Top 10 Indie Tunes That Feature Whistling

What is it about a song that features whistling that makes it all the more memorable? Probably best to ask Otis Redding or Monty Python for the definitive answer but it may be down to the fact that everyone can do it making the song somewhat more accessible. While air expellation doesn’t always hit the bullseye (‘November Rain’ by GNR being the excretable poster boy in that regard) it tends to pop in many people’s all time favourite tunes. At mp3hugger we’re no exception so we’ve patched together our top 10 songs (in no particular order) that feature the noble art of whistling. If you are more into songs with clapping this is probably a better choice.




Listen to this whistling playlist on Spotify!


This bird dispensed with the tweets a long time ago and appears to have made a conscious decision to incorporate whistling into each and every one of his songs. On ‘Dark Matter’ the decision was made for him because it slots in so seamlessly with the songs’ epic approach.

Andrew Bird – Dark Matter

More Info: Andrew Bird


Perhaps better known for their day job as Electric President but that didn’t stop them from creating this marching epic. Who needs flutes and drums when the sound of a thousand men whistling into battle is enough to carry the day?

Radical Face – Glory

More Info: Radical Face


The sine wave in this case stands apart from the others because it melds itself seamlessly with the singing. A case of a champion whistler at the height of his/her powers but you’d nothing less from a band signed to a label called Labrador.

Club 8 – Whatever You Want

More Info: Club 8


This only came out in 2010 and the whistling offers so much to the success of the tune that removing it would take much of the sheen from the glorious opening passages. Suited to intermediate whistlers only as beginners may be flummoxed by the elastic pitch changes.

Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros – Home

More Info: Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros


An obvious choice because the whistling is so central to the song’s overall thrust. This London troupe will have to work very hard to top this slice of jollity for it also supplies one of the cutest mandolin lines heard in years.

Noah And The Whale – 5 Years’ Time

More Info: Noah and the Whale


The Happy Mondays were Madchester kingpins who could have skied down the mountains of white stuff they consumed through the years. Their beacon was of course ‘Pills ‘n’ Thrills and Bellyaches’ which included about half a dozen baggy classics, chief amoung them this one and the hyperactive sound coming from its resonant chambers.

The Happy Mondays – Step On

More Info: The Happy Mondays


Ferghal McKee gave inexperienced and amateur whistlers the world over some light when he offered the patently out of tune air warbling at the end of this tune from his band’s remarkable debut album ‘Submarine’. He was an angry boy and gnarl’s aren’t conducive to the particular art being discussed today.

Whipping Boy – Bettyclean

More Info: Whipping Boy


Taken from the equally superb ‘Writer’s Block’ LP the threesome managed to capture the zeitgeist on this particularly obvious choice. Also helped that the video that came with ‘Young Folks’ was as near as we’ve come to a contemporary ‘Take On Me’.

Peter Bjorn and John – Young Folks

More Info: Peter Bjorn and John


The most contemporary of our top 10 and if anything on the occasion pursed lips are overshadowed by the beefy and wonderfully memorable bass line.

The Drums – Let’s Go Surfing

More Info: The Drums


Given Gedge’s track record the last thing we’d expect him to be doing is whistling but then this song did come out in 1987 so we’ll put it down to youthful exuberance. And anyway who could be anything other than jolly with choppy chords like this flying around.

The Wedding Present – Everyone Thinks He Looks Daft

More Info: The Wedding Present


What did we miss? [Readers Suggestions Below]


The Black Keys – Tighten Up


Oberhofer – Away Frm U


Goldfrapp – Lovely Head


XTC – Generals & Majors


Peter Gabriel – Games Without Frontiers


The Jam – Set The House Ablaze

A world of whistling awaits you on our Spotify playlist!


Written by:


  1. January 7, 2011

    Billy Bragg whistles the trumpet part when he performs Saturday Boy live… and it gets a vote from me. Conversely, Peter, Bjorn and John lose a vote because, great song though it is, its use in a TV advert has led to annoying ubiquity.

  2. hugger
    January 7, 2011

    Know what you mean Pip, it was a bit everywhere a couple of years back. Still sounds mighty good this morning though.

  3. Anonymous
    January 7, 2011

    I was surprised to not see “Tighten Up” by The Black Keys on here, since everyone seems to like that song. Also, I don’t know if you’ve heard of Oberhofer, but he whistles a verse in the song “AWAY FRM U” (which is shortly followed by a kazoo solo).

  4. hugger
    January 8, 2011

    Never heard that one from the Black Keys Anon, must be in the minority.

    The Obherfor sounds much more interesting, thanks for the tip, like it!

  5. Sonny
    January 10, 2011

    “Lovely Head” off Goldfrapp’s Felt Mountain probably belongs on this list. Very whistleable.

    Also, an older one: “Twilight’s Last Gleaming” off John Foxx’s Golden Section album has a dramatic whistling interlude.

    Okay, so they’re not strictly indie but I won’t tell if you don’t…

  6. hugger
    January 10, 2011

    Funnily enough Sonny I had considered that Goldfrapp song, it’s a goodie alright and the whistling is distinctive.

  7. January 12, 2011

    Great and pregnant topic: I was always partial to XTC’s “Generals and Majors” and Peter Gabriel’s “Games Without Frontiers.” Must be a generational thing.

  8. April 26, 2011

    What a ridiculously lovely playlist! A friend put together a “clapping and nonsense syllables” song list for me once, and this is a perfect addition.

    • hugger
      April 26, 2011

      Now with added whistling Emily, noticed the Club 8 video was minus it so you can now download the song too (right under the video – with whistling intact)!

  9. Cory Clifford
    October 23, 2011

    You guys should do a top 20, because you forgot “Set The House Ablaze” by The Jam!

  10. jeremy
    May 17, 2013

    John Lennon’s “Jealous Guy” is a good one; though not indie, fairly obscure and a thing of beauty.

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