on 29 August 2005
I've had quite enough of those who harp on about being "true Green Day fans" complaining that this album isn't Dookie. Fair enough, if you prefer the punkier Green Day, listen to Dookie again, but comparing this album to their earlier stuff is ridiculous. Bands change and mature, and are all the better for it. With American Idiot, Green Day prove their reluctance to be crammed into a rut.
The band have also been accused of jumping on a bandwagon in order to sell to new fans, which I would think a silly statement seeing as Green Day are so well established. The album focuses on issues important to American society today, and forgive me if I'm wrong, but Green Day have always written tracks that put American life under the spotlight.
The album is excellent. Stand out tracks include Jesus Of Suburbia (wonderful lyrics on the isolation of youth) and Holiday, while Whatsername is an evocative close to a stirring and emotionally rich album. Again, Billie Joe's lyrics are heartfelt and affectingly delivered. The music may be as "power-chordy" as ever, but what matter when the album sounds better than a "greatest hits" from many lesser bands.
Green Day have been around for well over a decade now, and after 'Warning' and a greatest hits album, there was just a hint that they were starting to run out of ideas for creating new sounds and fresh-sounding tunes. As a result this album, seemingly borne out of a healthy cynicism of the American government and decisions made by the Bush administration, is like a lightning bolt of inspiration. It keeps in with the band's traditional quirky, guitar-driven punk style, but introduces a touch of sentimentality and a more subtle, soft edge to a couple of songs that is a refreshing change, when interspersed with the usual power-punk material of the rest of the CD.
I'd originally bought this on the back of the singles 'American Idiot' and 'Holiday', but the album is far richer and cleverly constructed than just those songs. This is an album on a mission, blending sounds and meaning with a message that America is not happy about how it stands today. From beginning to end there are references to characters whose intentions start off well enough, but who eventually succumb to apathy and disillusionment in the face of an arrogant establishment ignoring their cries for change. Many will read more or less into it than that, but the quality and variety of melodies packed into a decent-length (just short of an hour) recording is unquestionable. This is terrific, powerful musicianship at work, generating memorable tunes that take unexpected turns to keep the interest constantly engaged.
The fact that so many songs refer to each other can make it an album that is difficult to flick through or listen to odd songs in isolation. And the band have pulled an extra trick on this recording, putting together two vast songs which run to over 9 minutes each. The two tracks, spanning five stanzas ('Jesus of Suburbia' and 'Homecoming') are stunning works of musical genius, telling a grandiose story and utilising a vast array of instruments and styles. They are imperious, epic pieces of work, and by far the most original set-pieces I have heard this year. Curious that track 13, Whatsername, should lie after the second of these, as it would make an absolutely perfect grand finale with its thumping drums and chanting run out at the end.
American Idiot is not the album I expected it to be; it is much, much better than I could have hoped for. 5 stars all the way.
on 1 January 2012
The album that led to, among other things, a hit Broadway musical and a two year tour is certainly no disappointment.
Green Day move on from the VERY underrated Warning into a bright new era of politically motivated anthems that educate and speak to many people. This album is a rare treat in that there is not a single song that seams out of place or lackluster, and every bit of the individual talents of Bille Joe, Mike and Tre have been used to the full. From almost 10 minute long epics such as Jesus of Suburbia, stadium filler anthems such as American Idiot and Holiday and slow and poignant tracks such as Wake me up when September ends this album is simply a joy to listen to.
The lyrics hark to the widespread feelings of deceit and paranoia that accompanied the Bush years and the invasion of Iraq, and each song has a largely political meaning that mark a radical change from the largely drug and trip related lyrics of earlier work. You have a feeling that each detail was thought out to the full, for example the title of Wake Me Up When September ends harking to the phrase Bille used after his father died during his childhood.
This album certainly changed my life, making the then 9 year old me a lot more politically aware and triggering an intense love for all of Green Days albums and projects. Almost 8 years on the messages carried by these powerful songs seem as relevant as ever, and this album was certainly a fork in the road for Green Day and their later projects - The loss of the work on the originally planned 'Cigerettes and Valentines' album prompting them to start work on American Idiot from scratch was arguably one of the best things to ever happen to the three boys from the bay.
on 25 July 2005
Green have just released their special edition of their latest album "American Idiot", and all the music mags have correctly judged it very well indeed, Green Day fans will throroughly enjoy this package, and maybe I'll just re-buy this (maybe).
The singles to start with, the title song, "Boulevard Of Broken Dreams," "Holiday" and "Wake Me Up When September Ends" have their videos on the DVD, but they are all superb and have dented the charts with great impact, "Jesus Of Suburbia" is a five-part classic aswell as the rest of the songs mentioned here. "Are We The Waiting" is a good song with good singing from Billie Joe, quite short, but good.
"St. Jimmy" is a great song with awesome lyrics in it, and it's really catchy. "Give Me Novacaine" is very strong in the chorus, but soft in the verses, great guitars! "She's A Rebel" is quite good, I think, music is great throughout this album aswell, "Extraordinary Girl" is not as good as the rest, I don't really listen to it much. "Letterbomb" is explosive though, good lyrics (no wonder Billie Joe is so good at songwriting, I envy him a bit).
