It is not a secret that music plays an important role in the life of any individual. Today music can be viewed as a key agent of popular culture, which “reflects and creates social conditions, including the factors that either facilitate or impede social change”ť (The Powerful Role of Music in Society, 2008, para.1). Many social problems are discussed and represented in popular culture through music lyrics. According to Richard D. Barnet and Larry L. Burriss (2001), of all forms of media that exist in our society, “none is so personal, so personalized, or so pervasive as music”ť (p. 47). This fact means that music is not only the means of expression, but also the means of communicating personal feelings and emotions, beliefs and attitudes. Ian Peddie (2011) states that “music is essentially a social phenomenon”ť(p. 94). It can be used as a so-called transitional form of human communication that can not only bridge gaps, but also build walls. In addition, it has been found that music has always been one of the most widely criticized forms of media expression. For example, some songs promote violence, while other songs promote love and kindness. Some songs address political issues, war actions and terrorism, while other songs discuss such social problems as drug use, teenage pregnancy and hate crimes. Each of the above mentioned social issues should be discussed in our society, and music helps to address these issues in its own way. In most cases, a social issue “involves not simply the music itself, but also the social cause addressed by the music”ť (Barnet & Burriss, 2001, p. 48).
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â The major goal of this paper is to analyze how social problems can be addressed through music. This paper will explore one of most important social issues ”“ environmental pollution and its negative consequences for our civilization. There are many songs about nature that “teach listeners and singers specific biological and ecological concepts through the lyrics”ť (Martin, 2004, p. 217). This social issue is of public concern because environmental pollution causes serious damage to our planet and to all people who live on it.
Most environmental songs do not lose their educational value. These songs not only teach listeners to increase their ecological awareness, but also concentrate on the delivery of a certain ecological message. The texts of these songs can be viewed as propagandistic.
One of these songs is the song “Good Planets are Hard to Find”ť from the album Â Rocking Horse Head (1996) Â performed by Steve Forbert. The song is sung in a melodic manner in the genre rock ‘n’ roll. The song is directed to all people of our planet. Their age, socio-economic status, gender, race and ethnicity do not matter, because the singer discusses the major environmental problems that exist on our planet. He sings: “Good planets are in demand”ť, because many people ignore environmental problems and continue contaminate the environment. Today it is hard to find “clean beaches and sparkling sand, Land masses with room to spare, Jet streams and perfect air, High forests and low wetlands”ť (Forbert, 1996, track 9). The song’s lyrics include many stylistic devices, such as epithets, metaphors, etc. The words used in the lyrics are simple and easy to understand.
In the “Earth Song”ť from the album HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book IÂ (1995) performed by the king of Pop Michael Jackson, the theme is the same. It is a so-called ballad that contains some elements of blues, gospel and opera. “Earth Song”ť deals with the environment and animal welfare, human rights and environmental distraction. Michael Jackson sings:
I used to dream…
I used to glance beyond the stars…
Now I don’t know where we are,
Although I know we’ve drifted far… (Jackson, 1995, track 5).
In this song, Michael Jackson tries to explain all people that it is necessary to address the major environmental problems that exist on our planet today. The main peculiarity of the lyrics is the use of a large number of rhetoric questions which require prompt solutions.