This album is a very ambitious project for Green Day. A Punk Rock band made a great concept album at the beginning of the 21st century? Surely that would be a mistake, both musically and commercially? Wrong. It was a smart and bold move by the group, who, after the release of Dookie, had mixed successes musically. This album was a huge thing at the time though. Let’s see how it holds up today.
We launch off with the title track American Idiot which begins with the iconic guitar riff and a great rhythm section. It’s actually a political song aimed squarely at political figures who are seemingly dumbing down youth and those in countries around the world. It’s very much aimed at former USA president George W. Bush, notably. Still, a really excellent starting point musically, and a catchy and very well done song. The song is quite emotional, despite it being upbeat. The guitar solo here is really awesome, too. Indeed, voters and individuals in society rarely make intelligent decisions, and this is a great statement and song here. Great start to the album.
The concept here really gets going with Jesus of Suburbia which is a five section piece that last for nine minutes, obviously an idea borrowed from Classical music or a similar type of musical structure. It begins with crashing chords, and a loud and powerful energetic sound that is ridiculously good. Billie Joe Armstrong sings very well here, and details the musical concept album journey here very well here. The music here is nothing short of excellent, these guys were really spot on with the delivery of it. The drum work here points ahead to future sections, which incorporate piano and acoustic guitar. A really tremendous and wonderful listening experience, this is an emotional and well delivered performance. Great stuff, Green Day do superbly here. It is a really fantastic listen, particularly for fans of Rock and Punk music in particular. The tempo changes and changes in melody here are really fantastic listening as we progress through the different sections of music here. A call cry to arms for Green Day fans is here, before more musically loud and awesome progressions are here. Towards the end, it becomes a really emotional listen and acoustic guitars jangle away, along with a toybox sound as an addition. It seems as though the main character here is a bit of a martyr in ways, and Billie Joe Armstrong’s singing is from a very deep place here. With a lyric reference of a teenager running away from home, this is quite emotional to hear. To finish off, we have a crashing instrumental section with a glorious guitar solo that sounds terrific. This song ends with an epic finale, which is really great. Very much a postmodern concept album on touchy subjects, and a great nine minute song, too.
Holiday begins with some loud guitar riffage, before launching into an upbeat song that is another political piece about oppression and injustice. “I beg to dream and differ from the hollow lies, this is the dawning of the rest of our lives,” is sung here by Billie Joe Armstrong here, indicating a world that he finds increasingly fake and unbelievable here. The guitar solo is also very emotional here, and well played. After the guitar solo is a great bass driven intermission piece that is interesting and full of angry, Punk inspired bile. A really great song, and no surprises that this was a hit single at the time. It ends with an open A chord which segues into the next song.
Boulevard Of Broken Dreams is next, and although it may seemingly be a Wonderwall chord rip-off, it is a fantastic song about depression, misery and disbelief in the world. It’s not a happy sounding song at all, and is actually something one can cry to if the need comes along. A great and wonderful ballad, it is a really excellent sounding piece of music that is another very popular piece from this album. Full credits to Green Day for creating such a deep and moving song which is suspenseful. It blasts away into an intense guitar solo, and is instantly memorable and great listening. Very great song, and very close to the bone. It ends with a load of multitracked guitar parts which are intense.
Next along is Are We the Waiting beginning with a drum part that is very powerful, some emotional arpeggios and deep (again) singing from Billie Joe Armstrong. This song is a really excellent and clever listen, with some chanting of the chorus lyrics here. A really excellent piece of music that can make one feel depressed, yet moved at the same time. This is obviously the next progression in the concept, and is another call cry for Green Day fans. Great song, once again, it repeats the chanting to the end.
Following is St. Jimmy which begins with a palm muted guitar riff and some more upbeat singing than before, before going straight into a fast and upbeat piece that is excellent. A really catchy and excellent piece about the adventures of our main character in the music here. Loud, rocking, fast and punchy, this piece is really very cool. Very excellent, towards the end are some loud and furious guitar parts and drumrolls. It goes into a very old school piece of singing and playing that is really fantastic. A good piece of music that is a mission statement for this album.
Give Me Novacaine is next, beginning with a simple drumbeat, strummed acoustic guitar and a great melodic sensibility. It’s a bit like Comfortably Numb by Pink Floyd here, and is a song about using drugs to deal with emotional pain. It’s surprisingly a good effort, and has a slide guitar solo in it, which is pretty inventive. A really good piece of music that is a great reference to what drug use is about. No doubt this is very much a Rock star sort of statement, but still, a very good statement at that. An excellent piece of music that is very good to hear and does very well structurally and musically, it ends with the lone drumbeat, segueing into the next piece.
