King Charles III: The soundtrack for a coronation

The musical selection for the royal event of the year, the coronation of Charles III, is surprisingly modern, from choirs to a Spotify playlist. Here's what we can expect to hear.

King Charles III wearing headphones (DW)
King Charles III wearing headphones (DW)
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DW

There is no doubt that the coronation ceremony in London's Westminster Abbey will be a solemn affair, with music befitting the occasion.

As he wanted a contemporary touch, King Charles III commissioned 12 new pieces of music, among others from musical legend Andrew Lloyd Webber and film composer Patrick Doyle. The latter contributed a coronation march, and Webber had the honor of writing a new coronation anthem.

The orchestra was put together just for the coronation ceremony. Some of the musicians are from the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Renowned soloists will play; several choirs, including a gospel choir, will perform, too. There will be Greek Orthodox music in honor of Charles' late father, Prince Philip, who was in younger years a member of the Greek Orthodox Church.

When the Archbishop of Canterbury places the crown on the King's head at 12 noon, trumpets will sound, accompanied by gun salutes.

Concert in Windsor Park

The day after the coronation ceremony, the royal family hosts a big concert event in the garden of Windsor Castle, featuring live music from pop stars like Lionel Richie and Katy Perry, both ambassadors for various of the king's foundations and charities. Some 20,000 guests have been invited.

Pop band Take That will take the stage in its current trio lineup, but there are rumors that Jason Orange might not want to miss out on joining his old band to sing for the newly crowned royal couple. Robbie Williams made it clear earlier this year he would not participate.

Take That have played for Queen Elizabeth a few times over the years, but this event is special even for the former boy band. "A huge live band and orchestra, a choir, military drummers, the backdrop of Windsor Castle and the celebration of a new King. We can't wait," the pop icons said.

Some big name pop stars are missing

Opera buffs can look forward to Italian opera star Andrea Bocelli in a duet with Welsh bass-baritone Sir Bryn Terfel. Singer songwriter Freya Ridings is performing a duet with Alexis Ffrench, a composer and pianist who combines classical music with soul.

There will be a special Coronation Choir made up of singers from all over the UK, including shanty singers, farmers, cab drivers and reggae groups — backed up by a virtual choir with singers from all over the Commonwealth.

Other famous British pop stars that immediately come to mind including Elton John, Ed Sheeran, Harry Styles and Adele were either not asked to perform or had to cancel for scheduling reasons, like Australian pop diva Kylie Minogue.

Pop classics on Spotify playlist

The British Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) put together a "Coronation Celebration Playlist" on Spotify that presents 26 songs from seven decades of British pop music.

It starts off with The Beatles ("Come together") and zips through the decades with music from Coldplay, Ed Sheeran, Rod Stewart, David Bowie, Take That, Harry Styles, the Pet Shop Boys and many more.

Many of the pop classics are great dance songs, and one out of five is about reaching for the stars.

The most recent song on the playlist is Sam Ryder's "Space Man." He came in second in the 2022 Eurovision Song Contest, right after the Ukrainian entry. Since the winning country will not be able to host the event because of the war, the popular music competition will be therefore held in the UK this year.

Too few Commonwealth countries

At first glance the playlist looks fine, but critics soon addressed individual issues.

Originally, the list had 28 tracks, but Dizzee Rascal was dropped after those responsible learned that the rapper is currently on appeal after a conviction for assaulting his ex-fiancée.

Track number 27 also disappeared from the playlist. The Scottish rock duo The Proclaimers had that slot with the hit "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)," but was dropped for the band's anti-monarchy views.

A close look also shows there are no artists from African or Pacific Commonwealth countries. Only three are not British acts: Jamaican Grace Jones, Canadian Michael Bublé, and the German-Caribbean band Boney M. There are no other artists from the more than 50 Commonwealth countries, like Rihanna who hails from Barbados and Kylie Minogue from Australia.

Critics also point out a lack of diversity: Too many white artists, too few female artists.

This article was originally written in German.

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