Green Day are back. Butch Vig is producing. Their new album cover has been compared unfavorably to Banksy, Think Tank, and Watchmen, and favorably to dookie (no italics). Now there’s actual music at which to pick.

“21st Century Breakdown” is the new set’s title track, and it sets out this LP’s design: rebellion and the disintegration of America by way of rock opera, head-faking piano intros and all. So while this one clocks in at five minutes, really it’s three discrete movements: the first imagines Green Day as a blue colllar NJ band with a taste for big statements and stuck on Lennon (“My generation is zero / I never made it as a working class hero“); next is the Meat Loaf-like hairpin turn into a pop-punky gallop, with baby boomer-hate (“the bastards of 1969!”) and a new key that screams “set change!”; and finally a bombastic half-time coda that’s all Queen or My Chemical Romance, depending on how old/generous you are. Epic or ham? “Breakdown,” 2009:

21st Century Breakdown is out in May via Reprise.

Comments (72)
  1. d@ve  |   Posted on Mar 2nd, 2009 0

    i don’t know if it’s the sound quality or lack of substance, but this song makes me want to put on my sexy boots

  2. Make it go away. PLEASE!

  3. chrischke  |   Posted on Mar 2nd, 2009 0

    shit sandwich.

  4. The idea of “stuffing various songs into one” was way better executed in “Jesus Of Suburbia”

  5. why be a blue collar NJ band when you can be a blue collar East Bay band?

    also. this song is boring. and i don’t hate this band.

  6. sam  |   Posted on Mar 2nd, 2009 0

    i wonder if this will be as big as american idiot. if this is the single it’s definitely alot worse/less catchy, and this is coming from someone who hated the album. be cool if they plunged back into no one caring/obscurity like they did after nimrod.

  7. I remember, back in 2000-ish, hearing Green Day’s album “Warning” and thinking:

    “Hey, that’s cool, they figured out a way to sort-of age gracefully with all the acoustics and slower tempos and stuff. And hey, they still managed to sell records. And you know, ‘Macy’s Day Parade’ and the title track are actually pretty good singles. Good for them.”

    Then four years later they re-emerged covered in guy-liner with fancy haircuts, Hot Topic wardrobes, and an unfortunate interest in rock operas. At that point I thought:

    “You guys are in your mid-30′s, right?”

    • Stefan  |   Posted on Mar 2nd, 2009 0

      It’s kind of a shame, really. Warning is a solid album, but now it and Nimrod (which I’m not really familiar with) are sen as the “lost in the wilderness” albums. I don’t care which one sold better, though… American Idiot blows choad.

    • warning sucked, beyond hard

  8. It’s ok, nothing great, but then again I haven’t been a Green Day fan since I was in middle school.

  9. David  |   Posted on Mar 2nd, 2009 0

    This is a demo of the song..

    • so  |   Posted on Mar 2nd, 2009 0

      Does that really make a difference? It’s not anything wrong with the production, just a flat-out weak, boring song.

      • David  |   Posted on Mar 3rd, 2009 0

        Matters to me.. song’s not that boring and with good production it could be an actual good song..

  10. alex  |   Posted on Mar 2nd, 2009 0


    When will people learn to not upload leaked songs to youtube

  11. Michael_  |   Posted on Mar 2nd, 2009 0

    It sounds like they took the mellowness of Warning and the operatic antics of American Idiot, then threw them into a blender.

  12. drab  |   Posted on Mar 2nd, 2009 0

    just stop, stereogum. while your dignity is still intact.

    • stoops  |   Posted on Mar 2nd, 2009 0

      …too late

      Anyway, the song is better than anything else the gum has posted in a long long time.

      • vat  |   Posted on Mar 3rd, 2009 0

        i love when faggy toolbots say “the gum.”

        • James  |   Posted on Mar 3rd, 2009 0

          I believe the actual term you’re looking for here is “faggoty” a la Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men… “…And nobody’s going to tell him how to run his unit least of all the Harvard mouth in his faggoty white uniform…”

        • stoops  |   Posted on Mar 3rd, 2009 0

          I love when retarded kids post on THE GUM

          • FlimFlam  |   Posted on Mar 9th, 2009 0

            I love when disabled people’s condition is used as an insult in place of using something homophobic.
            Guess what? Its trashy either way.

  13. cw  |   Posted on Mar 2nd, 2009 0

    i kinda think this song is the jam. i have always loved green day. and this song rocks the socks! maybe if it were more obscure more people would enjoy it. however, since i guess we are now part of the pitchfork generation, most of the tools reading these comments will simply become spokes in the pitchfork wheel, and can not allow themselves to enjoy such a great song.

