When thinking about albums that define a generation, there are very few. One that defined the millennial generation was American Idiot. Green Day, a band that had had seven albums before, found enormous support and controversy with this album. Though they had success in the 90s, they were finding trouble finding support in the 2000s until this album.
Green Day, who started their career in 1990, would find success with their album Dookie in the 90s and would become a household name. There was a drop in popularity in the 2000s as Punk Rock was changing, and the band had to decide to change with it or to stay on their path.
With many issues surrounding the band around this album, it almost didn’t happen. Though they determined they can all work together, they ended up writing the album. Members Mike Dirnt, Tre Cool, and Billie Joe Armstrong created an album that would talk about the American experience in the world in the post-9/11 era. Many of the themes of the album talk about the political divide of the country, and how the era that is growing up is changing to a more digital approach. This album was their way of showing their thoughts on what was happening in the country.
Many people could relate to what was put out. The album follows the character Jesus of Suburbia and takes the character through a journey in America. The album had critical success and a lasting impact. The impact was so much so that there was a stage musical made with the music in 2009.
American Idiot is amazing from start to finish. Though only 9 songs, the album is 57 minutes. The deluxe edition contains 12 songs and is 1 hour and 5 minutes. Most songs are longer than others and have a story throughout them. Any song that you randomly know from Green Day will be on this album. It really is the album that everyone knows. There are always those songs that people don’t understand how they know the words to them. The song Wake Me Up When September Ends or American Idiot are probably those songs for you.
The album starts with a bang with American Idiot. The song is as relevant today as it was in 2004. This is not an impressive statement on how events have happened in the United States, but true. This song sets the stage for the rest of the album, as we follow Jesus of Suburbia, a normal lower-middle-class person who is just trying to get through life.
The album has 4 epics, that are seven minutes or longer. These songs include Jesus of Suburbia, Holiday/Boulevard of Broken Dreams, Extraordinary Girl/ Letterbomb, and Homecoming. Though these songs are long, they all have a purpose in the album’s narrative.
I am biased because I love Green Day. They are amazing to see perform live. If you have not seen them in person, please do. You will not be disappointed. A great song on this album is Wake Me Up When September Ends. The story of a person who is trying to get through their own problems and heartbreak. The song is simple, and long but shows the talents of simplicity and emotion, where a consistent swelling medley and repetition can bring about powerful emotion.
Another fantastic song is St. Jimmy. It is fast and has the quintessential Green Day sound you are looking for. The song is paired with Are We the Waiting, which is another excellent song. St. Jimmy is different though. The song is written like a diary about this troubled boy named Jimmy. It shows the great narrative form that this whole album has. Though the song has some suggestive themes like most of the album, the song resonates and is a favorite at live shows.
Overall, this album is excellent front to back and is everything you could want from Green Day.
Does it Hold Up?
As stated, it is very relevant today. The themes don’t seem to go away in the United States.
This album immediately brings me back to watching the Wake Me Up When September Ends, with a young Evan Rachel Wood, On Demand on my parents’ cable after coming home from school. Or even seeing the videos on MTV. It is supremely nostalgic.
Do you agree with my assessment? Post your thoughts in the comments below!
As always, Creating Nostalgia Millennial Style!