"Homecoming" is another five-part classic aswell, the final song "Whatsername" is a great ender with the final lyrics going like, "Forgetting you but not the time...". Overall "American Idiot" is a massive rock and roll album throughout, so please buy it if you don't have it. Green Day are one of the best-selling rock and roll artists in the world, so don't let them down!
~ Calum Fairweather (Green Day fan)
on 23 February 2007
OK, no matter what all the whiney 'true fans' say (I know I'm a true fan because I love this), this is their best album since the early days of Dookie. Yes it's commercial but that's great because it means more people are listening to them than ever before. As with all bands that 'sell out' the old fans get annoyed because they feel their band is being taken away from them and now everyone knows them. Well what was Basket Case thirteen years ago if not pure pop??
Every song on American Idiot is great and it can't be faulted as a complete work. Once you get to the tracks at the end like Letterbomb and Homecoming it's so joyous, and it feels like it actually means something. It's the whole American Idiot concept album thing that really makes this something special. I too would have hated them if they'd made a commercial album that felt soulless but Billie Joe has never sounded more believable and genuine telling this story.
on 5 October 2011
I am aware and constantly reminded that things change. Trends adapt, preferences season and opinions change. It is life and it can be a good thing. In music too. But it can also hinder the appreciation of a favourite group or artist. I'm all for experimentation. Green Day dabbled with their sound before on Warning. That was a good album but lacked a certain punch that Insomnia and even Nimrod had. They cut their teeth on balls-to-the-walls punk rock and exist far more comfortably categorised as such. American Idiot is actually a return, in a way, to their sound before Warning, but with added rock opera that sometimes works, sometimes doesn't. Even on a purely musical level, when compared to Insomnia or Dookie, the album pales. Instead of assured and unmoving, they have now appionted themselves as the voice of a generation, politically charged and frothing with ire at injustice. I'm just not sure which generation.
That said, the album itself is very strong. The title track, 'Holiday', 'Boulevard of Broken Dreams', 'When September Ends' all hit the right commercial buttons. But it is clear that this is rock music now and hardly any punk is allowed in to the proceeding apart from a hint in 'American Idiot'. The odd tracks are the gestalt proggers, the 8 minute 'sagas', 'Jesus of Suburbia' and 'Homecoming'. Therein lie some very good music also but as a whole they seem bitty and underwhelming. A Green Day song should be 2 minutes of catchy tune and buzz-saw guitars but not grouped into 5 tracks at a time. This is the problem with the concept as a whole: it always feels part of a whole and never much fun in its individual parts.
Other highlights include, 'She's A Rebel', 'Extraordinary Girl' and the excellent 'Letterbomb'. The rest is ok just not outstanding.
An interesting trial that paid off in record sales and raised the band's profile somewhat. However, I hope it hasn't catapulted them to U2 or Red Hot Chilli Peppers status, as that would be a waste of a good punk band.
on 2 July 2010
Title: American Idiot
Artist: Green Day
Release Date: September 21, 2004
Label: Reprise Records
As the saying goes, "There is life in the old dog yet." Even the most convinced critics having Green Day already declared dead have to admit that now. Who would have thought that, after their last record Warning in 2000, this band would be back with the most inventive rock opera of the decade, reaching number one in 19 countries and winning numerous awards including a Grammy for Best Rock Album?
Back in 1994, when the punk-trio from Berkeley, California, released their smash-hit Dookie, their songs dealt mainly with girls, drugs and boredom. However, as their subsequent records could not live up to their earlier success, the band felt the need to take some time to grow up and think about their role in music as well as in life. Soon, singer-songwriter Billy Joe Armstrong, bassist Mike Dirnt and drummer Tré Cool knew that they wanted to push the boundaries of their musical ambition, being determined that their best work was yet to come.
American Idiot, released after four years of producing, is a make or break record for Green Day. They have risked betraying the principles of punk, going into a more muted, acoustic-heavy direction. However, the band reclaims punk's ambition with American Idiot, taking up political themes and denouncing the status quo of American society. With their concept album, inspired by The Who, Meatloaf and other bands of the 60ies, they leave the verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge song structure behind, being open for a different way of writing songs without restrictions. Concerning their new style, Armstrong admitted in an interview, "For the first time, we separated from our pasts, from how we were supposed to behave as Green Day. For the first time, we fully accepted the fact that we're rock stars."
American Idiot tells the story of the central character Jesus of Suburbia, an anti-hero living in the suburbs who feels the emptiness in his life and the indifference of people around him, brainwashed by mass media and debased by materialism; therefore, he leaves for the city.