    • Lewis  |   Posted on Mar 2nd, 2009 0

      Pitchfork Generation? You are wrong sir (or madam) Fuck Pitchfork!!!

      • Drake Tungsten  |   Posted on Mar 3rd, 2009 0

        One’s confusion and insecurities towards music exposed in a Pitchfork bashing… Oh my goodness, what a new and exciting concept. There are some, though, that understand that of course music criticism is subjective and is to be taken as such. Sure, Pitchfork can seem pretentious at times, but they surely have their heart in the right place. Also, is undeniably awesome.

    • Lady Of Darkness!  |   Posted on May 19th, 2009 0

      At least someone on here besides me knows it’s a good song! I guess that means more Green Day for us! YAY! ….lol! I’ve always Loved Green Day! And I Love 21st Century Breakdown!

  14. Jacob  |   Posted on Mar 2nd, 2009 0

    i second that. what no animal collective, grizzly bear, or deerhunter?

  15. Well, I like Green Day, haven’t heard one song of them in like 2 years until now, I don’t know what to think, but it sure that they’re not advancing, this song could be easly in American Idiot.

  16. ok now i’m nervous

  17. John Load  |   Posted on Mar 2nd, 2009 0


  18. Zachra  |   Posted on Mar 2nd, 2009 0

    You should replace the Queen/MCR reference with Mott The Hoople.

  19. didn’t these guys use to be good? damn… shit happens I guess…

  20. I used to love Green Day. I was hoping this album would be some kind of progression out of American Idiot shit. I thought maybe all the grand shit was part of Billy Joe’s cryptic plan, to maybe turn into something else. I guess i gave them too much credit. This shit is gonna get old. If they keep doing this kind of stuff they’ll seem like old guys with no attention span for songwriting anymore. I wanted to hear some decent solid songs again, and not chopped up american idiot shit balls.

    • megaindiedouche  |   Posted on Mar 3rd, 2009 0

      I think albums like the one we’re presuming Green Day will make require more attention than a smattering of singles. You’ll probably have to sit and listen for about 6 minutes to get the point of a song, if there is one this time. Also, if there’s anything we can learn from Brian Wilson is that just because something sounds schizophrenic doesn’t mean it’s a chopped-up shit ball. I’d rather have a chopped-up shit ball than five more Dookies…at least it’s something somewhat new.

      I love how this is going to be a most-commented story tomorrow. Stereogum is losing its hipster cred quickly.

  21. who gives a shit

  22. OrangeKrush  |   Posted on Mar 3rd, 2009 0

    Fuck Green Day, this is Grizzly Bear’s time! Veckatimest is incredible!

  23. I’m sorry, but why is this even posted? It’s below Stereogum to do this… Below Pitchfork even. If I want to hear someone bitch about Green Day, I’ll look on myspace. That this article was posted here is beyond me. Pretty soon Stereogum will be posting in all caps and without articles: Kanye style.
    And let’s get another thing straight, Banksy is untouchable. Comparing the incredibly trite and incredibly shitty artwork of this undoubtedly shitty album to the work of a prolific artist such as Banksy is a shame. Whoever even thought of that deserves to be force fed their own shit (in the style of Panda Bear in Fecal Matter) and then deprived of any drink afterward.

    Really people, that’s just absurd.

    • megaindiedouche  |   Posted on Mar 3rd, 2009 0

      Thanks for bitching about Green Day on Stereogum. Your contributing to a Green Day discussion will probably stop Stereogum from posting about them again. Smarty.

    • glassy  |   Posted on Mar 3rd, 2009 0

      Don’t fuck with Panda Bear dude. It’s beyond you to do this.

  24. i miss the days of U2 posts

  25. T-mas  |   Posted on Mar 3rd, 2009 0

    I miss the days of Kerplunk. I remember hearing Dookie as a freshmen in high school and falling into it like warm milk. This however, feels like strained NoFX/Rancid with too many wah oh oh uh oh ah ohh’s. Remember the references to stiff little fingers? WTF happened. Mall punk? I know green day’s gotta eat, but couldn’t they just do a car commercial like Chan marshal?

  26. At least it’s not another duet with U2.

  27. jimmy  |   Posted on Mar 3rd, 2009 0

    oh shut up. this is kind of good, feels like shittier who, but why not? they could be doing a hell of a lot worse. at least billy joe didn’t break up the band and start angels and airwaves.

  28. Why did they post just the Meatloaf part of the song though?

  29. Definitely not the finished product.

    It’s a demo, folks.

    Pricks will be pricks, though.

  30. wasn’t this song leaked two weeks ago? i thought you guys even posted about it!

