"American Idiot" is a song by the American punk rock band Green Day. It is the title track from the album American Idiot (2004) and released as the first single from it. The song received positive reviews by critics and was nominated for four 2005 Grammy Awards: Record of the Year, Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal, Best Rock Song, and Best Music Video. It is considered as one of the band's signature songs.
One of the two explicitly political songs on the album (the other being fellow single "Holiday"), "American Idiot" contends that mass media has orchestrated paranoia and idiocy among the public. Citing cable news coverage of the Iraq War, Billie Joe Armstrong recalled, “They had all these Geraldo-like journalists in the tanks with the soldiers, getting the play-by-play." He felt with that, American news crossed the line from journalism to reality television, showcasing violent footage intercut with advertisements. Armstrong went on to write the song after hearing the Lynyrd Skynyrd song "That's How I Like It" on his car radio. "It was like, 'I'm proud to be a redneck' and I was like, 'oh my God, why would you be proud of something like that?' This is exactly what I'm against." Mike Dirnt felt many people would be insulted by the track until they realized that, rather than it being a finger-pointing song of anger, it could be viewed as a "call for individuality." The song emphasizes strong language, juxtaposing the words "faggot" and "America", to create what he imagined would be a voice for the disenfranchised.
In a 2004 interview with Q Magazine, the three members of Green Day discussed the idea of flag desecration in relation to their song, with Armstrong and Dirnt being the most supportive: "It means nothing to me. Let's burn the fucking thing."
"American Idiot" was written in the key of A flat and recorded in standard tuning. The song is composed of four chords, the I-IV-V-VII progression, while the chorus and solo share the IV-I-V-I progression. The song is classified as a punk rock and pop punk song. Armstrong plays a 1956 Les Paul Junior on the song, switching to a reissued 1959 flame-top Les Paul for the double-tracked guitar solo. Armstrong was initially reluctant to pursue recording a solo, fearing it to be corny. He eventually decided against this, as he hoped for the album to be "about being 15 and rocking out in front of a mirror." The song's format and cadence was influenced by the Midnight Oil song "US Forces", which Armstrong was introduced by through his wife.
The music video for "American Idiot" features the band playing in a warehouse against a green American flag (a reference to the name of the band). In the middle of the video, the band is seen playing at different speeds (fast or slow-motion). During the bridge, the stripes of the flag melt onto the floor. The band is then sprayed by a green liquid from amplifiers next to the flag. At the end, the band drops their instruments and leaves. The song's video was directed by Samuel Bayer. File Hashes
HASH2: ABC79BDE9E139EFD (FLAC)
HASH2: 6BE4C3699E01646B (MP3)
HASH2: AF117A9E8C60E584 (MP3)
HASH2: 38FBAB8731E6688D (FLAC)