89.) Green Day - American Idiot (2004)
American Idiot is, without a doubt, the best mainstream rock release of the aughts. And I don't mean for the term to be taken as a slight. It just means the best rock record that sold a lot of copies. That's it.
No one predicted American Idiot, but someone should have. In truth Green Day, up to the point they released American Idiot, were one of the most underrated bands in rock 'n roll. Sure they hit big with Dookie, and rightfully so that record is snotnosed brilliance, but their career was on a "mainstream" slide for all the years that followed until, of course, American Idiot. This was criminal, especially when this is a band who released a record like 1997's Nimrod - which could be the best thing they've ever done.
But, I digress. This is supposed to be about American Idiot. I'm going to sidestep the politics of the record, as they're well documented, and focus on the music.
"Jesus of Suburbia" is nothing short of astounding. It's one of those moments that you imagine a band having when they realize everything has fallen into place. Pure magic. Unable to be duplicated. Though they would try on their next record - the inferior yet still worthy - 21st Century Breakdown.
American Idiot also had, well, "American Idiot" a real return to form for a band who wouldn't be very concerned with returning to form for the remainder of the record. It was almost like the last gasp of the old Green Day and a welcome hello to the new one in a single three minute gasp of loud, punk simplicity.
A lot of people have compared this, as I put it, new Green Day to The Who. Ok. I guess. I just like to think of them as grown-up versions of those kids who meant so much to us when we were kids and who continue to mean something to us all these years later. Green Day are a band that I feel like I saw grow up and with whom I also grew up.
I was there for their exciting infancy of 1039 and Kerplunk, watched them move on to "high school popularity" with Dookie and then through their awkward phase with Insomniac to their "college" experimental years with Nimrod and then when they moved back home and kind of fell into the old routine with Warning and ultimately through early adulthood and a new found sense of confidence and purpose with American Idiot.
The record is just as much a story about a band as it is about America (which, I guess in the grand scheme of things is as American as it gets), you just have to really care about the band to see it.
Posted by Pat Driscoll