Playlists

Sound of Our Revolution | November 2021: Environmentalist Anthems

Contributed by Jonny Collins


Another Month, another arbitrary playlist to listen to before the next Blizzard Comedy stream on the 29th November. This month our theme is Climate Change & Environmentalism.

After the disaster of the Cop 26 and certain world leaders (specifically our own) demonstrating how little they care at best about the inevitable heat death of human life on Earth or at worst actively facilitating it for the sake of profit, whilst Gen Z activists are sneered at for being naïve and ideologically ill-informed for their role in attempting to lobby our leaders into taking decisive action, and not just “We’ll do something, if it doesn’t harm our donors profits.”

While it’s true that we can all do our part to help the environment, such as cutting down meat intake and reducing our carbon footprints – in reality, anything we do, any bottle we put into the recycling bin is negligible compared to the massive amount of impact the biggest corporations and the 1% pump out into the atmosphere on a daily basis, more than your average citizen will make in a year.

We should absolutely be doing our bit but – like with plastic straws – the fact that what we should be doing is the primary target of all environmental campaigns and not corrupt and pollutive industries that don’t care to change their behaviours, shows that all these government led campaigns are nothing more than lip service to make it look like they’re doing something, without actually taking the recommended actions and necessary changes we need to have made about a decade ago to actually have a chance of slowing and halting the one way journey to an inhabitable earth.

Still, at least Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk can colonize Mars, to begin the whole process of planetary destruction all over again.

Pretty depressing when you think about it. So hear are some angry and impassioned songs from the worlds of Punk, Pop & Metal about the plight of the planet, that you can rage and cry to while our government refuses to do anything tangible!

Arguing with Thermometers – Enter Shikari

So let me get this straight
As we witness the ice caps melt
Instead of being spurred into changing our ways
We’re gonna invest into military hardware
To fight for the remaining oil that’s left beneath the ice?
But what happens when it’s all gone?
You haven’t thought this through, have you, boys?”

Kicking off with one of my favourites: leftist Electronic Metalcore turned synthpop Hertfordshire based band Enter Shikari. One of their heavier tracks from 2012’s A Flash Flood of Colour, which in my opinion is one of the best political albums of that whole decade. (Maybe I’ll do a proper review/retrospective of the album for the blog sometime. Maybe I won’t, either way, listen to it, it’s great.)

Arguing with Thermometers is anything but subtle – from the very obvious title attacking climate change deniers who still attempt to argue with the demonstrable fact of climate change, to the breakdown talking about oil in the ice and blood on your hands, to spoken word sections openly criticizing the amount of money still going into fracking and corrupt military action. If you just want an angry song to jump around your room to as we come ever closer to the point of no return (assuming we’ve not already hit it) – this is probably the best song you can get.

4 DEGREES – ANOHNI

“I wanna hear the dogs crying for water
I wanna see fish go belly-up in the sea
All those lemurs and all those tiny creatures
I wanna see them burn, it’s only four degrees”

4 Degrees is a cynical and depressive anthem about the inevitable results of climate change, with the repeated refrain “It’s only four degrees” referencing a prediction that by 2100 when, averaged over all of earth’s surfaces, temperatures rise by four degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels.

I debated whether to include this song, as tonally it’s a bit on the nose, taking the perspective of willfully wanting the world to burn as a way to highlight how truly barbaric being complicit in climate change really is – putting those motivations on the politicians and deniers who actively led us into this situation. While it’s very unlikely that any of these people genuinely want to see the world burn, this is what their actions are doing, and what better way to illustrate that than adding actual purpose to the facts, not just depressingly referencing them.

Ultimately though this is one of the most profound tracks I found in my research, and it would not have sat right if I’d left it off. it’s a surprisingly calming song tonally as well, which is an interesting juxtaposition of the subject matter. Definitely worth a listen.

The Landscape Is Changing – Depeche Mode

“Token gestures, some semblance of intelligence
Can we be blamed for the security of ignorance
‘Cause I don’t care if you’re going nowhere
Just take good care of the world”

I like Depeche Mode. I always forget this fact. I never think about Depeche Mode if I’m not for some reason currently listening to Depeche Mode, but I like them a lot when that happens.

This track is pretty standard stuff, that unique British Electronic New Wave sound is present and accounted for, as well as a trancey vocal style soaring over the top of the relaxed beats, giving a very floaty vibe, which fits the theme of the song very nicely. A bit of an old song now, this lacks the sense of urgency in some of the other songs of the list, but still conveys a sense of finite and fed up sadness at the way the world is going.

The only thing that matters is taking care of the Earth – and we’re not even doing that. When environmental songs from decades ago still speak truth today, that’s a sign that we’ve done precious little despite plenty of warning.

Kyoto Now! – Bad Religion

“You might not think it matters now
But what if you were wrong?
You might not think there’s any wisdom
In a fucked up punk rock song

But the way it is
Can not persist for long
A brutal sun is rising
On a sick horizon”

Bad Religion aren’t exactly full of variety – if you’ve heard and like one song, chances are you’ll like all of them. Kyoto Now! Is the Bad Religion we know and love, stripped down but determined Punk Rock, speaking out against corruption, oppression, capitalism and yes, the destruction of the planet.

