’21st Century Breakdown’: Breaking Down Green Day’s Second Concept Album

Green Day’s 21st Century Breakdown, the band’s follow-up to the epochal American Idiot, was one of 2009’s most eagerly awaited albums and it more than lived up to all of the anticipation. On Green Day’s eighth studio album, the band returned in peak form with the hits “Know Your Enemy,” “21 Guns,” “East Jesus Nowhere,” “Last of the American Girls” plus the tempo-changing title track.  Many had speculated whether or not the band could recapture the success of their previous Grammy Award-winning opus, but all of those fears were quickly put to rest with their second three-part punk rock opera. 21st Century Breakdown delivered an abundance of material for listeners to sink their teeth into, as the disc clocked in at just under 70 minutes. In hindsight, 21st Century Breakdown was every bit as good as American Idiot, if not better.

Unlike American Idiot, 21st Century Breakdown was divided up into three separate acts (Act I: Heroes and Cons, Act II: Charlatans and Saints and Act III: Horseshoes and Handgrenades), which gave the album a very distinct beginning, middle and end. This made for a more diversified album that provided the listener with the feeling of immersion within a complete story, as well as trekking alongside the narrative’s characters. Familiar musical themes were repeated throughout, which had been designated to each of the characters, much in the same way John Williams did with his score in Star Wars. The album’s lyrics provided vivid images that allowed the listener to visualize the action as it unfolded within each of the set’s 18 songs… [Read Full Retrospective]

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