Eurgh, look at them.
When I was 10 I convinced my mum to buy me American Idiot at a shop, but when she heard the lyrics she confiscated it. So when she went out the house I had to climb up on a chair and get it out of the kitchen cupboard and listen to it while watching out the front window until she came back and then I had to race back into the kitchen and put it back. It was the first time I’d heard proper punky rock or music with that much swearing and the whole rebelling against my mum thing just made it like 10 times cooler. I knew every word to every song and I couldn’t get enough of it. And then when I looked into them more I realised that they’d been around for ages and had lots of other albums. And then I bought Dookie and it was the greatest thing I’d ever heard and I showed it to my friends at school and I was the coolest fuckin’ kid in the school.
It completely changed my music taste. Maroon 5 and the Red Hot Chilli Peppers and totally lame stuff like that was blown out the water by these 3 dudes with their smoking and drinking and swearing and having sex and rebelling against their parents and power chords and a drummer called Tre Cool and not a single fvck to give about anyone. They set me off for like 5 years of being a punk-rocker/emo kid. They inspired me to learn to play the guitar and make a band with my mates and they were pretty much my favourite people for years.
Which is why it’s a pretty big deal when I say what the fvck are they still doing making music?
American Idiot came out in 2004. I loved it at the time because I had nothing to compare it to, but now it’s pretty clear that it marked the beginning of their downfall. It was actually 1994, when they released Dookie, that they peaked in both coolness and relevance. That was 18 years ago. They were 21. They had grown up in California, they were poor, they were bored, they were angry about things and they were cool. They didn’t like the bubblegum pop that was going around and they decided to, with the later help of Blink-182, pioneer a new era of pop-punk-rock that would create a tsunami of pop-punk bands to captivate a generation of bored and restless teenagers.
They remained relevant and cool throughout the 90’s because they were still young enough for teenagers to relate to them and for it to be acceptable that they were writing songs about being bored wasters or dressing up in your mum’s clothes for a day. But in 2003 they hit 30 and they changed. They suddenly gave themselves an ‘image’ and started writing proper songs and singing about politics and stuff. For an old-fashioned punk band, politics goes hand-in-hand with the music. But Green Day had created a generation of unashamedly apathetic teenagers and young adults who couldn’t give the first shit about politics and social commentary.
They got away with it because they kept their punchy power-chords and cuss words and to be fair the artwork, with the sharp-edges and black, white and red colour scheme was cool. It was so Myspace (which meant you were ice cold, in 2004) and their whole shirt-and-tie thing with the Vans and studded belts and guy-liner was exactly the kind of makeover they needed to thrust themselves back onto the cutting edge of punk-rock.
And it’s also exactly when it all went wrong.
They had become adults. Billie-Joe Armstrong had 2 kids, 9 and 6. They were also pretty rich. They had lost touch with their audience. So they had to reinvent themselves. They had to think about what they were doing. They had to speak to their PR people and marketing team and record label and make a calculated decision, based on the target demographic and other popular culture at the time, as to which direction to take their band.
Is that what a punk rock band does? Is that what a bunch of rebellious, apathetic drains on society do? No. That’s what adults do. Boring, methodic, future-planning, country-running, chore-enforcing, homework-setting adults. Adults that take themselves far too seriously.
They had created a genre based around immaturity, apathy and rebellion against adults, and then grown up. They spent 10 years comprehensively painting themselves into a corner.
The problem with American Idiot, however, was that they were still capable of writing a decent track. In fact, some of the songs on that album were really great. This meant that it got a massively positive response. Suddenly, they weren’t just popular among people that were into pop-punk and rock, they were popular in the mainstream (and everyone knows what the mainstream does to a cool band).
So, fooled into thinking that this makeover and new political slant was in fact the reason behind their newfound success, they ditched the whole ‘writing good songs’ thing and released 21st Century Breakdown. That album was utterly shit. That was the point that I lost interest in what they were doing. Obviously, it still did alright in the mainstream and so Green Day still thought they were good.
Over the last 8 years, Green Day have been losing touch with more and more of their old fans and replacing them with new mainstream fans. I just spent 20 minutes writing 3 paragraphs about my opinion on the mainstream before I realised I was being really boring and deleted it all, so I’m not gonna go into that. I’m gonna try and get back to the main point of this article, which is that there is no longer a point to Green Day.
Last night I saw an advert on Facebook telling me that Green Day’s new album iDOS! is out now. This seemed odd to me, because I may not be actively following them, but I hadn’t heard a single muttering about a new Green Day album, and I spend a lot of time on the internet. So I looked it up and not only has it been out for a week already, but it’s actually the second installment in a trilogy of albums – iUNO!, iDOS! and iTRE! So, judging by the fact that no one seems to give a fvck about these new albums, I’m gonna assume that Green Day don’t really have many mainstream fans anymore.
So naturally I headed to YouTube to hear some of this new material. I found this:
What the fvck is that?! I really don’t understand it. It’s a song about killing the DJ and it’s pretty clearly about hating modern club music and wanting to get back to the good old days of pop-punk. And that would be fine, I guess, for some 40 year old millionaire, married-father-of-two punks who are just set in their ways. I wouldn’t like it, but I could understand it. But then why would they make it so poppy and light and upbeat? Why would they give the chorus an off-beat guitar riff? Why would they make it catchy? I’ve had that line “Someone kill the DJ, shoot the fvcking DJ” in my head all day. And every time it repeats, I think to myself, why would Green Day write a catchy song about a DJ?? The song is a paradox. The lyrics say rebel, riot and murder and the tune says “Hey, mainstream is great.” And I’m pretty sure I can hear autotune. Green Day. Autotuned.
It looks like Green Day have lost so much touch with who their audience is even supposed to be these days that they’ve just become this weird bubble of nothing that is floating aimlessly between real genres.
No one cares about pop-rock anymore. No one cares about political-punk-rock. But most importantly, no one wants to see a bunch of middle-aged men with dyed, straightened hair and guy-liner desperately trying to cling on to the good old days when they were cool. All they’re doing is tarnishing the memory of when they actually were influential and cool.
Look at Jimi Hendrix. He’s a legend. No one has a bad word to say about him. And do you know why that is? It’s because he made some brilliant music, and then died before he had a chance to ruin it.
Green Day have missed the boat on that one unfortunately, so let them be an example to teach you all a valuable lesson:
If you ever do anything cool in your life that elevates your status in any way, make sure you die immediately after.
Otherwise you’ll end up looking like this: