Music: American Idiot

American Idiot.

"Don't wanna be an American Idiot
Don't want a nation under the new media
And can you hear the sound of hysteria?
The subliminal mind fuck America"

American Idiot is the seventh studio album by Green Day, released in 2004. It is essentially the Rock Opera that is responsible for their comeback after their previous three albums crushed under the huge expectations that their 1994 smash hit Dookie rose, with their most recent release (Warning) reaching all-time lows in commercial sales. 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 every-man in his town, desensitised 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").

Starting in 2009, Idiot received its own Broadway musical that won two 2010 Tony Awards for Best Scenic Design and Best Lighting Design, and was even up for the Best Musical award as well. On top of that, it won the 2011 Grammy Award for Best Musical Show Album. In turn, a documentary depicting the album's journey to Broadway was released in 2013 under the name Broadway Idiot, premiering at SXSW 2013 and later going into select theatres as well as to VOD. The movie received mixed reviews.

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.

"American Idiot" was listed at no. 225 in Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums Of All Time.


Tracklist:

  1. "American Idiot"
  2. "Jesus Of Suburbia" note 
  3. "Holiday"
  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"
  10. "Letterbomb"
  11. "Wake Me Up When September Ends"
  12. "Homecoming" note 
  13. "Whatsername"


Bonus Track (Japanese Release):

  1. "Favourite Son"


Bonus Tracks (iTunes Deluxe Edition):

  1. "Too Much Too Soon"
  2. "Shoplifter"
  3. "Governator"
  4. "Jesus Of Suburbia (Music Video)"


Principal Members:

  • Billie Joe Armstrong - lead vocals, guitar
  • Tré Cool - drums, percussion, backing and lead vocals
  • Mike Dirnt - bass, backing and lead vocals


Boulevard Of Broken Tropes:

  • 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.
  • 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".
  • Cerebus Syndrome: Who knew the punks from "Basket Case" and "Longview" were so serious!
  • 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.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: "Whatsername". In the musical, this applies not only to Johnny, but to Will as well, although Heather is at least letting him be a part of his daughter's life.
  • 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 (just) turning people into mindless drones, the alienation and paranoia of modern American society creates self-destructive rebellion.
  • Growing Up Sucks= JOS' life is really bad.
  • Loudness War: Pretty badly. Even the ballads like "Wake Me Up When September Ends" are clipped.
  • Stealth Pun: "Homecoming" is about JOS coming home, not a school homecoming.
  • Step Up to the Microphone: Tré Cool and Mike Dirnt sing the parts of "Homecoming" they wrote.
  • Subdued Section: The "Dearly Beloved" section of "Jesus of Suburbia", "Nobody Likes You" in "Homecoming".
  • Three Chords and the Truth: "American Idiot", "St. Jimmy," "She's A Rebel," and "Letterbomb" are on par with previous Green Day songs.
  • Troubled, but Cute: Johnny, writing to Will about Whatsername: "She knows I'm full of shit but at least she thinks I'm cute."
  • War Is Hell: "Wake Me Up When September Ends", which is about a soldier sent off to Iraq. The music video has his girlfriend cry in despair over the news.
  • Wham Line: One of the final verses in "Letterbomb":
    You're not the Jesus of Suburbia
    The St. Jimmy is a figment of
    Your father's rage and your mother's love
  • You Won't Feel a Thing: "Give Me Novacaine":
    Tell me, Jimmy, I won't feel a thing...