A perusal of Reddit will tell you that Green Day is “really an 80’s band,” that they were “formed in 1987 and they released their first EP in 1989.” But Green Day really didn’t crash into American renown until Dookie was released in 1994. Dookie won the Grammy for Best Alternative Music Album. And Dookie remains the band’s best-selling album to date–Wikipedia says Dookie sold more than 20 million copies.
And with all that it was American Idiot, the album Green Day released ten years ago today, that pushed Green Day past their music fan base and into the forefront of American pop culture. Billie Joe Armstrong became a celebrity, not just a rock star: American Idiot was turned into a Broadway musical, if you need evidence of penetration. And yet some fans–by no means all–think they did it without going for popularity. On Reddit again: “They wrote a concept album about life in a post 9/11 America where several of the songs were 9 minute long punk rock suites. Say what you will about the album, but that’s not exactly shooting for the lowest common denominator.” (The Reddit thread is very interesting–just excellent in places and a window onto a generation.) American Idiot kept a band that released an album in 1994 that sold 20 million copies from being a 90s band. That alone is impressive. American Idiot was the 7th studio album from Green Day. It’s 57 minutes and 12 seconds long. It has lasted.