October 19, 2000

Here's Your Warning

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The new Green Day CD, Warning, sucks. It sucks really, really hard. There are points when listening to it that you almost can’t believe it’s a CD, or that a competent band produced it, or that anyone, from lead singer Billie Joe to the album’s producer, could have actually believed they were creating something good.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved Dookie. It was pop punk done well. Green Day has some talent and Billie Joe’s voice on the album is strong and polished, better than on any of his other albums. They have so much potential.

The sad thing about Warning is that the music isn’t even terrible, or rousing, or anything. Every song is just like the other, with no fills, no riffs, and no excitement. It’s as if the band got really drunk one day in the studio and decided to let Mike Dirnt, the bassist, write all the guitar lines.

What’s happened to Green Day is sad because it mirrors what’s happened to punk, and to music in general. Bands that once had passion and music that once had promise, like punk or ska or even rock and roll, are becoming so mainstream and boring.

Even though the band attempted to write deep lyrics, the overall effect ended up sounding cliched. The first song repeats the following refrain over and over again: “Warning: Live without warning.” Brilliant. I didn’t even realize by track 3 that the first song had ended. Track 2, “Blood, Sex, and Booze,” sounds vaguely like “Brain Stew,” from Insomniac, except with absolutely no chord changes.

A song with a promising title, “Misery,” literally turns out to be a polka, complete with Mike Dirnt on the accordion and Billy Joe singing lounge style.

On the album’s first single, “Minority,” Billy Joe sings, “I stand alone/ a face in the crowd/ unsung against the mold/ without a doubt/ singled out/ the only way I know.” It’s like he’s trying to convince himself he’s still a real rocker, when in fact his entire album is totally PC and family friendly (yes Tipper, that means no real curse words).

The really sad thing is that Green Day knows how terrible it is. On “Deadbeat Holiday” they lament, “When there’s no such thing as heroes/ your faith lies in the ditch that/ you dug yourself in.” They sound like they don’t even believe in their music anymore.

There’s only one track on the album, “Macy’s Day Parade,” where I actually came close to being moved. In it Billy Joel sings, “when I was a kid I thought/ I wanted all the things I haven’t got/ oh I learned the hardest way … what’s the consolation prize?/ economy sized dreams of hope.” The song isn’t the Green Day of the past, but that’s the point it makes: music has changed and so have the big dreams that went with it.

So has Green Day, punk, and more importantly, good rock music, died?

No — there’s still hope. There are still bands like NOFX, the Vandals, Bad Religion, and local bands everywhere trying to be themselves and do something different. And if nothing else, you could always use the new Green Day CD as a really shiny coaster.

Archived article by Paula Neudorf