The Earth is Sick: Environmentalism and the Politics of Age and Gender in Children’s Musical Culture


  • Kai Arne Hansen Department of Art and Cultural Studies, Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences IASPM Norden


Children’s popular music, environmentalism, ecomusicology, gender, identity, audiovisual aesthetics


Anthropogenic climate change is among the most widely debated topics of our time, and recent years have seen the growing impact of children’s involvement in environmental issues. While Greta Thunberg and the School Strike for Climate movement are key examples in this regard, there is another tendency deserving of attention that involves the increased visibility of environmentalism in children’s music and culture. This article investigates the song and music video Kloden er syk [The Earth is Sick] by Anna & Emma, which won the 2019 edition of the Norwegian music competition Melodi Grand Prix Junior. I explore how the audiovisual aesthetics of Kloden er syk encourage solidarity for environmentalist causes, and also discuss disparaging responses to the song and video in order to explicate how age and gender are politicized for the purpose of discrediting young activists and musicians. Ultimately, the article aims to shed light on the distinctly musical (and sociopolitical) ways in which children and young people are implicated in environmental debates.

Author Biography

Kai Arne Hansen, Department of Art and Cultural Studies, Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences IASPM Norden

Kai Arne Hansen is associate professor of music in the Department of Art and Cultural Studies, Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences. He holds a PhD in critical musicology from the Department of Musicology, University of Oslo, and his research interests include popular music and identity, gender and sexuality, contemporary media, audiovisual aesthetics, and the musical cultures of children. Hansen is currently working on a monograph about masculinities in pop music (Oxford University Press, forthcoming), and is editor-in-chief of the Norwegian Journal of Musicology.



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