Nandi Bushell, the talented 11-year-old drummer who had a drum battle with Dave Grohl and who you’ve probably seen on your Instagram feed, is rocking out in protest of climate inaction. She’s teamed up with Tom Morello and his 10-year-old son Roman Morello in a new song called “The Children Will Rise Up!”
The song, which Bushell and Roman Morello co-wrote, is a pure expression of climate rage, full of whiny-in-a-good-way vocals and banging drum fills from Bushell and a loud guitar solo from Morello. It shows us once again that the kids are definitely not alright, but are fighting for a world that will allow them to be.
“They let the Earth bleed to feed their filthy greed. Stop polluting politicians poisoning for profit,” sings Bushell. “While they are killing all the trees, now we all can’t breathe As the temperature’s a rising, nothing is surviving.” Hard agree, Nandi
An accompanying music video released over the weekend features appearances from Greta Thunberg and actor Jack Black and shows the kids performing in outer space with Earth behind them. With lasers, for some reason.
Aesthetically, the video is at once impressive and cringe, which I suppose is to be expected from well-connected children. Images of skinny polar bears, melting glaciers, dirty power plants, and cars spewing out exhaust fly by them, intermixed with pictures of youth climate strikes. Bushell raises her fists to the air in anger. At one point, we see and hear the disturbing buzz of a logger using a saw to chop down a tree, followed by an agony-filled scream from Bushell. It’s perhaps a bit cliche, but it’s also a mood that gets the point across.
Once the song comes to an end, Bushell gives a brief overview of the scientific consensus around climate change and its causes, then ends the video with a call to action.
“Children, rise up! You can do anything you put your mind to,” Bushell says. “You can be a real superhero and save the world.”
Proceeds from the song will go to SOS Pantanal, a nonprofit that works to preserve South America’s Pantanal, the world’s largest tropical wetlands area. Those wetlands are home to striking biodiversity, but they’ve come under assault from human activities from deforestation to climate change.
It’s cool to see kids getting so passionate about the biggest existential threat facing humanity, and also correctly placing the blame squarely on politicians and corporations. Previous climate change-focused songs from kids have taken a more heartfelt tone, which my cold heart finds to be overly corny. Bushell and Morello, though, are straight-up pissed off. That feels much more relatable in the year of lord, 2021, where carbon emissions continue unabated and world leaders keep failing to meet the moment. Refreshingly, there’s also not an ounce of individualistic advice in the lyrics. Bushell doesn’t recommend that kids plant trees or recycle or take shorter showers, which is a welcome sign of the changing times.
But, as always, it should not be on kids to remind us of the dire situation we’re in. It’s great that kids are getting involved, but it will be a long while before these kids can become powerful decision makers. I’m wary of anything that can invite responses from adults that verge on, “The kids will save us!” World leaders are slated to meet next month in Glasgow to turn all the talk of addressing carbon pollution into action. Maybe they can open the meetings with this song so the message gets to the people who need to hear it—and can actually do something about the problems Bushell and Morello are so upset about.