As a kid, few bands interested me more than Green Day. From the first listen of “Longview,” I was hooked. For the kid that had never listened or cared much for what I thought “punk rock” was, this was the perfect expression of me. Finding out about this band eventually led me to discover bands like The Offspring, Rancid, and especially Bad Religion.
Now I’m not even slightly a punk fan. It’s just never appealed to me, which is probably why I never went further into the scene than a sole Propagandhi, Avail show more than a decade ago. Having said that, Green Day as a band seemed to transcend all of that. I’m of the opinion that “American Idiot” is still a modern rock masterpiece, and the scope and themes of the album still interest me. It’s just a good album. Also, how could a kid who watched them have a mud fight at Woodstock not instantly fall in love? They were the voice of an era, and in some instances, still are. They’ve been so absurdly successful and they still somehow find new fans. The hooks are inescapable, and while the albums have decreased significantly in quality, they will always have a special place in my heart as a band who opened the doorway to a new sound a little 14 year old brat had never heard of before. I hope you enjoy the top ten Green Day songs, and I encourage thoughts and opinions. Here we go!
10. Wake Me Up When September Ends, American Idiot:
Let me first state this album still kicks ass, at least to me. Let me next say, this song and album came out and become popular right around Hurricane Katrina, and it couldn’t have resonated with me more at the time. The month of September was terrible and filled with doubt. This album was still a constant play in my life, and this song brought me to an emotional core because of all the unknowns plaguing my family. We didn’t know if we had a city, a home, or what the next day would bring. It was terrible not knowing if you have a city to call home. This song just helped a lot. The lyrics are heartfelt, and the guitar’s help to add a more positive side to the darkened themes of the song. It’s a track about working through issues, and overcoming difficult hurdles. This is definitely a song that helped me to put things into perspective when it was surely needed.
9. Redundant, Nimrod:
What I love so much about this band is that they can tackle real life issues while still maintaining hooks and keeping it upbeat. This song reminds me of running around in circles as a person tries to figure out how to best treat their significant other. I myself, unfortunately know how difficult it is to fail in this realm, as I’m recently split from a person that was once super important. As a partner, I want to be perfect to my lady, but it’s rarely possible, and quite frankly it sucks. As the song states, sometimes “ I love you’s not enough, I’m lost for words,” but that doesn’t mean we should ever quit trying to be the angel to our loved ones. Some matches are just meant to burn in the fire.
8. She, Dookie:
The drum beat is catchy as fuck, and it’s just an outright bouncy song. I love the lyrics, the chorus, the bass lines, and everything else in fact. It’s just a crunchy number. I’m by no means a punk kid, but to me, this has some of the basic guidelines. It’s to the point, and it’s fun to dance to. Sorry I haven’t said much about this, but I really just wanna dance and hop around. Also, anyone else remember this song as it was featured in that very typical nineties movie Angus? I used to love that movie as a teenager, but I’m not sure how it holds up after all of this time on the shelf of history. Shitty movie or not, the song is still a great one, and it finds us at number eight on the Top Ten Green Day songs.
7. Macy’s Day Parade, Warning:
I never gave this song much thought at first. I indeed bought this album, but I don’t think I ever made it to the end, which is where the track is found. It wasn’t until my friend played the greatest hits that I was lucky enough to find this gem. I like this band so much because so much of it feels disjointedly autobiographical to it’s author. It just seems like he’s been through so many of the issues he discusses, but maybe it’s just because Billie Joe Armstrong is a really good songwriter. This song is more mid tempo and reflective than other songs in their discography, but it’s a damn fine song, and for me, it’s a winner
6. See the Light, 21st Century Breakdown:
Many people have written this band off by this point, but they’ve successfully navigated growing up, and aren’t just making bratty music anymore. You can tell they’ve finally figured out how to make anthems that deserve to be played loud and in front of a giant crowd. And they do it. They bring a massive amount of experience to the table, and if you’ve ever seen them live, you are aware they have one of the most fun rock shows around. Seriously I think a general fan of music could go to that show and have a good time. They bring crowd participation to new heights for an arena rock band. This song is the perfect addition to a live show. It’s anthemic, get’s people involved, and it’s easy to sing along to.
