A catchy rhythm and chorus, a captivating voice, a language that we don’t fully master, sometimes it doesn’t take much for the form of a song to take precedence over the substance, enough for us anyway. miss the message desired by the artist. Here are, for example, 10 famous hits that speak a lot about the environment than you might think.
1. “When we gonna learn” by Jamiroquai in 1992
Jamiroquai or how to make you want to wiggle your hips over the ills of the planet. In 92, Jay Kay and his minions make the whole planet dance while lecturing us on our blindness as serial killers too absorbed in enjoying life to protect those around us. It’s demagogic, but it’s not far from true, especially today.
2. “Mercy Mercy Me (the Ecology)” by Marvin Gay in 1971
With his candy voice, Marvin Gay could announce the worst disasters to us while making us happy. The proof with this piece that makes you want to cuddle more than to campaign against ocean pollution, a scandal denounced by the artist in his words: “Oil wasted on the oceans and upon our seas – Fish full of mercury – Oh, mercy mercy me – Oh, things ain’t what they used to be…” = “the oil spilled into the oceans and seas, fish full of mercury. Please, please, things will never be what they were. 50 years later, Marvin is no longer there, contrary to the prophecy which has turned into reality.
3. “All the good girls go to hell” by Billie Eilish in 2019
Fallen angel in her clip, Billie Eilish puts on her oiled devil costume here to point out our small and big hypocrisies, we simple polluters before the eternal, who although guilty pray for a miracle that would save us from the evils we have caused .
4. “Supernature” by Cerrone in 1977
Originally released in 1977, this disco anthem has known several lives by dint of being sampled or used for film soundtracks, including recently Climax by Gaspar Noé. If we do not generally dwell on the lyrics, preferring the synthetic loops that coat them, the latter tell a futuristic fable where phantasmagorical creatures born from the abuse of chemical products dumped by men on the planet, would arise from the depths of the Earth to take revenge on the human race. Supernature, supergalley!
5. “Ecology: Save the Planet!” from Assassin in 1992
While MC Solaar was transforming the life of the Carolines into hell, as Matmatah would do a few years later with the Emmas (cf: first names rotten by songs), other French rap groups such as Assassin were ringing the bell RER Terre alarm, between the “deforestation”, “ozone layer” and “ocean pollution” stations. Problem, the controllers were in cahoots and made the train start again as if nothing had happened, towards the wall… terminus, everyone gets off!
6. “Another World” by Gojira in 2021
Since their debut in 1996, metalheads Gojira (formerly Godzilla) have been whispering their wise words in a tumult of decibels and guttural voices. And if it is not always easy to capture the message lurking behind their sound walls, their commitment to the planet and more generally to humanist values is always omnipresent. Up to a title like “Another world” a sort of headlong rush of a humanity that is running to its loss. More generally, the album Fortitude is certainly a noisy ode for an awareness of the changes that we must accept in order, not to save the planet, but our life.
7. Lana Del Rey’s “The Greatest” in 2019
This title speaks of the Beach Boys, of California, of New York too, of the nostalgia of a lost carelessness… of this varnish which made our societies shine but which cracks as soon as one scratches a little. And then there is this spark, the one that ignites the chorus and the embers of the monster fires that ravage the western United States every summer. Not the best of all worlds but The Greatest of the American artist.
8. “1Sun” by Miley Cyrus in 2015
Can you be green when you are a former child star of the Disney universe and since then you have been traveling, most often, by private jet? Failing to do everything right, Miley Cyrus seems to have an ecological conscience that is not new. Already in 2009, she swapped her Porsche for an electric car, explaining that it would have been the height of hypocrisy to continue to pollute at the wheel of her car despite her convictions on the environment. A variable-density commitment that can be found in some of his titles such as 1Sun, released in 2015, whose lyrics remind us of a few basics: “We walk around and waste life, it will go on forever, as if there were a eternal and infinite reserve of what it takes to keep us alive, there may be a day when everything will disappear to remind us how ungrateful our culture is, we must take the time to replace what has been stolen to Mother Nature”.
9. Metallica’s “Blackened” in 1988
“See our Mother, put to death, see our mother die” on this title taken from the album “And Justice for all” the Californian group is apocalyptic by predicting the worst for humans responsible for the destruction of their environment. In truth, Metallica surely does not have much to square the planet if we are to believe their career, such as that day in December 2013, when the group, invited by the Coca-Cola brand, performed in concert at the South Pole in front of a hundred spectators, most of whom were dumbfounded scientists. A particular noise pollution that this remote corner of the world would have done well without.
10. “It will be too late” by Angèle in 2019
And then there are the songs that don’t sell, which are improvised on Instagram, because it’s hot, too hot everywhere, because the heat wave increases the inspiration of artists like Angèle. So she comes to sweat her moods on her Instagram account, on our blindness to all and our variable geometry awareness that never resists the comfort of daily routine for long. A Belgian story that this time will not make anyone laugh.