Monday, October 29, 2012

Songs #283 & 284 - Transition Monday!

Song #283 of 9999                                                  Song #284 of 9999

Title: Welcome to Paradise                                     Title: American Idiot
Artist: Green Day                                                     Artist: Green Day
Year: 1994                                                               Year: 2004
Album: Dookie                                                         Album: American Idiot

I've always been a little skeptical of American punk bands, especially those who hail from northern California. What are they rebelling against: a lack of seasons or too much good cheap wine? Which is why it's hard to take a song like "Welcome to Paradise" too seriously, as Billie Joe Armstrong recites a series of letters to his mom about his new home in an abandoned warehouse. It's not clear whether the new digs were his idea or whether he was forced from his mother's home but, in the end, he's very happy. Not very punk rock.

But of course, it doesn't matter because the band is just so damn good. Tighter and more proficient than any of the British or American punk bands that came before them and with hooks that would make even Bob Mould smile. Bassist Mike Dimt conjures great bass lines and has the chops to pull them off. They may be good to the point where they belie the spirit of punk. But again, knowing they were influenced more by Hüsker Dü than The Sex Pistols, it kind of makes sense.

And then they disappeared for a decade. Well, not really, but they certainly were no longer a punk band basking in the light of mainstream popularity. They had hits—a huge one in fact ("Good Riddance")—but they weren't scoring as punks, until 2004's American Idiot.

One part punk album, two parts rock opera, several critics called the album "a mess" while simultaneously recognizing the catchy hooks and using positive descriptors like "vivid" and "courageous." When I first heard the title track, I thought Green Day had finally found something to rage against and I was pretty excited about it. But ultimately, the album devolves into something more idealistic than anarchic with Armstrong stating the message is to "following your beliefs and ethics." Yawn. Maybe in 2014?

No comments:

Post a Comment