American Idiot

American Idiot

4.5 165
by Green Day

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If you had to pick one band to don the "least likely to create a rock opera" mantle, Cali-punk trio Green Day would be among the most logical candidates. That makes the existence of American Idiot something of a surprise -- and the excellence of its contents little short of a revelation. There are no half measures on the sprawling disc. Billie Joe Armstrong has…  See more details below


If you had to pick one band to don the "least likely to create a rock opera" mantle, Cali-punk trio Green Day would be among the most logical candidates. That makes the existence of American Idiot something of a surprise -- and the excellence of its contents little short of a revelation. There are no half measures on the sprawling disc. Billie Joe Armstrong has created a full slate of characters and given considerable thought to their back-stories -- heck, he even dug out a glockenspiel to add dramatic tension to the nine-minute epic "Jesus of Suburbia." Thing is, Armstrong and company haven't lost their snotty Gilman Street edge in the process -- as evidenced by the snarling, expletive-laced title track and the made-for-pogoing sing-along "Extraordinary Girl." While there's obviously a political subtext running through the disc, Armstrong seldom gets so specific that the disc will sound dated come the next election cycle. Instead, songs like the Clash-styled "Are We the Waiting" and the spare ballad "Wake Me Up when September Ends" delve into adult-oriented emotional distress with the same sort of incisiveness the band once applied to teen angst. While there are occasional lapses into utter excess -- "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" encroaches on show-tune territory -- American Idiot packs enough power, both sonically and emotionally, to make it worthy of extended play (and consideration for a 2004 time capsule).

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Stephen Thomas Erlewine
It's a bit tempting to peg Green Day's sprawling, ambitious, brilliant seventh album, American Idiot, as their version of a Who album, the next logical step forward from the Kinks-inspired popcraft of their underrated 2000 effort, Warning, but things aren't quite that simple. American Idiot is an unapologetic, unabashed rock opera, a form that Pete Townshend pioneered with Tommy, but Green Day doesn't use that for a blueprint as much as they use the Who's mini-opera "A Quick One, While He's Away," whose whirlwind succession of 90-second songs isn't only emulated on two song suites here, but provides the template for the larger 13-song cycle. But the Who are only one of many inspirations on this audacious, immensely entertaining album. The story of St. Jimmy has an arc similar to Hüsker Dü's landmark punk-opera Zen Arcade, while the music has grandiose flourishes straight out of both Queen and Rocky Horror Picture Show (the '50s pastiche "Rock and Roll Girlfriend" is punk rock Meat Loaf), all tied together with a nervy urgency and a political passion reminiscent of the Clash, or all the anti-Reagan American hardcore bands of the '80s. These are just the clearest touchstones for American Idiot, but reducing the album to its influences gives the inaccurate impression that this is no more than a patchwork quilt of familiar sounds, when it's an idiosyncratic, visionary work in its own right. First of all, part of Green Day's appeal is how they have personalized the sounds of the past, making time-honored guitar rock traditions seem fresh, even vital. With their first albums, they styled themselves after first-generation punk they were too young to hear firsthand, and as their career progressed, the group not only synthesized these influences into something distinctive, but chief songwriter Billie Joe Armstrong turned into a muscular, versatile songwriter in his own right. Warning illustrated their growing musical acumen quite impressively, but here, the music isn't only tougher, it's fluid and, better still, it fuels the anger, disillusionment, heartbreak, frustration, and scathing wit at the core of American Idiot. And one of the truly startling things about American Idiot is how the increased musicality of the band is matched by Armstrong's incisive, cutting lyrics, which effectively convey the paranoia and fear of living in American in days after 9/11, but also veer into moving, intimate small-scale character sketches. There's a lot to absorb here, and cynics might dismiss it after one listen as a bit of a mess when it's really a rich, multi-faceted work, one that is bracing upon the first spin and grows in stature and becomes more addictive with each repeated play. Like all great concept albums, American Idiot works on several different levels. It can be taken as a collection of great songs -- songs that are as visceral or as poignant as Green Day at their best, songs that resonate outside of the larger canvas of the story, as the fiery anti-Dubya title anthem proves -- but these songs have a different, more lasting impact when taken as a whole. While its breakneck, freewheeling musicality has many inspirations, there really aren't many records like American Idiot (bizarrely enough, the Fiery Furnaces' Blueberry Boat is one of the closest, at least on a sonic level, largely because both groups draw deeply from the kaleidoscopic "A Quick One"). In its musical muscle and sweeping, politically charged narrative, it's something of a masterpiece, and one of the few -- if not the only -- records of 2004 to convey what it feels like to live in the strange, bewildering America of the early 2000s.
Entertainment Weekly - Stephen King
Not just the best album of the year, but one of the best to be released in the entire rock era.

