Even with all the albums that have been released in these past couple decades, very few have made a lasting impact that cannot be forgotten. I most definitely am not referring to everyone’s favorite T-swizzle album 1989, which created quite the controversy for streaming companies. The album I am referring came from a place of political frustration from the post-911 generation and the rest of the millennial generation. So for this Remember Whensday let’s celebrate the release of one of the most influential albums of all time, American Idiot. One of Green Day’s greatest album to-date was released September 20, 2004. As we celebrate its eleventh anniversary we can still remember the first time we heard the beautiful and unforgettable opening of “Boulevard of Broken Dreams.” The album includes a variety of timeless hits that have become a staple in every one of Green Day’s set lists.
Even as a nation in 2004, just three years after America’s most unforgettable tragedy, 9/11, we were faced with a great deal of confusion and distrust in our political leaders at the time. Those who lived through it will never forget exactly where they were when it had happened. Those who really understood the impact of this tragedy became known as part of the post-911 generation. Many of the people who were a part of this generation could not clearly express the disillusionment they felt with the war we reluctantly became a part of.
While Green Day set out to make their seventh album, the idea of it being more of a conceptual album did not come about into much later. It originally had just started as an album to put them back on the map after the failure of their previous album. The concept of their album was a “punk rock opera” but developed more into a social commentary of the political controversies at the time that Billy Joe Armstrong had felt so strongly about. Its first single “America Idiot” best describes the anger towards the ignorance of the media coverage over key political issues. This was later followed up with the anti-war anthem “Holiday” that heavily criticizes the power-hungry leaders of a nation determined to abolish whatever gets in their way. Perhaps the most haunting song off the album is “Wake Me Up When September Ends.” To the millennial generation it was a reminder of the loss of the world they knew before 9/11. Armstrong had originally written the song to cope with the death of his father. However, he recognized that, with his own frustration with the government at the time, he was able to reach an audience more important than his band’s success.
Years later this album is still highly regarded and will forever stand as a representation of the millennial generation’s struggles in an era filled with many political controversies and the loss of valuable beliefs. Since it was released it has inspired a musical that made its Broadway debut in 2010, for which it won several Tony Awards. Its storyline in the musical is similar to one that inspired the album of three different characters that are all connect by the political turmoil they live in. Several years after American Idiot, Green Day attempted to make another conceptual album 21st Century Breakdown (2009). It reached a moderate amount of success in comparison to American Idiot. Although the early millennial generation has grown up significantly we can never forget how the change in our political engagement has drastically transformed the era we live in now. An album like American Idiot spoke against the injustices of its times and reminded us of the impact that our individual beliefs have on this nation.