Wednesday, April 28, 2010

American Idiot

So everyone who hasn't been living under a rock knows about Green Day's Grammy Award-winning album American Idiot. But how many of you know about American Idiot, the musical?

To be honest, I wouldn't have heard of it myself if I hadn't hopped over to Brian May's website from the official We Will Rock You one. (We Will Rock You is also a musical, featuring Queen songs. I love that musical forever. Brian May is the guitarist of Queen, in case you didn't know.) On Brian May's site, there was a short writeup about a certain Tony Vincent's upcoming role as St. Jimmy in 'the new Green Day Rock Opera "American Idiot"'. Of course, I freaked out, for two reasons:
a) I'd heard speculation that American Idiot was going to be made into a movie, and now I was reading that it was going to be a musical? Awesome!
b) I love Tony Vincent. Or maybe I just love his character in We Will Rock You. I dunno.

Either way, I knew that I really wanted to watch the musical when it came out. This happened sometime last year.

Over the months, I'd followed the progress of the musical, rejoicing when it was extended and then transferred to Broadway -- the more successful something is, the higher chances there are of it coming here. We Will Rock You went to Singapore, but my mom and I didn't go in the end. Don't even get me started on that.

Anyway, a few days ago, my dad got ahold of the American Idiot soundtrack for me...and I've been listening to it non-stop ever since.

There are very obvious good and bad points of the soundtrack, really. The first thing that occurred to me was that I didn't know the context in which the songs were sung, and they could mean something completely different from what I perceive. Wiki-ing American Idiot to read the plot was an instant solution -- I had a few "Ohhh!" moments. The plot fits the songs, I suppose, but it seems a bit messy to me. At least it wasn't kinda corny like We Will Rock You's.

My major problem with the soundtrack is, well, the singers' voices. Not the ladies' -- the ladies are amazing. It's the guys' I have issues with. The songs they're singing are rock songs, and in my opinion, rock songs don't really sound like rock songs any more when they're sung by men with shining, pop group vocals. It's obvious that they're very talented singers, but for some of the men, I think this isn't really their thing. There's one of them whose voice actually borders on 'whiny'. Whoever was in charge of casting needs to be spoken to.

The playlist comprises songs off American Idiot and 21st Century Breakdown, Green Day's two latest albums, and that's where another gripe of mine comes in. Green Day had some pretty great songs off their old albums, and I think they should've been included. I'm pretty sure they could've fit in Basket Case if they'd tried; also, the absence of Good Riddance (Time of Your Life) is glaringly apparent.

Apart from that, however, I do love the soundtrack. The best part is, undoubtedly, the song arrangements. It's lovely how they merge songs in a way that seems so natural, like it was the way it had always been played. (My favourite example of this would be Before the Lobotomy, Extraordinary Girl, and Before the Lobotomy [Reprise].) Using the arpeggio guitar part of Wake Me Up When September Ends for the starting of When It's Time is so misleading, though! Everyone knows that tune!

Another thing I love is how the songs are now backed by more instruments and voices. Everything (except the raw When It's Time) sounds bigger and better and epic. I find some Green Day songs to be a little repetitive and boring -- Know Your Enemy and 21 Guns, anyone? -- but they've been reworked in the musical and sound so much better. They have a lot more to work with, and I do believe they've improved every song in there. Pity about the un-gritty voices, though.

Have you heard the new(ish) recording of 21 Guns by Green Day and the cast of American Idiot? It's amazing, I swear.

"Beautiful, beautiful..."
"Yep. Do it again."

Oh, Billie Joe.

This soundtrack has most definitely rekindled my love for Green Day.


  1. Actually, they're doing Good Riddance as the curtain call now. The entire cast each has a guitar. You can find it on youtube.

  2. I read about that! You mean to say all of them can play the guitar..? Alright, I'll go search it. Thanks!

  3. Whoa, I didn't expect 21 Guns to be like that. The original is a bit emo-ish but they took it and made it something more, I dunno, uplifting? Its mood changed.

    And I noticed something. Your blog posts seem more structured now, somehow. The American Idiot post struck me as a much MUCH higher quality version of something I would read in a write up about American Idiot, The Musical. It's easier to read, but at the same time it seems to have lost a facet that used to be present in your older posts. I actually went back and read some older posts and they feel different. I don't think it's a bad thing though. Your writing style has become more polished, more professional. XD

  4. I guess the choir lends a certain uplifting quality to it, huh? So much better than the original!

    It's a conscious thing, I'm glad you noticed it. This is what BRATs has done to me! I was a bit worried at first, since I wanted to retain that personal feel; I'm still trying to find that balance. Older posts were more raw and close to the heart, I guess. But overexposure is never a good thing, right?

    Thanks, big bro! (;