is the Rock Opera
album responsible for Green Day
's comeback in 2004. The plot is a Coming of Age Story
, following the Anti-Hero
protagonist, Jesus of Suburbia (JOS), as he matures from a rebellious youth to a jaded adult
As a teenager, JOS is cynical of society and dissatisfied with his life as an everyman in his town, desensitized by a steady diet of soda pop and Ritalin ("Jesus of Suburbia"). The song also introduces a rage vs. love theme prevalent throughout the plot.
JOS decides to leave his broken home and seek a new life for himself in the city. Here, JOS meets St. Jimmy, the son of a bitch and Edgar Allan Poe, a punk rock freedom fighter
("St. Jimmy"). St. Jimmy can be interpreted as an actual person and a bad influence on JOS, introducing him to drugs ("Give Me Novocaine"), or as an alternate personality
JOS creates for himself, representing blind, self-destructive rebellion.
JOS is also introduced to Whatsername ("She's A Rebel") and they begin a romantic relationship. JOS is attracted to Whatsername's rebellious, troubled nature
. However, because of the combined influence of St. Jimmy and JOS's drug addiction, Whatsername leaves JOS ("Letterbomb"). St. Jimmy commits suicide and JOS leaves the punk scene ("Homecoming"). Eventually he conforms to a normal life and forgets Whatsername, only remembering her face ("Whatsername").
Now a Broadway Musical.
An Avant-Garde Broadway Musical? A movie is apparently being planned, too.
Also provided the basis for the Mash Up
album "American Edit" by "Dean Gray", which remixes tracks from the album with an extremely diverse range of other songs, ranging from Bryan Adams
and The Offspring
to The Beatles
, the Bangles, Queen
and the Doctor Who
theme. It's surprisingly good and expands on the plot of the album. The band's label objected to the mash-up, but Billie Joe Armstrong supposedly heard it and approved.
1. American Idiot
2. Jesus of Suburbia
I. Jesus of Suburbia
II. City of the Damned
III. I Don't Care
IV. Dearly Beloved
V. Tales of Another Broken Home
4. Boulevard of Broken Dreams
5. Are We the Waiting
6. St. Jimmy
7. Give Me Novacaine
8. She's a Rebel
9. Extraordinary Girl
11. Wake Me Up When September Ends
I. The Death of St. Jimmy
II. East 12th St.
III. Nobody Likes You
IV. Rock and Roll Girlfriend
V. We're Coming Home Again
This rock opera provides examples of:
- Action Girlfriend
- Adaptation Expansion: The musical adds onto the JOS plot with stories of his two best friends. There's Will, who wants to leave but has to stay home with his pregnant girlfriend, and Tunny, who initially goes to the city with JOS but then ends up joining the army.
- All There in the Manual: A special hardcover-book edition of American Idiot contains journal entries not featured as lyrics; these served as the dialogue for the musical.
- Anti-Hero: According to Word of God, JOS.
- Arc Words: Inevitable, given the storytelling aspect of the album, but a few stand out, especially in 'Homecoming'. Part 2 bears resemblance to the 'I don't care' part of Jesus of Suburbia, acting a bit like Book Ends as JOS returns home. Also, Whatsername's 'Nobody likes you' taunt shows up quite a bit, possibly to imply thoughts going around JOS/ Jimmy's head during the song.
- "Bang!" Flag Gun: Used in the musical version during St. Jimmy's suicide.
- Bittersweet Ending: The musical. Tunny loses his leg in the war but falls in love with the Extraordinary Girl. Johnny and Will have lost the women they love but are finally getting their acts together, have their friends back, and Heather is letting Will see his baby again.
- Break-Up Bonfire: Mentioned in "Whatsername".
- Breakup Song: "Letterbomb".
- Cerebus Syndrome: Who knew the punks from "Basket Case" and "Longview" were so serious!
- Coming of Age Story
- Cool People Rebel Against Authority: Deconstructed Trope.
