The Climate Change crisis might be humanity’s biggest challenge. An emergency on a global scale that needs to be addressed, and discussed. But traditional news coverage can only raise awareness so far. Mass entertainment is a powerful tool to approach such a massive discussion that needs to be had. And while those with shares in petrochemicals and logging will ignore the facts, the general public will become more aware.
Take The 1975’s self-titled single from their upcoming fourth album Notes on a Conditional Form. The track features an essay written and spoken by Swedish activist Greta Thunberg; it is moving, as there’s something haunting about the honest speech from such an exceptional environmental campaigner. The raw passion in each sentence reverberates throughout the track, and the gentle backing of the piano behind such strength brings such a calm tone to such a powerful speech. However, the track has recently brought the band under criticism from conservative MP David Davies in a tweet which addressed the issue that “it’s a tad hypocritical to preach on the evils of carbon emissions one minute – then jet across the globe the next!”. However, it a delicate balance between awareness and action. Although The 1975 have been travelling by plane on tour, they have donated all profits of the track to the Extinction Rebellion movement as a sign of solidarity.
The 1975 aren’t the first band (and definitely won’t be the last) to tackle the issue of climate change in their music. Artists have been raising awareness for years. Radiohead brought up the topic on ‘Ideoteque’, a track from their 2000 album Kid A, referencing the anti-climate change propaganda, political self-interest and “scaremongering” that was surrounding climate change at the time, and is still present to an extent to this day. ‘Ideoteque’ tackles the issue in a very obscure way; however the same cannot be said for Jamiroquai’s debut album Emergency on Planet Earth, in particular on ‘When You Gonna Learn?’. The track is about as blunt as you can be without turning it into a spoken word piece. The chorus is simple, yet troubling and thought-provoking “Mountain high and river deep, Stop it going on, We gotta wake this world up from its sleep, Oh, people, stop it going on”. It too brings the capitalist society we live in to account for the climate crisis, bringing attention to meat production and excessive fishing.
Taking a more political approach to the climate crisis, and ignorance in general, is a common theme in so many tracks. ‘Sugar, Honey, Ice and Tea’ from Bring Me The Horizon’s latest album amo is a prime example of this. The message is relevant in so many situations, however it can easily be applied to the environment. The lyrics “I gotta stick my head in the sand”, followed shortly by “Who the hell died and made you the king?” is a rather scary foreshadowing of the ignorance from far-right Brazilian dictator Jair Bolsonaro’s stance on the Amazonian wildfires that happened this year.
Although the crisis is still continuing, the music industry has been raising awareness for years, and hopefully, as more people become aware of the issues we face as a species, we can make a change before its too late.
Catch the video to Jamiroquai’s track ‘When You Gonna Learn?’ below: