as “Somewhere over the Rainbow”) is one of the best covers known to man. Written for the movie ‘The Wizard of Oz’ in 1939, and performed in the movie by actress Judy Garland as Dorothy Gale, the song has received countless covers, yet this one from 1993 stands the test of time.
The guy behind it is the Hawaiian musician and icon of the islands, Israel Ka’ano’i Kamakawiwo’ole who is also nicknamed as the “The Gentle Giant.”. NPR has named him as “The Voice of Hawaii” in its 50 great voices series. He sadly passed away in 1997 at the age of 38, due to complications with his obesity, but left his legacy with his soothing voice. His version of the song was released in 1993 as part of the album ‘Facing Future,’ and was released as a single in 2004.
The song has been used in many commercials, films and television programs including Finding Forrester, Meet Joe Black, 50 First Dates, Son of the Mask, Snakes on a Plane, Charmed, South Pacific, Cold Case, ER, Life on Mars, Horizon, and Scrubs. Kamakawiwo’ole’s peaceful, clear vocals stand the test of time and his melodies are second to none for epitomizing the feel of the Pacific island’s claim to fame: the ukulele.