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Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong’s meltdown was more than a little ill-timed

“Green Day sold out years ago!” “Why are you even bothering?” “Punk is dead!” “I can’t believe you’ll write about this trite garbage instead of the new xx album.”*

*”xx” could be referring to the actual band The xx or “xx” could just be a placeholder for your indie flavor of the week. Did we just stumble onto the fact that “The xx” is the most exceedingly clever hipster critique of all time? I think we just did.

That is my attempt at predicting the Internet’s reaction to seeing a popular musical act written about. Yes, Green Day sold out years ago, or otherwise you probably wouldn’t know who they were and they’d be three very sad middle-aged men still playing at college bars in Berkley. Yes “punk is dead,” whatever that means. Yes, I’m sure we’ll get around to an xx album or two. But damn it, I still like these old pop-punk revival remnants and am invested in their continued success as you should be too.

There will be one band from the ’90s/00 who will fill the role of lingering around longer than you’d want them to but while making decent music occasionally. That role is currently held by U2 from the ’70s/’80s but they can’t keep it up forever. When Bono and friends hang it up for good that void will need to be filled. If it’s not by Green Day, then who else? Coldplay? An American Idiot sequel in 2017 doesn’t sound so bad now, does it?

It’s for that reason why lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong’s sudden and seemingly random descent into crazy concert rants and rehab stints couldn’t come at a worse time. ¡Uno!, Green Day’s first studio album since 2009’s 21st Century Breakdown,  hit stores torrents yesterday but its been understandably overshadowed by Armstrong’s iHeart Radio festival tirade.

It’s a shame because ¡Uno! represents a critical moment for the band if they are to assume the U2 “sticking-around-longer-than-necessary” crown. American Idiot and 21st Century Breakdown were both self-professed “punk rock operas” and strong ones at that. But crafting a rock opera every five years isn’t sustainable or even wise, especially for a band whose breakout record was called Dookie. 

¡Uno! does an admirable job of reconciling Green Day’s smoke-filled West Coast club beginnings with its recent love for the bombastic but it’s not a strong enough effort to distract from Armstrong’s current plight. ¡Uno! and its sequels, aptly titled ¡Dos!  and ¡Tre! should have been the beginning of a conversation between listener and artist about what sound the band is going to try to pull off for the next decade. Unfortunately, that conversation will probably be rather one-sided for the time being.

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