“Kyoto Now” is a reference to the US movement of the same name whereby students lobby Universities to commit to reducing their Carbon Dioxide Emission. The song takes a similar call to media empires and governments with a dire warning of the potential consequences of inaction.

They take the “What if you’re wrong?” line, which is kind of lame, but might be the only thing that works.

It reminds me of the argument, “Even if Global Warming/climate change was a hoax – so what? What if we invest lots of money into making greener technology and reducing emissions and carbon footprints? What is the bad outcome here, what is this conspiracy supposed to achieve except for its very transparent goals?” For a conspiracy to be a conspiracy it needs to have a tangible yet secretive motivation – which just does not scan with climate activisim. Yet it’s astounding how many people buy into this narrative.

Anyway, classic Bad Religion, good message, let’s move on.

Time is Ticking Out – The Cranberries

“Looks like we’ve screwed up the ozone layer
I wonder if the politicians care
The dime went down, yeah, if time went down

What about our children then
Is there nothing left for them?
We don’t know, we don’t know”

I regret not getting into The Cranberries until the tragic death of Dolores O’Riordan. Truly one of the most unique bands to come out of their era – with a blend of Irish Folk Rock, Grunge and Post-Punk, they are perhaps one of the best sounding bands to convey topics as dismal and serious as this. Dolores had a very unique voice, soulful, clean, but also powerful and with an edge that came as a part of the Grunge revolution in the early 90s.

This song, aptly titled, is about the rapidly decreasing time we may have on this Earth, and the even shorter amount of time we have to act to ensure survival.

The lyrics above really hit hard. What about the children that will be the ones who have to fight the crisis head on? Those children are our generation’s now. Those in charge in the ’00s will be well over their life expectancy by the time the impact of climate change really hits, but it is very likely our generation will be right in the middle of it. The sadness and helplessness behind this lyric, full of guilt at our fate, off, gets me every time.

What’s even sadder is a large number of our generation have taken a nihilist attitude towards the whole thing, and instead of wanting to help change, instead double down into the worst parts of internet capitalism. The growing NFT trend is slaughtering the planet even faster for the sake of bragging rights over a shit jpeg.

This isn’t exclusive to our generation, of course. Plenty of Boomers and Gen X are facilitating this practice, but your Nan isn’t going out of her way mining Dogecoin to buy a cell in an encrypted spreadsheet they can feel smug about.

Thankfully Gen Z for the most part doesn’t seem to have bought into this too much either. Although Gen Z are even more economically fucked than Millennials, so it’s not like they could even if they wanted to. Which they wouldn’t, because why would they?

Change is Coming – Skyclad

“As we look to new horizons, new worlds to colonise
Will we learn the lessons or dismiss it all as lies?
Now they say that change is coming and it’s not some fantasy
Cos the evidence is mounting and it’s there for all to see
Yes they say that change is coming and it’s not conspiracy
No it’s not just “snake oil science” but a new harsh reality”

As much as I pretend otherwise, I’ll always be a metalhead at heart. I generally don’t have too much Metal on these playlists, partly because it’s objectively the worst genre of music, but largely because a lot of Metal I like doesn’t really tackle tangible real world issues. Certainly not from a perspective that I agree with.

Climate Change however is one of those topics that is thoroughly explored in Metal, with the ties to Armageddon and the end of the world, which lend themselves very well to heavy music.

Skyclad are actually a band I hadn’t heard of before researching for this list. They’ve been around for a while, and are widely considered one of the pioneers of “Folk Metal” – blending the New Wave of British Heavy Metal’s distinctive speed and melodious compositions with traditional folk music. These genres arguably shouldn’t work well together, but actually they really do, providing some much-needed depth to a genre that was stale long before the 90s.

This song’s lyrics are very folk-inspired, favouring a simple rhyme scheme to convey a clear message, rather than the more abstract and all over the place approach you’d expect of a typical Thrash band. The close attention to detail and simple structure really lends itself to topics of this gravity, grounding it in an uncomfortable reality, and not a frightening fantasy.

It’s a great song, and one of the more recent on this list as well, really conveying a message of urgency and defeat, more than the warning nature of songs in the 80s, 90s and 00s. By no means the only Metal track on this list either…

Amazonia – Gojira

“There’s fire in the sky
You’re in the Amazon
The greatest miracle
Is burning to the ground”

Going much heavier now with French Death Metal legends Gojira. To say they are an acquired taste is an understatement, although I actually think with their smoother guitar tones and progressive approach to songwriting, they’re actually a lot more accessible than other bands in their genre.

That’s not to say they haven’t earned their label of Death Metal. Gojira have a sense of impending Doom in their songs, but with a much faster and aggressive beat than one would expect of Doom Metal – taking an almost punk/grindcore edge, except with much longer songs and with more progression.

