Hapa Haole Song. Hapa = “half”; haole = “foreign”; hapa haole = foreign half, half foreign.
Hereʻs a post from late 2009 describing what hapa haole songs are. The English-language lyrics are an immediate giveaway. Then any quick perusal of hapa haole songs will serve up a handful of images that permeate many many of these songs–a male perspective, usually a short-term visitor, with a dusky brown hula maiden as an object of desire. Memories of time spent together in the moonlight, on a beach; a longing to return to her . . . a longing to return to the scene . . . sentimentality to the max.
1. “My Waikiki Mermaid,” performed by Waikiki Hawaiian Orchestra (Edison Blue Amberol 3227), recorded in early 1918. 2. “My Honolulu Tomboy,” performed by Pua Almeida & Randy Onessʻ Select Hawaiian Serenaders (Bell LKS-35), recorded in 1944. And to change things up, howʻs about sheet music covers as illustrations?
3. “On the Beach at Waikiki,” performed by Kalama‘s Quartette (Okeh 41068). Note that this song is in the FORMAT of hula ku‘i songs–having multiple verses, each sung to one tune repeated for as many verses as needed.
4. “My Hawaiian Queen,” performed by Sol Ho‘opi‘i (Brunswick 55078). Guitar wizard Sol Ho‘opi‘i enjoyed great success as a recording artists, and toured extensively. In the 1970s, his records came to the attention of guitar fans and record labels known for reissuing vintage music, including Rounder, Yazoo, Folklyric, and Arhoolie Records; in the past decade alone, new compilations (and even newly-remastered tracks) have appeared from Cord International / HanaOla Records — Sol Hoopii: Acoustic and Electric 1927-1936 (HanaOla HOCD A682817) and Grass Skirt Records — Sol Hoopii in Hollywood: His First Recordings 1925 (Grass Skirt GSK-1002).
5. “Yaaka Hula Hickey Dula,” introduced by Al Jolson. From You Ain’t Heart Nothin’ Yet: Jolie’s Finest Columbia Recordings (Columbia Legacy 53419). Yup. See what Hawaiians have had to put up with? This song stands in for the interest of New York-based song writers and music publishers to cash in on the wave of popularity of Hawaiian music, after the 1915 Panama Pacific Exposition in San Francisco. The rush to churn out Hawai’i-themed songs turned into an unchecked stream of pseudo-Hawaiian mumbo-jumbo phrases and fantasy projections that had little–if anything–to do with life in Hawai‘i.
6. “Hello, Aloha! How Are You?” performed by the Radiolites. Broadwayʻs Gone Hawaiian (Harlequin HQ CD 187). Another example of the U.S. fascination with the territory they were still getting to know.
7. “Oh How She Could Yacki Hacki Wicki Wacki Woo, performed by Ciro’s Club Coon Orchestra. The Earliest Black String Bands, Volume 1 (oops I didnʻt copy the information needed here. my bad). Could anything get more offensive than “Yaaka Hula Hickey Dula”?
8. “Hula Blues,” performed by Johnny Noble and His Hawaiians. (Brunswick 55068). Bandleader Johnny Noble was born in Honolulu. Hired to direct the band at the Moana Hotel, he also directed a series of recording sessions of Hawaiian music by Brunswick Records in 1928.
9. “My Little Grass Shack in Kealakekua, Hawai’i,” performed by Kalani Bright on Hukilau Hulas (GNP Crescendo GN-35). The two sheet music covers illustrate a common practice in the music publishing industry — of using a stock cover, and switching out the photographs of musicians who have recorded the song, to appeal to their fans. On the left is Wayne King; on the right is Guy Lombardo. Other versions of this cover exist with other photographs.
10. “Lovely Hula Hands,” performed by The Maile Serenaders, on Let’s Hula (Hula HS-500). Honolulu-born businessman R. Alex Anderson enjoyed a successful songwriting career as well. “Lovely Hula Hands” is easily his best-known song, and it is a staple in the repertoire of every hula dancer who works in entertainment.
11. “Beyond the Reef,” performed by Ray Conniff on Ray Conniffʻs Hawaiian Album (Columbia CL-2747). The years around statehood (1959) brought intense interest in Hawai‘i from mainland music producers, and virtually every “easy listening” entity had a go at a “Hawaiian album,” which favored hapa haole songs and the iconic “Aloha ‘Oe.”
12. “Keep Your Eyes on the Hands,” performed by Bernie Kaai on Hukilau Hulas (GNP Crescendo GN-35). Yet another example of a hapa haole song featured in a Hollywood movie (in this case, “The Revolt of Mamie Stover” starring Jane Russell), and at the same time recorded by Hawaii-based musicians capitalizing on the tourist market. The packaging of this LP release uses the same visual language as Hula Records’s LP Letʻs Hula (see #10 above).
13. “Rhythm of the Islands” performed by Karen Keawehawai‘i (Kaleolani KR-50017). Chanteuse Karen Keawehawai‘i is an exponent of ha‘i singing–of emphasizing the sonic differences between vocal registers by incorporating yodel. This is an uptempo song, popular when it first appeared in the 1940s, and enjoying a revival of popularity since the 1990s.