London, October 15: Funerals, which were once solemn occasions meant to weep, reflect and mourn, are now being turned into celebrations with a pop song soundtrack, it has been revealed.
Songs from the charts now set the rhythm and mood for the passing of a loved one, from Frank Sinatra's 'My Way' to 'You Raise Me Up' from Westlife.
According to the evidence from 30,000 funerals conducted by the Co-Op, these songs have replaced hymns as the most popular music choice at two thirds of funerals, while live music is now increasingly being added to the musical mix.
Over half - 53 percent - of funeral homes have been asked for live music, ranging from pipers and choirs to steel bands and rock groups.
Sinatra's 'My Way' remains the firm favourite, making it the longest running number one by holding on to the top spot for seven years.
The idea of someone living a life in their own way, facing adversity and coming through regardless has an obvious appeal to a generation who loved Sinatra in his heyday.
'My Way' is played at more than one in seven of all funerals, while six of Sinatra's hits feature in the funeral chart top 100.
Humour is increasingly part of the idea of a funeral as a celebration.
Monty Python's 'Always Look on the Bright Side of Life' and Spike Milligan's 'Yin Tong' song are popular choices, along with the sitcom theme 'One Foot in the Grave' and even the ticking clock music from Channel 4's 'Countdown' as the crematorium curtains close.
While most churches have become open to the idea of modern music, some choices remain a step too far.
A quarter of funeral homes have had to refuse to play a piece of music on the grounds of taste, usually because clergy conducting the ceremony feel the choice is inappropriate.
For example, some clergymen will not allow John Lennon's 'Imagine', which features the line 'Imagine there's no heaven.'
Among the more unusual choices to slip through the rules are Lady Gaga's 'Bad Romance' and 'Smoke Gets in Your Eyes', from The Platters.
While 'My Way' comes in at number one, the second spot goes to 'Time to Say Goodbye' by Sarah Brightman and Andrea Bocelli, with Bette Midler's 'Wind Beneath My Wings' in three.
Fourth place goes to Eva Cassidy's version of 'Over the Rainbow', with Robbie Williams and Angels in five, ahead of Westlife's 'You Raise me Up.'
Adele's worldwide success has won her a place at number 22 in the funeral charts with 'Someone Like You'.
The Co-Op research charts the steady demise of hymns at funerals. They accounted for 41 percent of all funeral music requests in 2005, however the figure is now down to 30 percent.
'Abide With Me' is the top choice, ahead of 'The Lord is My Shepherd', 'All Things Bright and Beautiful', 'The Old Rugged Cross' and 'How Great Thou Art'.
"Hymns were once the mainstay of a funeral service but pop music plays such an important part in people's lives that it now acts as the theme tune to their passing," the Daily Mail quoted Co-Op Funeralcare's Lorinda Robinson as saying.
"Modern funerals are very much about personal choice, and this is often reflected in the choice of music.
"Song lyrics now provide the poignant words to remember a loved one's life, either to acknowledge how much they were loved and will be missed or as a reminder of their favourite hobby, pastime or humour," Robinson added. (ANI)