The 1975 (2019 song)

"The 1975" is a 2019 song[a] by the English band of the same name from their fourth studio album, Notes on a Conditional Form. It was released on 24 July 2019, and included on the album as the opening track in May 2020. It continues the tradition of the band's albums opening with an eponymous song, but where the previous three had a shared set of lyrics sung by Matty Healy, the 2019 song uses different lyrics delivered by the environmental activist Greta Thunberg. She calls for civil disobedience in response to climate change, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, in a modified version of her speech "Our House Is on Fire" from the 2019 World Economic Forum.

"The 1975"
Song cover: horizontal and vertical text reading The 1975 and Notes on a Conditional Form.
Song by the 1975
from the album Notes on a Conditional Form
Released24 July 2019 (2019-07-24)
RecordedJune 2019
Genre
Length4:55
LabelDirty Hit
Composer(s)
Lyricist(s)
  • Greta Thunberg
Producer(s)
  • George Daniel
  • Matthew Healy
Audio with lyrics
"The 1975" on YouTube

The song was recorded in June 2019. Proceeds went to the grassroots movement Extinction Rebellion and the song's release coincided with measures by the band to reduce their environmental impact. When touring in 2019 and 2020, prior to COVID-19 lockdowns, the band opened their encore with "The 1975". The song received mostly positive reviews from music critics, who praised its emotional impact, the message and the transition on Notes on a Conditional Form from the song into the lead single "People".

Background and recordingEdit

 
The Swedish climate change activist Greta Thunberg is featured on the track.

"The 1975" features the Swedish climate change activist Greta Thunberg, who began missing school on Fridays in August 2018 to protest outside the Swedish Riksdag (parliament) with a sign reading "Skolstrejk för klimatet" ("School strike for the climate"). In November 2018, this sparked a global movement of climate strikes.[1] Aged 16 at the time of the song's release, she was the first featured artist on a recording by the 1975; the band had previously criticised that guest appearances in music were primarily intended to improve chart positioning.[2][3]

The song was produced under the label Dirty Hit, which was founded by the 1975's manager Jamie Oborne.[2] According to Oborne, the lead vocalist Matty Healy wanted to use his platform to highlight other voices, and named Thunberg as the "most important person in the world".[4] Healy later said that the band wanted to make "the most modern statement" on the opening track, and that he wanted Thunberg—whom he considered "the voice of this generation"—to be documented in pop culture and recorded on vinyl.[5][6] After Oborne failed to contact Thunberg via Instagram, his publicist introduced him to the environmental editor of The Guardian, who put him in contact with her father Svante Thunberg.[4][7] Thunberg recorded "The 1975" in Stockholm, Sweden, in late June 2019, as the band were travelling through Sweden to play at festivals.[2][4] Oborne and Healy stated that more influential artists than them turned down an opportunity to work with Thunberg.[8][7] Greta Thunberg said of the track, her first musical work, that she appreciated the ability to reach "a broad new audience in a new way".[2] Healy said that meeting Thunberg was "such an inspiration" and that she was "the most punk, the most badass person" he had ever met.[9][10]

CompositionEdit

The band's first three albums begin with a brief self-titled song with the same set of lyrics about oral sex, beginning "Go down / Soft sound", sung by Healy.[11][12] The musical styles of each version set the tone for that album.[13] On Notes on a Conditional Form, the opening song deviates from the standard set of lyrics.[11] Lasting 4 minutes and 57 seconds, "The 1975" is a protest song and a work of ambient music, where Thunberg delivers a spoken word performance.[9][14][15][16]

The lyrics call for civil disobedience to bring about reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in response to climate change, based on the January 2019 speech "Our House Is on Fire", which Thunberg delivered at the World Economic Forum.[9][17][18] Thunberg opens: "We are right now in the beginning of a climate and ecological crisis".[19] She warns that humans are failing to solve the problem, and outlines the consequences of such a failure, but says that it is not too late to change. She says that the rules in place need to be changed and urges rebellion.[20][21] Thunberg's tone is calm throughout.[20][22] In the background, minimal ambient music plays, including piano and string instrumentation.[3][13] According to Healy, they considered a version with no backing music, but they chose to include it to add emotion and make the listener "transported to a different place".[10][23] He said that "the blend of the music and her truth is the ultimate combination".[10]

"The 1975" marks a shift by the band to more explicitly political messages.[19] It follows political songs from A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships, such as "Love It If We Made It"—about contemporary political events—and "I Like America & America Likes Me"—about American gun control.[24] Healy described the song as superficially beautiful but also sad and ominous.[5]

Release and promotionEdit

 
Placard used by Extinction Rebellion, which received proceeds from "The 1975"

"The 1975" is the opening song on the 1975's fourth album, Notes on a Conditional Form.[8] Healy initially said that the band were choosing between three songs to release on 31 May 2019 as the lead single of the album.[25] However, "The 1975" was the first song to be released, on 24 July 2019, and the lead single "People" debuted on 22 August.[a][10][27] As they have done for previous releases, the band deactivated their social media accounts shortly before the publishing of "The 1975".[10][30][31] The band initially intended not to release "The 1975" prior to the album, but after its recording, they decided to do so. Oborne said that the song "just wasn't a statement that could wait" and that holding it back would have made it feel like a "vanity exercise".[8]

