Modern funeral songs – sounds like any oxymoron, right? Most people think of funerals as traditional affairs, full of dreary and dull music played at a plodding tempo.
But in these modern times the trend has been towards updating and personalizing the memorial service. Even the name of the service has changed to be more positive – nowadays, most people call it a “Celebration of Life.”
The aim is to make it as individual and unique as your loved one was, and that includes the song selection.
After all, not everyone one who passes would leave instructions to play Bach, Mozart, or Beethoven at their funeral. Some would prefer pop music – and that’s ok!
For those who adore all things modern and trendy, up-to-date and on-the-money, we’ve curated 21 wonderfully fitting modern songs to play at the funeral. Drop a beat and make your guests nod, sway, and smile through their tears.
21 Best Modern Funeral Songs for Funerals
These are our top picks. Be sure to leave a comment below to let us know any good new songs that we might have missed.
1. Memories by Maroon 5 (2020)
With Adam Levine’s heartfelt voice, Memories is sweet and sentimental, without being cloying or mushy. It’s a great choice for raising a toast to that special someone, or for playing in the background after the funeral when food and drinks are being served.
The bonus: Because it’s loosely based on Pachobel’s Canon, everyone knows the tune, so lift up your voices in song!
2. Wake Me Up (When September Ends) by Green Day (2004)
This song by Green Day brings all the feels and all the nostalgia to the service, making it the perfect choice to play for a sibling or lifelong friend’s funeral. The lyrics are sad and full of sorrow, yes, but also reminds us to never forget the good times, and also how quickly time goes by.
It’s important to live life to the fullest, and this song will bring that sentiment to the front of our hearts and minds.
3. Old Money by Lana Del Rey (2014)
Lana Del Rey’s voice was practically made for modern funeral songs. Her old-fashioned tone and Indie soft-rock vibe combine to create a fresh-yet-timeless feel.
Old Money is a song about lost youth, memories, holding onto the good things, and childhood, making it the perfect song choice for playing at a mother or father’s funeral, or that of a sibling.
4. Heaven by Beyonce (2013)
Beyonce’s powerful vocals are put on full display with this heartfelt song. When your loved one passes far too soon or too suddenly, Heaven will perfectly bring to the surface the acceptance mixed with pain we are all feeling, but also the hope that that wonderful person is in a better place.
5. Broken Halos by Christ Stapleton (2017)
Chris Stapleton has one of the best voices in any genre and crosses over between rock and country effortlessly.
Here, with Broken Halos, you will get his trademark gruffness along with beautiful lyrics. When you need a reminder that someone larger than you is in charge of heaven and earth and we don’t need to question why, this is the perfect choice.
6. Hear You Me by Jimmy Eat World (2001)
A wonderful choice for laying to rest your parent, foster parent, or grandparent who raised you, Hear You Me is a testimony to someone who made you who you are today.
When it’s time to lift them up and give them all the glory and praise, instead of resting in your shadow, this song will do the job beautifully.
7. You All Over Me by Taylor Swift ft. Maren Morris (2021)
Written by one of the best songwriters of our generation, this crooner is full of just the right amount of angst over lost love and bittersweet memories.
You All Over Me is a great modern song choice for the loss of a younger loved one. It’s a promise to them that they will never be forgotten and in fact, they are everywhere we look.
8. Everything I Wanted by Billie Eilish (2019)
Definitely a sadder, darker song, Everything I Wanted brings to the surface the raw pain of losing the only person who ever understood you.
A good choice for the loss of a spouse, or a lifelong best friend, Billie Eilish doesn’t shy away from the hard topics, but also reminds us to be strong and full of love for the people left behind.
More like this: 10 Best Funeral Songs for Your Wife
9. I Will Follow You into the Dark by Death Cab for Cutie (2005)
A flawless choice for the loss of a spouse, I Will Follow You Into the Dark was recorded by Death Cab for Cutie in 2005. It has an acoustic folk/rock vibe that makes it ideal for the contemporary soul.
You can also find a softer, gentler piano-based cover by Natalie Imbruglia from 2015. Whichever version of the song you like best, the lyrics say it all: your loved one has preceded you in death, but you will follow and be reunited again someday.
More like this: 10 Best Funeral Songs for Your Husband
10. See You Again by Wiz Khalifa ft. Charlie Puth (2015)
This nostalgic choice is wonderful for the funeral of a lifelong best friend or a sibling, as it talks about growing up with the same memories, and being together again someday.
See You Again would also make a lovely choice for playing with a slideshow of photographs. When the one you lost is the one who has been at your side your whole life, this tune says it all.
