Album Review: American Idiot by Green Day

Zain Beverly, Radio Intern

This week on “Zain Review’s Of Any Ol’ Album That Comes to Mind”, we’re looking at the immensely popular American Idiot by Green Day. This album holds a pretty sentimental place for me as it was one of, if not the first, albums I’ve ever owned. (I’ve only owned a few in my lifetime before switching to complete digital streaming, though, so I’m not too attached to that feat). This punk-rock album went on to become hugely influential to an audience of young adolescents in 2004, and it ended up in my big blue boombox when I was seven years old playing video games in my basement. Probably a little too young for the album, but I turned out fine, I think.

Album cover art for American Idiot by Green Day

Track-by-track Review:

  • American Idiot – The album starts out with an iconic, washed-out guitar riff that gets backed up by thumping drums and a fuller, louder guitar. Billie Joe Armstrong gets to the point of the album in the first line saying, “I don’t want to be an American Idiot.” The song talks about and rails against America during the Bush administration and the Iraq war. It served as a rallying cry for a new, younger generation that was beginning to become disillusioned with the establishment. It’s a catchy and energetic punk classic at this point.

  • Jesus of Suburbia – This is the first of the two nine-minute, non double-billed tracks on the album. Jesus of Suburbia is a mini rock opera, composed of a few distinct parts including, but not limited to, a classic punk section, a semi-sung, semi-spoken word section, and a light, poppy part. It was the band’s attempt at a “Bohemian Rhapsody” of their own and is a very interesting listen as each part does a good job standing apart while being interesting enough to support its own existence.

  • Holiday/ Boulevard of Broken Dreams – This is the first of the “double-billed” tracks as I dubbed them earlier. It’s basically two songs stuck together. The first song, Holiday, is a good companion piece with the opening track. It’s about protesting for something you believe in and being faced with a harsh reality that it’s not as easy to stay pure of intention in a noble crusade. The second tune, Boulevard of Broken Dreams is a moody anthem about being alone in the world. A sentiment any teenager is going to vibe with. It’s reverberating power chords and oppressive chorus make this track stand out in a great way.

  • Are We the Waiting/ St. Jimmy – Are We the Waiting’s call-and-repeat chorus reminds me of a worship song who might hear Sunday morning. I bet you could convince someone that’s what it is in isolation. It’s okay. St. Jimmy on the other hand cuts through the end of the first track here with frantic strumming and an intense increase in bpm and the listeners heart rate as they are violently shaken out of the soothing and somewhat hypnotic repeating chorus of Are We the Waiting.  This second track tells the story of somewhat of a punk idol, being the “son of a b**** and Edgar Allen Poe.” It’s a fun track.

  • Give Me Novacaine/ She’s a Rebel – This track features a harsh juxtaposition between the feeling the protagonist has when he’s on and not on novacaine, or is it a metaphor for something else? Harsh guitars and heavy drums turn into plucky acoustic strings and a psychedelic vibe when the sedatives kick in. She’s a Rebel is a punk ballad about an idealized, revolution-minded, punk gf. It’s got a great energy and the rising and falling power chord structure gives the tune an interesting feel.

  • Extraordinary Girl/ Letterbomb – This first track tells the story of an “Extraordinary Girl” and a misunderstood guy. It sort of feels like a 2000’s rom com distilled down into a song. It’s catchy enough. The second track is another high-energy punk-rock banger about rebelling and martyrdom and all that good stuff. It’s too bad that these two tracks just fall a little short when compared to everything else on the album.

  • Wake Me up When September Ends – Anyone who grew up in the 2000’s remembers the starting acoustic picking of this song. This song is a slow burn into a crescendoing sad-boy anthem, and it’s fantastic. Armstrong’s lyrics and distinctive voice augment this track into the juggernaut it became.

  • Homecoming – The second nine-minute monolith of the album. It’s not as tight and focused as Jesus of Suburbia, but it’s a pretty fun track and it feels like some of the band’s wackier idea’s made it into this track. Especially the part with the stereotypical “rocker.”

  • Whatsername – The final track of the album is a somber, reflective song about how past relationships shape people and how we remember them. It’s actually a pretty touching tune, with the protagonist confessing that a girl he knew so long ago, who’s name he can’t even remember, still means so much to him. 


Summary: American Idiot is an album chocked full with punk-pop and punk-rock bangers that really well encapsulates what the younger population was feeling during the early 2000’s after 9/11 and at the onset of the Iraq War. It holds a palpable feeling of rebellion and angst that makes it a great time-capsule for a certain group of individuals during that time. Overall, it’s a fantastic record, one of the band’s best, and it deserves all the praise it got and still gets.


Rating: 4.5 / 5 Spinnaker Sails.