I’ll never forget buying my first Green Day album, Dookie in 1994. At the time, I felt like this music really spoke for me. This was the music of my generation. Also, I was 10 years old and my parents only gave me the money to buy the tape so I’d give the Cool Runnings¬†soundtrack a rest.
Even though Dookie was their third studio album, it was the one that brought them to mainstream attention. It was the release, sales, promotion, and distribution of this album that ensured the band would be a household name and that 10 year old kids in South Dakota would be singing along about being “fucked up and spun out in my room.” If it weren’t for the commercial success of Dookie, Green Day almost certainly would have faded into obscurity. So to what does Dookie owe it’s commercial success? Two words: Clear Channel. Yes, the company that owns the majority of radio stations in the US, the reason most radio stations play little more than the same 5 songs in rotation every day, the company that sponsored the iheartradio festival where Green Day front man Billie Joe Armstrong threw his little fit — this company is the reason anybody my age and younger even knows who Green Day is.
While it must be aggravating for any artist to be given the signal to wrap it up, especially one who’s “been around since 1988,” perhaps Armstrong could stand to benefit from a bit more self awareness. Ever since Dookie, Green Day has been as pop as can be. The terms “pop punk” and Green Day are basically synonymous. And while the power-chord dependent Billie Joe insisted on pointing out that he’s “not Justin Bieber” the only real difference between the two is longevity, not artistry.
If distancing himself from pop music buy lashing out at Bieber wasn’t enough to make himself seem more punk, Armstrong followed up with a feeble attempt at smashing his guitar. Had he been playing something with a hollow body (you know, a guitar that’ll actually smash to bits) his antics might have been a little more effective. But given that he was playing a Clear Channel show where he would have been better off if he were Justin Bieber, paired with his ineffective guitar-smashing, the 40 year old father of two is showing just how punk rock he is by¬ seeking treatment for substance abuse.