I’ve touched upon my personal preference for political pieces of work from artists, but I haven’t touched on my personal preference for concept albums as a whole. Many of the artists I listen to have at least one album that is focused around a central theme, and I admire this because there are numerous songs I can pick from when I am feeling one way or another.
Music Suggestion of The Week: Green Day
Punk rock icons, Billie Joe Armstrong, Tré Cool, and Mike Durnt, created what is now known as the band “Green Day” in 1986 during the punk scene that was spreading throughout Berkeley, California. Twelve albums later, this band is still picking up success with their attention from younger generations. Named “Green Day” for the band’s attraction to cannabis, these three bandmates created a political revolution through the only form they knew how: music.
I am going to be discussing one of Green Day’s political albums, “American Idiot, since it has been one of the most influential pieces of their time.
In 2004, Green Day released a “punk rock opera” in the form of their seventh studio album, selling more than sixteen million copies worldwide. This album follows the generation shaped by the Iraq War, focusing in on the lower-middle-class adolescents. The album generally combats the struggles faced by the children of war as they are forced to succumb to the world of disillusionment. Five singles gained success from the album, allowing Green Day’s “American Idiot” to live on:
- American Idiot
- Jesus of Suburbia
- Boulevard of Broken Dreams
- Wake Me Up When September Ends
Here’s one you’ve probably heard on the radio:
This album hooked me from the second I discovered it because it contained the majority of my passions in one: politics, rock, and theater. I highly recommend seeing “American Idiot” in theaters when you are given the chance (Penn State put on this production last fall!). These power ballads draw attention to the drug epidemics, mental illnesses, and overall hardships that teenagers and young adults face in the “real” world, and I believe that it is important for individuals to be aware and feel the emotions associated with each of these crises.
The stage musical of “American Idiot” focuses on three young men by the names of Johnny, Will, and Tunny. Will is forced to stay home with his pregnant girlfriend while the other two escape to better their lives in the city. Tunny, finding no relief, enlists, leaving Johnny to fend for himself. The hardships that each of the characters face allows audience members to empathize because thousands of individuals face these hardships every day.
“American Idiot” remains relative in politics today which is why the album has lived on so long. Green Day still receives success from this pop rock opera through covers and revivals of old performances.
Here is my favorite song off of the album:
Each of the songs hold more meaning behind them than any first impression will give you. The more you listen, the more you will appreciate the creativity and cleverness sewn into the fabrics of this entire album.