It must have been a massive feat for a band that created one of the most famed albums to try and outclass it. Punk stalwarts Green Day was the act that designed American Idiot, which truly shook the music industry and saved them from being pushed aside and forgotten about.
American Idiot was a magnum opus, a story-driven masterclass with a storyline that could have been plucked from a hard-boiled, political novel.
Front-man Billie Joe Armstrong challenged himself by creating the album’s characters and some well-regarded riffs. The whole band pushed themselves really, adapting to the musical landscape of the time. The album that followed, though, didn’t live up to the brilliance of American Idiot. That album was 21st Century Breakdown, and it was released 5 years later.
The record had its hits, but it didn’t have that dramatic sense of excitement or the storyline that American Idiot had. Songs such as ’21 Guns’ and ‘Murder City’ had good vibes, but they didn’t hold up against the supreme deep cuts of American Idiot.
21st Century Breakdown didn’t tarnish Green Day’s super-stardom, it augmented it and gave them even more of an audience. The band travelled the length and breadth of the world to support the record, even gaining a spot at Wembley Stadium.
Though the album did gain the band new followers, it failed to outclass a record which ultimately saved them and gave them accolade after accolade, pushing them up to the highest pedestal of rock.
Green Day knew they had to work hard to try and process a record that would go up against or even surpass a juggernaut, but 21st Century Breakdown didn’t do that. It wasn’t a complete failure but it was a disappointment.