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Message of Green Day's Album American Idiot

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For my essay I would like to discuss the relevance of Green Day to this topic, and in particular, their 2004 album ‘American Idiot’. Green Day have always been a band who have not been afraid to infuse their political views straight into their lyrics and in some cases their music videos, with the likes of their most recent song ‘Back in the USA’. None of this can be seen more clearly than recently when there was a campaign in the United Kingdom to get ‘American Idiot’ to the top of the charts for the arrival and visit of one Donald Trump, with the band embracing the sentiment, with frontman Billie Joe Armstrong posting a picture of the single sitting at number 18 with the simple caption ‘just going to leave this here’.

The three songs that I would like to mainly focus on in my essay are: American Idiot, Holiday and Wake Me Up When September Ends. American Idiot and Holiday were both written as political fuelled songs, whereas the latter has actually changed meaning from what the band were writing about after certain events took place in America. The album has once again became relevant after the election of Trump to the White House, due to the themes of American Idiot being a direct reference to George W. Bush, who was the president at the time, a man who the band have openly discussed their negative views towards: ” Armstrong thought of Bush, campaigning on a war ticket across the country. He thought of the man’s message, which he considered to be a lie”. This shows that throughout their time as a band, they have always been vocal about their political views, and are not afraid to stand up for what they believe in by speaking out against the leaders and important political figures of their country. This can also be seen on their most recent album Revolution Radio during a live playing of their song and first single from said album ‘Bang Bang’, where during the bridge Billie Joe began chanting the words “No Trump, No KKK, no fascist USA!” To the surprise of the crowd, however many joining in, agreeing with the band’s views on the matter at hand.

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As mentioned the band have always been political, with songs like Minority off of their album Warning, however they had never written this politically with such passion and conviction before. As Spitz states: “”Minority” was a Clinton-era song. American Idiot was pure Bush 2″ . It seems that with time, the album and the bands feelings towards the presidency has become stronger and they have grown more passionate over time. The album, despite being almost 15 years old, probably rings more true today than it did when the band wrote the material. Whilst the band were not the biggest fans of the Bush era, ‘Armstrong was belting out the lyrics to ‘Holiday’, a song he wrote over a decade ago to stick it to the Bush administration and protest against the war in Iraq’, as they have matured they became even more politically involved and vocal, speaking about more than just not liking the current president of the United States, and rather stating why they see the decisions made as a problem for not just them, but for the country that the love and want the best for.

For this essay I conducted my research through various books, reliable internet websites, television programmes and internet videos, to ensure that my knowledge was up to scratch on the matter and I could accurately present my pitch truthfully and fairly, putting aside my feelings on Green Day as they are my favourite band, and ensuring that I did not become biased because of this. I made sure that sources were suitable for my essay pitch and that they were not celebratory, as this would skew the information in favour of the band, and would not be accurate or reliable enough for me to fully trust and use in my essay.

To conclude, Green Day’s album American Idiot is layered with several political views and standpoints, with several relations and remarks to the Iraq war, George W. Bush’s presidency and the 9/11 attacks. This was no accident, as the band have always spoke, or rather sang, about what the believed in, and are not a band that will cower away from controversy; if they feel something is not right or the truth is not being told, they will speak out about it, for the good of the nation and all of its citizens.


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