They’re Not Sell-Outs, Just Hypocrites
Willoughby Thom | Monday, February 10, 2020
Before going on to review the new Green Day album, which was released Friday, I would like to take immediate action and retract the statement I made on Sept. 16, 2019: “Green Day’s new path is disappointingly weird, and we are not in for a treat.”
In September of last year, Green Day fans received news of an upcoming album which promised “dangerous songs for dangerous kids.” Instead, they have given us bubble-gum songs for mainstream kids. The revolutionary East-Bay punk band has succumbed to the wrath of the highly commercialized modern music industry and have become a band which they have always proclaimed to hate. Green Day has become something worse than “sell-outs”: they have become hypocrites.
Back in September with the announcement of their new album, Billie Joe Armstrong said, “Rock has lost its balls.” But I don’t think Green Day realizes that they are the ones who have become soft. As a fan wrote most poignantly: they are another band that has their music fading into the background of an Old Navy.
Looking at “Father of All Motherf—ers” as a whole, you immediately notice two things: all three previously released singles are at the beginning of the album and the entire album is only 26 minutes. In most punk albums, those 26 minutes would be filled with fast-paced songs of energized, anarchic angst, but Green Day filled that time with something that sounds like it was written by emo-kids attending Disney’s “Camp Rock.”
I understand that bands must release singles prior to an album to attract attention, but when listening to a new album the first time through you listen to it in order. So when three previously released songs are sequenced at the beginning of a new record, you’re already bored. You have waited months to hear something new; instead, we lose the spark of the record in its entirety.
Not only bored by the time the fourth song begins, you begin to notice the laziness of the album’s song writing and the album’s production overall. Billie Joe Armstrong gives us an unexpected and uncomfortable debut of his falsetto, unnecessary samplings of songs and strange sound bites throughout.
When I first heard the song “Oh Yeah!” I thought that Green Day had pulled a Vanilla Ice. Their sampling of Joan Jett’s “Do You Wanna Touch Me (Oh Yeah)” on their song was executed in a way similar to Vanilla Ice’s ripping of “Under Pressure” on “Ice Ice Baby.” Green Day claims the song is their way of honoring punk legend Joan Jett. Sadly, they don’t do a very good job of it.
Additionally, the sixth song on the album, “Stab You In The Heart,” is a mix of three woefully mismatched songs: “Hippy Hippy Shake” by the Beatles, “Greased Lightnin’” from the film “Grease,” and Billy Ray Cyrus’s “Achy Breaky Heart.”
The strange sound effects are clear evidence of the album’s overproduction and lack of inspiration, and can be heard in the introduction of both “Junkies on a High” and “Take the Money and Crawl.” Both songs could have done without the high-pitch rat squeaks, children’s piano backtrack and the Garage-Band record-scratch effects they added to prove that they are “hip” yet “old-school.”
More than anything, this album is evidence that one of the greatest punk bands have lost their edge. As a result, they have sold their souls to the money-hungry men in suits in order to make a quick buck and try and remain relevant. What they don’t seem to understand is that they are still relevant; moreover, they would be even more so if they produced something truly transgressive and memorable like 2004’s “American Idiot.” They claim this album is “not political,” but by titling the record “Father of All Motherf—ers” and alluding to “American Idiot” you would expect a hot-take on our nation’s political climate. Instead, we are given a unicorn. Literally.
It doesn’t deserve shamrocks.