15 Years Ago, Green Day Releases 'American Idiot'

September 23, 2019

On September 22nd, 2004, Green Day released one of their highest-selling albums of all time, American Idiot. The album arrived on the heels of their 2000 album Warning and their 2001 Greatest Hits, two commercial flops that were leading to some caustic relations between band members.

After Billie Joe Armstrong, Tré Cool, and Mike Dirnt each agreed that a lack of communication was the cause behind their strained relationships, they each agreed to hold a weekly conversation session with each other in their schedules to keep everyone in the loop.

By building greatest trust in each other, they decided to start a new album from scratch when the tapes from their next planned album Cigarettes and Valentines disappeared. One of the practices they used to challenge themselves was to write some 30-second songs that would eventually be combined together. The result of this tactic lead to tracks like "Homecoming" and "Jesus of Suburbia."

Producer Rick Cavallo supported Green Day's creative process, as well as encourage the band to offer their own take on the political unrest and its presentation in the media. This eventually lead to the album's title track, "American Idiot." The song went straight to the No. 1 spot on the Modern Rock chart and No. 5 on the Mainstream Rock chart. 

The next single off the album, "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" which topped out at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, their highest position on the chart ever. It also went to No. 1 on the Mainstream Rock and Modern Rock charts, as well as go on to win the 2006 Grammy for Record of the Year.

The third single to make it off the album was "Holiday", dropped in March 2005. Armstrong says the song was inspired by Bob Dylan songs to serve as a middle finger to the American government's pro-war stance at the time. "Holiday" also went to No. 1 on the Mainstream Rock chart and in Modern Rock Radio, as well as reach No. 19 on the Billboard Top 100.

The fourth and fifth singles to make it off the album were "Wake Me Up When September Ends" and "Jesus of Suburbia", which completed the overall story Green Day hoped to tell in American Idiot. By the end of its run, American Idiot served as one of Green Day's most successful albums to date by debuting at No. 1, went platinum six times, and winning the 2005 Grammy for Best Rock album.