Released: September 21, 2004
Peak: 13 US, 12 UK, 13 CN, 12 AU
Sales (in millions): 5.91 US, 1.8 UK, 18.0 world (includes US and UK)
Song Title (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.
Total Running Time: 57:14
4.059 out of 5.00 (average of 22 ratings)
Quotable: “One of the few – if not the only – records of 2004 to convey what it feels like to live in the strange, bewildering America of the early 2000s.” – Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All Music Guide
Awards: (Click on award to learn more).
About the Album:
“Who would’ve ever guessed that the most successful politically-charged album of the 2000s – a rock opera, no less – would be authored by” PM “the Nineties’ most irrepressible punk brats” RS’11 “best known for an album named Dookie?” PM The album “revitalized Green Day after some commercial lean times, and the record’s critical accolades and gangbuster sales cemented the trio…as an institution.” PM
The funny thing is, Green Day hadn’t changed all that much in the decade since ‘Longview’ vaulted the group to stardom.” PM Even here, “the speedy punk blasts of…St. Jimmy PM and “the fiery anti-Dubya title anthem” AMG “sound like vintage Green Day.” AZ “The key difference is that on this full-length the members’ bad attitude and the devil-may-care spirit found righteous inspiration in their outrage at the state of Bush-led America circa 2004.” PM “In its musical muscle and sweeping, politically charged narrative,” AMG Green Day “proved they could take on the kind of gargantuan old-school concept album that nobody else seemed to have the guts to try.” RS’11
American Idiot is “one of the few – if not the only – records of 2004 to convey what it feels like to live in the strange, bewildering America of the early 2000s.” AMG This is “one of the greatest albums of its generation,” GL “as effective a manifesto of the band's musical capabilities as it is its political leanings.” PM “The increased musicality of the band is matched by Armstrong's incisive, cutting lyrics, which effectively convey the paranoia and fear of living in American in days after 9/11, but also veer into moving, intimate small-scale character sketches.” AMG These are “songs that are as visceral or as poignant as Green Day at their best, songs that resonate outside of the larger canvas of the story.” AMG
To that end, Green Day found their greatest commercial success with Boulevard of Broken Dreams, a “Foo Fighters-style power ballad” AZ that reached #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and won a Grammy for Record of the Year. “The hushed Wake Me Up When September Ends” AZ tread similar ground and gave Green Day yet another top-ten pop hit.
However, the songs “have a different, more lasting impact when taken as a whole.” AMG Green Day rage “against political complacency of mid-decade America with a Who-size sense of grandeur.” RS’11 It’s tempting to see this as the punk trio’s “version of a Who album.” AMG Indeed, “American Idiot is an unapologetic, unabashed rock opera, a form that Pete Townshend pioneered with Tommy, but Green Day doesn’t use that for a blueprint as much as they use the Who’s mini-opera ‘A Quick One, While He's Away,’ whose whirlwind succession of 90-second songs isn’t only emulated on two song suites here,” AMG (such as “the nine-minute epic Jesus of Suburbia,” RS’11 “a master class in song writing” GL) “but provides the template for the larger 13-song cycle.” AMG
“But the Who are only one of many inspirations on this audacious, immensely entertaining album.” AMG The album is “built around elaborate melodies, odd tempo changes, and a collection of songs that freely reference classic rock warhorses like the Beatles and Pink Floyd.” AZ “The story of St. Jimmy has an arc similar to Hüsker Dü's landmark punk-opera Zen Arcade, while the music has grandiose flourishes straight out of both Queen and Rocky Horror Picture Show (the ‘50s pastiche Rock and Roll Girlfriend is punk rock Meat Loaf), all tied together with a nervy urgency and a political passion reminiscent of the Clash, or all the anti-Reagan American hardcore bands of the ‘80s.” AMG Green Day assimilates these influences into its own musical template which “fuels the anger, disillusionment, heartbreak, frustration, and scathing wit at the core of American Idiot” AMG
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First posted 3/27/2008; last updated 8/9/2021.