American Idiot – Green Day

You’ve heard a lot of this album, but you probably haven’t heard the awesome jam that is “Letterbomb” or dissected “Homecoming” down to specific notes. Yes, “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” is great, but this album really shines where it eschews the four-chord progression and just plays some loud chords, finds something else to do, and repeats that cycle, like on “She’s a Rebel”, “Jesus of Suburbia”, and the title track. (I’m not joking; the simple chord structures of this album are worth examining, and I’m going to try to learn from them for my own composition.) Green Day’s flawless key changes on “Jesus of Suburbia” and “Homecoming”, wonderful use of phrygian major on “Extraordinary Girl”, and use of the VII chord to close out a six-bar progression in the solo to “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” suggest that their harmonic palette has grown since Dookie, but they still use that palette to craft instantly memorable and emotional hits that, despite being pop, are super hard-hitting. The point the album makes, that American culture often incites a rebellion which is as self-destructive as it is extraordinary, is as relevant now as ever.

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