Top Songs & Background Music for Memorial Videos

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Music can play a big role in both a funeral service and a memorial video or funeral slideshow. The right music can evoke feelings and emotions, help the audience remember their loved one, and even assist in moving through grief. Ultimately, music can create a powerful connection.

We’ll help you pick the right songs for a funeral slideshow and understand how to play the music without violating copyright laws.

Understanding Copyright Laws

When choosing music for a memorial or funeral slideshow, you will need to make sure you have legal permission to use it.

Copyright is a collection of rights held by the person who wrote the song, the company that recorded the music, or both. It is designed to reward content creators for their hard work and can come with penalties for those who violate their rights.

If you play songs at a funeral service, or you pop music into a video you post online, you are technically creating a public performance of music. If you don’t have permission to use that music, the copyright holder could sue you for relief.

You could use royalty-free or copyright-free music for a funeral slideshow, but these songs are typically very old or not recognizable. If you want to play current tunes (including those we’ll list below), you need a relationship with a music provider that can provide you with the music you want to play for a reasonable fee you can afford. Other options include the following:

The Most Popular Funeral Songs

Funeral songs are often personal and chosen based on the preference of the family or as part of an individual’s last wishes. Typically, about three to five songs might be played during a funeral service.

These are five of the most popular funeral songs:

  1. ‘My Way’ by Frank Sinatra
  2. ‘Wind Beneath My Wings’ by Bette Midler
  3. ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole
  4. ‘Ave Maria’ by Franz Schubert
  5. ‘Time to Say Goodbye’ by Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman

How to Choose Music for a Funeral Slideshow: A Step-by-Step Guide

You’ve selected some photos, short videos, and text for a funeral slideshow. How can you choose the right music to accompany the images? The following steps will help:

  1. Consider your loved one’s musical tastes. Look through the person’s playlists, records, CDs, and favorite radio stations. What type of music did they love? Which artist made them smile? Which songs did they sing along to? One or two of these songs could help to bring the person’s memory to life during the slideshow.
  2. Reflect on your relationship. Was this person a parent? A spouse? A grandparent? Songs that reflect the person’s relationship with mourners can have a deep emotional impact.
  3. Consider the slideshow sections. Many funeral slideshows involve placing images in chapters. For example, you may have a section devoted to the person’s childhood, another for marriage, and another for children. Each section could have a different slice of music associated with it.
  4. Vary the pace. Slideshows are hard to watch when the music has a consistent tone and pace, such as slow and depressing throughout. Look for ways to mix up songs with words and instrumentals, fast and slow, etc.
  5. Ask for feedback. When you’ve created a potential list of songs, ask other people to review your selections and provide their input. They may have ideas you’ve never considered.

When your music is selected, add it to the slideshow and ask your family to review it once more before it’s played for others. Preferably, you can all watch the slides together and gauge reactions.

You may have songs you love that didn’t make it into the slideshow. Consider playing these tunes at the funeral reception. You’re still sharing music that’s meaningful to you and the person you loved, even if it’s not part of your official memorial presentation.

Instrumental Funeral Songs

Instrumental songs can work particularly well for a funeral or memorial service. Here are some top options:

  • ‘Canon in D’ by Pachelbel
  • ‘Air on a G String’ by Bach
  • ‘Adagio for Strings’ by Barber
  • 'Come, Sweet Death’ by Bach
  • ‘Islands in the Sky’ by Geoff Harvey
  • ‘Moonlight Sonata’ by Beethoven
  • ‘Blue in Green’ by Miles Davis
  • ‘Edge of Darkness’ by Eric Clapton
  • ‘Your Hand in Mine’ by Explosions in the Sky
  • ‘Last Train Home’ by Pat Metheny

Song Selection by Relationship

Sometimes, the right songs for a funeral slideshow depend on the type of relationship between the person who prepared the presentation and the person who passed away. Consider using these songs along with images of the person who held that relationship. For example, use love songs with photos of the deceased and his/her spouse or songs about parenting with pictures of a parent and child.

These are good selections to consider based on relationships.

Parent & Grandparent:

  • ‘Song for Dad’ by Keith Urban
  • ‘Fathers and Daughters (Never Say Goodbye)’ by Michael Bolton
  • ‘I’ll Be Seeing You’ by Billie Holiday
  • ‘Sentimental Journey’ by Doris Day
  • ‘Live Like You Were Dying’ by Tim McGraw
  • ‘Supermarket Flowers’ by Ed Sheeran
  • ‘10,000 Miles’ by Mary Chaplin Carpenter
  • ‘Somebody’s Hero’ by Jamie O’Neal
  • ‘You Can’t Lose Me’ by Faith Hill
  • ‘Dance With My Father’ by Luther Vandross

Young Person or Child:

  • ‘Tears in Heaven’ by Eric Clapton
  • ‘In the Arms of an Angel’ by Sarah McLachlan
  • ‘Fly’ by Celine Dion
  • ‘If I Die Young’ by The Band Perry
  • ‘Lullaby (Goodnight My Angel)’ by Billy Joel
  • ‘You’ll Be in My Heart’ by Phil Collins
  • ‘Beautiful Boy’ by John Lennon
  • ‘Streets of Heaven’ by Sherrié Austin
  • ‘A Mother’s Prayer’ by K. Michelle
  • ‘Forever Young’ by Rod Stewart


