“Feels Like Summer” by Donald Glover (Childish Gambino)

Picture of animated Donald Glover in “Feels Like Summer” Music Video (NME, 2018).

  • “Feels Like Summer” is a Rhythm and Blues song by recording artist Donald Glover, also known by his stage name Childish Gambino. The song appears on Glover’s Extended Play, Summer Pack, released on July 11, 2018. You can listen to and watch the music video of the song here and read the lyrics here
  • Glover is known for using his music to articulate issues affecting society. In “Feels Like Summer,” he uses his lyrics to stress the initiative people need to combat climate change. 
  • “Feels Like Summer” has a certain coolness to its instrumentals that oppose Glover’s lyrics about Earth’s rapid population growth, animal extinction, and societal power dynamics.

How is this related to climate?

  • In one of Glover’s verses, he sings, “Every day gets hotter than the one before.” This line refers to global warming:
    • For example, studies by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in 2021 have shown that combined land and ocean temperatures have increased by 0.18°C per decade since 1981 in response to carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses that human activities emit into the atmosphere. As a result, in 2021, annual global carbon dioxide emission levels were 37.12 billion metric tons, a 60% increase in CO₂ emissions since 1960 alone (graph below).

Annual carbon dioxide (CO₂) emissions worldwide from 1940 to 2021. Note a steady increase in emissions during this time period, with a minor dip during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 (from Statista, 2023).

  • In the second verse, Glover sings “Every day gets hotter than the one before. Running out of water.” This reflects the Earth’s increasing temperatures have led to severe droughts in some parts of the world: 
    • Warmer temperatures increase the evaporation of surface water and dry out soil and vegetation. For example, in February 2023, almost 42% of the lower US 48 states were in drought (graph below).

U.S. Drought Monitor. Note that most states are experiencing dry climates with increased drought periods and intensity (from the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, 2023).

  • Next, Glover sings, “It’s about to go down/Go down,” emphasizing how present and inescapable climate change is. In the chorus, he sums up: “You can feel it in the streets/On a day like this the heat/It feels like summer.” Glover uses ‘summer’ to highlight the Earth’s rapidly increasing temperature:
    • In 2021, for example, many places in the world were experiencing temperatures much higher than average (graph below).

January-December 2021 land and sea surface temperature departures from 1981-2010 average values. Note that the graph is primarily red, indicating places that experienced temperatures higher than average (from NOAA, 2021).


References and additional resources