SeedSing is filled with music lovers. We can not agree on who is the best band from the States. The Greatest American Band Debate will be a regular feature where we discuss and compare bands who started in the good old USA. If you have any suggestions of bands we should debate Contact us firstname.lastname@example.org
Time to get this party started.
Is Green Day the greatest american rock band? Many people will immediately laugh at the idea, but I think there is an argument to be made that Green Day is in contention for the greatest band of american roots. If they are not the greatest band, they have made one of the greatest albums by an american rock band.
Let me explain by looking at the history of Green Day.
The band started it's ascent to greatness with the release of 1994's Dookie. That was not Green Day's first album, but it was the one to put them on the map. I was in college at the time and felt that Dookie was a low level punk rock album. I was very pretentious. My money was not going to Green Day, but they were doing ok considering Dookie was everywhere. The album not only expanded on the band's punk influence, but it showed musical growth (and talent) with the song "When I Come Around".
After the success of Dookie Green Day seemed to fall out of the popular conscience. Their only viewed success was the ballad "Good Riddance (Time of Your Life). If you are a young gen xer or an old millennial you will know that song as your prom theme. I personally believe that the late 90's were a strong period for Green Day. The band was not trying to replicate Dookie, they were making their music better. Albums like Nimrod, and especially Warning, show how a good band was starting to become a great one.
In 2004 Green Day released American Idiot, in my opinion the most important album of two generations. The baby boomers had outstanding music to highlight their fears, hopes, and frustration with the social discord of the day. The gen xers had a seemingly peaceful society, and our music reflected that malaise. American Idiot captured the isolation and anger of the gen xers, and it gave the millennials a primal scream to make people notice their existence. With a presidential election approaching, George W Bush looked inevitable, and that was maddening. We suffered the wound of September 11th, only to have a bunch of rich white men lie us into war. Classmates were dying for Dick Cheney's stock portfolio. John Kerry and the Democratic party were more interested in capturing the spirit of the 70's. Anyone under the age of fifty was pissed at our government and at our media. Green Day became our voice, American Idiot was our platform. We were all "the sons of rage and love".
In 2004 I was doing work related to the Kerry campaign. He was not the most inspiring candidate, but he was not George W Bush. My girlfriend at the time told me about this rock opera Green Day was going to release. I had never purchased a Green Day Album (see me being pretentious), but I did like my rock operas. During that period of my life I was travelling quite a bit. When I put American Idiot into my CD player, I was hooked. This was my Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. The girlfriend who recommended American Idiot is now my wife. She remembers the cathartic anger that American Idiot embodied, and will listen to the album when she feels like her attitude about society has become complacent. That is a mark of a great band.
American Idiot is one of the greatest albums that came from a great band. Green Day has continued their success with a string of hit records and memorable songs ("The Static Age" on 21st Century Breakdown may be my favorite Green Day tune). Their 2015 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame was well deserved. They are one of the most important bands to all generation Xers and most millennials. Making the greatest album may not be enough to be considered the greatest american band.
Sorry Green Day. Greatest record from a great band is your consolation prize for not being the Greatest American Band.
Not yet at least. Keep making great music and I may change my mind.
RD Kulik is the creator and Head Editor for SeedSing. He wants you to add your voice to the debate while he continues to pour through great music. Write for SeedSing.