10 Songs About the Environment

If you need song recommendations to chill to while staying at home, we are here to help!

You must hear about climate change every day in the news, but sometimes music can convey the message better than any news article. Artists around the world have used their songs to raise awareness about environmental issues for several decades. Here are 10 songs that are currently on my playlist:

1. Earth Song - Michael Jackson

Released almost 40 years ago, this legendary song by Michael Jackson is still ever so relevant. The song lyrics and the music video address urgent problems that the planet is facing, such as forest fire, deforestation, and wildlife extinction. Generations of audience have been touched by the lyrics and Jackson's performance. Michael Jackson also had a history of releasing socially conscious songs, such as Heal The World and Black or White.

2. Big Yellow Taxi - Counting Crows ft. Vanessa Carlton

The song was written by Joni Mitchell in 1970 and also originally performed by her, but this version is my personal favorite. Big Yellow Taxi is a call to action to prevent the harm that humans are doing to the planet. It is just ironic that people "took all the trees" and then "put them all in the tree museum". The meaning of the song really hits home in the chorus:

Don't it always seem to go That you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone? They paved paradise, put up a parking lot

3. The 1975 - The 1975

This special self-titled track was produced in collaboration with the leading climate activist Greta Thunberg. It is a 5-minute piece of Thunberg eloquently speaking over a dreamy, tranquil musical background. She points out poignant climate facts, such as the 1.5-degree rise in global temperature over the next decades, and urges people to make individual changes to alleviate the situation. The 1975 is praised for using their music to spread the vital message to their fans and followers.

4. all the good girls go to hell - Billie Eilish

Billie Eilish was named Billboard's 2019 Women of the Year for her unique performances and contribution in the music industry. This song was no exception, with deep metaphors and different layers of meaning. It talks about climate change, like many fans have speculated, and refers to the ongoing wildfires in Eilish's homeland Southern California.

5. Feels Like Summer - Childish Gambino

Childish Gambino is another favorite name for music lovers, especially hip hop fans. In the lyrics of this song, he hints at a wide range of serious problems, from air pollution, global warming, to population growth and water scarcity. The music video is also fun to watch, with animated cameos of popular celebrities.

6. How Long? - Vampire Weekend

Vampire Weekend is known for their subtle yet sharp commentary about social issues, hidden under the lyrics about love and relationships. How Long? is from their album Father of the Bride, which is about world peace. Though one can read between almost every line in the lyrics to find the environmental references and innuendos, the one that stands out for me is the opening of the chorus:

How long 'til we sink to the bottom of the sea?

7. Only Human - Jason Mraz

Jazzy and smoothing, like many of Jason Mraz's song, Only Human is a sarcastic way to point out human's flaws in living with nature, criticizing the excuse "we're only human" that is used for all that we do. The song also makes a reference to "paving the paradise" from the lyrics of Big Yellow Taxi.

8. Wake Up America - Miley Cyrus

You might not even remember this image of Miley Cyrus, so this is a throwback to her Disney Channel era. This track from her album Breakout is pretty corny, admittedly, with lyrics like these:

Wake up America we're all in this together It's our home so let's take care of it You know that you want to You know that you got to wake up America Tomorrow becomes a new day and everything you do Matters yeah everything you do matters in some way

But considering how popular she was back in the day, especially among young children, songs like these might be helpful in educating kids about pressing issues of the world. Plus, such cheerful tunes are sometimes direly needed, even when we've grown up!

9. Make A Wave - Demi Lovato ft Joe Jonas

Speaking of Disney stars and songs to educate the kids, here's another one! A little happy nostalgia never hurts, so let's walk down the memory lane together with this song by the perfect duo - Demi and Joe. The song was actually released as part of Disney's Friends For Change - a green initiative that helped kids to help the planet.

10. Mother Nature's Son - The Beatles

Wrapping up this list is another oldie but goldie by The Beatles. The calming acoustic simply celebrates the love for nature. It was inspired by a lecture of Maharishi that John Lennon attended. Closing your eyes while listening to this track, you might even feel like you're out in the world and going back to the nature.

Bonus: Spring Snow - Vampire Weekend

A bonus because I have been putting this whole album on repeat! Again, another upbeat song about a relationship that carries a hidden message about environmentalism and climate change. Being snowed in means having more time to snuggle in bed - that sounds lovely. But snow in spring? What a bizarre occurrence! The "toxic old rays" from the sun also don't sound like something we would welcome. The song ends with a sad note:

The seasons we had Don't mean anything

In such a crazy time we are going through, it would be nice to be able to #justsmile, put on some music and relax at home. Stay safe, stay healthy, and protect the planet as much as you protect yourself!

Thu Nguyen

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