  • ‘See You Again’ by Wiz Khalifa
  • ‘I’ll Be Missing You’ by Diddy, Faith Evans, and 112
  • ‘Fire and Rain’ by James Taylor
  • ‘Life Without You’ by Stevie Ray Vaughn
  • ‘You Should Be Here’ by Cole Swindell
  • ‘Gone Too Soon’ by Michael Jackson
  • ‘I’ll Remember You’ by Thea Gilmore
  • ‘Never Get Over You’ by Miranda Lambert
  • ‘Who You’d Be Today’ by Kenny Chesney
  • ‘A Long December’ by Counting Crows

Spouse or romantic partner:

  • ‘My Heart Will Go On’ by Celine Dion
  • ‘Lay Me Down’ by Sam Smith
  • ‘How Long Will I Love You’ by Ellie Goulding
  • ‘One Sweet Day’ by Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men
  • ‘I Will Always Love You’ by Whitney Houston
  • ‘Together Again‘ by Janet Jackson
  • ‘If Only I Had Known’ by Reba McEntire
  • ‘You’re the First, the Last, My Everything’ by Barry White
  • ‘Angels‘ by Robbie Williams
  • ‘Take My Breath Away’ by Berlin

Traditional Funeral Songs:

Classic funeral songs have stood the test of time for a reason. Here are some of the traditional favorites:

  • ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ by Simon and Garfunkel
  • ‘Funeral March’ by Chopin
  • ‘How Great Thou Art’ by Carrie Underwood
  • ‘Take My Hand, Precious Lord’ by Elvis Presly
  • ‘Swing Low Sweet Chariot’ by B.B. King
  • ‘When the Roll Is Called Up Yonder’ by Dolly Parton
  • ‘I’ll Fly Away’ by Johnny Cash
  • ‘The Water Is Wide‘ by Peter Hollins
  • ‘Victory in Jesus’ by Merle Haggard
  • ‘In the Garden’ by Selah

Spiritual Songs

Whether or not the person who passed away was religious, spiritual songs are often a good choice for funerals or memorial videos:

  • ‘Amazing Grace‘ by John Newton
  • ‘Hallelujah’ by Jeff Buckley
  • ‘I Can Only Imagine’ by MercyMe
  • ‘You Raise Me Up’ by Josh Groban
  • ‘God Is Love’ by Marvin Gaye
  • ‘The Day Is Past and Gone‘ by Aretha Franklin
  • ‘His Eye Is on the Sparrow’ by Gladys Knight
  • ‘Sweetest Name I Know’ by Kirk Franklin
  • ‘Walk Around Heaven’ by Patti LaBelle
  • ‘The Lord Is My Shepherd’ by Mormon Tabernacle Choir

Upbeat Funeral Songs

Memorial videos are celebrations of life, and upbeat music can capture the joy of the person who is being remembered. Here are some upbeat options:

  • ‘Soul Limbo’ by Booker T. & the MG’s
  • ‘What a Wonderful World‘ by Louis Armstrong
  • ‘Bring Me Sunshine by Morecambe and Wise
  • ‘Heroes’ by David Bowie
  • ‘Don’t Worry Be Happy’ by Bobby McFerrin
  • ‘You Are the Sunshine of My Life’ by Stevie Wonder
  • ‘Bring Me Sunshine’ by Morecambe and Wise
  • ‘Always Look on the Bright Side of Life’ by Monty Python’s Life of Brian
  • ‘I’m Gonna Live Until I Die’ by Frank Sinatra
  • ‘Happy Days Are Here Again’ by Ben Selvin and the Crooners

Contemporary Funeral Songs

If the person you lost was a fan of modern music, choosing contemporary music could be an appropriate way to remember them and the life they lived. These are some good options:

  • ‘See You Again’ by Wiz Khalifa featuring Charlie Puth
  • ‘Fix You’ by Coldplay
  • ‘Beautiful People’ by Ed Sheeran
  • ‘Holocene’ by Bon Iver
  • ‘Thousand Years’ by Christina Perri
  • ‘A Sky Full of Stars’ by Coldplay

Songs for a Memorial Video by Genre

Sometimes, the person who is being remembered loved a particular genre of music, and this is the genre you want to use in the memorial video. Thankfully, there are good memorial songs in virtually every genre.


  • ‘Freebird’ by Lynyrd Skynyrd
  • ‘Knocking on Heaven’s Door’ by Bob Dylan
  • ‘When September Ends’ by Green Day
  • ‘Only the Good Die Young’ by Billy Joel
  • ‘Fields of Gold’ by Sting


  • ‘Country Roads’ by John Denver
  • ‘Ain’t No Sunshine’ by Bill Withers
  • ‘Can’t Let Go’ by Anthony Hamilton
  • ‘When I Get Where I’m Going’ by Brad Paisley
  • ‘There You’ll Be’ by Faith Hill


  • ‘Sunrise, Sunset’ by Fiddler on the Roof
  • ‘Time Heals Everything‘ by Mack and Mabel
  • ‘Not a Day Goes By’ by Merrily We Roll Along
  • ‘This Was Nearly Mine’ by South Pacific
  • ‘Memories’ by Cats


  • ‘Wish You Were Here’ by Pink Floyd
  • ‘Calling All Angels’ by Jane Siberry and K.D. Lang
  • ‘Heaven Laughs’ by the Hooters
  • ‘Slipped Away’ by Avril Lavigne
  • ‘Pictures of You’ by the Cure


Get Royalty Free Music and SFX for Your Videos. Artlist.

Funeral. (2022). Pond5, Inc.

Discover New Music to Supercharge Your Content. Epidemic Sound.

Everything You Need to Get Creative Projects Done. (2022). Envato Pty, Ltd.

Quality Music for Creators. (2022). Shutterstock Canada, ULC.

Melody Loops. (2022). Melody Loops, LP.

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