21st Century Breakdown is maybe the best awful album ever


I hesitated to review this album, but some things just need to happen.

There are times in the lives of some musicians when they try to transcend their old sounds to recreate their images, usually to appeal to a wider audience (many call it “selling out.” I don’t). Bands like the Rolling Stones did it tastefully. Smash Mouth did not. Now we get to sit back and see how Green Day handles the transition from nasty punk kids to epic arena rock stars.

If we mark the end of Green Day’s pop-punk rock career at the release of 2002’s B-Sides compilation, Shenanigans, we can consider 2004’s American Idiot the foundation of their new sound and 21st Century Breakdown the attempt at icing that lucrative musical cake. So did they pull it off? Have they finally stopped writing those childish songs about weed and masturbation in favor of sweeping, emotional/political epics??

Yes. Yes they have. The new album is nothing short of what you’d expect of Green Day’s follow-up to American Idiot. It’s well-made in the same sense that High School Musical 3 was well-made. If you just love a movie about dancing teens singing about things WAYYY beyond their 17 years of life experience, it’s incredible. So 21st Century Breakdown is kinda like that. Like High School Musical 3. Exactly like it.

The album kicks off with “21st Century Breakdown,” the confused three-part title track/suite. It’s a great way to start the album that is equally confused. Billie Joe Armstrong spends most of the time with faux-angry songs that shake a fist at authority and society with distorted power chords and yelling (awww they’re like a more sophisticated Good Charlotte!). But sometimes he favors piano because that’s classy, right?

So maybe the lyrics will be as epic as the music! On “East Jesus Nowhere,” Armstrong proclaims:

“A fire burns today / Of blasphemy and genocide / The sirens of decay / Will infiltrate the faith fanatics”

Yikes.Yiiiikes. High School creative writing class anybody? On the rest of the album he just sings about how awful the world is and how Republicans suck and youth is the best blahblah fight the system (Armstrong=37 years old; part of the system).

In a nutshell, 21st Century Breakdown is great if you want what the band is selling (sadness, anger, arena rock). If you loved American Idiot and that kind of thing, you will love 21st Century Breakdown. If you hated that album and are just begging for more songs about masturbation and weed, don’t waste your money. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go watch HSM3 with my Zac Efron cardboard cutout.

Green Day – “21st Century Breakdown” [MP3]

Green Day – “East Jesus Nowhere” [MP3]

Green Day – “Restless Heart Syndrome” [MP3]


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