5. Good Riddance (Time of your Life), Nimrod:
So for all the high schools that have had this as some sort of song in some ceremony for the past ten years, it wasn’t without initial merit. It is a very emotional, poignant song. What we failed to realize, at least from my now older viewpoint, is that this song is about the band. They had made it, and all of their dreams had come true, and as a band they had done what most others couldn’t. It’s also just a beautiful song. Even now I get goosebumps listening to it. All it took was the band to put their minds to it, and write a song that will without a doubt stand the test of time. Life is unpredictable, and bad things happen, but don’t forget to savor the good moments, and have the time of your life when able.
4. Brain Stew, Insomniac:
Did anyone else ever hear the version of this song with the Godzilla roar in between the opening chords? Well you should look it up because it’s hilarious, and also awesome. The song itself is a somewhat peculiar song and doesn’t really deal with anything in particular. I think it’s a song occupying a crazy man’s brain. The song thumps through the intro, but before long Armstrong's voice creaks out with images of sheep and other random ass thing. For the aggression demonstrated in the instrumentation, it's not a super fast paced, in your face song, but that’s maybe what I like most about the song.
3. Holiday, American Idiot:
The best, most fun song on the whole “American Idiot” album if you ask me. It’s just a perfect rock song, especially for the time period. “This is the dawning of the rest of our lives!” For many, they were able to bring political themes and make them known in a way that wasn’t simply being shoved down our throats, and perhaps it made a few people think. Beyond that, can we just for a second talk about how Mike Dirnt and Tre Cool are one of the best rhythm sections in all of modern rock music? I bring that up because they arguably carry the song as much if not more than the vocals. This song just kicks major ass, and shouldn’t be ignored because it was created by a mega band.
2. Welcome to Paradise, Dookie:
Another off their groundbreaking third album. Is he complaining about being pushed aside by his mother? I’m not sure. But the song title doesn’t help my case. So many of their songs discuss things in an unorthodox way, but sometimes it doesn’t matter. Here especially it doesn’t make a difference, the force of the song is felt whether you are aware of the subject matter or not. This is the bratty music that drew me to them in the first place, and all these years later I still love this track and will gladly sing along with it, while still pretending I’m said 14 year old shitty kid. The build up and fight between the bass and drums is yet again a great addition to the song, and drives it home in terms of intensity, which works especially for me.
1. King For a Day, Nimrod:
THIS SONG KICKS MAJOR ASS! And it takes names while doing so. It’s fistpumping fun at the bands best. “G.I. Joe in panty hose?” Who thinks of this shit. Next, the horns and rhythm section once again make you wanna mosh around like you have no fucks left to give. Who wouldn’t want to be a King for a day? That shit would be awesome. Ruling assholes around and they HAVE TO DO IT? That sounds like a plan to me. For the overall funness exhibited in this song, and also for how carefree I feel just listening to it right now, I give this song the number one slot on my list of the top ten Green Day songs. I hope you agree, and if you don’t, well I’m sorry but on this list at least, I’m King for the day! Having said all of this though, the actual story behind the song has literally nothing to do with what I just mentioned, but I figured I would play with my early perceptions of the song. Instead, we’re treated to a track about crossdressing, and how one young man grew up to love it. Various viewpoints are expressed in the track, but the overwhelming message I get from “King for a Day” is that no one should judge, or ever feel bad about things that make them feel good. Thanks for reading! See you Monday!
Landon Murray is a published writer and an avid lover of music, books and films. He's also a lover of the New Orleans Saints. He was born in 1982 and has a chainsaw tattoo on his arm.
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