Top Funeral Music – What is Top of The Pops?
What is funeral music these days? Pop music has become the soundtrack to peoples’ lives – and now deaths. Over 66% of today’s funerals are accompanied by pop music says research by The Co-operative Funeralcare, the UK’s biggest chain of funeral directors.
Just one in twenty five asked for classical music.
Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” remains top of the funeral pops, the longest running number 1 by holding on to the number one spot for 7 years. Only in 2002 did Bette Midler edge ahead briefly with “Wind Beneath My Wings.”
The research shows a steady decline in singing or even playing hymns at funerals: seven years ago, hymns were over forty per cent of all funeral music but this year they have fallen below thirty per cent.
Top of the Hymns was “Abide With Me.”
The favourite classical piece was “Nimrod” by Elgar.
Most funerals featured sombre or emotive music, but a more humorous approach is becoming popular with Eric Idle’s “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” at number 13 in the pop funeral charts. It’s even more popular regionally, reaching number six in the South East and the North East, and number nine in London.
The Ying Tong Song by Spike Milligan, whose engraved headstone famously reads “I Told You I Was Ill,” featured at several funerals.
Less conventional requests included Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, and the clock from Channel Four’s Countdown marking the seconds as the curtains closed at the crematorium. Variety is not just the spice of life it seems.
Lorinda Robinson, Head of Marketing, The Co-operative Funeralcare, said: “Hymns were once the mainstay of a funeral service but pop music plays such an important part in people’s lives that it now acts as the theme tune to their passing. Modern funerals are very much about personal choice, and this is often reflected in the choice of music.
“Song lyrics now provide the poignant words to remember a loved one’s life, either to acknowledge how much they were loved and will be missed or as a reminder of their favourite hobby, pastime or humour.”
• My Way becomes the UK’s longest running number one song – as requested at 15 per cent of funerals – while six of Sinatra’s hits feature in the charts, making him the most popular artist of all.
• A quarter of funeral homes have had to refuse to play a piece of music on the grounds of taste, usually because clergy conducting the ceremony feel the choice is inappropriate. An example is John Lennon’s Imagine which features the line ‘Imagine there’s no heaven.”
• Bette Midler’s Wind Beneath My Wings continues a slow slide down the charts from number one in 2002, to number two in 2005 and 2009 but down to number three in 2012.
• Adele’s worldwide chart success sees her enter the funeral music charts at number 22 with Someone Like You while there is no place for Take That in the top 30.
• A third of funeral homes have received unusual or quirky requests, including the theme tune to Countdown.
• Over half (53%) of funeral homes have been asked for live music, ranging from pipers and choirs to steel bands and rock groups. This is up from 39 per cent in 2009.
Top ten contemporary songs
1. My Way – Frank Sinatra
2. Time To Say Goodbye – Sarah Brightman/Andrea Bocelli
3. Wind Beneath My Wings – Bette Midler
4. Over the Rainbow – Eva Cassidy
5. Angels – Robbie Williams
6. You Raise Me Up – Westlife
7. You’ll Never Walk Alone – Gerry & the Pacemakers
8. We’ll Meet Again – Vera Lynn
9. My Heart Will Go On – Celine Dion
10. Unforgettable – Nat King Cole
I Will Always Love You by Whitney Houston and Dolly Parton have dropped out of the top ten since 2009, replaced by We’ll Meet Again.
Top ten hymns
1. Abide with Me
2. The Lord is my Shepherd
3. All Things Bright and Beautiful
4. The Old Rugged Cross
5. How Great Thou Art
6. Amazing Grace
8. Morning Has Broken
9. The Day Thou Gavest Lord Has Ended
10. Make Me a Channel of Your Peace
The Lord is My Shepherd has been replaced by Abide With Me at the top of the charts.
Top ten pieces of classical music
1. Nimrod – Elgar
2. Canon in D – Pachelbel
3. Ave Maria – Schubert
4. Nessun Dorma – Puccini
5. Pie Jesu – Faure
6. The Four Seasons – Vivaldi
7. Adagio – Albinoni/Bizet
8. Air on a G String – Bach
9. Largo – Handel
10. Clare de Lune – Debussy
Jesu Joy of Mans Desiring (Bach) and Going Home from Dvorak’s New World Symphony have been replaced in the top ten by Clare de Lune and Adagio.
The most popular TV theme tunes were:
Match of the Day
One Foot in the Grave
Last of the Summer Wine
The X Files
Six Feet Under
The Muppets Theme Tune – It’s Time to Face the Music
Top Funeral Music