Emergency on Planet Earth – Jamiroquai’s title track on their debut album
Released in 1993, Emergency on Planet Earth was Jamiroquai’s debut album. Incredibly it entered the charts at number 1 and turned into an instant classic. The London based English funk and acid jazz band came together in 1992. The band’s well known frontman, Jay Kay, is the lead vocalist and songwriter. This album set the tone for the distinctive sound they built on over their successful career. By 2017 Jamiroquai had sold over 26 million albums worldwide.
The album’s infectious funk and jazz sound is filled with trumpets, saxophones, flutes and didgeridoos! The theme of the album deals with world issues and self-consciousness. Jay Kay introduces himself on the inside of the album sleeve with an environmental ‘save the planet’ manifesto. Here he talks about distributing wealth and saving the rainforests.
“Emergency on Planet Earth” was released as the album’s fourth single on 2 August 1993. Jay Kay wrote the song, which has a marked environmentalist tone, pleading with the listener to “stop modernisation going on.” The track reached number 32 in the UK Singles Chart and number 4 in the US Dance Chart. A later version of the song, using a different bass track and intro, featured in the music video. It was this version that they released on their Greatest Hits album.
Radioactive – Imagine Dragons song on the subject of embracing change
Las Vegas Rock band, Imagine Dragons, opened their debut album Night Visions with “Radioactive”. They released the song in 2012 as the band’s second single. Musically it is an electronic and alternative rock song that lyrically tackles the need to embrace change. Frontman, Dan Reynolds, sings about the world becoming different and the need to break free and see things differently.
Recipe for success…
The success of the song is not by accident and there were a number of techniques used to make sure it was a hit. First was the combination of a number of genres of music in one song – Rock, Pop and Dubstep – all of which featured heavily in the charts at the time. What made “Radioactive” stick in people’s memories is the simple, repeating melody. The chorus sections are almost identical each time and divided into two hooks. The song keeps our interest as a new section is introduced every 14 seconds! So as the listener you get the element of surprises in the music, whilst the melody repeats in short phrases. Clever stuff!
The song featured heavily on many commercials and trailers, including the video game Assassin’s Creed III, in addition to a number of films and soundtracks. It peaked at number 3 on the US Billboard Hot 100, 42 weeks after entering the chart. This set a new record for the slowest ever climb in chart history. “Radioactive” was nominated for two Grammy Awards, winning one of them for Best Rock Performance.
The song was written by British record producer, Alex Da Kid and was seen as one of the darkest tracks on the album. With lyrics like ‘I’m waking up to ash and dust’ and ‘This is it, the apocalypse’, it wasn’t hard to see why. However, Dan Reynolds describes the song as empowering and more of “an awakening; kind of waking up one day and deciding to do something new, and see life in a fresh way.”
Truth To Power – OneRepublic tackles climate change in a song with a strong message
Formed in 2002, One Republic is an American pop rock band based in Colorado. The band is made up of lead singer and multi-instrumentalist Ryan Tedder, guitarists Drew Brown and Zach Filkins, cellist and bassist Brent Kutzle, with Eddie Fisher on drums and Brian Willett on keys. Their first success came as an unsigned act on Myspace in 2005 with “Apologize”.
“Truth To Power” was written by Ryan Tedder and T Bone Burnett for the film An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth To Power. They wrote it as a call to action on climate change. Tedder spoke about the theme of the movie being that “the ‘truth’ leads to ‘power’ when it comes to standing up and helping to create change.” He wrote the song from the perspective of mother earth “turning the tables on those who’d betray her.”
The video features pictures of environmental disasters and people who have been affected by them. It then moves into clips of the 2015 UN Climate Change Conference protests, but ends on a positive with images of hope.
We Are What We Are – From Sonata Arctica’s Ninth Studio Album, The Ninth Hour
Power metal band, Sonata Arctica, hail from the Finnish town of Kemi. They first came together as a hard rock band called Tricky Beans, then changed to Tricky Means! When they shifted to power metal they settled on Sonata Arctica. Tony Kakko is the lead singer, songwriter and keyboard player for the band. The rest of the band members, apart from drummer Tommy Portimo, have also provided backing vocals.
The band’s ninth album, The Ninth Hour, was released in 2016, inspired by Kakko opening his eyes and ears to what was happening in the world around him. The theme of the album and song “We Are What We Are” is that we are putting the world at risk with the way we live in it. In an interview Kakko said “We are a selfish breed of an animal” and that he “woke up one day” after he had become a father and “it changed something fundamentally deep inside. What kind of world are we leaving behind for future generations?” The song sounds negative, just like we’ve failed already but the song is looking back from the point of no return. Where we had the chance to change things but that didn’t happen because we are what we are…