by Jeffrey Webb, edited by Erik van Rheenen
The thing about the Jesus of Suburbia is that he doesn’t start out as a nihilist— he starts out bored. Victimized by his broken home and his own peculiar slice of suburban hellscape, sedated and titillated by the alternating lows and highs of television and Ritalin, the “son of Rage and Love” flees the “land of make believe [that] don’t believe” to the Big City in a Sartrean search for meaning. All set to alternating windmilled guitars and soft-keyed interludes, multi-layered harmonies and fury-fueled shrieks. By the end of the nine-minute, Pete-Townshend-on-speed anthem that is the opera’s introduction, Billie Joe Armstrong has shown that anarchy begins at home, and apathy is its gateway drug.
The story that follows—the story of Green Day’s 2004 magnumopus, American Idiot—is a bildungsroman that’s equal parts Joseph Campbell and J.D. Salinger, and all the tension that pairing entails: hero (whiny jerk?) leaves home, faces adversity (but not real adversity?), and returns home redeemed (a total failure?). Any attempt to appraise its merits thus acts as a Rorschach test of one’s aesthetic gestalt. The JoS’s quest is either inspiring or entitled, epic or annoying. Given the ubiquity of the maturation theme, and the delusions of grandeur that usually accompany so-called rock operas, it’s a story that should be overly affected, passé. Instead, ten years later, somehow, miraculously, it still pulses, snarls, demands attention. Why?
The reason is not because the album is one of the great protest rock records of all time, though it certainly is that. It’s difficult for teenagers now to imagine the swelling of indignant rage Americans felt after September 11th, rage that metastasized into a kind of dyspeptic autoimmune disorder that we voted upon ourselves: the Patriot Act, whack-a-mole adventures in the Middle East, surrealist color-coded threat levels that shifted like a terrorism mood ring. So it’s difficult for those teenagers —hell, it’s difficult for the rest of us — to remember how subversive it was in 2004 for a band to sneer at our self-righteousness, to stand athwart the military-media complex, yelling, “stop.”
Green Day’s American Idiot was released ten years ago next week, and PropertyOfZack is launching our next Decade feature in honor of the album today! We have commentary on the album from POZ team members Deanna Chapman, Erik van Rheenen, Ashley Aron, and Connor Sheehan, so enjoy and reblog to let us know your thoughts on American Idiot ten years later!
How American Idiot holds up in 2014
It’s hard to believe American Idiot came out ten years ago. The lyrical content of the album has easily stood the test of time. Many of the songs, notably “American Idiot,” still seem relevant today, especially with recent political issues that have occurred. For me, this album is still enjoyable to listen to and it continues to bring the same energy as it did when it first came out. It’s also the last great album to come from Green Day — the albums released after were mediocre at best, and this is coming from someone who is a huge fan of the band.
The album was revived with its Broadway rendition, and I believe that has also had a huge impact in keeping the album alive and relevant. I went and saw the musical (not on Broadway, unfortunately) and it reminded me why I love the album so much. It tells one hell of a story. The story made for a great album and a great musical. How many albums can you say have done that? Hands down, this album continues to be great in 2014.
– Deanna Chapman
Most important song on American Idiot
Amidst skipping recess to learn how to apply eyeliner with my fellow sixth grade girlfriends, a burned copy of American Idiot came into my possession. It was one of my first tastes of an album that completely satiated my musical desire from start to finish. The 17 songs on my iPod Nano included “Hollaback Girl,” “I Write Sins, Not Tragedies,” and “Welcome to the Jungle,” but the 12 tracks of American Idiot were something else. The draw for my young brain was seeing Billie Joe Armstrong all over Fuse and MTV plugging the album as a “rock opera,” a foreign concept to me at the time. However, the fact that the record’s dramatic nature was still something that pissed off my parents kept it on heavy rotation. Each track told a story in itself, but the album’s piece de resistance has to be “Homecoming.”
Billie Joe Armstrong has now played three shows with the legends in The Replacements. It seems like he may be playing more shows with the band as well thanks to a handy-dandy #hashtag. Check out BJA’s Instagram post below after the jump.
Kerrang have released the American Idiot tribute to Green Day album. Stream the whole thing below after the jump.
"At least it’s not called Punk Goes Green Day." Green Day American Idiot will be the victim of a cover album this year to celebrate ten years of walking alone. Falling In Reverse and 5 Seconds Of Summer will be releasing covers on the LP as well as some others. Check out a poster with details below after the jump.
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