Michael Jackson's Memorial Service: The Set List
The musical performances at Michael Jackson's memorial service included many familiar tunes — and a few lesser-known songs, but all had significance in the story of the King of Pop. See our roundup of the day's set list, and watch the performances.
"Soon and Very Soon" by Andrae Crouch performed by Andrae Crouch Choir
The memorial began with a tender, sacred rendition of Crouch's bluesy gospel hit. Its presence in the lineup underscores the Jackson family's strong religious beliefs.
"I'll Be There" performed by Mariah Carey featuring Trey Lorenz
A visibly shaken Carey and her former backup singer Lorenz pulled it together to reprise their torchy rendition of the Jackson 5 classic, which first appeared on Carey's 1992 Unplugged album. Though the song is literally about a young boy's unconditional love for his ex, Carey's take made it an anthem of support for the self-help generation.
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"Jesus Is Love" by The Commodores performed by Lionel Richie
Richie, who co-wrote "We Are the World" with Jackson, used his time on stage to sing one of The Commodores' few devotional selections for his friend. (Jackson was a godfather to Richie's daughter, Nicole.)
"I Never Dreamed You'd Leave in Summer" and "They Won't Go When I Go" by Stevie Wonder
"Summer", which uses the change of seasons as a metaphor for a relationship ending, has eerily apropos lyrics. It first appeared on Wonder's 1971 album Where I'm Coming From, but also in the Janet Jackson film Poetic Justice. Wonder paired it in a medley with "They Won't Go", an ode to death ending one's pain also once covered by George Michael.
"Will You Be There" by Jennifer Hudson
Jackson recorded this song in 1993 for the Free Willy soundtrack (it also appeared on his Dangerous). A very pregnant Jennifer Hudson belts out the quasi-gospel hit about a special friendship, accompanied by a sign-language choir. A spoken-word interlude by an emotional Jackson from the original track punctuates a confident performance.
Michael Jackson memorial honors "greatest entertainer"
"Human Nature" performed by John Mayer
Mayer chose not to add his own bluesy inflections to Jackson's romantic ballad. Instead, his interpretation, a mellow guitar solo, put the spotlight on the music. Minimal, whispery vocals from backup singers ("why?/why?") hinted at Jackson's megahit from Thriller.
"Smile" by Charlie Chaplin performed by Jermaine Jackson
Chaplin wrote this simple ditty for his movie Modern Times. Brooke Shields said it was Michael's favorite in her speech, so it was fitting that Michael's eldest brother used his smooth vocals to pay tribute.
See the stars, friends and family who came out to celebrate Jackson's life
"Gone Too Soon" performed by Usher
The young R&B sensation, who has repeatedly cited Jackson as an influence, interpreted the song his hero wrote to commemorate the death of a friend, Ryan White, one of the first high-profile casualties of the AIDS crisis. Usher choked up at least twice during the performance, ending the song by laying a hand on Jackson's golden coffin.
The top moments of the Michael Jackson memorial service
"Who's Lovin' You" performed by Shaheen Jafargholi
With an eye toward the future, Jafargholi, 12, a finalist on Britain's Got Talent, sang the heck out of the Jackson 5 classic, evoking a young Michael who was similarly impressive with his debut performance on The Ed Sullivan Show.
"We Are the World" and "Heal the World" by singers from Jackson's This Is It Tour
At the close of the program, Kenny Ortega (Disney's High School Musical movies), who was on tap to produce Jackson's upcoming European tour, presented a medley of "We Are the World" and "Heal the World" they planned to unveil later this month in London. A rotating selection of backup singers filled in for the King of Pop. A bevy of children, including Jackson's own, ringed the stage as the program's participants — musical and not — sang along to Jackson's well-known songs about working for a better tomorrow.