20+ Best Pop Songs to Play at a Funeral or Memorial

Updated

Songs have the power to evoke emotions, bring back a memory, and make us feel connected to each other. They can also be deeply representative of our lives, personalities, and accomplishments. Because of this, a wide variety of songs are starting to be played during funeral, memorial, and celebration-of-life services.

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Choosing what songs you want to play at your funeral or a funeral for a loved one should be carefully considered. Pick songs that are representative of a life well-lived, songs that share a message, or songs that make those in attendance think of the deceased.

Pop Rock Songs to Play at a Funeral

The songs you select for your funeral service or the service of a loved one could be related to personality traits, a particular band or genre of music enjoyed during life, or a set of lyrics that describes the person’s life and legacy. Here are some of the best funeral songs in the pop-rock category.

1. “Lay Me Down” by Sam Smith

This heart-wrenching ballad speaks of the ache of being left behind when your spouse or significant other has passed away. The theme throughout the whole song speaks of the singer’s desire to be reunited with the one they love, even if it means dying so they can be reunited in heaven.

2. “My Immortal” by Evanescence

This song may not be appropriate for every funeral, but the words speak to a deep and tragic sense of loss. The singer is haunted by the wish that the person was still present. Though the deceased is seen and felt, they’re no longer present, and it’s their absence that hurts so greatly.

3. “I Will Remember You” by Sarah McLachlan

The lyrics of McLachlan’s song are heartfelt and powerful, fitting for a funeral or memorial service. Perhaps what makes this song so fitting isn’t the question of whether the deceased will be remembered but, rather, the admonition that those still living should not let life pass them by. This song serves as a poignant reminder to live life to the fullest.

4. “How Long Will I Love You” by Ellie Goulding

The lyrics in this song speak about a person’s love for another lasting through life and into eternity. Perhaps the lyrics say it best in the first few lines:

“How long will I love you?
As long as stars are above you
And longer if I can
How long will I need you?
As long as the seasons need to
Follow their plan.”

The song goes on to state that the person will always be needed, always be loved, and always be remembered.

5. “You Are the Reason” by Calum Scott

This beautiful ballad speaks about the depth of relationships and how one person can be the reason why we succeed in life. In an interview about this song, Calum said, “Every relationship has difficult times, but you stick with it because the love you fundamentally feel for the other person overrides everything else.” 


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Pop Country Songs to Play at a Funeral

If you or your loved one enjoyed the country genre, consider playing a song or two during a funeral service, memorial, or celebration of life event. Many of these songs below are favorites for people who enjoy country music but want to play modern funeral songs at their funerals.

6. “Please Remember Me” by Tim McGraw

This classic song is sung from the viewpoint of the deceased who asks the one they love to remember them when they’re gone. There are several points where the deceased talks about common activities where their loved one can remember them, such as watching the snowfall or taking a walk.

7. “Who You’d Be Today” by Kenny Chesney

In this song, Chesney wonders aloud who his young friend or loved one, taken too soon, would have grown up to be. The song describes grief poignantly with the lyrics, 

“Sunny days seem to hurt the most.
I wear the pain like a heavy coat.
I feel you everywhere I go.
I see your smile, I see your face,
I hear you laughin' in the rain.
I still can't believe you're gone.” 

8. “If I Die Young” by The Band Perry

This song is sung from the perspective of a young person who gives instructions regarding end-of-life plans if she dies young. This song could be very fitting for a young person’s funeral, and it comes with the admonition to live and love well in the time we have, however short it may be.

9. “Temporary Home” by Carrie Underwood

Though this life might be full of trials and struggles, the lyrics of this song serve as a reminder that the earth is just our “temporary home.” This song would be appropriate to play during the funeral of someone who was religious and believed in life after death.

10. “Drink a Beer” by Luke Bryan

Best for a memorial service or celebration of life service, this song talks about the sorrow of missing a dear friend or loved one. The singer can’t bear to think about the person’s absence, so instead, they do things that remind them of the person, like walking to the edge of a pier and drinking a beer.


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Older Pop Songs to Play at a Funeral

Some of these older pop songs carry a distinct vintage vibe that might just be the perfect backing track for a funeral slideshow

11. “I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston

This Houston classic is timeless, elegant, and deeply emotional as she declares her undying love for another. Though they must part, she hopes that life treats the one she loves kindly and that joy and happiness are found once again.

12. “Candle in the Wind” by Elton John

This classic song written by Elton John has been played in tribute to both Marilyn Monroe and Diana, Princess of Wales. It’s also fitting in tribute to anyone who holds a special place in your life.

13. “Because You Loved Me” by Celine Dion

This is a perfect song to play at a spouse’s or significant other’s funeral. The lyrics speak of a love that is undying and deep between two people. The singer reflects upon the fact that their life was made possible because of the support and strength from their loved one.

14. “Bridge Over Troubled Waters” by Simon and Garfunkel

This song is one that brings comfort in times of grief and sorrow. Though the listener is told that they will go through difficulties, such as grieving for a loved one, they are also comforted with the knowledge that they’ll never be alone.

15. “Blackbird” by Paul McCartney

“Blackbird” is a theme song for many people. If your loved one used this song as a theme for their life, it would be appropriate to play it on their behalf during a funeral service.

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Contemporary Pop Songs to Play at a Funeral

Contemporary pop songs are tracks that have been released within the last 10 to 20 years. These are deeply touching and are good songs to consider playing, whether you’re planning a funeral or planning a memorial service

16. “I’ll See You Again” by Westlife

This song talks about the love that can transcend death so that a person is present even though they’re gone. The first few lines of the song say it all: “Always you will be part of me and I will forever feel your strength when I need it most. You're gone now, gone but not forgotten. I can't say this to your face, but I know you hear.”

17. “Jealous of the Angels” by Donna Taggart

In this song, the singer says that they are jealous of the angels because the angels get to spend time with her loved one while she is left alone.

18 “I Was Here” by Beyoncé

This song’s powerful lyrics talk about living well and leaving a legacy. This song can be seen as a type of anthem sung by the deceased at the conclusion of their life with the lyrics, 

I was here, I lived, I loved, I was here
I did, I've done, everything that I wanted
And it was more than I thought it would be
I will leave my mark, soul, everyone will know, I was here.”

19. “One More Light” by Linkin Park

This song speaks about the loss of a person due to suicide and the commitment to help others dealing with depression to find help and not let their light go out.

20. “Dancing with the Angels” by Monk and Neagle

If you’re looking for a tear-jerker, this song certainly fits the bill. In it, the singer declares their undying love for the person who has passed away. Though memories of life together surround the singer, sadness is overwhelming, and the love they shared seems even more powerful than ever.

Songs Share the Story of Life

The songs we play at our funeral or memorial service are often deeply personal selections. Their lyrics speak about someone’s personality, their hopes, their dreams, and their influence on those around them. Choosing the perfect songs for your funeral or a loved one’s funeral might take some time, but we know the result will be well worth it.

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