July 4, 2008 / 7:42 AM / in 9 years

Rock songs the way to go at Aussie funerals

SYDNEY (Reuters Life!) - Plasma screens. Webcams. Rock songs. This isn’t a list for a party, but must-haves for a growing number of funerals at a major Australian cemetery.

Centennial Park Cemetery Authority, which runs the largest cemetery in South Australia state, says traditional liturgy and somber ceremonies are being replaced with new high-technology funerals which reflect the deceased’s personality.

One funeral even featured the song “Ding Dong! the Witch is Dead”, from the movie “The Wizard of Oz”, revealing something about the character of the person being farewelled.

“I know of some people who have been diagnosed with a terminal illness so have planned their own funeral, even down to the song they want played when they go,” said Centennial Park chef executive Bryan Elliott.

In moving with technology, Elliott said funeral parlors and chapels were upgrading equipment to provide sound systems, plasma television screens and computers for families to use for presentations, and gadgets that allow overseas mourners to take part in the funeral over the Internet.

“We’ve got to move with the times,” Elliott explained.

Funeral music is also changing with the times, with more mourners requesting rock anthems and pop classics such as “Another One Bites the Dust” and “Wind Beneath My Wings”.

“In the context of celebration of life, some people say don’t be sad at my funeral, celebrate the life that I had, and if the music helps that, then why not,” Elliott said.

“I guess one of the most unusual songs we’ve been requested to play at a funeral has been ‘Ding Dong the Witch is Dead’.”

The Centennial Park Cemetery Authority said there was also a growing trend to move away from religious services, saying over 50 percent of funerals were now conducted by celebrants not by religious ministers.

Here is a list of the top 10 songs played at Centennial Park funerals, followed by a list of its most unusual requests:

Most popular funeral songs:

1 - My Way (Frank Sinatra)

2 - Wonderful World (Louis Armstrong)

3 - Time To Say Goodbye (Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman)

4 - Unforgettable (Nat King Cole)

5 - The Wind Beneath My Wings (Bette Midler)

6 - Amazing Grace (various artists)

7 - We’ll Meet Again (Vera Lynn)

8 - Over The Rainbow (Judy Garland)

9 - Abide With Me (Harry Secombe)

10 - Danny Boy (various artists)

Most unusual funeral songs:

1 - The Show Must Go On (Queen)

2 - Stairway To Heaven (Led Zeppelin)

3 - Highway To Hell (AC/DC)

4 - Another Ones Bites The Dust (Queen)

5 - I’ll Sleep When I‘m Dead (Bon Jovi)

6 - Always Look On The Bright Side of Life (Monty Python)

7 - Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead (The Wizard of Oz)

8 - Hit The Road Jack (Willie Nelson)

9 - I‘m Too Sexy (Right Said Fred)

10 - Australian Football League club songs of the South Australia.

Editing by Miral Fahmy and James Grubel

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