Last week, Green Day made a triumphant return with the fiery "Bang Bang." After a few years away and focusing on personal issues and side projects, the band returned to their punk roots for the first preview of their album Revolution Radio. Since their debut, the pop-punk luminaries have long been filled with surprises, both lyrically and sonically, unafraid to explore genres, themes and ways of relaying stories about youth, love and politics. In honor of the new music from Green Day, we asked our readers to vote for their favorite Green Day deep cuts. Here are the results.
A kiss-off to phonies, "Prosthetic Head" took aim at ideals of perfection and the extreme measures people take to get to their idea of perfection. The song was a subtle, jabbing end to Nimrod and feels almost like a secret track as it follows up the band's massive good-bye ballad "Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)."
In "Pulling Teeth," the band explores an abusive relationship where the male narrator is being repeatedly beaten up by his girlfriend. The dark track is delivered over a beachy melody, a sound that the band would explore further on the much happier "Redundant" off Nimrod.
Inspired by J.D. Salinger's famous Catcher in the Rye protagonist, Green Day analyzes apathy as the song's narrator loses motivation and becomes increasingly frustrated with his own loss of desire and ability to remember anything.
Much of American Idiot alludes to the Jesus of Suburbia's drug addiction, with St. Jimmy functioning as a demon of sorts pushing him further into the darkness. "Give Me Novacaine" is one of the songs that dives deeper into his addiction and a rare power ballad on the largely punk album.
Whatsername has several songs dedicated to her revolutionary attitude and Jesus of Suburbia's love for her throughout American Idiot, but "Letterbomb" is the only track to offer up some of her perspective on the situation in the underbelly and toxic relationship with the story's main character. The explosive, incendiary tune is one of the most raucous tracks on the album — beat out by American Idiot only slightly — and features a brief appearance from the album's only guest vocalist Kathleen Hanna whose song "Rebel Girl" with Bikini Kill inspired the AI track "She's a Rebel."
"American Idiot" set the radical tone as the opening track and first single for the album of the same name, but it was second track, "Jesus of Suburbia," that kickstarted the epic tale of a son of rage and love and his journey through and out of a crushing existence in a broken suburban home. The nine-minute epic was the album's ambitious centerpiece, told in five parts that introduced plot points and characters that would be returned to throughout American Idiot without veering too far into musical theater tropes. Due to its length, the song itself didn't quite catch on as a radio hit in the same way previous AI singles did, but its video set a seedy tone explored in the Broadway musical based off of Green Day's heralded rock opera.
Underlying Green Day's early disenfranchisement and later politics has always been a hefty dose of romance. "Going to Pasalacqua," off their 1990 debut album 39/Smooth, rips apart Armstrong's feelings about a relationship that's causing him to feel particularly anxious. By the end of the song, he decides that he'll ignore those insecurities and give the relationship a chance, even if he's not sure what the future holds.
Green Day's name was inspired by a day spent smoking weed, so naturally many of their early songs are loaded with references to their favorite activity. "Christie Road" was an ode to a specific street where Billie Joe Armstrong and Mike Dirnt would spend their time smoking and escaping from the stresses of life, finding solace with each other and on their own.
While "Jesus of Suburbia" felt like a bender of punk-popera, the even longer "Homecoming" felt like the crash and burn of the American Idiot hangover, wrapping up the story of the album's anti-hero who returns to the home he abandoned before diving in drug addiction and despondence in the city. The five-part, nine-minute penultimate track said good-bye to the album's antagonist St. Jimmy as the Jesus of Suburbia found inner-peace — or something like it.
Serving as an epilogue of sorts to American Idiot, "Whatsername" has the Jesus of Suburbia reflecting on the girl he loved and who left him as he was dragged deeper into the seedy city he escaped to. It's a gentle ending to an urgent, aggressive album, delivering the most tender self-reflection as the protagonist looks back on his youth with some distance. It's a standout, underrated moment from not only the album but Green Day's career: a simple pop song featuring a song structure that would rival Rubber Soul-era Beatles above an arena-level riff.