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The Definitive Ranking Of Every Song On "American Idiot"

They're all good, but which one's best?

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13. "Boulevard of Broken Dreams"


Why It’s Good: In 2004, very few things captured your teen angst better. Green Day knew you were alone, they knew you had bigger dreams than your suburban town, and that just spoke to you. The instrumentals in the song are pretty cool too, especially at the end. “Boulevard” is a classic.

Why It’s Not: Beloved as it is, “Boulevard” doesn’t do a lot to further the rock opera’s plot. Sure, it tells you that the Jesus of Suburbia has big dreams, but it can stand alone just as well (perhaps the reason why it was released as a single).

Best Line: “Check my vital signs to know I’m still alive, and I walk alone.”

12. "Extraordinary Girl"


Why It’s Good: One of my personal favorites on the album, “Extraordinary Girl” is a nice love letter to the romantic lead in the rock opera. It paints a decent picture of the relationship between the Jesus of Suburbia and Whatsername, and it reveals just how special and powerful Whatsername must be. The song doesn’t try to be too complex or flowery. It says what it needs to say, and it resonates.

Why It’s Not: It's a good song and a pretty song, but others are just a little better.

Best Line: “She’s an extraordinary girl in an ordinary world, and she can’t seem to get away.”

11. "Are We the Waiting?"

Reprise / Via

Why It’s Good: Its simple poetry is powerful and hits home. In its easy language, it asks an incredibly complex question – “Are we the waiting?” It offers an even more complex answer – unknown. The drums are also aces.

Why It’s Not: There’s nothing bad about this song, really, but being “the waiting” is a little confusing, even though it’s open to interpretation. What is the waiting? I think I just had a great idea for a song sequel.

Best Line: “The Rage and Love, the story of my life…”

10. "Letterbomb"

Reprise / Via amandasuclescy

Why It’s Good: This is one of the best break up songs ever, ever, ever. Billie Joe Armstrong taps into the female voice to write it and he does it so convincingly. The instrumentals are perfectly angry with the song’s theme. Plus, the scream in the middle is a damn good rock and roll scream.

Why It’s Not: This song is awesome. It’s just that some of the other tracks are a little more important to the rock opera.

Best Line: “Where will all the martyrs go when the virus cures itself, and where will we all go when it’s too late?”


9. "Holiday"


Why It’s Good: “This song is not anti-American. It’s anti-war!” This quote by Billie Joe Armstrong from the 2005 concert video, "Bullet In a Bible," is what makes this song as good as it is. It’s risky, it’s bold, and I’m surprised it still gets as much airplay as it does because of those things. But it’s such a brave move in such a controversial time, and that remains kick-ass.

Why It’s Not: It’s a brave move in a controversial time. You probably felt a little guilty listening to this back in 2004.

Best Line: “A gag, a plastic bag on a monument…”

8. "Give Me Novacaine"


Why It’s Good: Sometimes drug metaphors really hit the mark. “Give Me Novacaine” is one of those metaphors. The lyrics are honest and moving, and it’s a great break from the head-banging anger of most of the album. Because in the middle of every rage you need a sedative. This song is it for American Idiot, and it’s great.

Why It’s Not: Again, there’s really nothing outlandishly bad about this song, but some of the songs earn higher marks. Some might argue it's too slow for the album.

Best Line: “Out of body and out of mind, kiss the demons out of my dreams.”

7. "St. Jimmy"


Why It’s Good: This is one of the most important songs concerning the rock opera’s plot. St. Jimmy is the important, dangerous alter ego of the Jesus of Suburbia, and now he’s here and slightly terrifying. Apart from the plot, this song is jam-packed with fast and interesting language. The instrumentals suggest frenzy, which is accurate and evokes a like mood.

Why It’s Not: It’s not long enough.

Best Line: “Cigarettes and Ramen and a little bag of dope/I am the son of a bitch and Edgar Allan Poe.”

6. "Homecoming"


Why It’s Good: The second nine minute epic of the album, this song is also an epic conclusion to most of the rock opera’s events. It features solo contributions from all three band members, and every contribution is awesome. So much happens in this song, and it feels pretty satisfactory. The best part of the song is “East 12th Street.”

Why It’s Not: I’ve heard criticism that Tre Cool’s “Rock and Roll Girlfriend” sounds like something out of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. I don’t really think that’s a bad thing, but someone did, so I had to include it.

Best Line: “Somebody get me out of here/anybody get me out of here/somebody get me out of here/get me the f*ck right out of here.”


5. "Wake Me up When September Ends"


Why It’s Good: You call it overplayed; I call it powerful. Maybe it’s just the big Green Day fan in me, but this song is so important. Not only is it a beautiful, personal look into Armstrong’s childhood, but it can also be interpreted as a response to 9/11. Either way, it’s perfectly written.

Why It’s Not: Maybe it was overplayed, and maybe it did lose its mainstream meaning. If that’s the case, what a shame. It's still wonderful.

Best Line: “As my memory rests but never forgets what I lost, wake me up when September ends.”

4. "She's a Rebel"

Reprise / Via absence-of-color

Why It’s Good: This track immediately precedes the slower “Extraordinary Girl,” and this upbeat song is badass. If you don’t want to be this girl, you’re probably lying. I have to dance like a fool every time this song comes on. I just want to be as cool as Whatsername, and you should too. Plus, this song explains the album’s iconic cover art.

Why It’s Not: Again, it’s just not long enough. I want to know more about my new role model.

Best Line: “She’s a symbol of resistance, and she’s holding on my heart like a hand grenade.”

3. "American Idiot"


Why It’s Good: There’s a reason this album is iconic and memorable, people. This song is awesome. It’s the perfect introduction to an album that would, in many ways, change the world. It’s pissed off, incredibly sincere, and everything about it, from the lyrics to the music, is perfect. There are only two songs on the album that can trump it. “American Idiot” is that good.

Why It’s Not: There’s questionable language in this song, even for Green Day. If you know the song, you can probably figure what I’m talking about.

Best Line: “Now, everybody do the propaganda and sing along to the age of paranoia.”

2. "Whatsername"


Why It’s Good: American Idiot’s version of Abbey Road’s “Her Majesty,” this is easily in the top five Green Day love songs of all time. It’s hauntingly beautiful, filled with regret, and it will make you cry every time. It’s even worse in the stage production of American Idiot. She’s right behind him, but she’s not really there. Awful. Fantastically composed.

Why It’s Not: It’s flawless. There’s just one track that’s even more flawless.

Best Line: “And in the darkest night, if my memory serves me right, I’ll never turn back time, forgetting you, but not the time.”

1. "Jesus of Suburbia"


Why It’s Good: “Jesus of Suburbia” is the best Green Day song of all time, not just on this album. It’s nine minutes long, it’s in five parts, and every part is touching, revealing, and badass. From the opening chords to the explosive end, this is undoubtedly the finest track on the album. It describes so well the redundancy and predictability of suburban life and the complacency of modern America. Even the part that claims you don’t care really says that you do. The song teaches that passion is key. Everything about it is beautiful and extremely tough. Even if it’s not the titular track, it’s easily the best.

Best Line: “I leave behind this hurricane of f*cking lies.”

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