Green Day

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Who Sounds like Green Day?

Green Day is arguably the most well known pop-punk act since the dawn of the genre. Formed in the late 80s, the band hit it big in 1994, declined during an uncertain middle period, and made a comeback in the mid-2000s.

As part of the punk rocker creed, the band flew in the face of establishment and the reigning popular genre of the time, grunge. Continuing to inspire fans around the world, the trio-turned-quartet continues to produce music and tour almost three decades after the release of their debut album.

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Similar to classic punk acts such as The Clash, The Ramones, and The Sex Pistols, and later punk acts like Bad Religion and NOFX, Green Day is credited with defining the early pop-punk sound. Lead vocalist and sole lyricist Billie Joe Armstrong cites alternative rock bands The Replacements and Hüsker Dü as heavy influences, while Operation Ivy fueled creativity for both Armstrong and bassist Mike Dirnt.

The pop-punk outfit drew on the ferocity and loud, simple guitar riffs from punk in the band’s early days and eventually mixed the basic three-chord progressions with pop-sounding choruses and hooks to produce the sound we know today. Bands like Green Day include:

  • Blink-182
  • Sum 41
  • Yellowcard
  • Good Charlotte
  • The Offspring

Associated acts featuring Green Day members include Foxboro Hot Tubs, The Network, and Pinhead Gunpowder. Other related acts that sound like Green Day include Simple Plan and Billy Talent.

Biography

Green Day began as a driving force on the California punk-rock scene during a time when punk was forgotten. Achieving widespread fame overnight with their third installment Dookie, the band quickly became overburdened with the touring lifestyle and took a break after the release of just one more album.

The band gained widespread acclaim again in 2004 with the timely release of the six-times platinum record American Idiot. Having released four more studio albums since, the punk rock-and-rollers were accepted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2015.

History

At just 14 years of age, Armstrong and Dirnt began playing together in Rodeo, CA, in the growing anarchy-inspired punk-rock scene. Living in squalor and competing with similar bands, they dropped their original name Sweet Children and adopted the name Green Day in 1989 as a nod to cannabis. Soon after, the newly branded collective began working on their first album, 39/Smooth.

After one album on the independent label Lookout!, the band solidified their final lineup by hiring drummer Tre Cool. Kerplunk, also recorded with the independent label, continued the band’s growing underground success, which ignited interest from major recording companies. Green Day signed with Reprise records in 1993 and were consequently shunned from the Bay Area punk scene for “selling out.”

Without slowing, the band composed their seminal 90s album, Dookie, and released the bombshell in 1994. The record sold roughly 16 million units worldwide and catapulted Green Day from cult status to superstardom. The album was the answer to the post-grunge question and brought punk to the mainstream. Their 1996 follow-up album Insomniac met with critical acclaim and sold well despite failing to outperform their prior works.

Touring for a solid seven years came to a head when the band quit the remaining European dates on their Insomniac tour, citing fatigue and familial tensions caused by the constant travel. By 1997 the band released their fifth studio album, Nimrod. The album’s famous track “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)” brought scores of nostalgic tears to fans everywhere. Representing change and the hardship of leaving behind the past, the acoustic performance of the signature song aired on the series finale of Seinfeld, which attracted more than 76 million viewers.

Green Day’s next album, Warning, dropped in 2000, but the band wouldn’t receive large-scale recognition again until 2004. That year, in the midst of political disarray three years following the 9/11 attacks, the release of American Idiot provided angst-fueled adolescents with an outlet to decry popular public beliefs. The first punk band to receive a nomination for Best Album at the Grammys, Green Day lost in that category but still took home their second award for Rock Album of the Year.

The ensuing tour earned a top-10 spot on Billboards’ list of top-earning tours of 2005, while the year 2009 marked the release of the next Green Day album and the launch of the American Idiot musical, which continues to run as of 2015. Also in 2009, 21st Century Breakdown achieved the band’s best chart performance and sold about five million records. Three years later, the band promoted longtime touring member Jason White to full band-member status.

Around the same time, the quartet released three albums in quick succession titled ¡Uno!, ¡Dos!, and ¡Tré!. A fourth release called ¡Cuatro! detailed the making of the trilogy in documentary format. As of April 2015, the band is set to record their twelfth studio album.

Music

Early Green Day songs featured a raw, speed-driven punk sound with hints of what was to come. By the time Dookie made waves in the music world, their pop-punk sound had been established, which brought catchy chorus melodies and chord progressions typical of pop music.

Clinging to punk’s anti-establishment roots, the band spoke of personal frustrations like politics, anxiety, ex-girlfriends, and divorce. As their sound evolved, Armstrong and company branched out and experimented with ska, garage rock, and rock opera arrangements.

Discography

  • 39/Smooth (1990) – The first album released under Lookout! Records. Began generating interest in underground circles.
  • Kerplunk (1991) – The second installment for Lookout! Records. One of the best-selling independently released albums.
  • Dookie (1994) – Features the hit single “Longview” and other singles like “Basket Case” and “When I Come Around.” Certified diamond, selling over 10 million U.S. copies. Won a Grammy for Best Alternative Album. Ranks among the top 500 best albums of all time according to Rolling Stone.
  • Insomniac (1995) – Sold more than two million copies in the U.S. and features the hit single “Brain Stew,” but did not live up to the success generated by its predecessor Dookie.
  • Nimrod (1997) – Famously features the timeless song “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life).” Went double-platinum in the U.S. and holds an eclectic mix of sound straying from previous albums.
  • Warning (2000) – The Green Day album most stylistically removed from punk. Boasts the single “Minority.” Has sold more than a million copies to date.
  • American Idiot (2004) – Heralded the return of producer Rob Cavallo. Sold 15 million copies worldwide. Includes popular singles such as “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” and “Wake Me Up When September Ends.” Won a Grammy for the politically charged, rock opera composition. Has since been turned into a stage musical.
  • 21st Century Breakdown (2009) – Green Day’s second rock opera album. Includes songs like “Know Your Enemy” and “21 Guns.” Also received a Grammy award and sold about five million copies worldwide.
  • ¡Uno! (2012) – The first in a series of three albums released in the same year. Sold 139,000 copies in its first week and features the single “Oh Love.”
  • ¡Dos! (2012) – First-week sales of 69,000 units. Offers a garage-rock sound as heard in the single “Stray Heart.”
  • ¡Tré! (2012) – “X-Kid” marks the album’s first single. First-week sales of 58,000 copies.

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