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Can You Whistle That Tune? The Coolest Popular Songs with Whistling

Updated on September 15, 2012

If you're driving along listening to music on the radio, chances are you'll hear some songs that feature whistling. I don't know what it is about whistling that's so infectious, because how many of us don't pucker our lips and try to whistle along (some with great difficulty)?

Most of us learn how to whistle as children. It's one of the hallmarks of childhood, really, like learning how to ride a bike or tie your shoelaces. Still, everyone knows at least a couple people who can't whistle. I felt sort of sorry for those kids. When the teacher led the class in a song that included whistling, there'd be some kids pursing their lips and pretending. It's okay, non-whistlers. Everyone has special talents.


Whistling Tidbits

  • Every year champion whistlers head to the International Whistlers Convention in Louisburg, NC (the "world's whistling capital").
  • Most of us just pucker and blow, but Venetian gondoliers are skilled at moving their lips when they whistle to get a high quality tone.
  • Whistling indoors can bring poverty, according to Russian superstition.

The Countdown

What follows is a list of some of the coolest, best-known songs for whistlers, some classic, some new.

15. Don't Worry, Be Happy...Bobby McFerrin

The song opens with several whistlers trilling in harmony. From there you get a really chill, relaxed feeling as you hear the words repeated like a mantra. Yeah, don't worry, be happy. It's so simple!

14. Give a Little Whistle...Leigh Harline/Ned Washington

I know plenty of people who could use a Jiminy Cricket on their shoulder to act as their conscience! Here whistling has a functional purpose: to remind us to be good if we want to become a "real boy."

13. Goodbye Stranger...Supertramp

Not only do you get to whistle along to the tune, but try to sing along with that falsetto chorus as you say goodbye to a lot of people.

12. The Lazy Song...Bruno Mars

After telling your boss that you don't feel like doing anything today, add this little whistle. Maybe he'll get the joke. Then ask for a raise.

11. Pumped Up Kicks...Foster the People

One of the catchiest songs of 2011, an anthem of sorts for the summer, it also features that maddeningly infectious whistling. So light and cheery sounding for a song with such a dark theme.

10. Two of Us...The Beatles

The song came toward the end of the Beatles' time together, and many fans read it as a tribute to John and Paul's friendship (in the face of whatever conflicts they had over the years). Makes us wish John was still here to whistle "on our way back home."

9. Me and Julio Down By the Schoolyard...Paul Simon

Here's another cheerful song that makes you want to head out with your friends and get into some lighthearted mischief. Just don't let Papa stick you in a house of detention for it!

8. Young Folks...Peter Bjorn and John

This indie gem from a Swedish band, featuring one of the most recognizable whistling tunes in recent years, lit up the radios in 2006 with its jangly beat.

7. Jealous Guy...John Lennon

It's one of the most covered Lennon songs out there (check out Elliott Smith's tender acoustic version), and it wasn't even released as a single until after the former Beatle's death. The whistling adds to the melancholy, reflective tone.

6. The Stranger...Billy Joel

Originally Joel wanted a clarinet for the opening melody, but his producer convinced him to stick with that haunting whistling. It was a wise choice.

5. Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay...Otis Redding

Redding recorded this soulful classic just days before his death in a plane crash. In fact, he died before he could write the lyrics for the last verse, which is why the song ends with that iconic whistling.

4. Twisted Nerve...Bernard Herrmann

People today associate the eerie tune with Tarantino's Kill Bill, but long before that it was the soundtrack to the psychological thriller Twisted Nerve starring Hayley Mills. Hey, it worked for one movie about a psychotic killer, why not another?

3. Whistle While You Work...Frank Churchill/Larry Morey

Everyone knows the classic tune from Disney's first picture, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Sorry, I don't think even whistling can make dusting or laundry a fun chore.

2. Colonel Bogey March (Bridge on the River Kwai Theme)...Kenneth Alford

The whistled tune has appeared in so many films and shows since Bridge on the River Kwai: The Parent Trap, The Breakfast Club, TV's Lost. The stirring melody suggests fortitude and honor in the face of adversity.

1. The Fishin' Hole (Andy Griffith Show Theme)...Earle Hagen/Herbert Spencer

I hope years from now people still whistle this tune and remember the classic '60s sitcom. Who hasn't wished for simpler times in a place like Mayberry, with lovable characters like Barney Fife and Opie? Props to anyone who can whistle the entire song without running out of breath!

Did I leave out your favorite whistling tune? Share it in the comments section below!


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