At the time of its release, the 1975 were alternating between touring and working on Notes on a Conditional Form, and "The 1975" was one of four songs that were complete or close to complete, alongside "The Birthday Party", "Frail State of Mind" and "People".[32] Al Horner of The Daily Telegraph observed that the Conservative politician Theresa Villiers—who previously voted against initiatives to limit carbon emissions—became the UK Environment Secretary on the day of the release.[19] According to Oborne, shortly before the release he was contacted by an unusual number of tabloids, and following it they began to run fabricated stories about Healy's relationship and drug usage.[33] The Conservative politician David T. C. Davies—who has made incorrect claims about climate change in Parliament—called the band hypocritical for their upcoming tour, due to its carbon emission cost.[34][35] Oborne said in May 2020 that he was still surprised by the "hate and negativity" that Healy received over the collaboration, describing him as "a bit weary of being that guy who fights for the underdog and gets a lot of abuse".[36]

At Thunberg's request, proceeds from "The 1975" were donated to the grassroots movement Extinction Rebellion.[2] Spokespeople from Extinction Rebellion praised the track, saying that "music has the power to break through barriers".[8][37][38] A BBC journalist noted that the band were scheduled to tour a wide number of countries, flying by plane, at the time of the song's release.[17] However, contemporaneously with the song's debut, the record label and band announced measures to reduce their environmental impact,[8][2][39] such as substitution of plastic materials by paper.[40] The band had also hired an eco-management company for performances.[41]

The 1975 played recordings of the song to open the band's encore throughout performances in 2019 and 2020. Healy would return to the stage alone and turn his back to the audience as it played.[42][43] Such performances included some touring for A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships,[42] the Reading and Leeds Festivals in August 2019,[44] the BB&T Pavilion in New Jersey in November 2019,[45] and shows at the Manchester Arena and London O2 Arena during February 2020.[46][47] Liverpool Echo reported that one audience were told to be quiet for the song.[48] The COVID-19 pandemic led to disruption of planned appearances following Notes on a Conditional Form's release, such as an event at London's Finsbury Park in July 2020, where the 1975 planned to implement a number of environmental measures.[49][50]

Critical receptionEdit

On 27 July 2019, Consequence of Sound named the song their favourite of the week. Sean Lang from the publication approved that Healy let Thunberg give the speech, rather than trying to deliver the message himself, and lauded Thunberg for her communication of a difficult message.[51] Relatedly, Laura Snapes from The Guardian praised the 1975 for using their platform to highlight a woman's voice, and Horner said the music was "careful to never overpower or distract" from Thunberg.[19][3] Claire Biddles of The Line of Best Fit commented that the "introspective and coy" background music complemented the weight of Thunberg's speech.[52] However, New Statesman's Ellen Peirson-Hagger panned a perceived lack of involvement by the band in their own song, both in its composition and in acting upon its message.[39] A writer for the BBC viewed the song as light on concrete suggestions, but direct on messaging.[17]

Jake Kerridge of The Daily Telegraph praised it as the "most terrifying" spoken word pop music since the 1984 anti-nuclear war song "Two Tribes", by Frankie Goes to Hollywood.[16] GQ's Olive Pometsy called the recording "a wake-up call", saying that people need to work together to sustain the planet's habitability.[21] Lang called the song a "surprising, refreshing risk", while Horner found the track inspiring and "brutally, rebelliously stark".[51][19] Lizzie Manno of Paste believed it made an "unwavering case for radical change".[20] A number of critics felt emotional when listening to the song, including Dillon Eastoe of Gigwise, who had to "pull over and cry" upon first hearing it in the car, and Madison Feller of Elle, who got chills from the song.[53][54] Mitch Mosk of Atwood Magazine and The Big Issue's Malcolm Jack found it stirring.[22][55]

The recording also received positive commentary in context as the opening song on Notes on a Conditional Form. Several critics enjoyed the transition between "The 1975" and the punk rock song "People", including Claire Shaffer of Rolling Stone and Manno; Insider's Callie Ahlgrim lauded that "the effect is exquisite".[15][20][56] Writing for Insider, Courteney Larocca praised that it quickly distinguishes the album from the 1975's previous releases.[15] The SLUG Magazine writer Paige Zuckerman found it "a more mature, evolved iteration" of the 1975's lead tracks, but Manno questioned what purpose it served on the album.[20][57] At the Reading and Leeds Festivals, the song was followed by "Love It If We Made It"; Adam White of The Independent found this continuation to bring "greater potency" to "The 1975".[58]

PersonnelEdit

Credits adapted from the album's liner notes[59] and Pitchfork.[60]

  • George Daniel – keyboards, mixing, producing, programming, strings, writing
  • Jonathan Gilmore – engineering
  • Matthew Healy – keyboards, producing, writing
  • Robin Schmidt – mastering
  • Greta Thunberg – vocals, writing

