Unknown Mortal Orchestra: I Killed Captain Cook

The demise of James Cook is legendary—especially in Polynesia and Australasia, where the English explorer was responsible for a tremendous amount of colonization. In 1779, Cook and his men attempted to kidnap Kalaniʻōpuʻu—the chief of the island of Hawaii—under the guise of showing him their ship. Thousands of Hawaiian people gathered on the beach at Kealakekua Bay, a fight broke out, and Cook was stabbed in the neck by an islander (some stories say it was Kalaniʻōpuʻu himself). Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s frontman Ruban Nielson—whose mother is a Kanaka Maoli from Oahu, and whose father is Māori—wrote the minimal, acoustic “I Killed Captain Cook” from the perspective of that Hawaiian. With vulnerable, tender vocals, the track is set to be the lead single from UMO’s upcoming double album. The video incorporates footage of Nielson’s mother, Deedee Aipolani Nielson.