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The Kickback Redux: The turn of the Millennium

| Wednesday, November 18, 2015

KickbackRedux_Scene_WebLucy Du | The Observer

New year, new you. This classic mantra has categorized many a New Year’s Eve Party, impending school year, sports season, etc. How about, “New millennium, new you”? That surely quantified a shift in all things pop culture upon the 2000s — a time marked by technological mobility and DVD players.

More significantly, the 2000s transitioned toward the mainstream music with which society identifies itself today. From Britney Spears to Kanye, from Hootie and the Blowfish to Jay-Z, a wave of rap and hip-hop made a splash in the bubblegum pop era of the 1990s. Pop music also stepped into the light of the 2000s, endorsed by prominent television shows such as “American Idol,” where Daughtry and Clay Aiken asserted themselves into mainstream music.

While we cannot disremember rap’s influence in the 2000s, we certainly cannot forget other genres — specifically Green Day’s most popular album “American Idiot” which debuted in 2004. Under the classification of punk-rock and alternative, “American Idiot” provides 2015’s societal infatuation of Zedd and Katy Perry with a throwback into the rebellious beats and lyrics characteristic to the 2000s. Yes, rap and hip-hop made their presence known, but even this transition in genre is rebellious in itself. It is significant to reminisce on rock/metal/punk’s influence at the turn of the 21st century — an influence unfortunately suppressed 15 years later.

“American Idiot” marked the end of the band’s low-profile break from fame after poor reception of their 2000 album “Warning.” Green Day introduces its audience with a plot at the beginning of the rock opera: the story of Jesus of Suburbia, a man caught between love and rebellion. The chorus sings, “And there’s nothing wrong with me / This is how I’m supposed to be / In a land of make-believe / That don’t believe in me.” The plot persists throughout the album. In “Boulevard of Broken Dreams,” Jesus conveys his loneliness against humanity in the chorus, “My shadow’s only one that walks beside me / My shallow heart’s the only thing that’s beating / Sometimes I wish someone out there will find me / Till then I walk alone.” His journey through each song in the album signifies an emotional attribute to the struggle against the century’s revolution, war and political turmoil.

“American Idiot” provides insight into national context at the turn of the century, both politically and musically. Its punk rock beats have caused head-banging across the nation, yet Billie Joe Armstrong finds time to simmer down in melodic tracks such as “Boulevard of Broken Dreams.”

I remember listening to “American Idiot” — the very first album I owned — with my dad and sister, as we drove three hours to softball tournaments located in the middle of cornfields. He cranked the volume as we rocked the air guitar during “Holiday” and swayed to “Homecoming.”

“American Idiot” persists as a memorable tribute to the music of the 2000s. Its plot’s continuation through each song is humanizing, and the internal struggle between love, rebellion and loneliness carries with it a universal empathy.

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