Worst songs to play at a funeral

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If still in doubt, the reader can always buy a CD of music that will be appropriate for any funeral at all.

At funerals the tradition is to play boring opera, some dull classical music, bagpipe music or the occasional ballad. Why is this? Wouldn't the world be a better place if people weren't afraid of blasting out some real music whilst their loved ones are buried?

However, there are some times when "crossing the line" becomes clear, and this causes tragedy, horror, and disinvitations to other funerals, potentially even one's own. Here, then, are the worst songs to play at a funeral.

Reminders of the cause of death

Normally, everyone at the funeral knows who it is (was) who won't be down for dinner, and everyone except those who crashed the funeral in anticipation of a dinner knows why. Thus, it is gauche to play music that reminds attendees of the cause of death. The reader will remember the disastrous case where a garage band was invited to play at the funeral of Princess Grace; and how, despite promising to play Amazing Grace, they decided at the last minute it was even more fitting to play Billy Squier's The Stroke.

  • Sammy Hagar, I Can't Drive 55 — for traffic fatalities where speed was a factor
  • Jamie Foxx/Glee, Blame It On The Alcohol — for traffic fatalities where DUI was a factor
  • Nicole Scherzinger, Don't Hold Your Breath — for drownings
  • Britney Spears, Hit Me Baby One More Time — for domestic violence; also perhaps anything by Chris Brown
  • Demi Lovato, Heart Attack
  • Alice Cooper, Poison
  • M.I.A., Bird Flu
  • Bruno Mars, Grenade - for military deaths or death by jealous lover/spouse

Especially when the death is self-induced

In cases of suicide, especially suicide over trivial annoyances, and suicide that seems designed as a final come-uppance to saddle the survivors with guilt, it is conventional for the funeral to be totally ordinary and paper over these relevant facts. And speaking of paper, the music for the occasion should definitely not burn the gift-wrap by including one of the following numbers:

  • Emilie Autumn, The Art of Suicide
  • Ozzy Osbourne, Suicide Solution
  • Third Eye Blind, Jumper
  • The Notorious B.I.G., Suicidal Thoughts
    Perhaps omit from the play list anything by The Notorious B.I.G.
  • Johnny Mandel/Mike Altman, Suicide Is Painless
    (If someone wants you to play this song at his funeral, it's time to make him stop watching M*A*S*H)

Fixating on death itself

Although attending a funeral implies at least a passing interest in Passing, many attendees want to treat the subject of death with a bit of detachment. Or at least not have the Muzak revel in it. Thus, The Trammps' Disco Inferno is out of bounds even at cremations. This group includes the following songs:

  • Queen, Another One Bites The Dust
  • P!nk, Please Don't Leave Me
  • Kix, Don't Close Your Eyes

Don't be too cheerful

Though attendees will be in a variety of moods on the day of the funeral, most will want to at least seem serious and somber, and spend most of their time exchanging baleful looks at one another, between fits of bawling. Even Bill Clinton did, at that cabinet secretary's funeral (at least once he realized the cameras were rolling). While a funeral is said to be a "celebration" of the deceased, surely Kool & The Gang's Celebration should be off the play list. Other tunes that are excessively peppy are likewise a definite faux pas. Examples:

  • Bobby McFerrin, Don't Worry, Be Happy
  • Bon Jovi, Have A Nice Day
  • Lady GaGa, So Happy I Could Die

Speculation on the afterlife

No, not even when it freezes over.

Various of your attendees will have different opinions on heaven and hell, and different opinions on which one of these the decedent is destined for. These topics ought not be included in the evening's repertoire:

  • Diana Vickers, Never Go To Heaven
  • AC/DC, Highway to Hell

Reminders of the way the deceased lived

Of all the persons whose lives we commemorate at a funeral, the commemoration never involves a complete review of the person's life, though every guest in attendance is guaranteed to be doing exactly that in his own mind. However, the music should not guide them; and consequently, the following songs are taboo:

Reminders of the way the deceased looks

Advances in Mortuary Science have helped make the corpse look remarkably lifelike for That Special Day (especially in the case of emos). However, this is another topic that the occasion's music should avoid:

  • Eric Clapton, (You Look) Wonderful Tonight
  • Chris Brown, Look at Me Now
  • Rush, Roll the Bones

Above all

Try to get the undertaker to ensure that Avenged Sevenfold's Buried Alive (or Get Me Outta Here by Helloween, or Celine Dion's I Am Alive, or even Going Underground by The Jam) is not rolling out the speakers while the coffin is being lowered.

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