Songs About Environmentalism
It’s Derby season in Louisville, Kentucky, which for most of the rest of the world likely means very little. In Louisville though, where Virtual Peaker is headquartered, the Kentucky Derby is effectively our local Mardi Gras; we’re all celebrating something this week! In that spirit, we’re having a little fun this Friday, and listening to our very favorite songs about environmentalism. Read on (and listen!) the very best tracks that we could think of that speak to the fragility of our environment, and the opportunities (and responsibilities) we have as stewards of the natural world. Lose the climate anxiety and fire up your favorite distributed energy resource management system (DERMS.. ahem) so that you can put renewable energy assets to work today, while you listen to everything from pop to hard rock and everything in between!
Marvin Gaye – Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)
There are few voices so joyously beautiful and earnest as the late Marvin Gaye. On “Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology),” Gaye offers an unflinching look at environmental destruction. With the line “radiation underground and in the sky,” Gaye seemingly references fears over nuclear energy, having previously addressed pollution from fossil fuels. After experiencing a personal loss, Gaye felt that he could use his platform as an artist to persuade people to environmentalism, to pay attention to and appreciate the natural world in all its splendor. Ultimately, the song became a sorrowful R&B anthem that has now been covered by numerous popular artists from Robert Palmer to The Strokes since its release.
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – There Is No Planet B
Part of a thrash metal concept record, once you strip away the sci-fi imagery and lyrical themes, “Planet B” by Australian psychedelic rockers King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard is a fiery, if simple message: there is no backup plan to environmental calamity. While the music may not be everyone’s cup of tea, the fast pace of the music adds an understandable (and accurate) sense of urgency to any environmentalism that the time to act is immediate.
Miley Cyrus – Wake Up America
While Miley Cyrus is known for pop music, she isn’t shy to speak her mind. On the 2008 track “Wake Up America,” Cyrus takes an honest look at the U.S. culture, calling upon everyone to commit to environmentalism. Cyrus takes a step forward to demystify terms like “global warming” and “going green,” simplifying them to their root premise: let’s work together to make our environment a little better today than tomorrow. With the line, “Tomorrow becomes the new day and everything you do matters,” she’s underscoring the reality that all of us are capable of contributing in big or small ways to help out. Cyrus’ lyrics are brilliant in sidestepping blame to everyday folk, instead suggesting that if we all pitch in whatever way possible, a better tomorrow is possible.
Louis Armstrong – What a Wonderful World
Perhaps one of the most gentle and delightful songs on this list, “What a Wonderful World” may not seem like a song about environmentalism. Still, artist Louis Armstrong’s seminal classic is a meditation on the beauty of the natural world, as much as a celebration of the moments in life that shape our lives. Although there are no direct calls to action or specific allusions to environmental pollution, the song very poignantly and simply addresses how beautiful the world is if you know where to look, a world that will remain challenged without a greater adoption of demand flexibility, distributed energy resources (DERs), and a commitment to decarbonization.
Childish Gambino – Feels Like Summer
Another slow, R&B-style number, “Feels Like Summer” by Childish Gambino builds on the basic premise that Marvin Gaye laid out on “Mercy, Mercy Me (The Ecology).” Here, emcee Donald Glover uses the lightness of “summer” for an airy, relaxing soul beat, the backdrop for his message of environmentalism. Glover sings about animals going extinct and the extreme heat events that challenge energy providers to meet peak demand. As such, “Feels Like Summer” is the perfect anthem for running a demand response conservation program, to decrease usage during peak demand to conserve energy and decarbonize.
Radiohead – Idioteque
A scathing rebuttal to inaction in the face of climate change, “Idioteque” by Radiohead offers a glimpse at the challenges of a dystopian future deeply scarred by environmental degradation. When singer Thom Yorke sings, “Ice Age coming, Ice Age coming, let me hear both sides,” he evokes the very same premise later championed by comedian John Oliver, that the “debate” over climate change is often represented as a binary position, which stalls direct climate action. Fortunately, bills like the inflation reduction act or bipartisan infrastructure bill in the United States illustrate that now 23 years later, climate-oriented legislation is starting to catch up to calls for greater efforts in environmentalism.
The People Under the Stairs – The Effects of Climate Change on Densely Populated Areas
As the title of the track implies, the People Under the Stairs take aim at both environmentalism and systemic racism in “The Effects of Climate Change on Densely Populated Areas.” Here, the emcees look at the real-world-and often overlooked impact of climate change specifically on low-moderate-income households. From people being in worse moods because of sustained extreme heat events to increases in crime associated with the heatwaves brought on by climate change, the People Under the Stairs offer an interesting, if incredible perspective on unchecked climate change.
Björk – Náttúra
Icelandic artist Björk is known for taking bold artistic directions, which is certainly on display with “Náttúra,” a single from her album Biophilia. Here, the singer tackles environmental exploitation, using a chaotic drum beat and a hazy fog of ambient noise. The track was part of a concerted effort by Björk to promote Icelandic environmental protections, and all proceeds from the blistering single were donated to the Icelandic foundation of the same name. As such, the music is as intense as the subject matter, which personifies nature as the force that it is.
Songs About Environmentalism Conclusion
Did we miss any songs about environmentalism? We sure hope not, but in spite of the concerns shared in the lyrics above, remain optimistic that with the right software solutions, we can make the world a little better—and greener—than tomorrow. Let us know if we missed anything through your favorite social media platform of choice, especially if you have something fun and hopeful to add. In the meantime, enjoy our playlist while you work toward using demand flexibility and DER strategies to enhance grid resiliency, lower energy spending, and increase customer satisfaction.