The latest issue of Kerrang magazine has 30 different musicians selecting their favourite Green Day song. Instead of picking my top 30 Green Day songs, I will select my favourite song off of each album.
1039/Smoothed Out Slappy Hours
Green Day’s first album, comprising of the the album 39/Smooth and the extended plays Slappy and 1000 hours. My favourite song on the album is Knowledge, a cover of the same song first performed by Operation Ivy. This song is my favourite because instead of just copying the album, Green Day have changed the song completely and made it their own, albeit a tribute. Knowledge is a firm Green Day favourite and a song they will play at most shows, normally inviting members of the audience up on stage to replace them on the instruments.
Kerplunk! continued the themes started with previous Green Day recordings, with short, sharp, snappy songs. My favourite song on the album is 2000 Light Years Away, the opening track. It’s a catchy tune combined with well-written lyrics and is proof that even as a young band, Green Day were destined for greatness.
Dookie was released in 1994 and was Green Day’s first album on a major record label and introduced them to the world, with millions being sold. The Green Day formula does not change, but the recordings benefit from being produced by a major record label. Dookie is packed with excellent songs, but I will select Longview as my favourite. It has a driving bassline throughout the song and there is a marked difference between the verses and the chorus.
The follow-up to Dookie continued with short, sharp songs, but the fun and positivity of previous albums was replaced with darker, more negative songs. The sound was also different, with songs at a quicker tempo and with a rockier sound. My favourite song is Geek Stink Breath, which has an aggressive bassline and summarises the album perfectly, with little of positive to note in the lyrics.
Nimrod is arguably Green Day’s most musically diverse album, with plenty of different genres being covered and experimented with in the 18 songs (it is also my favourite Green Day album). My favourite song is The Grouch, which has a catchy tune. Whilst the lyrics appear to be quite negative and in place with something from Insomniac, there is the feeling it is more tongue-in-cheek than anything that would have appeared on Insomniac.
Warning showed Green Day continue to be an experimental band, with acoustic songs forming the backbone of the album. My favourite song is Minority, the first Green Day song I heard when I knew it was them. Catchy and fun.
After the success of Dookie, the following albums became less and less successful; Internation Superhits! is a best-of collection spanning Dookie to Warning, with a couple of songs not on any other Green Day albums. My favourite is J.A.R (Jason Andrew Relva), a tribute by Mike Dirnt to one of his friends who died.
Shenanigans comprises of b-sides, covers and rare recordings, creating a bit of a disjointed album. My favourite song is Ha Ha You’re Dead, which had previously been unreleased. A catchy tune and verses that build up well to the chorus.
A band that has released a best-of compilation album and a collection of previously rare material are surely finished as a major force in music, destined to see out their days touring their greatest hits to ever dwindling crowds in smaller and smaller venues? Not Green Day, who released what is arguably their best known album. The album marked a change in sound, with Green Day becoming a fully-fledged rock band (with plenty of the punk sound mixed in as and when they pleased) and a change in concept, with a (punk) rock opera. My favourite song is Holiday, which is the first Green Day song I learnt to play on the bass guitar.
21st Century Breakdown
The (punk) rock opera format continued, although 21st Century Breakdown was not as well received critically (in my opinion, it certainly matches and probably exceeds American Idiot). The album was split into three separate acts. My favourite song is East Jesus Nowhere, which is fun to play on the bass.
After 21st Century Breakdown, Green Day decided to change again, releasing three albums in the space of a few months, each with their own distinctive sound. Uno was the first and a return to the earlier punk sound of Green Day. My favourite song is Let Yourself Go, an aggressive song with a frenetic but controlled tune.
The second of the trilogy saw what has been described by some as the never-released follow-up Foxboro Hot Tubs album (the Green Day side band). Garage rock and rock and roll are the basis for the tracks, with my favourite being Stray Heart. The song has a strong garage rock feel to it.
Tre completed the trilogy and is closest in sound to American Idiot and 21st Century, with no overall music theme running throughout the album. As it doesn’t tell a story, it does seem disjointed. My favourite song is Dirty Rotten Bastards, which changes the style and pace throughout the song, ultimately returning to where it started.