- Cover Drop: "She's a Rebel" ("She's a symbol of resistance, and she's holding on my heart like a hand grenade").
- Creator Cameo: Billie Joe occasionally played St. Jimmy in the musical during its original run.
- Double Consciousness: Depending on interpretation.
- Dream Sequence: "Extraordinary Girl" in the musical.
- Driven to Suicide: St Jimmy in "Homecoming".
- Epic Rocking: The two multipart tracks.
- "Homecoming" actually started as the opposite: a few Miniscule Rocking tracks which were then stitched together.
- Fading into the Next Song: "Holiday"/"Boulevard of Broken Dreams" (the music videos also follow this, since the former's - produced later - ends where the latter begins) and "Are We the Waiting"/"St. Jimmy". "Give Me Novocaine" -> "She's A Rebel" and "Extraordinary Girl" -> "Letterbomb" are lesser examples.
- Former Teen Rebel: JOS in "Homecoming"
- Freudian Trio: Jimmy is the id, JOS is the ego, and Whatsername is the superego. (considering that she's the only one who ever calls JOS out)
- Genre Deconstruction: Of the Punk movement as a whole. JOS becomes a self-absorbed, self-destructive rebel without a cause who ultimately accomplishes nothing and according to "Letterbomb" is the real American Idiot. This creates the interesting social commentary in that rather than turning people into mindless drones, the alienation and paranoia of modern American society creates self-destructive rebellion.
- Genre Shift
- Growing Up Sucks
- "I Am" Song / Image Song: "Jesus of Suburbia" (doubles as an "I Want" Song) , "St. Jimmy", "She's A Rebel".
- Looped Lyrics: "Are We The Waiting"; the "Nobody Likes You" section of "Homecoming"
- Loudness War: Pretty badly. Even the ballads like "Wake Me Up When September Ends" are clipped.
- Loves My Alter Ego: Depending on interpretation.
- New Sound Album
- No Name Given
- One Drink Will Kill the Baby: Played for Laughs in the musical when the visibly pregnant Heather drinks Will's beer during "Give Me Novacaine".
- Protest Song: "American Idiot" is the most obvious one. "Holiday" is one, too.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: The intro to "Letterbomb" (later quoted in "Homecoming"). Set to a cheery, almost nursery rhyme-like tune.
Nobody likes you
Everyone left you
They're all out without you
- Rebellious Spirit
- Rock Opera Plot
- Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll: The music video for Jesus of Suburbia.
- Split Personality Merge: "I. The Death of St. Jimmy"
- Step Up to the Microphone: Tré Cool and Mike Dirnt sing the parts of "Homecoming" they wrote.
- Strawman Political: To an extent, although not nearly at the flanderized level that the album was often portrayed as in pop culture. While two songs (the title track and "Holiday") do contain lyrics overtly criticizing a certain president, the remainder of the album is fairly apolitical and focuses primarily on the Jesus of Suburbia/St. Jimmy storyline.
- The fact that the music video to "Wake Me Up When September Ends" depicts the Iraq War probably also contributed to the popular perceptions of the album's politicized nature.
- A perception which is then flipped in the musical; Tunny is shown fighting in what could be Afghanistan during "Give Me Novocaine" while "Wake Me Up When September Ends" becomes about/is set during the 9/11 attacks.
- Subdued Section: The "Dearly Beloved" section of "Jesus of Suburbia", "Nobody Likes You" in "Homecoming".
- Surprisingly Gentle Song: "Wake Me Up When September Ends".
- Three Chords and the Truth: "American Idiot", "St. Jimmy" and "She's A Rebel" are on par with previous Green Day songs.
- Troubled, but Cute: Everyone.
- Johnny, writing to Will about Whatsername: "She knows I'm full of shit but at least she thinks I'm cute."
- Wanderlust Song: The last section of Jesus of Suburbia.
- You Won't Feel a Thing: In "Give Me Novacaine":
Tell me, Jimmy, I won't feel a thing...