Green Day - American Idiot
Record Label: Reprise Records
Release Date: September 21st, 2004
Last year was a really interesting year for CA punk/pop-punk trio Green Day; they released a series of records entitled Uno, Dos, and Tres, which were received to mixed reactions. Some people loved them, some people didn’t. I haven’t really listened to them, despite a couple songs here and there, but that did invoke a curiosity to the band themselves, so I noticed a copy of their seventh record and most popular American Idiot on sale at Target, so I decided to pick it up, and I’m glad I did, because I enjoy it quite a bit. It’s a great album, and it’s no surprise why this record made such an impact on people. The one thing that really surprised me, though, was that it wasn’t as “angry” as I thought it was going to be. I mean, I knew the song “American Idiot” (the title track) was a very angry track, and a part of me wanted the rest of the album to be just as angry. Well, it’s not. There are songs that are rather aggressive, bitter, and that sort of thing, but for the most part, it’s not. There are a lot of different themes running throughout this record, and that’s a good thing, actually. It’s interesting, because it’s a concept record, in the vein of a rock opera like The Who’s Tommy and it does kind of work to some degree. I mean, a Broadway musical was made, thanks to this record. It must have worked a little bit, right?
The record begins with the title track, and this is the most aggressive song on the record, mainly because of the lyrical theme. Overall, though, this song is one of my favorites on the record. It’s very enjoyable and a great pop-punk/punk track. Vocalist Billie Joe Armstrong has a lot of emotion in his voice that does help the song immensely. The backing instrumentation is also quite solid and works throughout. For a band that’s been going for 20 years or so, the musicianship has gotten quite tight knit between the trio. Second track “Jesus of Suburbia” is one of two tracks on the record that’s 9 minutes long, but it’s divided up into six separate songs, “Jesus of Suburbia / City of the Damned / I Don’t Care / Dearly Beloved / Tales of Another Broken Home.” Normally I dislike long songs like this, but the thing is, surprisingly, this works very well. It’s sort of hard to distinguish each song, despite hearing lyrics that are in the title, but they do flow rather nicely together. After the rather forgettable third track “Holiday,” “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” is a great track. This is one of the lead singles from the record, and this one song that I already vaguely knew from them. This is a “slower” song, and it shows the band, including Billie Joe at a much more vulnerable moment, because it’s a very “deep” song, to say the least. It’s one of my favorite tracks, honestly.
The next six tracks are rather enjoyable, and I don’t want to say they’re totally forgettable, because they’re great to listen to. Fifth track “Are We the Waiting” is a very catchy song because of the chorus, but aside from that, it doesn’t do that much for me, really. Seventh track “Give Me Novacaine” is kind of like “Boulevard of Broken Dreams,” in the sense that Eighth track “She’s a Rebel” is the shortest track on the record at 2 minutes, but this is one of the more “punk” songs on the record. It’s to the point, and ultimately, forgettable. The lyrics are forgettable. The next track, though, “Extraordinary Girl” starts off rather strangely then picks up around 40 seconds into the song. The lyrics on here are rather forgettable, too, but they’re fun. Another track that really stands out is eleventh track “Wake Me Up When September Ends.” That’s a song that people definitely know, whether or not you’re a fan. This is another slower and it’s very emotional as well. Green Day is one of those bands that are versatile, and can do the slower acoustic ballads and then go straight into punk rock. The slow songs don’t slow down the entire record, because the album picks up right afterwards, and the slower songs are spaced out quite nicely, too. After that track, though, comes the second 9-minute song, which is “Homecoming / The Death of St. Jimmy / East 12th St / Nobody Likes You / Rock and Roll Girlfriend / We’re Coming Home Again.” This track is interesting for the same reason the first one was, and this one is kinda “eh” to me, really. There’s nothing really I can take from this one, but it’s enjoyable. Again, it flows together nicely, but it’s not as memorable as the first one. The most interesting thing about this one, though, is that the other two members actually take lead vocals on tracks they wrote. Bassist Mike Dirnt sings lead vocals on “Nobody Likes You,” and then drummer Tre Cool sings on “Rock and Roll Girlfriend.” Those tracks are alright, and it does provide a bit of variety, which is cool. Last track, “Whatshername” is another good track, actually; it’s not too fast, but not too slow, either. It’s a pretty in between song, and it’s a nice way to close out the record.
Overall, this is a brilliantly executed record; the story on this record does work quite well, and the story is about a character named “Jesus of Suburbia,” who is an anti-hero, and he leaves his town, and goes for the city, where he meets a lot of other characters, and they interact, and stuff happens, basically. I won’t give it away, because if you haven’t listened to the record, it’ll spoil it, but it’s a great nonetheless, and the concept really works, too. Most concept records fall flat to me, but this one holds up nicely. The songs themselves really work, too, because there’s a lot to take as well. Some songs may be rather forgettable, but that does not mean they are not enjoyable. I like every song on here, but the main singles are the ones that most people really do remember and for good reason, because they are memorable.