The kick-off for this remarkable journey is the record's first track American Idiot, an energetic catchy tune with thrilling guitar solos and accusing lyrics, criticising the subliminal brainwash Americans underwent during Bush's presidency, especially after 9/11. Armstrong makes references to the unnecessary Iraq War ("Now everybody do the propaganda/ And sing along to the age of paranoia") and the influence of the media, saying that he does not want to follow the crowd that believes everything the government or televison are telling them when he proclaims, "Don't wanna be American Idiot/ One nation controlled by the media/ Information age of hysteria/ Is calling out to Idiot America".
A sensational track on this rock opera is Jesus of Suburbia, one of the two epic songs which build the cornerstones of the album. This epos, combining 5 songs, strikes with the ingenuity with which it is written. It provides the start for the narrative of Jesus' wandering through the "city of the damned", being sick of the status quo when he says, "In a land of make believe/ They don't believe in me". With the crafty arrangement of fast paced passages including hammering drums and cutting lyrics, and poignant ballads with pianos and acoustic guitars, Green Day have an amazing knack of conveying the paranoia and fear of living in America in days after 9/11, but also veer into moving, intimate small-scale character sketches.
Another highlight is the song St. Jimmy, whose namesake, corrupted by his new city life, represents Jesus' alter ego. He is a drug dealing, violent character symbolizing self destruction of people who try to rebel against society when he says, "I'm the patron saint of the denial / With an angel face and a taste for suicidal". This change of personality is also reflected in the music of the song with its fast paced, feverish guitars and assaultive drums.
With the massed chant of Are We the Waiting and the three chord-hit Holiday, the band's range continues to expand and the harsher tracks like Letterbomb are fiercely effective. However, as the underlying motto of the album is rage and love, Green Day also come up with some touching ballads; for example, Wake Me Up When September Ends which is perfectly spotted in the album, speaking sorrow for Jesus' loss of his beloved Whatsername. Personal emotion and experience is also revealed in the line "Like my father's come to pass / twenty years has gone so fast" which refers to Billy Joe Armstrongs's father who died of cancer when Billy was 10 years old.
In Homecoming, the second epic song and grand finale, it seems that Jesus wants to leave his new personality behind and return home, which causes St. Jimmy to commit suicide; however, the band does not give a full resolution of the story. The most striking aspect of this song collection is that it gave Green Day the idea to write a concept album. In the course of creating new material, bassist Mike Dirnt wrote a 30 second song and the rest of the band followed suit. They connected their songs and ended up with the Homecoming, a firework displaying melodies and riffs with different tempos.
Like all great concept albums, American Idiot works on several different levels. It can be taken as a collection of great songs - songs which are as poignant as Green Day at their best and which are well received outside of the larger narrative, as the fiery title anthem proves - but these songs have a different, more lasting impact when taken as a whole. Listeners will be captivated by these 13 tracks full of love, rage, thrill and pure rock. With their masterpiece, equally brilliant in substance and style, Green Day have managed not only to write some of their finest songs, but to scratch on the surface of political dissatisfaction, leaving behind a deep wound. It seems that they are angry at the world, but fairly satisfied with their place in it.
Despite first achieving success in the early 1990s, Green Day are one of the few bands that released an album over ten years after their first that was just as strong as their old stuff.
'American Idiot' was actually the first Green Day album that I purchased, although I was already familiar with their past work, and it is still one of my favourites. Simply an amazing album from start to finish and with so many of it's songs released as singles at the time of it's release in 2005, people who quickly skim at its track listing could be forgiven for thinking that it's a greatest hits CD rather than a new concept album. 'American Idiot', 'Holiday', 'Boulevard of Broken Dreams' and 'Wake Me Up When September Ends' still sound as fresh and appealing as they did at the time, great tunes and amazing lyrics.
'American Idiot' has everything, something for everyone, from punk to pop to mainstream rock, I can relate to so many of them.
Most people will already have this album now I know, but if you are just discovering Green Day's music, this is essential and despite being different to their old stuff (which is also well worth looking into), it's a CD that you'll enjoy from beginning to end.
on 23 October 2005
American Idiot is Green Day's biggest record to date, entering number one in both sides of the atlantic, and the title track has a lot to do with that fact.
Peaking at a remarkable 3rd place in the UK charts, American Idiot is a near 3 minute slice of pure punk adrenaline, with Bush baiting lyrics. Not only was it a huge return to the distorted sound after the acoustic masterpiece 'Warning', it has a great riff, and it proved they can do a song about American culture better than any band out there right now.
Here we also find two previously unreleased tracks, Shoplifter and Governator. Shoplifter is a very quick nippy singalong number and not very political compared to the others. The other song Governator is quite a remarkable track, once again being very political it delivers a strong statement (Run and hide, we're all gonna die, and let the vultures pick a part what's left). I'm also convinced that Tim Armstrong makes a guest appearance on there as well.
Do i really need to say anymore about this single??? Buy It Now!! :-)
on 2 September 2007
Green Day have been going quite a few years now, but unlike most bands of that age, they still sound as fresh as ever. This album is sung with a lot of passion and obviosly means a lot to the band. Every single song on the album is fantasic, from the sad and heartfelt "wake me up when september ends" to the the fire and fury of "holiday". Buy.It.Now
Recommended songs: I recommend every song