12 songs for your climate strike playlist
February 19, 2020
On the first Earth Day, 20 million people took to the streets to demand that the government protect our planet. Among them, many musicians, including legendary folk singer Pete Seeger, motivated demonstrators through their environmentally conscious songs.
Studies have shown that music can be a powerful neurological tool. It can reduce fatigue and increase stimulation, important tools for activists fighting for our planet on the 50th anniversary of Earth Day this year. Throughout history, music has held social movements together and kept them alive even when all hope would have otherwise been lost.
The year 2020 will be a key turning point for climate action. And we need everyone pitching in. Our interns at Earth Day Network compiled a list of uplifting, inspirational songs to get you in the climate-fighting spirit.
“Young Enough to Try” by Humming House
“Am I old enough, old enough, to stand where my fathers stood and roll the dice on what I love?”
“Young Enough to Try” invokes the momentum and unique power of the youth climate movement. Full of the same optimism and passion as the movement, this song will inspire you to fight for the best possible future even when it seems a little hopeless.
— Kalen Breland
“Only the Young” by Taylor Swift
“They aren’t gonna help us, too busy helping themselves. They aren’t gonna change this, we gotta do it ourselves.”
Taylor Swift released “Only the Young” with her 2020 Netflix documentary, “Miss Americana.” It honors the political awakening of American youth after the 2016 United States presidential election. As voting citizens, we have enormous power to drive change by making our voices heard, and we must demand effective environmental policies from our politicians.
— Emily Merrill
“A New Day” by GRiZ (feat. Matisyahu)
“Visions of a new generation, for the youth, we fight for salvation. All we need to learn is love.”
“A New Day” by GRiZ inspires younger generations to enact positive change in the world through peaceful and productive efforts. This electronic, funky song reminds us that every day is “A New Day” to rise to the occasion.
— Sarah Kolberg-Shuler
“The Times They Are A-Changin’” by Bob Dylan
“Come gather ’round people, wherever you roam and admit that the waters around you have grown.”
Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are A-Changin’” has been an anthem of activists for years. The song, however, feels especially relevant to climate activism today, reflecting the urgency of the climate crisis yet still offers an uplifting message: We must all come together in action for our environment.
— Lindsay Steinberg
“Don’t Stop Me Now” by Queen
“I’m burning through the sky, yeah! Two hundred degrees, that’s why they call me Mister Fahrenheit.”
Queen’s 1970 hit song, “Don’t Stop Me Now,” has all the ingredients of a feel-good song. The song is in major key and has a fast tempo, the perfect recipe for the most uplifting song of all time, according to Jacob Jolij, a psychologist at the University of Groningen. Hopefully this song inspires you to take climate action and encourage your peers to do the same!
— Molly Cruse
“Daylight” by Matt and Kim
“And in the daylight I don’t pick up my phone, ‘cause in the daylight anywhere feels like home.”
“Daylight” by Matt and Kim is about ditching the technology that takes over everyday life, suggesting we break free and enjoy the natural world: This upbeat song reminds us what we have to lose in our fight against climate change and why we must do everything we can to preserve our beautiful world for future generations.
— Oliver Chartock
“Paradise” by Coldplay
“When she was just a girl she expected the world, but it flew away from her reach. So she ran away in her sleep and dreamed of para-para-paradise.”
“Paradise,” released by Coldplay in 2011, is about wanting and expecting a better world but not being able to obtain it. This song allows us to both dream of a sustainable future and motivates us to keep fighting for it.
— Conor Wade
“Love Song to the Earth” by various artists
“Looking down from up on the moon you’re a tiny blue marble, who’d have thought the ground we stand on could be so fragile.”
“Love Song to the Earth” was a collaborative effort from some of the world’s most renowned artists, including Paul McCartney, Jon Bon Jovi, Sheryl Crow, Fergie, Colbie Caillat, Natasha Bedingfield, Leona Lewis and Sean Paul. The song was originally written to call for the Paris Agreement in 2015 but continues to mobilize activists today.
— Tyler Yezman
“Never Gonna Give You Up” by Rick Astley
“Never gonna give you up, never gonna let you down.”
“Never Gonna Give You Up” is infamous because of the popular “Rickrolling” trend that took over the Internet in the early 2000s. Through an environmental lens, however, you could say that Rick Astley was referring to the Earth and climate change. It’s easy to be pessimistic about our future, but in the words of Mr. Astley, I’m never gonna give you up (Earth)!
— Challen Tighe
“What a Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong
“I see trees of green, red roses too, I see them bloom for me and you and I think to myself what a wonderful world.”
“What a Wonderful World” paints an enchanting picture of a beautiful, natural world we can all aspire to preserve. The song reminds us what we are fighting for, who we are fighting for, and why we must strive to make the world a better place.
— Yujie Hao
“How Far I’ll Go” by Alessia Cara
“I can lead with pride, I can make us strong, I’ll be satisfied if I play along, but the voice inside sings a different song.”
“How Far I’ll Go” is featured on the soundtrack for the 2016 movie “Moana.” The song is about finding your voice and following your dreams without letting anyone hold you back. This song will help you channel a fearless attitude to meet the climate crisis head on.
— Molly Cruse
“Mr. Blue Sky” by Electric Light Orchestra
“Mr. Blue Sky please tell us why you had to hide away for so long, where did we go wrong?”
“Mr. Blue Sky” by Electric Light Orchestra reminds us of the beauty of a clear day. The song expresses appreciation for the natural world, inviting children to love the planet as they grow up.
— Oliver Chartock