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Product Details

Release Date:
Reprise / Wea

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Green Day   Primary Artist
Tre Cool   Drums,Vocals
Billie Joe   Guitar,Vocals
Rob Cavallo   Piano
Mike Dirnt   Bass,Vocals
Billie Joe Armstrong   Guitar,Vocals
Kathleen Hanna   Vocals,Guest Appearance
Jason Freese   Saxophone

Technical Credits

Tre Cool   Composer
Green Day   Composer,Producer,Audio Production
Doug McKean   Engineer
Rob Cavallo   Producer,Audio Production
Bill Schneider   Guitar Techician
Mike Dirnt   Composer
Chris Bilheimer   Art Direction
Mike Fasano   Drum Technician
Billie Joe Armstrong   Composer
Reto Peter   Engineer
Kenny Butler   Drum Technician
Chris Dugan   Engineer

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American Idiot 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 165 reviews.
Mr-McAwesome More than 1 year ago
Seeing as how Green Day's new album 21st Century Breakdown is two days away from release some might see it pointless to review this cd but after reading many of the reviews on this sight I have a few things to say. First off, this is Green Day's best album because they grew up. Dont get me wrong 1991's 1039/Smoothed Out Slappy Hours through 2000's Warning are all rememberable albums but American Idiot is the best. Another reviewer pointed out that the band grew up and matured because America grew up and matured. Yes the 90's were very laid back. Our biggest issues besides the end of the Gulf War were the huge Yellowstone fire and Bill Clintons little affair. When Billie Joe wrote the songs on the album Dookie most of our troops werent hunting for Osama bin laden and raiding the towns and homes of Iraqies and Afghanies. The twin towers were still up and the pentagon had yet to require remodeling due to a plane destroying part of the building. Green Day did the right move with this album because they said what needed to be said at the time. American Idiot is better than their previous albums because they grew up. The people that say this is the problem are clearly the ones that need to grow up themselves. Secondly, this album is not emo. Simple Plan and Fall Out Boy are emo. This album has raw emotion and its relatable in a mature way. Saying this album is emo is very much like saying The Wall by Pink Floyd is emo. Those two albums have similair stories and they are both amazing for a reason. Actual emo music consists of whiney teenagers who got a red mustang for their birthday when they wanted a black on. Thats all emo music is. Its people that dont have issues making up issues because depressed people seem to get more attention than happy peole but its all fake and stupid. American Idiot captures real situations and a) makes you relate to these issues and b) delivers them in a way that seem believable. Lastly I just want to defend Green Day for the way they look. For all you idiots reading this pay attention cause im only typing this once. THEY ARE ROCKSTARS. IF BILLIE JOE WANTS TO DRESS IN BLACK AND WEAR EYELINER THEN SHUT UP AND LET HIM!!! All you morons that claim to be die hard fans of Green Day yet hate this album for retarted reasons like the ones mentioned above please shut up. Just shut up. Why penalize a band that changed thier sound? If everyone was like you people all the other great bands would've failed too. The Beatles, Pink Floyd, and many others wouldn't have succeeded if the world was full of tone deaf morons that clearly dont know what good mucic is. Michael Fee age 20
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is really a great album. Some of it is a bit softer than I like (Wake Me Up When September Ends, etc.), but I'm not going to knock good music. They did a better job with this CD than with their others, which are also good. I definitely recommend this.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Before i heard about Green Day i was like into pop and stuff like that, but one day i heard Blvd of Broken Dreams on the radio and i vowed to figure out who sang it then a couple nights later on Saturday Night Live the music guest was Green Day and the first song they played was Blvd of Broken Dreams so i was like OH MY GOD thats who does that song! I just had to go out and buy that CD and now Green Day is my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE BAND OF ALL TIME!I hate to listen to pop music now, now i mostly listen to classic rock and punk rock.
Guest More than 1 year ago
