It can often be hard to convey the urgency of issues solely through scientific data, but art has been shown to speak volumes that can fill that gap. Several artists throughout the years have utilized their platform to share the message about our threatened planet, oftentimes gaining more recognition than some scientific reports. Although these types of songs may not fully communicate the facts or statistics, they for sure can leave the listener with the mindset to take action and recognize the importance of the issue at hand.
Lil Dicky recently released “Earth,” an environmentally conscious and catchy song including 30 of some of the world’s biggest names in music. As Lil Dicky shared with Time, it started with the idea to make a song where artists play the role of different animals. What began as a humorous idea turned more serious as he looked into the threats of pollution during the writing process. By releasing the track close to Earth Day, Lil Dicky wanted to share the message of our world’s current environmental crisis. The video and song, however, have been controversial to critics who say it does not exactly share the urgency of the issue. Although the message isn’t there for some, the video still connects to an audience that may not be aware of current environmental problems but click it out of curiosity. Also, the revenue from the music video will go to The Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation where it will then be distributed towards several issues Lil Dicky felt inclined to help in the first place.
On the opposite end of current viral songs, in 2013, student Daniel Crawford of the University of Minnesota composed “A Song of Our Warming Planet” by transforming 133 years of global temperature measurements from NASA into musical notes on the cello. As Dan shares, each note in the music corresponds to a certain year from 1880 to 2012. The pitch of the note represents the temperature of the year, where low pitches are cooler temperatures and high pitches are warmer temperatures. The final product was a sequence under 3 minutes that gave a haunting sound of notes slightly uncomfortable to listen to. No words were needed for the cello to create an eerie atmosphere for the listener as the notes progressed to screeching levels into the years of the 2000s. Rather than giving people something to look at, the performance “gives them something they can feel”, which oftentimes can leave the biggest impact.
Lyrics and notes can hit a part of someone that statistics sometimes just can’t. There have been many songs throughout the years where artists try to do just that, from the 1970s of “Don’t Go Near the Water” by The Beach Boys to Joe Walsh’s, “Song for a Dying Planet”, to Paul McCartney’s collaborated song “Love Song to the Earth” up to present day with Lil Dicky’s humorous video for “Earth”. Although the words may differ in each and their presentation may not be identical, the same message stands: The need for environmental action is an urgent one.
As Paul McCartney once sang in “Love Song to the Earth,” “This is an open letter/from me and you together/tomorrow’s in our hands now.”