11. If I Die Young by The Band Perry (2010)
The brother and sister band, The Band Perry, brings a wistful yet powerful ballad to the funeral with one of their biggest hits, If I Die Young.
As the title says, this song is a great one for a life cut all too tragically short. When a vibrant life full of color and laughter and song has left this earth, this track will say everything you want said.
12. Someone You Loved by Lewis Capaldi (2019)
A heartrending choice for the loss of a boyfriend or girlfriend, Someone You Loved will bring all the feels and tears to the surface (which can be very therapeutic).
Especially poignant for the unexpected loss of a special someone, a tragic accident or suicide for example, this ballad will fill all the right holes.
13. The Prayer by KiD CuDi (2008)
A great choice to play during a slideshow of photos of the lost loved one, this emotional song by KiD CuDi doesn’t pull any punches.
A good choice for someone who lived life to the fullest and perhaps lost a long battle with a disease, the lyrics speak about being ready for the next phase and the next journey with Jesus.
Note: This track contains some strong language, including the use of the N word.
14. The Light Behind Your Eyes by My Chemical Romance (2013)
This beautiful song speaks of losing the fight, making it a wonderful choice for someone who lost a battle with cancer or other illness. It’s raw and real, but still lovely and romantic as well. When you need a song that communicates yearning and promise, this is it.
15. Last Goodbye by Miranda Lambert (2001)
Country girl Miranda Lambert is usually known for her belter southern rock songs, but this one shows a gentler side. The lyrics are soft and full of nostalgic yearning, making Last Goodbye a great choice for a lost love or even an estranged parent.
Saying goodbye is never easy; saying goodbye for the last time is even more difficult, but this song will help everyone get to that important place of healing.
Related: 21 Best Country Funeral Songs
16. Slipped Away by Avril Lavigne (2004)
Simple lyrics and a steady beat are at the forefront of Avril Lavigne’s song, Slipped Away. Asking why is a normal part of the grieving process, and songs like this one can really bring us to terms and help us move on to the next stage.
When you lost a loved one who was so important, and their death so unexpected and tragic, this track is a good choice for the funeral.
17. Lay Me Down by Sam Smith (2014)
When it comes to the loss of a spouse or boyfriend or girlfriend, this gentle song by Sam Smith is perfect. It really puts to words the grief and sorrow you are feeling in your heart and soul when it comes to living life without them by your side. A sweet song to say goodbye for the last time.
18. My Immortal by Evanescence (2003)
My Immortal by Evanescence is the perfect choice for the loss of a younger sibling, but could really be appropriate for anyone. The lyrics are absolutely haunting and the vocals from Amy Lee just might be the voice of an angel. The track has a ballad-esque feel to it but also brings some harder rock to the table with guitarist Ben Moody.
19. Supermarket Flowers by Ed Sheeran (2017)
Written about the loss of his beloved mother, this song by popular singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran is the loveliest of sweet tunes. If you’ve lost your much loved mother or grandmother, Supermarket Flowers won’t leave a dry eye in the house. A gentle choice for a gentle – but strong – person.
20. Who You’d Be Today by Kenny Chesney (2005)
When you’ve unexpectedly lost someone young, Who You’d Be Today by country legend Kenny Chesney will really speak to your heart. It’s so difficult to wonder where your special loved one would be today, isn’t it? But that keeps their memory alive in our hearts, which helps the healing process. A good choice for the death of a child, teen, or young adult.
21. All I Ask by Adele (2015)
“Give me a memory I can use.” These haunting lyrics by powerhouse Adele will leave everyone humming long after the funeral ends.
A perfect choice for playing against the slideshow of photos, or to play during the signing of the guestbook, this is a well-known and much beloved ballad. And you know that means the guests can feel free to sing along.
Bonus: Death Bed (Coffee for Your Head) by Powfu featuring Beadadoobee (2020)
Written from the perspective of the deceased, this sweetly clever song isn’t as well-known as some of the others, but we love the simple lyrics from the album Poems From the Past by Powfu. A good choice for the loss of a younger man as it speaks to never getting the chance to be a husband or father. Heartwarming and heartbreaking all at once!
Read Next: Funeral Planning Checklist
Melyssa Williams is the author of four novels and a collection of short stories.
An accomplished professional writer, having been on staff for magazines and online publications such as Mary Jane’s Farm, Home Educating Family, and All Gifts Considered, Melyssa is known for being able to write about even the most traumatic and serious topics with sensitive humor and wit.
Melyssa resides in Southern Oregon with her husband, kids, and her noble sausage dog, Tripp. Learn more (and read more of her work) at MelyssaWilliams.com.