This song is specifically about the Amazon Rainforest getting demolished and burned to the ground, however it works as a metaphor for climate change as a whole. Partly because just this one ecosystem will have knock-on effects with all life on Earth. The greatest miracle is burning to the ground. This can on the surface mean the Amazon Rainforest, but the phrase “The Greatest Miracle” conjures up imagery of life on Earth as a whole, which will be incredibly threatened by the loss of the rainforest.

Whatever it’s overall meaning, it tackles the issue of climate change on at least a micro if not a macro level, and very much belongs on this list.

Collapse (Post-Amerika) – Rise Against

“When our rivers run dry and our crops cease to grow
When our summers grow longer and winters won’t snow
From the banks of the ocean and the ice in the hills
To the fight in the desert where progress stands still
When we’ve lost our will

That’s how we’ll know
This is not a test, we’ll know
This is cardiac arrest
Of a world too proud to admit our mistakes
We’re crashing into the ground as we all fall from grace

Moving back to some good old Punk now with Rise Against – who, like Bad Religion, seem to have a song for every occasion as far as these playlists go.

Collapse launches right into the grim realities of climate change. No build up, straight into the consequences.

I particularly like the chorus, to have such a great hook as well as successfully sum up the crux of the song in 5 lines is a talent I don’t think Punk bands get enough credit for. We are a world too proud to admit our mistakes, so instead of backing down, we double down, deny reality for as long as possible, then blame everyone else and insist we did all we could, while the poorest face the consequences first.

Make no mistake, climate change can and will destroy all human life on Earth, but it will be the poorest who go first. The rich will be given all the equipment they need to delay the inevitable, and the super-rich will leave the planet behind and start this whole process again on another one.

Climate change isn’t a class issue, but it is a class issue.

Eyes Wide Open – Gotye

“And some people offered up answers
We made out we like we heard, they were only words
They didn’t add up, to a change in the way we were living
And the saddest thing, is all of it could’ve been avoided

But it was like to stop consuming’s, to stop being human
And why’d I make a change if you won’t?
We’re all in the same boat, stayin’ afloat for the moment”

Remember Gotye? Whatever happened to Gotye? God I miss 2011.

Eyes Wide Open was actually the first single from his 2011 album, that ended up being vastly overshadowed by that other one that I can’t remember the name of. I definitely used to know what it was called. But I’m drawing blanks… it’ll come to me, I’m sure.

This is a very unsubtle song written from the perspective of a dystopian future, looking back at the golden period for ecological destruction enabled by our world leaders and largest corporations. This song is calling out the unwillingness across the board to do anything to oppose and fight these changes, and now that I’m writing all this I can see why the second single of the album was the one that charted.

It’s not something you’re going to drunkenly dance and sing along to in a club you’re drastically too old to be in at a “Retro” night in 2026, while you scream at all the freshers how you remember when the song came out and they’re like “Okay grandma” and shift to the other end of the bar.

Tunnel Vision – Kae Tempest

“We won’t stop until we’ve beaten down the planet into pellets
Before the interstellar mission to inflict more terror
It’s killing me, it’s killing me, it’s filling me, I’m vomiting, it’s still in me
Everything is fine really, silly me”

Kae Tempest may be one of my favourite artists I discovered through these playlist through the incredibly talented Yanna A – go check her out on bandcamp: https://yannaavlianos.bandcamp.com/

She gave me this song for another playlist, can’t remember which, but I fell immediately in love. The song actually gives me vibes of some of Enter Shikari’s softer songs, most notably Constellations – and I would kill to see them duet.

This song isn’t exclusively about climate change. You could argue it’s more an anti violence, war, corruption, and the effects our direct actions have on the planet than specifically climate change, but it definitely fits the bill.

The song is in essence calling out the titular “Tunnel Vision” of older generations – only seeing what’s in front of them day by day, and never looking at the bigger picture until it’s too late to do anything about.

The song then goes into detail about everything wrong with the world, taking a very trip-hop approach to flow and beat, making it feel more like spoken word than actual hip-hop, but regardless Kae’s flow is impressive, coherent, and compliments the song perfectly. It ends with a kind of cop out message of loving more, making me feel that this song is more about violence and war than the impact of corrupt capitalism on the environment.

Overall it’s still a wonderful song though. I couldn’t think of anything better to end the playlist on, retaining a sombre tone, but with a bit of uplifting inspirational hope at the end.

Not to undermine the core message of these playlists, but to inspire us to keep fighting. If you’re anything like me, the willingness to fight drains ever more shallow every week.

So why not channel that depleting will to fight into humour by tuning into our next Broadcast Avalanche stream with Team Captains Bobbie Jones and Katie Mitchell, with guests Will Preston, Kathryn Mather, Sophie G Collins & Marie Goulbourne! Tune in on Monday the 29th November at 7:30pm on Twitch.tv/blizzardcomedy

And listen to these songs and more from Nuclear Assault, Neil Young, Bruce Cockburn and more on Spotify or YouTube.

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