Almost everyone has heard of the near-legendary pop-punk band Green Day. In fact, the band has become so famous that they were recently named the 18th most influential alternative band ever by AltPress Magazine – an achievement that may seem very inaccurate and low to fans of the band. In 2004, Green Day released American Idiot – their first popular album. The iconic record went on to become so popular that it was made into an off-Broadway musical, simply titled after the album name. Bringing the songs to life with a unique plot and characters you can’t help but sympathize with, American Idiot is a memorable addition to many of today’s musicals. With many of the characters named after songs, like Whatsername and St. Jimmy, Michael Mayer perfectly captured the spirit of the album. Many people have pointed out that St. Jimmy bears a strong resemblance to Green Day’s lead singer and frontman Billie Joe Armstrong, and, in fact, Billie Joe did play St. Jimmy in select performances. Although some have claimed the musical is a ripoff of RENT, upon closer inspection, the two are extremely different. The only noticeable similarities between RENT and American Idiot are the high levels of energy in both and the personable characters. American Idiot is a clever musical that perfectly captures the concept album.
Starting with the title track, American Idiot is quick to prove itself as an anthemic addition to the rest of Green Day’s works. Proclaiming, “Everybody cue the propoganda/And sing along to the age of paranoia”, American Idiot seems to be a harsh commentary on today’s society. Boulevard of Broken Dreams, the third track, seems to stick to this theme, with the slower, more epic verses that pick up a bit during the chorus. However, Wake Me Up When September Ends takes an entirely different turn. The well-known song starts acoustic, with deep, meaningful lyrics. Full of emotion and spirit, Wake Me Up When September Ends is a stark contrast to its somewhat flashy counterparts. Written about the lead singer’s childhood, Billie Joe Armstrong speaks about how his father died when he was very young. When his mother told him the news, Billie locked himself in his room, and fanously stated, “Wake me up when September ends,” creating the title of the hit. Full to brim with everything from fast-paced rock hits to slower, meaningful songs, American Idiot is sure to capture your heart just like it captured mine.