When you ask people why they like a certain song, they may say they like it because it has a catchy beat or is something fun to dance to. If you were to ask me, I'd say the lyrics and inspiration behind the songs are first and foremost on my music priority list. When I had first heard of the album American Idiot, I thought that this was an album I wouldn't be forgetting anytime soon. And I was right. The first song I had listened to from the album was Extraordinary Girl. I immediately fell in love with it. The lyrics meant something to me. I felt... connected with it, as if Billie Joe was singing about me. I guess that proves how great he is at writing songs. I can honestly say that I had never felt that way about a song before. I immediate listened to other songs on the album. Whether it be the personal close-to-home Jesus of Suburbia, the intense and dark Boulevard of Broken Dreams, the painful but beautiful Give Me Novocain, or the small but great vocal additions of Mike Dirnt and Tre' Cool in Homecoming, I loved it all. But there was one song on the album that REALLY hit home. This song was so great and intense I still get watery eyes from it every single time I listen to it. That song would be the last song on the album, known as Whatsername. The song's meaning is mainly about trying to forget about somebody that you made a mistake with, and that it's you that has to live with it. I've been there, and I can't get it out of my mind. So for me, the song Whatsername is like therapy. My favorite part of the song would have to be the following lines, "And in the darkest night, If my memory serves me right, I'll never turn back time, Forgetting you but not the time..." In conclusion, this is by far the best album I've ever listened to. I HIGHLY recommend this album, and look forward to every future Green Day album.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
this is one of the best CDs on earth. american idiot... GET IT!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
After being a Green Day fan for a while I heard there new song on the radio American Idoit, it rocked. After buying the CD the day it came out I am sorry to say but it as less then I thought it to be. I thought that the whole cd was going to be great, I guess I was wrong. The Cd is okay but I feel there other albums are better. I would still recomend buying it but don't run to the store so fast.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This album rules, From the moment you pop it in to the last note it's pure great rock by some of the best. GET IT this is a must have its one of those albums where most songs are Extremely good and the rest is good enough to be there.
Guest More than 1 year ago
i absolutely love this cd i love the songs american idiot and boulevard of broken dreams totally worth ur money
Guest More than 1 year ago
In 2003, Green Day had an album ready for release, and it was some of their best since "Dookie". It was so good, in fact, that the master tapes were stolen. No tapes, no album. So the band went back to square one. Ironically, the theft of the tapes might have been the best thing that ever happened to them. Their next project was a rock opera. Yes, a rock opera. With piano, glockenspiel, key changes, and -- dare i say it -- PLOT TWISTS. The album pins the tail on the donkey when it comes to describing the post-9/11 angst and paranoia that we all have suffered from. It tells the story of a man coming of age, as Jesus of Suburbia goes from "Mary Jane to keep me insane/Doing someone else's cocaine" to "I got a kid in New York/I got a kid in the Bay/And I haven't smoked or drank a thing in a whole 22 days." It deals with suicide, love, and much much more. The album begins with the single/title track. Its good, solid, "Dookie"-like Green Day, but with political lyrics. The good news is that its probably the least good song on the album. And Green Day completely changes its tune for the whole album. The title track is the only one that sounds a thing like their older stuff -- and the change is just what they needed. The nine minute montages "Jesus of Suburbia" and "Homecoming" act as bookends to the story, both full of key changes, different instruments, and even different singers. "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" consists of shimmering guitars and piano and a perfect power chorus. "St. Jimmy" gives you a taste of the Ramones plus some actual Broadway song structure, and "Letterbomb" is the closest Green Day will come to sounding like the Ataris -- thank god they don't get to close. In fact, the Ataris should take notes. The acoustic/power ballad "Wake Me Up When September Ends" is an emo song, but its still awesome and fits right into the album. And the strong, majestic, voice-blending finale of "Whatsername" is often overlooked by reviews, but might be the best song on the album. The final word: You can't go wrong with "American Idiot." It is defintely the best album released since "Nevermind" -- yes, better than "Dookie" by far. And even if you can't like Green Day that much, you'll be awed at their change in tune, and believe me, you'll wish you had the cajones to do something like this.
