Blue Hawaii

Elvis Presley

RCA, 1961

REVIEW BY: David Bowling


Here I am visiting my family on the West Coast. I am watching the surf pound against the rocks, it’s raining, and the temperature is close to freezing. Now what album should I review?

Blue Hawaii is probably the movie most associated with Elvis Presley. It was also his most popular and endearing. Its accompanying soundtrack sold millions of copies and spent an astounding twenty weeks atop the American music charts. This was good news and bad news for Elvis’ career, however. The good news was the money and continued popularity. The bad news was that because of this success, the future emphasis of his career would be focused upon making movies quickly and releasing accompanying soundtracks. Studio albums would be few and far between, and live concert performances ceased until the end of the decade.

The film Blue Hawaii had a lot going for it. Elvis looked good and his voice was in fine shape. He appeared relaxed and interested and gives a fine acting performance. Also, it was 1961, and Hawaii at that point was considered a far-off, exotic location that most people would never visit. This was a winning combination for Elvis fans and for the movie-going public at large.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

While the soundtrack to Blue Hawaii is a long way from Elvis’ classic rock ‘n’ roll albums, it is still a fairly strong release and remains a pleasurable listening experience decades later.

The soundtrack contains one of the great Elvis Presley ballads, “Can’t Help Falling In Love,” which is still instantly recognizable over 45 years later. This song, featuring sensitive vocals and romantic lyrics, has been played at who knows how many weddings and proms. It was released as a single and reached number two on the national charts. It was one of his first singles to be pulled off a Presley album. Elvis’ singles and albums were always kept separate so as not to interfere with each other commercially. “Can’t Help Falling In Love” would begin to change that philosophy. The song also made a huge impact on the easy listening charts, remaining in the number one position for six weeks, and continued to move Elvis away from his rock roots.

The title song, “Blue Hawaii,” had actually been around for awhile, having been recorded by the likes of Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby. Today, though, the song belongs to Elvis. “Rock-A-Hula-Baby” would be released as the B-side of “Can’t Help Falling In Love” and became a hit in its own right, reaching number 23 on the charts. This up-tempo song, which is a cross between rock and pop, is given a joyful performance by Elvis. You really need to watch the movie to fully appreciate this song, though. “Hawaiian Wedding Song” is another strong ballad by Elvis and also works well within the context of the film.

There is a feel of Hawaii in the music. Songs such as “Moonlight Swim,” “Hawaiian Sunset,” “Island Of Love,” and “Aloha Oe” make you almost smell the ocean and feel the tropical breezes. On the other hand, songs such as “Ito Eats,” “Slicin’ Sand,” and “Beach Boy Blues” merely serve to fill out the film and album. Songs of this nature and quality would appear all too often in future Elvis movies.

Blue Hawaii is rightfully placed at the top of the Elvis Presley movie pantheon. Both the soundtrack and film are truly essential Elvis. They represent the man whom we would like to remember. So grab a beverage, put your feet up, close your eyes and smell the salt water as you travel to Blue Hawaii.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2010 David Bowling and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of RCA, and is used for informational purposes only.