Is Singing The Best Way To Change People’s Attitudes To Energy?

OK, you’ve probably heard the Bob Dylan song ‘Blowing In The Wind’, which of course, makes him one of  the renewable energy industry’s favourite musicians. That said, we’re guessing that you probably don’t remember Bob Dylan famously ‘going electric’ back in 1965.

Naturally, the ever youthful team at Environment TV also have no recollection of the Sixties* but we’re advised Dylan changing from being a solo folk singer with an acoustic guitar and harmonica to using a stratocaster electric guitar and having an electric backing band was a ‘really big thing’ in the history of music. So big, that many of his fans booed or even shouted ‘Judas’ at their former idol.

Ok, there you have it, half a century ago, going electric, at least on stage, was controversial.

Some fifty plus years later in a room in deepest Wales where Queen produced Bohemian Rhapsody, Coldplay wrote Yellow and Oasis recorded Wonderwall, the exact opposite thing occurred…

Electric went all acoustic (sort of)

there really is a currency called a ‘Dong’ – they use it in Vietnam

This wasn’t some bizarre musical anti-Dylan moment, it wasn’t a band of Millennials turning their backs on musical progress, nor was it that the recording studios forgot to pay their own energy bills. It was all to do with attempting to bring awareness of ‘smart meters’ – those super in-home gadgets that let you know where you’re using, or more likely wasting, energy in your property down to the last penny, cent, Euro, Dollar, Pound, Rupee, Fen, Yen, Dong, Peso, or whatever currency you hold dear. (yes, there really is a currency called a ‘Dong’ – they use it in Vietnam)

The UK’s national rollout of smart meters is seen as such a vital part of the modernisation of that nations energy system that they are being fitted completely free between now and 2020 –  in every home and small business in the land. And in the UK that’s no small thing, as there are at least 26.5 million homes.

So, how did the energy companies work together to let the world know about Smart Meters? Well, one of their first methods was to sign up a big league Choir Master, Tim Rhys Evans, and create a brand new choir made up of staff responsible for helping making the change as smoothly as possible. The new choir was called Energise: The Smart Meter Choir.

The world, it seemed, had come full circle and flipped over again. Electricity now wanted to be acoustic – in the form of a choir.

This idea must have seemed so good in the PR department, but would it work in the real world.

Caught in a landslide, No escape from reality

And so, having been chosen from around the UK, members of the choir recorded their session in the famous Rockfield Studios in Monmouth, Wales, where Freddie Mercury sang to the microphone: “Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy? Caught in a landslide, No escape from reality”.

Whatever Freddie thought back in the day about the term ‘smart tech’, we’ll never know, but we do know that in that very same place many years later a genuine single entitled ‘Changes’ was recorded and the choir that sang it were hoping for a top spot in the global, or at least the UK, music charts.

Was it a good idea? Was it just fantasy? Well, the film was actually quite watchable and certainly very heartwarming.

Incredibly, this journalist, hand on heart and wallet, loves Smart Meters but had a real issue getting his head around the concept of a choir generating such an important message. Was it really the way to help lessen electricity demand and let consumers understand exactly where they are wasting electricity?

That said, I did try to get in the spirit of the thing and found myself humming along.

Sadly, a quick check at the charts today records that the song didn’t make the big time – indeed, the only group with ‘Energise’ in its name to ever enter the charts did so way back in 1991 with a song called ‘Report To The Dance Floor’. 

Perhaps next time they should spread the message through the medium of dance!

As for those smart meters – a lot of very amusing ads like the one below are getting the message across quite well anyway – and up to January 2019 one in every four homes already had one fitted.



* we have no recollection of the Sixties based on two reasons: we either weren’t born in 1965 or we took too big a part in the whole Sixties scene and have no memory of that whole decade.