Music Monday: American Idiot Album Review

Story posted February 20, 2017 in CommRadio, News by Allison Wulfhorst

In honor of the Penn State School of Theatre performing American Idiot the Musical, which was based off this iconic Green Day album, this is a throwback review. Released in 2004, American Idiot is filled with societal and political issues, especially because it was a released in a post-9/11 America, which left citizens filled with unanswered questions. The themes are a crucial part of this album, along with the fact that a plot line was created out of it. This follows vocalist Billie Joe Armstrong as a character he created, Johnny, trying to cope with his life and it eventually takes a negative turn.

Musically, this album is pure punk rock, which is what describes Green Day more so than anything else. Each song contains unique instrumentals and vocals that help show off what this band is about and why fans have stuck with them for so many years. American Idiot is one of their best works and a classic album that people keep coming back to.

There are many songs that directly relate to the plot line of the album and after paying close attention to the lyrics, listeners can make out what the story is about. These songs include “Jesus of Suburbia,” “St. Jimmy,” “Wake Me Up When September Ends,” and “Whatshername.” Each has their own purpose though.

“Jesus of Suburbia” sets the stage for the story line with a variety of different verses that make it sound like four or five different songs in one.

“St. Jimmy” is a high intensity punk rock song and its hard-hitting instrumentals feed into the lyrics that give birth to Johnny’s figment of imagination, St. Jimmy, who is the cause of his negative behavior.

“Wake Me Up When September Ends” is an emotional song that reveals how Johnny’s drug addiction causes him to lose the girl of his dreams. This shows off how dynamic Green Day as a band is and that many of their songs contain emotional meanings.

“Whatshername” appears in the end of the story and shows that Johnny still cares about this girl, but accepts that she’s gone. It’s another emotional song that contains consistent drumming until the bridge. This is a tactic used to take the focus away from the instrumentals and on the lyrics, which works very well in this track.

Other songs on the record highlight societal and political issues more so than focus on the plot and two of them are obvious; they are the title track, “American Idiot,” and “Holiday.” “American Idiot” explains the album the best and how America is reacting to the 9/11 tragedy.

“Don’t wanna be an American Idiot/Don’t want a nation under the new media/And can you hear the sound of hysteria?” This first track leads into the second one, “Jesus of Suburbia,” to begin outlining the album’s plot.

“Holiday” is another signature Green Day song, especially on this record. Many of the lyrics reflect on the American government and even the military during this difficult time. “Hear the dogs howlin’ out of key/To a hymn called faith and misery (hey!)/And bleed, the company lost the far today.”

This album is truly unique because musically and lyrically it’s a special work, but that’s not all. Green Day were able to form a plot line out of their lyrics to eventually be made into a musical. This is an album fans go back to all the time and for good reason.

Rating: 9/10


Allison Wulfhorst is a freshman majoring in Journalism. To contact her, email her at