Review Summary: Remember... it seems like forever ago...Green Day - American Idiot: A Retrospective
Back in 2004, if you asked me what my favorite album was, I would have given you a quick answer. American Idiot
by Green Day, from the best band of all time. Forget The Beatles, forget Pink Floyd, it was Green Day who made the best album of all time.
Oh, how times have changed.
Although American Idiot
is no doubt a great album, calling it one of the best albums of all time may be a tiny overstatement. Scratch that, it's a huge
overstatement. But how did I change my mind on how I felt about one of the definitive albums of the 2000s? Let me take you back in time to 2004, where American Idiot
ruled my life.
As I walked through the many aisles of the music store, I looked up to where the sign said "ROCK". Instantly hooked, I dashed over to the long, thick section where all the rock CDs were held. Albums like these were my favorite: loud, heavy, angry rock bands - like Nickelback!
After checking out most of the rock section, I walked over to the giant stand that read "NEW MUSIC". Among those albums included Funeral
by Arcade Fire, Getting Away With Murder
by Papa Roach, Siren Song of the Counter Culture
by Rise Against, and lastly, American Idiot
by Green Day.
I had heard of Green Day before on the radio, with their hit songs "I Walk Alone" and "Wake Me Up When September Ends". The album artwork looked pretty cool, with a man's bloody hand gripping onto a grenade shaped like a heart. I instantly grabbed the album and begged my parents to get it. After repeatedly yelling "Can I get it? Can I get it" for ten minutes, they finally gave in and bought me the album.
When I got home, I rushed into my room, grabbed my Discman, and popped in the CD. The album blasted off with a guitar riff and some drums, and I loved it. These guys are so badass,
I thought. Telling people to *** America? How cool is that?"
As second track "Jesus of Suburbia" played, I loved Green Day even more. Who had the balls to make nine-minute, five-part long epics? Green Day did.
After listening to the entire album, I listened to it again. And again. I have never listened to an album as much as this one. I loved every single track. My favorites were "Wake Me Up When September Ends", a tragic and dark song about his father's death, "Homecoming", which was nine minutes long and just pure epicness. Even Mike, the bassist, and Tre, the drummer, sing their own section! My least favorite tracks were "Give Me Novacaine", a wimpy ballad about drugs, and "Extraordinary Girl", because it had a stupid bongo solo at the beginning.
I loved this album. No album defined me any more than this one. Green Day were the most punk band in the world, and I could just feel the emotion in lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong's voice. I would recommend "Wake Me Up...", "Homecoming", "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" and "Are We the Waiting" to everyone, even if you don't like punk rock.
Nine years after the release of American Idiot
, I find myself returning to the album less than usual. The main reason why American Idiot
doesn’t have the impact on me like it did nine years ago is simply because I have outgrown it. Green Day’s audience is mainly pre-teens and high-schoolers, and once you become older, their songs lose that feeling that they had back in the day. Although I still love many of the tracks, I don’t get the same feeling I do when I listen to it. Back then, this album ruled my life. Now, it’s nothing but a great pop-punk album by a decent pop-punk band.
Many of the tracks still do click with me, from the fast-paced and furious “Letterbomb”, to the slow, reflective and contemplative “Whatsername”, the latter of which is a great closer. I can still pump my fists to the bridge of “Holiday”, yelling “kill all the fags that don’t agree!” “Jesus of Suburbia” never fails to put a smile on my face, especially during the “City of the Damned”. Even if the album isn’t a stone-cold classic, there are still some great moments in it.
However, the album isn’t perfect, like I thought nine years ago. The middle of the album is complete filler, starting from “Are We the Waiting” and ending with “Extraordinary Girl”. The former is a boring, vapid, slow dreck of a song, and the latter features an odd bongo solo in the beginning. There are some good songs in between, such as “St. Jimmy” or “Give Me Novacaine”, but mostly the middle stretch of the album is boring and only exists to plant the album back into its storyline.
I cannot deny the impact this had. It brought Green Day back from their darkest times, coming out of nowhere to make Green Day one of the biggest rock band of the decade. After their sixth album Warning
flopped, this brought them back on top, like they were in 1994 with Dookie
. If you look past the overplay of "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" and "Wake Me Up When September Ends", Broadway plays, and girls claiming that Billie Joe Armstrong is “hot”, American Idiot
is a wonderfully crafted album that no one saw coming. Who would have thought that the punks smoking weed and singing songs about jerking off would try to create an album exercising their “rage and love” for America? Green Day did, and it’s a shame they went downhill from here.