6 min read
The most popular funeral songs for a perfect send off
Ever thought what music you’d want at your funeral? It’s a bit like Desert Island Discs, choosing the funeral songs that mean something to you or say something about you. And finding the best tunes for a loved ones’ farewell can be challenging too.
Where once it was Debussy’s Clair de Lune that sent the funeral congregation reaching for their handkerchiefs, today it’s more likely to be modern funeral songs like Robbie Williams’ ‘Angels’, or Led Zeppelin’s ‘Stairway to Heaven’.
These changes reflect how more people are opting for a funeral as a celebration of life over a traditional service.
To give you some inspiration, here’s a selection of popular funeral songs as well as some more unusual choices.
Poignant and uplifting funeral songs
As you’d expect, sad songs feature highly in most top 10 funeral song lists. It’s not hard to see why these poignant and uplifting qualities are popular choices:
Sad funeral songs
- I’ll See You Again – Westlife
- Over the Rainbow - Eva Cassidy
- Wind Beneath My Wings - Bette Midler
- Nothing Compares to You - Sinead O’Connor
- Wish You Were Here – Pink Floyd
Eva Cassidy – Over the Rainbow
Good funeral songs to raise a smile
There’s no rule that says happy songs aren’t appropriate. In fact, ‘Always Look on the Bright Side of Life’ is ever present in polls of modern funeral songs and was played (very appropriately) at Python Graham Chapman’s memorial.
Happy funeral songs
- Always Look on the Bright Side of Life – Monty Python’s Life of Brian
- Bring Me Sunshine – Morecambe and Wise
- Don’t Worry. Be Happy – Bobby McFerrin
- What a Wonderful World – Louis Armstrong
- You Are the Sunshine of My Life – Stevie Wonder
Life of Brian
Songs for the funeral of a parent
A song at a funeral is a lovely way to pay tribute to a dearly loved parent. You’ll know when you’ve found the perfect funeral song because it will touch you and instantly remind you of your mother or father.
Funeral songs for Mum
- Like a River - Carly Simon
- You Raise Me Up - Josh Groban
- Mama - Il Divo
- Goodbye’s the Saddest Word - Celine Dion
- One Sweet Day – Mariah Carey & Boyz II Men
Josh Groban – You Raise Me Up
Funeral songs for Dad
- Thank You for Being My Dad - Jon Barker
- In the Living Years - Mike & the Mechanics
- My Father’s Eyes - Eric Clapton
- Dance With My Father – Luther Vandross
- Hero – Mariah Carey
Eric Clapton – My Father’s Eyes
Songs to play at a funeral of a friend
The best songs for a friend are often those that take you back to good times and reflect the special bond you shared.
Funeral songs for a friend
- Don’t You Forget About Me – Simple Minds
- Stand By Me – Ben E King
- Smile – Nat King Cole
- You’ll Never Walk Alone – Judy Garland / Gerry and the Pacemakers
- Perfect Day – Lou Reed
Perfect Day – Lou Reed
TV themes – a different take on a funeral song
If you can’t find an appropriate song, why not the theme tune from their favourite TV show? For footy fans there’s ‘Match of the Day’ and for daytime telly addicts, how about the ‘Countdown’ clock music?
TV themes popular as funeral songs
- Only Fools and Horses
- Coronation Street
- Match of the Day
- Great British Bake Off
- Test Match Special - Booker T & the MGs ‘Soul Limbo’
Match of the Day theme tune
Good funeral songs to reassure
Perhaps the most touching song choices are those made by the deceased in their lifetime - songs they hoped would reassure and comfort the loved ones they left behind.
Comforting funeral songs
- We’ll Meet Again - Vera Lynn
- I’ll See You Again – Westlife
- You Are Not Alone – Michael Jackson
- Tears in Heaven – Eric Clapton
- Right Here Waiting – Richard Marx
Vera Lynn - We’ll Meet Again
Classical songs for a funeral
More traditional music is popular for a reason. You don’t have to be a classical music fan to be moved by the beauty and powerful emotions of these funeral requiems.
Classical funeral songs
- Ave Maria – Schubert
- Nessum Dorma – Puccini
- Amazing Grace – Various artists
- Pie Jesu – Faure
- Song for Athene – Sir John Tavener
Hayley Westenra - Ave Maria
Popular funeral hymns
Times have changed. It’s now more acceptable to have a mix of funeral hymns and popular music at a religious funeral service.
Popular funeral hymns
- Abide With Me
- Be Thou My Vision
- The Old Rugged Cross
- The Lord’s My Shepherd
- Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah
Good funeral songs for a last laugh
Choosing songs for your funeral can be a great way to make everyone smile and have the last laugh (literally). Rumour has it a schoolmistress known for her strict ways chose the song ‘Ding Dong! The Witch is Dead’ as her parting shot!
Funny funeral songs
- Highway to Hell – ACDC
- I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead – Bon Jovi
- Another One Bites the Dust – Queen
- Ding Dong the Witch is Dead – From Wizard of Oz
- Going Underground – The Jam
ACDC - Highway to Hell
Modern song choices follow trends
Every year the latest pop songs join the ranks of popular funeral songs. Some come and go quickly with changing trends. Others like Robbie Williams’ ‘Angels’ become a favourite almost instantly and remain popular.
Modern funeral songs
- Bitter Sweet Symphony - The Verve
- Good Riddance (Time of Your Life) – Green Day
- Lay Me Down - Sam Smith
- Someone Like You - Adele
- My Immortal – Evanescence
Sam Smith – Lay Me Down
Songs for funerals that go the distance
So, what other funeral song choices have stood the test of time? We asked people who had recently arranged a funeral, what their music choices were. Here are a few that cropped up time and again.
5 all-time favourite funeral songs
- My Way – Frank Sinatra/Shirley Bassey
- Wind Beneath My Wings – Bette Midler/Celine Dion
- Time to Say Goodbye – Sarah Brightman/Andrea Bocelli
- Angels – Robbie Williams
- Over the Rainbow – Eva Cassidy
Brightman/Bocelli – Time to Say Goodbye
And finally, here are some of the more unusual choices. Whether or not these were inappropriate funeral songs depends on whose funeral it was. The great thing is that these days, anything goes!
Unusual funeral songs
- Spirit in the Sky – Norman Greenbaum/Doctor and the Medics
- Dancing Queen - Abba
- We Are the Champions – Queen
- Celebration – Kool and the Gang
- I’m Still Standing – Elton John
Queen – We Are the Champions
Which song would you want played at your send off? Mulling this over might get you thinking about what else you’d like for your funeral. And don’t forget to talk about your funeral arrangements because if you don’t, the people arranging your funeral may not know what to do.
Our My Perfect Send-Off planner is designed to make recording your funeral wishes a little easier. It guides you through your options and let’s you save your answers ready for when they’re needed.
SunLife offers a range of straightforward and affordable products including over 50s life insurance, funeral plans, equity release, home insurance.