By JACKIE MOE
Published in OC Register and Daily News
With over three decades and 12 studio albums under their studded belts, Green Day has produced hundreds of ultra-catchy tunes to make you pump your fist, shed a tear or want to start a revolution. As the Rock and Roll Hall of Famers prepare to close out the North American leg of their Revolution Radio tour on Saturday, Sept. 16, at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, it seemed only fitting to attempt to compile a list of the band’s greatest hits from throughout its illustrious career.
The East Bay punk trio has a song for every mood. So here are 25 of Green Day’s finest – 26 if you want to count “Brain Stew/Jaded” as a two-fer – not in any particular ranking, but conveniently separated into categories based on one’s present state of emotion.
WHEN YOU WANT TO ROCK OUT:
1. “Welcome to Paradise” – “Kerplunk!” (1991); “Dookie” (re-recorded 1994): Almost like a prelude to the storyline of the band’s coming-of-age Broadway hit “American Idiot,” this track still rides the airwaves with relevancy 26 years after its initial release. “Dear mother, can you hear me whining?/It’s been three whole weeks/Since I left your home” is a rallying cry that has been heeded by Generation X, Millennials and that lost generation between them both.
2. “Basket Case” – “Dookie” (1994): The band’s pop punk sound rocks hard with this track, which earned them explosive popularity, a Grammy Award and everyone singing, “Do you have the time to listen to me whine?” See aforementioned note about angst for every generation above.
3. “Brain Stew/Jaded” – “Insomniac” (1995): This combo track opens with one of the band’s iconic riffs, a churning, more aggressive rock sound that the band developed after its preceding albums.Then, the heavy downtempo dirge flips into the mosh pit-ready “Jaded.”
4. “Holiday” – “American Idiot” (2004): Warning – playing this song at a high decibel may cause one to shout rebelliously, clap hands furiously and belt out one of the most politically charged and catchy choruses the band has ever produced: “I beg to dream and differ from the hollow lies/This is the dawning of the rest of our lives.”
5. “Bang Bang” – “Revolution Radio” (2016): The band revisited its punk rock roots with this single off its latest album, with lyrics that portray a grim perspective of the modern culture of social media and mass shootings. “Broadcasting from my room and playin’ with my toys, I wanna be a celebrity martyr.”
6. “Geek Stink Breath” – “Insomniac” (1995): Admit it, you played this one originally because of the bizarre title, but the song’s somewhat brash sound that is just as fun to rock out to as its name is to say.
7. “When I Come Around” – “Dookie” (1994): While “Longview” and “Basket Case” broke the band on MTV, this one holds up decades later as arguably the most recognizable track of all the band’s catalog. It was also the one that every band of ’90s teenagers figured out to play for their first basement/backyard/birthday party gig.
8. “Know Your Enemy” – “21st Century Breakdown” (2009): The band emerged from the explosive success of “American Idiot” with this hard-hitting, politically potent punk rock hit four years later.
9. “Say Goodbye” – “Revolution Radio” (2016): The band expresses the most illustrative emotions of modern American violence with a chorus that sounds almost like a church hymn. “Violence on the rise/Like a bullet in the sky/Oh Lord have mercy on my soul.”
10. “American Idiot” – “American Idiot” (2004): The aggressively catchy song that kicks off the coming-of-age concept album that spawned a Broadway musical of the same name is Green Day’s legacy piece. “American Idiot” is the precise moment that Green Day transformed from being your annoying brother into a mature adult with political feelings in a post-9/11 world. The country is divided politically. The country is at war. Sound familiar? The themes resonate just as strong in 2017. “Don’t wanna be an American idiot/Don’t want a nation under the new media/And can you hear the sound of hysteria?”
11. “Going to Pasalacqua”– “39/Smooth” (1990); “1,039/Smoothed Out Slappy Hours” (1991): The band unveils its punk harmonies to the world loud and proud in this tune from their ultra-rare debut album, which was later re-released as part of a compilation of its earliest work.
WHEN YOU FEEL NOSTALGIC:
12. “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)” – “Nimrod” (1997): This is the one that’s so overplayed, even your parents know it. One of the band’s strongest (and tear-jerking) ballads, with singer and guitarist Billie Joe Armstrong’s acoustic guitar strings sounding as smooth as his matured vocals. There was a strange run where it was used in both “Seinfeld” and “ER” and at every graduation from 1998-2001. “It’s something unpredictable, but in the end it’s right/I hope you had the time of your life.”
13. “Wake Me Up When September Ends” – “American Idiot” (2004): The heavy lyrics inspired by the loss of Armstrong’s father (who died of cancer when he was 10 years old) have made this song one of the band’s most genuine tracks.
14. “Outlaws” – “Revolution Radio” (2016): The rebel teens who “destroyed suburbia” in the band’s continued coming-of-age story since its debut album reminisce about their days of reckless adolescence in this melodic and wistful rock song. “Baby hooligans, we destroyed suburbia when we were outlaws, the outlaws of forever.”
15. “Emenius Sleepus” – “Dookie” (1994): Bassist Mike Dirnt’s lyrics capture those familiar feelings of running into a former friend who has changed. “How have I been, how have you been? It’s been so long. What have you done with all your time? And what went wrong?”
16. “Macy’s Day Parade” – “Warning” (2000): The song muses over childhood memories and ties it in with the annual Macy’s Day Parade with an underlining message of American greed and consumerism.
WHEN YOU ARE IN LOVE
17. “2000 Light Years Away” – “Kerplunk!” (1991): This is teenage puppy love expressed through a fun, alternative punk beat. “I hold my breath and close my eyes and dream about her. ‘Cause she’s two thousand light years away.”
18. “Last Night On Earth” – “21st Century Breakdown” (2009): So romantic and melodic, this track is worthy of a wedding playlist. The piano-led tune is beautifully sung with Armstrong serenading, “With every breath that I am worth here on earth/I’m sending all my love to you.”
19. “Oh Love” – “¡Uno!” (2012): This one has that likable and catchy quality that one does not have to even be a fan to appreciate.
20. “Brutal Love” – “¡Tré!” (2012): The ballad-iest of all of the band’s ballads, this one could have been slow dance number at a high school prom in the ’60s with its mixture of doo-wop, soul and rock.
WHEN YOU NEED ENCOURAGEMENT
21. “21 Guns” – “21st Century Breakdown” (2009): This anti-war power ballad hits all strings – acoustic, electric and heart – with Armstrong landing some of his highest and strongest notes in the band’s history.
22. “Still Breathing” “Revolution Radio” (2016) – This one has Green Day’s patented mix of an extremely catchy melody with inspirational lyrics about surviving through hardships: “I’m like a soldier coming home for the first time/I dodged a bullet and I walked across a landmine/Oh, I’m still alive.”
WHEN YOU FEEL MELANCHOLY
23. “Redundant” – Nimrod (1997) : A relationship waning from its initial passion is expressed through the lyrics of this mopey yet jaunty rock song that Armstrong belts out with pure sorrow. “Now I cannot speak, I lost my voice/I’m speechless and redundant/Cause I love you’s not enough/I’m lost for words.”
24. “Give Me Novocaine” – “American Idiot (2004): The lyrics sing out about being so down that the only thing that could help numb the pain is the anesthetic dentists use when drilling out a tooth – but the song is sung so beautifully and melodic, one may hardly notice the sad premise.
WHEN YOU NEED TO LIVE OUT YOUR INNER BROADWAY STAR
25. “Jesus of Suburbia” – American Idiot (2004): The band’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” – nine minutes and eight seconds of about seven songs with different tempos, all tell of one extraordinary, coming-of-age story.