She’s A Rebel is another decent song about eyeing a girl when young who is rebellious and dirty in one’s teen years. It’s another brilliant conceptual statement that fits this album nicely, and the music matches it perfectly. A really clever and nice addition to this album. Short, but very good listening. It ends with repeated lyrics, and is an excellent tune.
After that is Extraordinary Girl which begins rather oddly, with a mock Indian Tabla drum part being played through a keyboard for around half a minute, along with some weird Sitar sounding melodies as well. The song eventually begins, and once again, is another fitting piece for the album. Very melodramatic and emotional listening, this is a very incredible listen about a girl who is going through a rough time. Musically accomplished, all members of Green Day put in an exceptional performance here. A messed up sounding piece about teenage heartbreak, it is something many can relate to. Great to hear all the same, it ends with looped Sitar melodies, before segueing into the next piece.
Following is Letterbomb begins with some strange electric guitar sounds, with some sing-song lyrics about being isolated from friends. It then kickstarts into a pounding, loud, rocking and energetic piece of music that is about being alienated and by those who the central character once valued. It is another really good piece of musical fury that makes sense here, and fits the album nicely. A really cool piece of Punk Rock that is relatable in times like these, and is full of anger. Really excellent music, this is surely a winner of an album. Seemingly, our central character has a load of issues to deal with internally. The song ends with a sustained open chord, nice stuff.
Wake Me Up When September Ends is an acoustic ballad that is very simple to begin with. It’s a very sad lament about being alone and isolated in the world. A really great piece of music that is very much a tearjerker here, this is an album tinged with emotions that are intense. Synchronized drum beats enter, launching into a great song that is awesome and lively. Quite a sad listen, this is a very popular piece from this album, and a regular radio staple at the time. Still, very awesome and all, this is a very memorable song to hear. A very moving listen, but a great song nonetheless. Great to hear, it ends with some great sonic guitar textures and violining here.
Homecoming is another nine minute long piece with multiple sections which begins with some Fender Telecaster styled riffs. Billie Joe Armstrong sings about returning home to where the character resides. Shortly into it, the main guitar riff enters, along with the rest of the band and this piece gets going along nicely. A really cool sounding piece that shows that there may be light at the end of the tunnel, after all. Brilliant listening, our central character heads home, perhaps out of necessity. It quickly goes into a chanted section of music that is really great. An excellent sounding piece of music, it goes into a furiously acoustic guitar strummed section, with Billie Joe Armstrong pleading to leave his circumstances. Before long, it goes into a piece with churching bells and marching drums that is a reprise of the music of before. Following, it goes into an ode to Rock and Roll music, which is excellent. Before long, the music changes and we go into the final section of music for this song. A great summary of everything that has come before it on the album, and really excellent to hear. Really awesome to hear, the music here is very excellently done, and deserves listening and praise. Our character finally goes back home to where he belongs, in a chaotic setting of harmonies and loud drums. Excellent stuff, it ends with chanted lyrics from earlier on, and loud tom-tom drums.
The last main track on this album is Whatsername which begins with a very basic drumbeat, chugging guitar and the finale for the concept album here. It’s about seeing an ex and the pain and awful feelings from missing someone from long ago. A strange and odd conclusion to this song, this is a great and listenable piece of music that makes sense, after what our main character has gone through. Some loud, crashing guitars and beats are here to match the sentiment musically. Seems as though the main character has some feelings still for his ex-partner, no matter what happened. It ends with more chugging guitar and a sustained chord fade out.
The first of the bonus tracks here are Too Much Too Soon which is an upbeat and loud song from the start. Shortly after, it launches into a rocking piece of music that is very direct. Great to hear all the same, even if it is not an official album track here. Very decent listening, and is about relationship issues here with girls. Good to hear, and is worth your time. Cool, catchy and clever, Green Day do a great job here as well. Nice and lively, it ends with some odd reversed drums.
Shoplifter comes next and is a very short piece of music, being less than two minutes long. It’s about those who steal from shops and who have to pay the price when caught. Indeed, kleptomania is a common human trait, and one which shouldn’t be valued at all. A weird addition towards the end of this album, but direct and to the point.
Governator is the very last song here, and refers to former Californian Republican governor and actor Arnold Schwarzenegger here. A really cool piece of music all the same, and is a tongue poking response to the situation here. Great stuff, complete with chanting and the repeated phrase: “I’ll be back”. Excellent satire, and a very interesting listen to finish off this album. Cool stuff.
This is a really excellent and superb listening experience that is deep, meaningful and emotional from start to finish. American Idiot is very well done on many levels, and made Green Day even more popular than they were previously, in particular, Billie Joe Armstrong. The concept is clever and intellectual too, and is worth reading up on before listening. In any case, a classic album for those who love Rock and Punk, and worth having in your record collection.
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