Ukulele Utopia

A Virtual Learning Experience


Helena Beat, Pumped Up Kicks, Houdini

Indie rockers Foster The People burst into the mainstream with their single Pumped Up Kicks in 2010. It’s gone on to amass over a billion views/streams online. Needless to say, this band writes good music. Let’s learn to play some songs of Torches on the ukulele.

Today we are learning to play Helena Beat, Pumped Up Kicks and Houdini. The ukulele tabs are taken from my video arrangement of the album below.

This video is part of a project I am working on. I’m learning to play my favourite albums of all time on the ukulele. If you dug this one, you might be keen to hear my renditions of Kings Of Leon and Cage The Elephant.

Foster The People Ukulele Tabs

Not sure how to read these? Check out this guide and you will be learning these ukulele tabs in no time.

Helena Beat

For this song, we are recreating the opening synth line. I have added an extra note to each chord to beef it up somewhat.
For the first chord, use your first finger on the 3rd fret of the A string and your middle finger on the 4th fret of the E string. Having your middle finger on the 3rd makes it super easy to move to next chord. Just slide it down one fret, use your pinky on the 5th of the A string and your first finger on the 2nd of the C string.
The riff after the chords is fairly straight forward. It’s another synth line and it sounds like they mashed loads of buttons while recording. So the ukulele riff might stray a little bit from the original.
A |-3---5--6----|-4--6--11--6--|-3---5--6----|-4--6--11-10-----|
E |-4---3--3----|-4--6--8---6--|-4---3--3----|-4--6--8------8--|
C |-0---2--3----|-5--7--8---7--|-0---2--3----|-5--7--8---------|
G |-------------|-6--8--8---8--|-------------|-6--8--8---------|

A |-----------------------8-6-------|-----------------------6h8p6---| E |--6-8-8-6-8--8-8-8-6-6-------8-6-|-4-4-4-4-6-6-6-6-8-8-8---------| C |---------------------------------|-------------------------------| G |---------------------------------|-------------------------------|
A |-----------------------8-6-------|-----------------11----10--------| E |--6-8-8-6-8--8-8-8-6-6-------8-6-|-4-4---4-6-6---8----8--------8---| C |---------------------------------|--------------------------10-----| G |---------------------------------|---------------------------------|

Pumped Up Kicks

To give the riff a little bit more texture you can palm mute the strings. This is a technique often reserved for guitar players but its totally doable on a ukulele too.
It involves resting the palm of your plucking hand just after the bridge. We are dampening the sound of the strings. This means the notes don’t ring out as much.

The second part, barring the 8th fret with your first finger will make playing it much easier for you.
A |-------------|-------------|-6---6---6---|-------------|
E |-------------|---------6-8-|-----------8-|-6---6---8-6-|
C |-5---5---5-7-|-8---8-------|-------------|-------------|
G |-------------|-------------|-------------|-------------|

A |-------------|-------------|-6---6---6h8p6---|-----------------| E |-------------|---------6-8-|---------------8-|-6---6---6h8p6---| C |-5---5---5-7-|-8---8-------|-----------------|---------------8-| G |-------------|-------------|-----------------|-----------------|
A |--10---8-8------------------------------------------8-8-8-10-8----| E |--8--------11-11--8----11-11-11-----8----11-11-11---8----------11-| C |--8-----------------10-----------10---10------------8-------------| G |------------------------------------------------------------------|


This is a mix of all the vocal melodies going on throughout the chorus.

A |----------------------------------------------------|
E |------3-6--6-6-4-4-2-1----------3-6--6-6-4-4--------|
C |-3--5-3-5--------------3---3--5-3-5----------5-5-7--|
G |-3--5----------------------3--5---------------------|

A |-----------------6------------------------------------| E |------3-6--6-6-4---6-4------------3-6-----------------| C |-3--5-3-5--------------2/4---3--5-3-5--3-3-5-3-5--8-7-| G |-3--5------------------------3--5---------------------|

More songs from this album?

Support the site by joining Learn The Licks and getting easy to print PDFs of 150+ albums


3 Killer Tips

Badge Unlocked

Welcome To The Jungle

Complete your first lesson

Badge Unlocked

Start Me Up

Complete The Basics

The Basics

In this section, we will cover everything you need to know about starting to play the ukulele.