A &E

American Idiot to American Classic


On Oct. 7, Green Day released “Revolution Radio,” their twelfth studio album. The album’s message is about the current state of America and how it is becoming more disoriented as time goes by. Each song on this album plays an important role in expressing the band’s current views.

The opening track is called “Somewhere Now,” it is inspired by The Who with the acoustic interludes and dreamy lyrics. The song touches on lead singer, Billie Joe Armstrong’s post-rehab struggles in the lyrics, “how did a life on the wild side ever get so dull?” The drumming in this song is the best on the entire album, a credit to the band’s drummer, Tre Cool. Armstrong talks about America’s current state by saying, “all we want is money and guns, a new catastrophe,” since this album is about rebelling. This song has a powerful message that is portrayed in the rest of the album as well.

The second song (and definitely most controversial) is titled “Bang Bang,” which goes through the mind of a mass shooter. This song sounds like the Green Day that listeners have grown up with over the years, but is definitely risky in it’s approach. With the uneasy introduction of the song being news clips of the shooter, the song easily evokes uneasiness in the listener. The song shows that the media makes these people feel as if they are famous with the lines, “I wanna be a celebrity martyr, the leading man in my own private drama.” The rebellious guitar gives the listener an anxious feeling, which makes this song the most memorable on the album, giving the listener that message of how the media ‘glorifies’ these people.

The third song and the title track was envisioned while Armstrong walked through a Black Lives Matter protest. The rebellious nature of the lead guitar and the drums make it feel like listeners are the ones rebelling with lyrics, “We will be seen but not be heard. We are the songs of the disturbed. We are revolution radio.” With this song following “Bang, Bang” it is easy to see the message being sent throughout the album.

“Say Goodbye,” is easily the most timely song on this album, where it talks about police brutality without exclusively mentioning it. The song’s second chorus repeats the lyrics, “Say hello to the cops on patrol” and the song ends with, “Say goodbye to the ones that we love”. The song also takes a jab at the water situation in Flint, Michigan with the line, “Teach your children well from the bottom of the well,” showing that the band is not afraid to talk about specific issues. Armstrong has said that, “You can’t educate people if they’re that desperate.” The way the lyrics are sang, almost as if they were on a megaphone, makes it feel as if you are protesting all the wrongdoings that are happening in today’s world.   

Song number five is a remembrance of  Green Day’s past called “Outlaws.” This song is seen to the band as a sequel to “Christie Road,” a song they wrote in 1992. The song slows down after the hectic first few tracks and is reminiscent to fans of Green Day’s punk-rock era. They even throw in a subtle hint of Armstrong’s alter ego, “Saint Jimmy” from “American Idiot” when they mention that “we destroyed suburbia.” They make it a point to mention that even though they have become more mainstream since they first appeared on the scene that “we are outlaws of forever.” The song’s slower guitar and easiness of the drums make it simply a touching piece to the album.

“Bouncing Off The Walls,” their sixth song on the album, is definitely the song that people will play when they just feel like rocking out. The song encompasses just wanting to live life without being told how to. The upbeat feeling that the guitar chords give during the chorus embodies the meaning behind the song. “Cause it’s all that I want and it’s all that I need…chasing fireflies and zeroes” really captures just having fun with whatever the listener wants to do with their life and gives them their own “concrete dream.”

The seventh song is titled “Still Breathing” is definitely the most pop song on the album, or potentially that they have released to date. The song is about Armstrong’s newfound sobriety after a 2012 incident at IHeartRadio’s Music Festival which caused him to check into rehab. This song was actually released on the four year anniversary of the incident, even though Armstrong does not comment if the song is about himself, he remains ambiguous about it. The chorus is a heavy anthem with lyrics such as, “Cause I’m still breathing on my own, my head’s above the rain and roses, making my way away to you,” as well as the explosion from the band after a mellow opening of the track. This song touches a lot of people as it can be seen as a wind of change being blown, which makes this song more impactful to this album.

“Youngblood” is a song dedicated to Armstrong’s wife of twenty-two years. The emotion in this song is evident as he calls his girl his weakness. With a catchy chorus and lyrics such as “Are you stranded, like I’m stranded? Do you want to watch the world fall to pieces? Are you broken like I’m broken?” The song shows Armstrong in a different light than listeners are used to seeing him with this track.

The ninth song is titled “Too Dumb To Die.” Just like the last track, this song can be seen as a semi-autobiography of Armstrong’s life with lyrics such as, “I was a high school atom bomb going off on the weekends . . . I’m hanging on a dream that’s too dumb to die.” This song can easily be described as the most relatable on this album as everyone hangs on to that one dream that seems impossible to obtain. The chord progression in this song sounds like a lost song on their “Dookie” album from 1994.  

“Troubled Times” is about how we are living in troubled times. This has an old Green Day feel with the guitar coinciding with the verses and the explosion of guitar and drums for the chorus and the bridge. The band talks about what is the point of having a solution if people are not going to use them with the opening lyrics, “What good is love and peace on earth if it’s exclusive?” The lyrics are not just suitable for the current situation America is in, but anytime there is disorientation in the listener’s everyday life.

The eleventh track, “Forever Now,” feels like a closure to the album. The song is broken down into three sections, the first being again autobiographical with the opening lyric, “My name is Billie and I’m freaking out.” The second section is about not enjoying the situation the country is in with the lyrics, “If this is what you call the good life, I want a better way to die.” The final section is a reprise of the first song with almost the entire first verse of that song. The greatest part of this song is when they overlap all three sections of the song.  

The finale of the album, “Ordinary World,” is from a movie project that Armstrong is a part of. The movie is about a failed rocker that transitioned into a family man, but this song makes perfect sense to end an album as political as this one. With only an acoustic guitar, Armstrong ponders on what life would be like in an ordinary world, instead of a life as fast-paced as a rock star. With lyrics as dreamy as, “baby I don’t have much, but what we have is more than enough” it is easy to see how this song draws comparisons to “Time of Your Life (Good Riddance)” off of “American Idiot.”   

The album takes a lot of risks that Green Day  has taken over the years. However, there are some instances that just feel like they are just rewriting songs and makes listeners just jump back to the feeling of the band’s classics. There are definitely some songs that will be Green Day greats such as “Bang, Bang” and “Still Breathing.” With an album with this much direction, execution of music and lyrics, and the creation of new classic songs, this album deserves four-and-a-half out of five stars.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s