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Music: 21st Century Breakdown

They're playing the song of the century
Of panic and promise and prosperity
Tell me a story into that goodnight
Sing us a song for me

21st Century Breakdown is a Rock Opera by the rock band Green Day released as a follow-up to their popular album American Idiot, produced by Butch Vig of Garbage and Nevermind fame. The plot follows two lovers named Christian and Gloria, who are followed in the story as they witness the many new trials faced by the common man in the recent years of America (Mainly told in first-person from the point of Christian).

Several of the themes looked at by Christian (Who is most definitely *not* a terrorist) include religion, politics, and vengeance, along with being heavily involved in his relationship with Gloria. He is very cynical about most large organizations, and feels he and Gloria must stand up for The Everyman. Gloria, meanwhile, is trying to hold onto her original beliefs while trying to help Christian as well.

Several tracks, including "Know Your Enemy" and "21 Guns", are used in the Broadway production of American Idiot.

The album is split into three acts.

Track list:

1. Song of the Century

ACT I: Heroes and Cons
3. Know Your Enemy
4. íViva la Gloria!
5. Before the Lobotomy
6. Christian's Inferno
7. Last Night on Earth

Act II: Charlatans and Saints
8. East Jesus Nowhere
9. Peacemaker
10. Last of the American Girls
11. Murder City
12. ┐Viva la Gloria? (Little Girl)
13. Restless Heart Syndrome

14. Horseshoes and Handgrenades
15. The Static Age
16. 21 Guns
17. American Eulogy
A. Mass Hysteria
B. Modern World
18. See the Light


This rock opera provides examples of:

  • Action Girlfriend
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: In "Last of The American Girls" - "She's a sucker for all the criminals breaking the laws"
  • Author Avatar: Word of God has confirmed that both Christian and Gloria are author avatars.
  • Ax-Crazy: Christian may or may not be this.
  • Bittersweet Ending
  • Book Ends: Pulled off excellently.
  • Broken Bird: Gloria, possibly. She certainly sounds like one in "┐Viva la Gloria? (Little Girl)".
  • Cluster F-Bomb: We get five in "Horseshoes and Handgrenades". The rest of the album is pretty clean, save for one F-Bomb in "Before the Lobotomy" and "The Static Age" each. "American Eulogy" would be the next dirtiest song, with one F-Bomb, one S-Bomb and one use of "nigger", which caused screams of outrage among black Green Day fans.
  • Cool People Rebel Against Authority: Deconstructed Trope in the same way as on American Idiot
  • Dark Reprise: "┐Viva La Gloria? (Little Girl)" is obviously one on "íViva La Gloria!" "American Eulogy" for "Song of the Century".
  • Detroit: Quietly implied to take place there, as stated in "Peacemaker" ("Oh I am a killjoy, from Detroit...") and "Murder City" (a play on it's most famous nickname, the Motor City).
  • Epic Rocking: "American Eulogy"
  • Expies: Christian and Gloria can be seen as either these or Suspiciously Similar Substitutes for Jesus of Suburbia and Whatsername, although there are shades of difference: Christian is smarter and more insane; Gloria is more world-weary.
  • Fading into the Next Song / Siamese Twin Songs: "Last of the American Girls" -> "Murder City", with a Morse code connecting them.
  • "I Am" Song / Image Song: Several, most obvious being the title track.
  • Ironic Echo: "Know Your Enemy," echoed near the end of "Restless Heart Syndrome."
  • Loudness War: As with American Idiot, it's really badly clipped.
  • Metal Scream: "Know Your Enemy" has one:
    Well, violence is an energy, oh ay, oh ay
    Well, from here to eternity, oh ay, oh ay
    Well, violence is an energy, oh ay, oh ay
    Well, silence is the enemy
    So gimme, gimme REVOLUTION!
    • Used more so during "Horseshoes and Handgrenades."
  • Mondegreen: A lot of people seem to think "Know Your Enemy" is actually "Know Your Anime."
  • New Media Are Evil: "The Static Age"
  • Non-Appearing Title: "Last Night on Earth", "East Jesus Nowhere", "┐Viva la Gloria?", and "Restless Heart Syndrome".
  • Precision F-Strike: Pretty tame compared to other Green Day albums, but still enough to warrant a Parental Advisory sticker.
  • Protest Song: Pretty much everything that's not a love song or a BSOD Song.
  • Rebellious Spirit
  • Recurring Riff: Several, being one of the main differences between this and American Idiot (Along with the fact that several songs were written for piano). The "Song of the Century" parts, along with the guitar pattern at the beginning of "21st Century Breakdown" and "See the Light."
    • The tune to the "Restless Heart Syndrome" chorus is also played at the beginning of "┐Viva la Gloria? (Little Girl)", which is the song before it.
  • Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll: Many references to "pills and alcohol," along with the following part in "Before the Lobotomy"
    I'm not stoned
    I'm just fucked-up
    I got so high
    I can't stand up
  • Shout-Out: As listed in the Homage trope-page, the line "I once was lost, but never was found" is a shout-out to "Amazing Grace".
    • "Last of the American Girls" could be a shout-out to the Tom Petty song "American Girl".
    • And let's not forget the several mentions to John Lennon's "Working Class Hero" (which the guys happened to do a cover of themselves, so this one was more obvious).
    • The line "Last one born and the first one to run" is a shout-out to Bruce Springsteen, and "The Static Age" also musically references "Born To Run"'s iconic intro and chromatic solo.
    • Perhaps in 21 Guns, the line "when it's time to live and let die" is a shout out to Paul McCartney's song from the James Bond movie Live and Let Die.
    • Also, the line "My Generation is zero" that precedes "Never made it as a Working Class Hero" is a shout out to The Who's "My Generation", which they covered on their Kerplunk album.
    • In an unintentional example, NME made a blog post after the album's cover was revealed, accusing the band of plagiarising from the cover of blur's Think Tank, which shows a couple wearing diving helmets embracing, drawn by Banksy. The cover artist denied any intentional similarities, saying that the cover was based on a photo of a couple within his social circle kissing at a party, rendered as a stencil.
  • Step Up to the Microphone: Bassist Mike Dirnt sings most of "Modern World".
  • Subdued Section: The two "Song of the Century" sections, "21 Guns," "Last Night on Earth," the beginnings of "Restless Hearts Syndrome", "┐Viva la Gloria? (Little Girl)", and "Before the Lobotomy."
  • Three Chords and the Truth: It's Green Day. You should expect this by this point. However, not as much as previous works.
  • Troubled, but Cute
  • Wham Line: "Restless Heart Syndrome" changes Gloria's entire image with the line: "Know your enemy."
    • Normal chorus for "Last Night on Earth": "My beating heart belongs to you/I walked for miles 'til I found you/I'm here to honor you/If I lose everything in the fire/I'm sending all my love to you" Final chorus: "...I'm here to honor you/If I lose everything in the fire/Did I ever make it through?"
  • Write Who You Know: Mike Dirnt has speculated that Armstrong wrote "The Last of the American Girls" about his wife, Adrienne.


    Rock OperasAmerican Idiot
American IdiotAlbums IndexAlice's Restaurant
Green DayTurnOfTheMillennium/MusicHardline

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