Discover the nation’s favourite songs for funerals, from timeless classics to modern pop songs.
Although funeral songs are traditionally religious, modern songs for funerals can be almost any type of tune, from TV theme tunes to rap music.
Which songs would make up the perfect soundtrack for your final farewell? It’s a highly personal decision and an opportunity to leave a lasting impression.
What message do you want to give your loved ones? Want to inspire them to live life to the fullest? Do you want to give them a reason to laugh? Comfort them with a song that says ‘I’ve had a wonderful life’?
If you’re choosing funeral music for a loved one, or picking your own final playlist, we’ve put together 20 of the best and most popular funeral songs for some musical inspiration.
1. My Way – Frank Sinatra
This is a classic funeral song choice for those who were proud to say they did it their way. Sinatra’s hit song is an uplifting final farewell to a life well-lived, perfect for anyone who knew they always seized the day and enjoyed every moment.
Made famous by Judy Garland in silver screen classic The Wizard of Oz, this song is a message of hope and happiness. While movie lovers might opt for the original, there are plenty of cover versions that put a modern twist on this funeral song. Israel Kamakawiwo’ole’s ukulele cover is a popular choice, as is Eva Cassidy’s heart-breaking acoustic rendition.
Perhaps the most famous song from Manchester band Oasis, Wonderwall is a timeless acoustic song that holds meaning for different people all over the world. For those who love all things Britpop, Wonderwall is the perfect song for a final farewell.
Clapton’s best-selling acoustic ballad is a touching tribute to his beloved son Conor, who sadly died when he was just four years old. The beautiful melody and tear-jerking lyrics make it a moving funeral song: “Beyond the door, there’s peace I’m sure, and I know there’ll be no more, tears in heaven.”
This powerful opera song captured people’s hearts in 1996 when it was released. This version of Bocelli’s original 1995 hit has sold more than 12 million copies worldwide, making it one of the best-selling records of all time – as well as a popular choice for funerals
6. Make You Feel My Love – Various
Originally written and performed by Bob Dylan, this song has been performed by numerous artists including Billy Joel, Kelly Clarkson and Adele. It’s a slow but powerful ballad about doing anything for the people you love, making it a beautiful funeral song for a loved one.
A karaoke classic and smash hit pop ballad, Angels is a song about unconditional love through the hardest of times. In 2005 it was voted the song that Britons most wanted played at their funerals, and it remains a popular choice today.
One of the songs that defined the sound of the Second World War era, Vera Lynn’s 1939 ballad is a bittersweet song about saying goodbye to a loved one. A favourite with those who remember the uncertainty of the war years, We’ll Meet Again is nevertheless timeless, resonating with anyone who has lost someone close.
You Raise Me Up was a huge hit for Westlife, who covered the song originally written by Secret Garden. Over 100 bands and artists all over the world have recorded this classic ballad, each with their own unique take.
This award-winning ballad by actress Bette Midler featured in the 1988 film Beaches. It’s an ideal funeral song to pay tribute to that special person who made you who you are and supported you through everything.
11. Unforgettable – Nat King Cole
This 50s classic is the perfect way to honour someone unforgettable. Nat King Cole’s rendition may be the best known, but plenty of famous musicians were moved to record their own version, including Aretha Franklin, Andrea Bocelli and Lisa Kelly, and Marvin Gaye.
This football anthem is sung by clubs around the world, including Liverpool FC, where the tradition began in the 1960s. Originally a show tune from the musical Carousel, the poignant and hopeful lyrics of this song make it a favourite at football fans’ funerals.
If you’re known for your quirky sense of humour and positive outlook, why shouldn’t that be reflected in your choice of funeral music? This comical tune from Monty Python’s Life of Brian consistently tops lists of the UK’s favourite funeral songs.
This Platinum-selling song was written by the Bee Gees and sung by country music superstars Dolly Parton and Kenny Rodgers in 1983. The touching lyrics and beautiful melody make it the song of choice for many country fans’ funerals.
With a message of everlasting love, Ellie Goulding’s cover of The Waterboys’ song quickly became a popular choice for funeral music. The quiet but moving ballad was also the official song for Children in Need 2013.
This indie rock song has spent a staggering 111 weeks in the UK Top 75 chart and was voted the best song of the noughties. Its popularity and poignant lyrics have made it a popular choice for funeral music over the past decade.
Rockers with a wicked sense of humour choose this as their funeral song. It’s a stark contrast to the traditional sombre funeral, but rock music is nevertheless a fitting tribute to someone who was Born to Be Wild and wanted to Rock and Roll All Nite.
18. What a Wonderful World – Louis Armstrong
This classic from Louis Armstrong has firmly secured its place in pop culture, featuring in films like 12 Monkeys, Good Morning Vietnam and Finding Dory. The iconic ballad makes for a moving but uplifting funeral song with a message of appreciating each day.
This hip hop track is a tribute to late actor Paul Walker, who died part-way through the filming of action film Furious 7. Artist Charlie Puth revealed that while writing the memorial song, he channelled the pain of losing a close friend during his time in college. The result is a heart-felt dedication to someone who has been taken from loved ones all too soon.
Luther Vandross penned this emotional song in loving memory of his father, who passed away when he was only seven years old. It’s a perfect tribute for a special dad that will strike a chord with anyone who’s lost a parent.
Discover more ideas for funerals or celebrations of life. If you’re deciding what music you want played at your funeral, planning ahead is a great way to make sure your loved ones know what you want. Find out how a funeral plan helps you decide how you’ll be remembered.
About the author
With a Masters from the University of Bristol, Jessica Hanson has worked in the funeral sector for several years, following the latest industry trends and writing about end of life planning. Jessica has previously written as a blogger for the Huffington Post, covering topics such as death positivity, understanding grief and how funerals are changing. You can find Jessica on LinkedIn and Twitter.