Guest More than 1 year ago
i really enjoyed most of green day's cd's, except recently, they have been acting extremely sell-outish. this album is pretty good, but i dont like the way the songs go together, and the single "american idiot" becomes really annoying after a few listens.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Green Day is the best known punk rock opera in the world! There newest album called American Idiot is telling everyone that there actually "growing up" instead of still playing new versions of there 1994 songs "Longview" and "Basket Case". There top single of there new album is "American Idiot" (also the title). This song has lyrics such as "Dont want to be an american idiot. dont wanna nation under the new media and can you here the sound of hysteria the subliminal mind **** america." as there first course of the song. They are known of the fact that they are AGAINST bush and would like it if kerry won. There new album also is saying how there coming into the world Politics and coming out of the world of chilidish. They still are known to run around naked at concerts and DEFITLEY still will!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This new cd may be very differnt from what we Green Day fans are used to, but, its Green Day, so it shall kick some green a$$! Billie Joe is hot and have a green day!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Green day is so awesome!!!!! all the songs are awesome espically american idiot! keep up the good work
Guest More than 1 year ago
This CD is amazing. Some highlights are the punk opera Jesus of Surburbia and Saint Jimmy.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Come on, do I even need a review? This C.D is flat out the best. American Idiot is my favorite, but every other song is great!
Guest More than 1 year ago
THIS CD IS UNBELIEVABLE. It unleashes and new side of green day but still maintains the hard melodic tone that everyone loves. I was not let down by this cd. Every song had the sound of another amazing hit. BEST GREEN DAY CD YET. IF YOU HAVE 20 BUCKS WHAT ARE YOU STILL READING FOR GO OUT AND GET IT
Guest More than 1 year ago
After 4 years, Green Day has done it again. Give Me Novacaine and Jesus of Suburbia is great. Its great to have them back. This new sound it awesome.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Green Day is the best!!! This CD rocks on so many levels! Billie Joe is hot! OK... well... Buy the CD! If you don't you'll regret it!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Ok so this cd isnt exactally theyre old stuff its totally and completely different... but its INCREDIBLE... if you just listen to it its totally amazing the lyrics is awesome and the actual music is moving... if you think this is Green Day "selling out" you are WAY wrong
Guest More than 1 year ago
Just an amazing album. "Jesus of Suburbia" is just simply awesome. Great unity among all the songs on the record and it is thoroughly enjoyable. I can't wait for to put out the guitar tab book for this album!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This album sounds like theyve turned spiritual. The only true Green Day songs are American Idiot and Holiday. Im really dissapointed in this album.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is the greatest Cd they have ever made! It may be a little slower than usual but it is still awesome! Jesus of Suburbia and Holiday are simply the best songs ever! If you want a cd you can listen to the whole way through, buy this one!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Instead of trying two write several hit songs like usual, this time Greenday made more of a story of the CD. Every song is different from the last and it's an amazing combination of songs. It is so perfect, I am actually going to go buy it!!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This c.d. is something new for Green Day, but still sooo good even if it's not quite the same as they were in the Dookie days. I love the fact that the guys aren't afraid to try anything new and the result was a phenomenal c.d. The best song on the album, in my opinion, was "Holiday." "Jesus of Suburbia" was a close second, and is something totally new for Green Day (a "rock opera," if you will.) There's about 7 or 8 other songs that I listen to nonstop, but every song on this c.d. truly is original and great. If you can cope with Green Day tapping into politics and having matured quite a bit, buy this c.d. You won't regret it.