An Old Punk Classic: American Idiot


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From the American Dream to the American Nightmare. American Idiot is Green Day’s seventh studio album that criticizes all things wrong with American media. They started out as a small time band in Oakland, California, growing to become of the most popular punk bands in history.

Green Day’s widely known album American Idiot hit the charts in 2004, yet it still remains a staple in the pop-punk world. Out of all 13 of their recorded studio albums, American Idiot remains the band’s most popular.  The band, composed of Billie Joe Armstong, Tre Cool, and Mike Dirnt, has been around since 1991. The trio’s first major-label debut album Dookie was released in 1994, and their popularity has only grown since then. The three have released wildly popular three-chord punk bashers such as “Basket Case” and “Welcome To Paradise.” However, they never stopped evolving as a band, improving with each album release.

 Rising from the ashes of the bands sixth album, Warning, American Idiot was an attempt to rise above the low time of Warning. The California based band recorded a slew of roughed up Christmas tunes and polka style music that was ultimately stolen. After consulting their producer about the theft they decided that it was nowhere near the best work they could do. They spent the next three months writing new music, they came out of it with a new style of album, a “rock opera.” This is the first album that worked as a musical and told a story; the only difference is that it was all rock music. 

American Idiot is a fast-paced rock album telling the story of the “Jesus of Suburbia” and his alter ego, “St. Jimmy.” The title song, American Idiot, immediately begins with a classic Green Day feel of quick chords and iconic lyrics. Lead singer, Billie Joe Armstrong, sings out, “don’t want a nation under the new media,” bringing up the fact that the media dominates our lives. This leads into the thematic feels of wanting to be different that occur throughout the album.

Once listeners get into the album, “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” appears in the album order as number four. As one of the bands most popular songs, the song starts with the iconic phrase, “I walk a lonely road.” The fourth track is sure to hold some meaning to every person that hears it. A few songs later and the fasted paced song on the album “St. Jimmy” is sure to get one’s feet tapping and legs bouncing. 

Nearing the end of the album, listeners take a dip into depression with “Wake Me Up When September Ends.” Armstrong wrote this song after his father died of cancer when he was ten.  Starting off soft and mellow but evolving into a backing of crashing guitars and a booming drum, the song “Homecoming” leads us into the nine-minute finale which is packed full of differentiating guitar riffs and lyrics. With five separate parts, all nine minutes are sure not to disappoint. 

One of the most iconic albums, American Idiot, is a classic not to be discounted. From start to finish, this album holds rock anthems and slow emotional songs ranging from “Are We The Waiting” to “St. Jimmy.” Students at South will find at least one song on this album that they can identify with making it a great choice for new music.