  31. Tony  |   Posted on Mar 3rd, 2009 0

    guys u don’t have to write a post about every shitty mainstream band that releases a new song. i mean…. it’s stereogum! ><

  32. I don’t get why people are complaining. It’s obvious an interesting topic of discussion. Obviously everyone seems to have something to say about Green Day that they want heard. This sounds like a lot of people like Green Day way more than they’d like to admit. Fuck you hipster culture.

  33. Train  |   Posted on Mar 3rd, 2009 0

    Working at “The Gum” has got to be good for the heart. Post an article, then sit back and laugh and laugh at all the stupidity that ensues. What a bunch of fucktards! Not me of course. What a riot!!

  34. I thought Green Dy was punk and punk needs no production or studio mixing… wait they sold out right? So, did they turned into punk rockers; oh but they ripped off the Kinks so now they are pop punkers right? Rock Opera-ist, now… imagine that. They went mellow like most rock bands now a days. :(

  35. ew

  36. chuck  |   Posted on Mar 3rd, 2009 0

    “next is the MEATLOAF-like hairpin turn…” What?! This song isn’t that great, and parts of it is mellow for sure. But how is any part of this song like friggin Meatloaf? Someone please explain.

  37. chuck  |   Posted on Mar 3rd, 2009 0

    Also, I would say the “half-time coda” is more like Queen or MUSE, not My Chemical Romance. I’m just sayin’.

  38. daggers  |   Posted on Mar 3rd, 2009 0

    Green Day was so 2005.
    Seriously, everyone’s over them.
    The new album’s going to flop because it’s impossible for them to override “American Idiot”.

  39. It’s good. But lets be frank…this is not a demo. Or this is a demo with very, very high production values.

  40. SEL  |   Posted on Mar 4th, 2009 0

    what the fuck do they have to sing about? Bush is out of office.

  41. WaltDisney  |   Posted on Mar 4th, 2009 0

    This was always going to be difficult for Green Day. They really were lucky to have such latter day success, just a case of right place, right time, right sound. That time is well and truely over now – there’s not much to be really aggressive about so unless this album is one big celebratory rock n roll fest, it will fizzle out quicky.

    ‘American Idiot’ really pigeon-holed them as a protest band. Judging by this track they didn’t know where to go from here, so they just stayed in the same place but dressed it up as something even BIGGER. Sorry guys but – FAIL.

  42. Shabster  |   Posted on Mar 7th, 2009 0

    Whats with all the criticism I have only heard abit of this song and I love it, its mellower and if you have read any interview since american idiot they said it would be because their middle aged. You can’t judge an album by hearing one song I mean if I had heard boulevard of broken dreams and just that song then I wouldn’t have bought the album because that song is boring but the rest of the album is brlliant and no they didn’t sell out its called changing with age you can’t expect a band to mass produce the same stuff, I mean come on you can’t excpect them to sit around and write another Dookie just for your pleasure because you feel they sold out so they HAVE to go back to their old stuff. Its pathetic that some people jude early versions of the song and yes its a demo it may not sound like this at all on the album so don’t go bitching about the song being boring and shit until you’ve heard the song on the album and have listened to the album a few times

  43. this song is so bad it almost makes me appreciate their last album.

  44. alix101  |   Posted on Mar 9th, 2009 0

    just the fact, they can create such hype at the mention of a new album, tells us they are far from finished.i think its no acident that these songs are leaked. they are expecting the “a “holes on this page to pick fault, if its main stream then you have to hate it……. not the best song ever but not worthy of the scorn heaped on by peole who would hate it even if they loved it….

  45. God I’m so excited for their new album..
    Already now it sounds good! :D
    – Looooooove on Green Day for ever!! <3

  46. i think ive grown to hate green day. if only the radio hadnt played wake me up when September ends every fourth song, for a year. bastards.

  47. Kenny  |   Posted on Mar 11th, 2009 0

    It’s a shame I’m reading a review of a demo and the hot topic VAMP fags from South Park are posting on here. As a 29 year old male that has grown up to Green Day and all of their CD’s and look to Billie Joe , Mike and Tre’ as the band that happily and deservingly stepped up to the throne as the #1 mainstream punk band after Kurt Cobain killed himself and Nirvana, I think that this DEMO has alot of potential, and until the rest of the CD is out and you can VERIFY that this DEMO is IN FACT THE PRODUCTION QUALITY STANDARDS THAT ARE ON THE REST OF THE RECORD, I think everyone INCLUDING MYSELF should just SHUT THE FUCK UP AND GET THE REAL THING WHEN IT’S RELEASED! And yes, I was YELLING. (!). Anyone up for some Chuck E Cheese?

  48. Jenni.  |   Posted on Mar 13th, 2009 0

    I likedd the old green day. They changed for more money, losing all their old fans

  49. <: your penis!

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