Death has always been something in the back of my mind. Not as something I should be worrying about—not just yet at least—but more as an unavoidable topic that everyone still tries to shy away from. I’ve previously looked into the rise of death wellness, the emergence of tech startups in the funeral business and wondered what happens to our social media profiles after our death. You could say it’s my thing. That’s why, this time, I asked myself about funeral ceremonies specifically and which songs people usually pick. Do they mostly go for mood boosters or follow the theme and go for sad songs?
To help me answer these questions, I used data collected by Reassured from over 2,000 Spotify playlists in order to find out which songs and artists appeared the most in playlists featuring the terms ‘funeral songs’ ‘funerals’ and ‘grief’. The top tracks were then put together to find the most popular songs to play at a funeral. There even is a playlist (to enjoy responsibly).
When I asked my friends about their own pick, the genres seemed to be quite mixed—from ‘Fast Car’ by Tracy Chapman and ‘Hide and Seek’ by Imogen Heap to ‘Lady Science’ by Soul Capsule and The Avengers’ theme song—some people wanted something sad, others wanted nostalgia while a few wanted a funky or even dramatic exit. But what about the majority of people?
The track ‘See You Again’ by Wiz Khalifa is the number one song people used in funerals playlists with 101 appearances, which probably came from the fact that the song was in the soundtrack of Fast & Furious 7 which was released just after the death of Paul Walker who played the lead role of Brian O’Conner in the movie franchise. Just behind is ‘Tears in Heaven’ by Eric Clapton with 59 uses. In third place is ‘Supermarket Flower’ by Ed Sheeran, which was included in 56 playlists with the term ‘funeral’ in their name.
Frank Sinatra’s ‘My Way’ comes in fourth place, followed by ‘Wish You Were Here’ by Pink Floyd—a track to expect due to its obvious title. Artists such as Coldplay, Led Zeppelin and Fleetwood Mac also made it to the top ten.
While some of those songs are almost evident choices, others seem to stand out more. So what exactly makes the ‘perfect’ funeral or grieving track? According to Reassured’s survey results, a song needs to be around 278 second long, have a tempo of 103 beats per minute, and it needs to have been released during the 1970s among other things in order to be the first choice for someone’s funeral. But what about the artists that appeared most often when all funeral playlists were analysed?
In that following order in the top 4 are Billie Eilish, Ed Sheeran, Wiz Khalifa and The Beatles. In fifth place comes Coldplay, followed by Eric Clapton, Frank Sinatra, Fleetwood Mac, Linkin Park and Whitney Houston.
Funerals are not the best gig to DJ at, that’s for sure. But deciding what kind of music genre to go for in these situations is a tricky task to have. Based on Spotify’s many funeral playlists, pop is the genre most users go for. Just behind comes rock, followed by folk-pop and modern rock. Pop rock is the fifth most popular genre, while rap comes after and neo mellow (whatever that is) in seventh place. Indie pop, pop rap and album rock are the last three genres included in the top 10.
The research includes more details about the specifics of what makes a perfect song to grieve to or the most listened to artists in playlists including the term ‘grief’. Songs like ‘The Funeral’ by Band Of Horses also make regular appearances there. Hopefully, this gave you an insight into what people go for when it comes to funeral songs. Now, when planning your own exit party—there’s no shame in that—make sure you create the perfect playlist for your loved ones to play. My number one track? Definitely ‘Free’ by Ultra Naté, just because I want to go out with a bang(er).
I’ve been writing a fair bit about death in the past few months—not to say I’m an expert, but I quite like the idea of qualifying myself as one. Have you ever wondered what should happen to your social media profiles after you die? Or even what the best way to prepare yourself for death is? Well, I did. But now, in the midst of the rise of death wellness, another surprising trend is appearing—tech startups are getting involved in the funeral business. So what exactly am I talking about, and is this whole death trend getting a bit ridiculous?
Coeio is probably one of the most famous tech startups in the funeral business. Remember when former Beverly Hills 90210 actor Luke Perry died last year? Shortly thereafter, his daughter revealed that the actor was buried in a biodegradable mushroom suit from Coeio. The ‘infinity burial suit’, although suit might not be the best way to describe the strange-looking black bodysuit, is made entirely of mushrooms and other small organisms, and was designed to help decompose remains into nutrients that return to the earth.
Coeio’s mission is simple: to reduce dead people’s environmental impact by cleansing the body of toxins that would otherwise have seeped into the ground by feeding them to fungi, all this with a $1,500 (£1,140) suit. For many, the price for an eco-friendly decomposition might seem over the top, but the fungi suit seems to be one of the cheapest options the funeral market has to offer.
When pop star Prince died in 2016, his body was cremated and his ashes were put in a personalised urn—a mini replica of his house in Minnesota—designed by the 3D printing company Foreverence. What about James Doohan, also known as the actor who played ‘Scotty’ in the original Star Trek, who died in 2005? Celestis, a Houston-based company that specialises in sending urns into space made three attempts before succeeding and sending his ashes into orbit. My point is, the funeral business has proved itself to be very creative (if you can afford these kinds of extravagances).
From creating a personalised tombstone to transforming your ashes into a diamond, you can almost do it all. And there’s a reason for it—according to research conducted by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), cremations and funerals are big businesses in the UK, with the traditional funeral market making £2 billion a year.
As taboo as the topic of death can be, it seems that things are changing, and rapidly. In a market that has forever been dominated by old-fashioned funeral companies, tech startups now see an opportunity to offer new solutions for lower prices to people who may not afford traditional burials in the first place. Not only do burials and cremations hurt the environment, but they also cost a lot of money. Surprisingly, being able to afford your own death (and what comes with it) is harder than what I had expected.
According to a SunLife research about the ‘cost of dying’, meaning the price of a basic funeral plus extras like the send-off and professional fees, it has had a 3.1 per cent increase in just one year and a rise of 42 per cent since 2007. In 2019 in the UK, the average cost for a standard funeral is £4,417. As a result, in the UK, low-income families struggle to even afford a funeral.
That’s where funeral comparison can come in handy. Reassured offers people planning funerals a comparison feature that allows them to avoid spiralling funeral fees. By only comparing fully guaranteed, Funeral Planning Authority (FPA) approved funeral plans from a leading provider, users can steer clear of the over-priced funeral costs specific funeral homes can offer.
The funeral market is booming right now, and tech startups getting involved in it is proof that the way we proceed with funerals needs an update. But as much good as this can mean for the planet, this should also shed light on how absurd the reality is: many people can’t afford to die.