This morning, I stumbled downstairs, got myself a cup of coffee and sat down to MTV2 for five minutes of procrastination before I had to go and get ready for the day. It was on this very sofa that I am sat upon now that I first witnessed Green Day’s latest single, 21st Century Breakdown. And wow, did it suck. I’m not going to lie, I haven’t been keeping up with Green Day. After their second break into the mainstream with American Idiot (I’m also counting Dookie because it really did shoot them to relative fame, but not enough to ruin them), I was left disappointed and betrayed. It wasn’t a bad album entirely, aside from the singles, but it lacked that sense of fun I’ve always associated with Green Day. It seems that Billie Joe found some eyeliner and got all interested in politics and well, I’m sorry boys, but I just wasn’t that interested. This, coupled with that video where the kid goes to fight in Iraq and you’ve got Green Day being just a bit too serious. I don’t know about you, but I like my pop-punk with a sense of reckless abandon, thank you. 21st Century Breakdown is merely an extension of the political cry for attention, right down to the Banksy style video.
Quite frankly, it’s upsetting and unfortunately very typical of how most bands try and hit the right kind of ‘attitude’ once they hit the mainstream. 30 Seconds To Mars did it with title song A Beautiful Lie and that ridiculous video in the Arctic (isn’t having your band videoed ‘playing loudly’ on ice caps contributing to global warming?), NOFX did it with The War On Errorism and even Armor For Sleep tried it as soon as they got a little bit of recognition with third album flop Smile For Them. As soon as they can introduce a bit of politics into their work, you know a band’s got it made – well, as long as they aren’t a political punk band to begin with. My point being, Green Day were never political. Green Day were never serious. Green Day were never concerned with their hair. And now, all three of those dominate their music, and well… it sucks!
I decided that Green Day and I were no longer friends when I first heard The Saints Are Coming. The fact that they collaborated with U2, who are potentially the most safe and boring band on the planet, just showed that they had nothing of their former self left. I had stuck by them through American Idiot; I learnt to play Jesus Of Suburbia, I sang along to St Jimmy, but I mocked the very notion of the ‘rock opera’ they had put before us. I thought “Please, nobody but Queen can attempt anything as grand as that!” but no, Green Day gave it a go, and it tarnished what otherwise would have been a great album. Well, that plus the Iraq video. It’s not like Green Day aren’t allowed to be serious – one of the most depressing songs they’ve ever written, Redundant, is one of my favourite songs of all time – but come on, it’s not like they could ever inspire a teenage population to rise up and take on the government, and that’s all they’ve got backing them these days. The thing is, I want to like 21st Century Breakdown as an album. There are some standout tracks on it, like Lights Out, as directed to me by fightclubsandwich. It’s like, they’ve grown up, they’ve got better, and then they shit all over it with the singles they put out and the bland, generic riffs. At least each song used to sound a bit different, but now, I can’t tell the difference between half of their singles. 21st Century Breakdown in particular uses a real mashup of different styles in an attempt to make it more grandiose and it just doesn’t work. The oddly placed solo, the weird shift in tempo… it’s almost as if they’re trying to reinvent Jesus of Suburbia into a song that’s half the time.
I really hope that the next Green Day album is a return to form, I really do. I don’t want to end up hating these guys as much as I hate Fall Out Boy these days (that’s an article for another time) because I believe that Green Day can be good. Those hidden gems on each album are evidence of that. I just don’t want to have to search for diamonds in the rough any more.