ReferencesEdit

NotesEdit

  1. ^ a b Some publications initially reported that "The 1975" was a single, including The Daily Telegraph,[19] The Guardian[2] and Spin.[26] However, "People" was later acknowledged as the album's lead single, such as by The Line of Best Fit,[27] Billboard[28] and Rolling Stone.[29]

CitationsEdit

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  2. ^ a b c d e f g Snapes, Laura (25 July 2019). "'Time to rebel': Greta Thunberg adds voice to new song by the 1975". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 24 July 2019. Retrieved 28 July 2019.
  3. ^ a b c Snapes, Laura (25 July 2019). "Hot and bothered: why Greta Thunberg joined the 1975". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 28 July 2019. Retrieved 28 July 2019.
  4. ^ a b c Oborne, Jamie (26 April 2021). 'Determination' – with guest The 1975's manager Jamie Oborne (Podcast). Sounds Like A Plan. Event occurs at 33:00–37:00.
  5. ^ a b "Notes On a Conditional Form by The 1975". Apple Music. Archived from the original on 1 January 2021. Retrieved 31 March 2020.
  6. ^ Daniell, Mark (22 May 2020). "The 1975's Matty Healy talks new LP, Greta Thunberg and life under lockdown". Toronto Sun. Archived from the original on 23 May 2020. Retrieved 24 May 2020.
  7. ^ a b "Greta Thunberg's 1975 feature 'rejected by big artists'". BBC. 12 August 2019. Archived from the original on 13 August 2019. Retrieved 13 August 2019.
  8. ^ a b c d e Jones, Damian (12 August 2019). "The 1975 claim "big artists" didn't want to work with climate activist Greta Thunberg". NME. Archived from the original on 12 August 2019. Retrieved 13 August 2019.
  9. ^ a b c Guy, Jack (25 July 2019). "Greta Thunberg has recorded a song with The 1975 calling for a climate change rebellion". CNN. Archived from the original on 28 July 2019. Retrieved 28 July 2019.
  10. ^ a b c d e Clayton-Lea, Tony (16 May 2020). "The 1975's Matt Healy: 'Seamus Heaney has always been a massive influence'". The Irish Times. Archived from the original on 2 June 2020. Retrieved 30 March 2021.
  11. ^ a b Helman, Peter (24 July 2019). "The 1975 – 'The 1975'". Stereogum. Archived from the original on 29 July 2019. Retrieved 29 July 2019.
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  13. ^ a b Blum, Jordan (22 May 2020). "The 1975's 'Notes on a Conditional Form' Is Laudably Thought-Provoking and Thrilling". PopMatters. Archived from the original on 15 February 2021. Retrieved 8 April 2021.
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  21. ^ a b Pometsey, Olive (25 July 2019). "The 1975 and Greta Thunberg's rebellious spirit on their new climate change track is exactly what we need". GQ. Archived from the original on 26 November 2020. Retrieved 30 March 2021.
  22. ^ a b Mosk, Mitch (22 May 2020). "Our Take: The 1975's Epic 'Notes on a Conditional Form' Is an Odyssey of Sound & Substance". Atwood Magazine. Archived from the original on 1 November 2020. Retrieved 8 April 2021.
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  24. ^ Schramm, Molly (25 July 2019). "The 1975 Release Politically Charged Opening Track from Notes on a Conditional Form". Paste. Archived from the original on 25 July 2019. Retrieved 29 July 2019.
  25. ^ Copsey, Rob (21 February 2019). "The 1975 to launch new single from next album Notes on a Conditional Form on May 31". Official Charts Company. Archived from the original on 25 October 2020. Retrieved 30 March 2021.
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  29. ^ Shaffer, Claire (19 May 2020). "The 1975 Drop Comparatively Demure YouTube Performance of 'People'". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 10 March 2021. Retrieved 8 April 2021.
  30. ^ Spruch, Kirsten (24 July 2019). "The 1975 Deactivate All Social Media Accounts After Posting Mysterious Teaser". Billboard. Archived from the original on 28 July 2019. Retrieved 1 August 2019.
  31. ^ Goeman, Collin (24 July 2019). "The 1975 Delete Social Media Accounts, Spark Fan Speculation". Alternative Press. Archived from the original on 1 August 2019. Retrieved 1 August 2019.
  32. ^ Fitzmaurice, Larry (12 September 2019). "The 1975 Have Nowhere to Grow But Up". The Fader. Retrieved 2 April 2021.
  33. ^ Oborne, Jamie (26 April 2021). 'Determination' – with guest The 1975's manager Jamie Oborne (Podcast). Sounds Like A Plan. Event occurs at 43:45–48:50.
  34. ^ Wyatt, Tim (30 August 2019). "Tory MP writes letter to The 1975 complaining they take flights but also support addressing climate change". The Independent. Archived from the original on 20 July 2021. Retrieved 28 April 2021.
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  39. ^ a b Peirson-Hagger, Ellen (25 July 2019). "Greta Thunberg features on a new track by The 1975 – but it doesn't sit right with me". New Statesman. Archived from the original on 30 July 2019. Retrieved 30 July 2019.
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