The soundtrack to Blue Hawaii may have been miles away from rock ’n’ roll or rhythm and blues, but it gave Elvis the song that he would close most of his 1970s concerts with -- "Can't Help Falling in Love." Recorded at Radio Recorders in Hollywood in 1961, Blue Hawaii featured 14 songs, which was more than any other Elvis soundtrack.
The material was not particularly creative,
nor did it have the mix of sounds found on Elvis Is Back, but it is a solid
example of that blend of pop and rock that defined Elvis' movie music. Blue
Hawaii -- the album and the movie -- was aimed at a far wider audience than his
Deejays picked Elvis Presley's Blue Hawaii as a favorite album of 1961.
Elvis' management was interested in appealing to the mainstream audience and generating spectacular sales. They were less concerned with the impact of his music or with his role as a musical innovator. This and other soundtrack albums were meant to serve a different purpose and appeal to different audiences. Unfortunately, as the decade wore on, the movie material declined in quality, reflecting poorly on all of the soundtracks.
Of the 14 songs on the album, most are pop-style tunes. Some of these were not written for the film but had been recorded and released previously, including "Moonlight Swim," "Blue Hawaii" and "Hawaiian Wedding Song." "Aloha Oe" was composed by Queen Liliuokalani of Hawaii in 1878. The title tune and "Aloha Oe" had been recorded in the 1930s by Bing Crosby during a craze for the allure of the tropical isles.
The songs that were composed for the film were not rock 'n' roll, either, though "Rock-a-Hula Baby" is a playful pastiche of rock 'n' roll dance crazes. To capture a Hawaiian-style sound, special musicians were employed for the recording sessions. Percussionist Hat Blaine, whose expertise involved Hawaiian instruments, joined drummers D.J. Fontana and Bernie Martinson. Steel guitar and ukelele players were also added.
Blue Hawaii became Elvis' biggest-selling movie soundtrack. It topped Billboard's albums chart two months after its October 1961 release. It was the number-one album in the country for 20 weeks, which set a record for a rock performer or group that lasted until 1977 when Fleetwood Mac's Rumors broke it. Blue Hawaii remained on the albums chart for 79 weeks and was awarded double platinum status by the RIAA in March 1992.
Though Elvis' movie soundtracks were all successful, they were often uninspired. Through much of the 1960s, this was the only material Elvis recorded, but after leaving the movie business in the late 1960s, Elvis made a creative comeback with a gospel album. See the next section to learn more about How Great Thou Art.
- "Blue Hawaii"
- "Almost Always True"
- “Aloha Oe”
- "No More"
- "Can't Help Falling In Love"
- “Rock-a-Hula Baby”
- "Moonlight Swim"
- "Ito Eats"
- "Slicin' Sand"
- "Hawaiian Sunset"
- "Beach Boy Blues"
- "Island of Love (Kauai)"
- "Hawaiian Wedding Song"
For more fascinating information about Elvis Presley, see: