Part 1 of the Green Day tribute post left off with the band’s influence waning, their future uncertain. But those times, of course, did not last long.
Continuing the timeline of Green Day’s rise to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, it’s time to examine Green Day’s great comeback.
11. 2004: The master tapes for Cigarettes and Valentines, the follow-up album to Warning, were stolen before release around 2002. Here, Green Day reached a crucial question: should the band re-record the lost songs or take off in a new direction?
Answer: American Idiot.
This is the album that sparked a Broadway musical. The album that developed an entire storyline based around the fictional St. Jimmy/Jesus of Suburbia. The album that sold over 6 million copies, debuted at number one on the charts, won the 2005 Grammy for Best Rock Album, and had the name “Green Day” on everyone’s lips. The album that introduced me to my personal favorite Green Day song of all time:
American Idiot changed the nature of Green Day’s career forever. Throwing them into the spotlight, the album was polarizing to some long-term fans simply because it was so different from the basic punk of earlier Green Day. Yet American Idiot proved that Green Day could be just as loud, just as rebellious, against a political cause (the Bush presidency/war on terror) as an adolescent one.
From this point on, the Green Day fanbase became known as the Idiot Nation.
12. 2007: Green Day records their cover of John Lennon’s “Working Class Hero” for the Darfur benefit album Instant Karma.
13. 2009: The second rock opera of Green Day’s repertoire, 21st Century Breakdown, graces the airwaves. Telling the stories of characters called Christian and Gloria, the album wins the 2010 Grammy for Best Rock Album like American Idiot before it. The music video for “21 Guns” brings the album’s artwork to life:
Around this same time, Green Day is approached by Spring Awakening director Michael Mayer to begin planning a musical based on American Idiot.
14. 2010: American Idiot: The Musical opens on Broadway. Billie Joe Armstrong himself steps in to play the lead role of St. Jimmy for one week in October, which is so successful that he ends up reprising the role, eventually closing out the show’s time on Broadway in 2011.
15. 2012: One of Green Day’s boldest moves yet comes in the release of the trilogy ¡UNO!, ¡DOS!, ¡TRE! all within a single year. The three albums feature one member of the band on each cover and introduce the world to over 36 new songs. “Stop When the Red Lights Flash” from ¡DOS! proves to be an instant crowd-pleaser:
16. 2015: Green Day is inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Does it get much better than that?
What’s next for Green Day? Who knows! With a career as surprising and thrilling as theirs, I wouldn’t be surprised if they flew to the moon and recorded an album there. They’re Green Day. To Billie Joe, Mike, and Tre: thanks for rocking for so many years, and don’t ever stop.