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Green Day releases ‘SAVIORS’: We take a look at its opening tracks…

On 19 January 2024, punk-rock band Green Day released their fourteenth studio album, ‘SAVIORS’.

With fans labelling the album ‘a megatron of energy,’ and ‘their best album since American Idiot,’ we’re taking a deep dive into the album’s first ten songs, and exploring the story behind your new favourite anthems.

‘SAVIORS’ starts off strong with ‘The American Dream is Killing Me’, described by frontman Billie Joe Armstrong as “a look at the way that the ‘American Dream’ doesn’t work out for most people, and is actually hurting a lot of people”. This pure-punk song takes Green Day’s iconic ‘American Idiot’ energy, with a sprinkle of ‘21st Century Breakdown’, paying homage to their earlier albums as a subtle nod to their long-time fans, but with a catchiness that is certain to attract a new wave of listeners.

Coming in at number two is ‘Look Ma, No Brains’. Much of the promotional and visual material for ‘SAVIORS’ includes zombie imagery, serving as a metaphor for the repetitive and brainless routines of the modern rat-race life, which is encapsulated in this more literal 2-minute tune. 

No album is complete without a good love song, and this is where ‘Bobby Sox’ comes in. The song holds almost-vintage connotations, with the title potentially referencing ‘bobby socks’, popular in the forties and fifties. These were a style of women’s socks, worn or ‘bobbed’ at the ankles, and usually associated with teenage girls, especially fans of Frank Sinatra. The ‘walking dead’ imagery continues throughout this song, with the second verse stating ‘we’ll make our dead friends blush’. 

With each song so far different than the last, but with a common theme throughout, it’s clear that Green Day isn’t afraid to take creative risks, while still recognising the importance of cohesion. I would describe their albums as ‘punk-rock operas’, each album telling a clear story, and each song carefully intertwined. This is also evident in ‘American Idiot’. In ‘Extraordinary Girl/Letterbomb’ alone, ‘Whatsername’, ‘Jesus of Suburbia’, ‘St. Jimmy’, and ‘American Idiot’ are referenced, all songs also featured on the same album.

‘One Eyed Bastard’ has been stuck in my head since my first listen. Similar to ‘Look Ma, No Brains,’ this is a short, and explosive song coming in at just under three minutes long. Different in that this song seems to take on a more personal tone, quintessentially American motifs worm their way into what is one of the best revenge anthems I have ever heard. While the chorus ‘bada bing, bada bing, bada boom’ may seem simple on the surface, it references the New York, Italian-American gangster stereotype, with ‘bada bing, bada boom’, typically signifying something that is completed simply and quickly. 

‘Dilemma’ follows, a musical ode to Armstrong’s alcohol and substance addiction. If ‘The American Dream is Killing Me’ hadn’t captured the heart of the album in its entirety, ‘Dilemma’ would’ve been my choice for the album’s first song. While this song slightly differs in tone and meaning to the rest of the album, the ‘undead’ imagery continues with the repeated lyric ‘I don’t wanna be a dead man walking’, referencing Armstrong’s desire to break free from the holds of addiction. Green Day’s 2024-2025 world tour is soon to begin, with a few promotional gigs taking place over the past few weeks, and I cannot wait to hear sold-out venues singing this song at the top of their lungs.

Music as a medium of social commentary has existed as long as music itself, and ‘1981’ serves as a reminder of this. The lyrics almost act as a nod to other punk (rock or pop) fans, with the first lyric and title referring to the year that MTV, a well-known music station, was launched. The first verse tells the story of a young girl hearing this music on her television and the lyrics altering her world-view. It goes on to state that ‘she is a Cold War in my head, and I am East Berlin’. In other words, Green Day seems to recognise the power of punk, remembering their own pathway into the culture via MTV. It is almost as if the mainstream media is accidentally exposing young people to punk ideologies, then criticising its ideas. To me, the song serves as a promise to remember their duty as a punk band, especially in the modern day - to actually be punk.

References to previous albums continue in ‘Goodnight Adeline’, the first verse finishing with ‘and my face is in the gutter, singing’ mirroring the ‘Viva La Gloria (Little Girl)’ lyric: ‘and you find yourself with the face in the gutter’. 

Green Day songs have always contained biblical imagery, and the next song on ‘SAVIORS’, ‘Coma Days’ is no exception. The first verse begins with ‘coma city // open your eyes’, which bears similarities to Ephesians 5:14: ‘Awake, O Sleeper and rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.’ While, of course, this can refer to ‘waking up’ to the reality of the world around you, there is again the imagery of zombies and the undead. Zombie metaphors can be incredibly hard to pull off, and when done poorly can come across as cheap and faux-philosophical, which is why every single instance that Green Day successfully executes this motif should be celebrated and admired. 

The tenth song on ‘SAVIORS’, ‘Corvette Summer’, the title itself a reference to the 1978 film of the same name, begins with a reference to the Beach Boys’ ‘I Get Around’ (1964). In promotional interviews, both Billie Joe Armstrong and Mike Dirnt have expressed their love for this song, while fans say that this ‘isn’t their favourite’. However, while the song has its critics, some fans are able to ‘enjoy the song for what it is’, and maintain that ‘they’re 51 years old, [Green Day] should be allowed at least one Dad-rock-style song’. 

I guess it’s up to you to decide what you make of it!

‘SAVIORS’ still has five more songs left for you to explore: ‘Suzie Chapstick’, ‘Strange Days Are Here to Stay’, ‘Living in the ‘20s’, ‘Father to a Son’, the titular ‘Saviors’, and ‘Fancy Sauce’. You can listen to the album on all streaming services, or experience it on vinyl or CD - bonus points if you can find a vintage car to blast it in at night!

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