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21st Century Breakdown

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Album Review

American Idiot was a rarity of the 21st century: a bona fide four-quadrant hit, earning critical and commercial respect, roping in new fans young and old alike. It was so big it turned Green Day into something it had never been before — respected, serious rockers, something they were never considered during their first flight of success with Dookie. Back then, they were clearly (and proudly) slacker rebels with a natural gift for a pop hook, but American Idiot was a big album with big ideas, a political rock opera in an era devoid of both protest rock and wild ambition, so its success was a surprise. It also ratcheted up high expectations for its successor, and Green Day consciously plays toward those expectations on 2009's 21st Century Breakdown, another political rock opera that isn't an explicit sequel but could easily be mistaken for one, especially as its narrative follows a young couple through the wilderness of modern urban America. Heady stuff, but like the best rock operas, the concept doesn't get in the way of the music, which is a bit of an accomplishment because 21st Century Breakdown leaves behind the punchy '60s Who fascination for Queen and '70s Who, giving this more than its share of pomp and circumstance. Then again, puffed-up protest is kind of the point of 21st Century Breakdown: it's meant to be taken seriously, so it's not entirely surprising that Green Day fall into many of the same pompous tarpits as their heroes, ratcheting up the stately pianos, vocal harmonies, repeated musical motifs, doubled and tripled guitars, and synthesized effects that substitute for strings, then adding some orchestras for good measure. It would all sound cluttered, even turgid, if it weren't for Green Day's unerring knack for writing muscular pop and natural inclination to run clean and lean, letting only one song run over five minutes and never letting the arrangements overshadow the song. Although Green Day's other natural gift, that for impish irreverent humor, is missed — they left it all behind on their 2008 garage rock side project Foxboro Hot Tubs — the band manages to have 21st Century Breakdown work on a grand scale without losing either their punk or pop roots, which makes the album not only a sequel to American Idiot, but its equal.

Customer Reviews

They Can't Go Back

Let me make something clear right now for all you people who think Green Day should go back to their roots: they can't! I will list the reasons why: 1. Green Day has matured beyond the point of their earlier songs. Instead of writing easy 3 chord melodies, they are now writing magnificently done works of music that stretch the range and abilities of their music. 2. The topics that Green Day used to sing about no longer fit who they are. Green Day has become very politically conscious about our country. They have reached the point in their life where they want to leave a mark on for which they will be remembered. Also, they are no longer twenty-year-olds who sing about paranoia and drugs. They are almost forty years old and have families to raise and provide example for. They are no longer the kid punk rockers that they were when they began. They are still punk, however. Also, Billie Joe's voice has matured, and doesn't quite fit the music of the "old" Green Day. Listen to Dookie and American Idiot and compare the vocals. He now has stronger, less "snarling" vocals. 3. My final comment is for those of you who think Green Day are "sellouts" and have gone "mainstream." No matter what kind of music they write, they will always sellout concerts, sell millions of records, and have radio hits. Why? Because they are too famous not to. They are arguably the best band of our time, and the best punk band in the world. What other band sells so many records in a time marked by digital downloads? And Green Day fans, why wouldn't you want your favorite band to se llout and grow in popularity? You don't enjoy to hear their songs on the radio? Think about these points next time you insult Green Day.

21st Century Breakdowns All Expectations

There were many who said that it couldn't be done, that a respectable and novel follow up to the career reviving and defining American Idiot was impossible and anything that came out would not and could not match it. I've got to say though that 21st Century Breakdown is this unimaginable album. 21st Century Breakdown does not follow directly in American's footsteps but makes a new trail, reviving some of the old style of past Green Day while adding some new, unexpected ones that truly makes this album the trio's best album to date. Another great Rock Opera from a great band.

Not the old Green Day.

I'm 16. Being this age I obviously didn't listen to Green Day when they first came around. However, I did get into them in elementary school, thanks to my older cousin, and now I have listened to all of their albums and own them. I don't have the same feelings as some of the older fans that were around when Green Day first started changing their style. But I can tell the difference between the old and the new. I don't think this is the best album, it's not. But I don't think that it's a terrible album. A lot of people compare it to AI, saying it's part number 2. I don't agree. Yes, it is another conecpt album. But this one obviously doesn't have all the kick that AI had. There are more ballads on this album. There is also the obvious difference of Green Day once again not having the same style they did in the beginning. I love their old albums. I continuously go back to them and listen to them. They're great. They have a rougher, more off beat style than Green Day has now. They're from back when there weren't all the kids thinking it was cool to know the lyrics to one catchy song. (AI was good, but come on. All those singles became overplayed after not too long.) But we have to come to terms that Green Days has grown up. They've been at this for 20 years, going from 17 to 37. We expect everyone else in the world to have aged and to act/think differently when they go from these ages. Sure, we all miss their early albums, but they've gone from teenagers to a ways into their adult years. People are saying that Green Day has lost touch with their roots. And maybe there is some truth in that. But they're still Green Day. They just have different thoughts running through their creative minds now. Sure you can compare 21st Century Breakdown to Kerplunk and Dookie and Isomniac, but what are you gonna get? They've changed their sound, they have different things to write about, they've grown up, matured. It's the same band, but I think it's in a way unfair to compare the different albums. They're still great musicians, Billie Joe still has one of the best voices I've heard, they're still singing about what they want to sing about. I think the number one person Green Day wants to please with their work is themselves. And if this album is out and they seem very proud of it in interviews then they are. We should take it in stride. If you still aren't a fan, then go listen to their older albums, still appreciate them. And hope that if they come out with another album it will please you more.


Formed: 1988 in Berkeley, CA

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Out of all the post-Nirvana alternative bands to break into the pop mainstream, Green Day were second only to Pearl Jam in terms of influence. At their core, Green Day were simply punk revivalists who recharged the energy of speedy, catchy three-chord punk-pop songs. Though their music wasn't particularly innovative, they brought the sound of late-'70s punk to a new, younger generation with Dookie, their 1994 major-label debut. Dookie sold over ten million copies, paving the way for a string of multi-platinum...
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