’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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Music Condescension: A Sanctimonious Affliction

We’ve all encountered and endured the hyperbolic rantings of music snobs. You know the type; someone who not only thinks they know more than the average music buff, but more than anyone else, period. The stereotypical music fanatic feels self-important and even entitled to an unjustified sense of coolness by playing the anti-mainstream music game; declaring a particular favorite band or artist is better than whomever someone else is listening to because said artist is more obscure. Yet, these so-called music aficionados are the first to abandon their favorites upon the very first sign of even a miniscule amount of commercial triumph, because of some imaginary belief system based on tiresome and ridiculous self-imposed “rules,” which decree mainstream success is evil and taboo.

Now before you start thinking to yourself that I’m the pot calling the kettle black, understand my point is this: I don’t think my musical taste is superior or inferior to anyone else’s. But then again, I’m certainly not the type of musical hypocrite who will stop listening to a band or artist I’ve followed for years just because the mainstream masses eventually jump on the proverbial band wagon (pun intended). Also, I’ll readily admit I’ve had countless first-hand experiences of initially rejecting particular artists too hastily based upon bad first impressions, only to discover later I had prematurely misjudged or overlooked their significant musical contributions. [Read Full Feature]

Should Old Acquaintance Be Forgot

Sunflowers

It’s that time of year again when we find ourselves stretched between the realms of the past, present, and future. But before moving forward, it only seems fitting to consider those brilliantly talented souls we lost in 2015.

Sadly, the music world had to say goodbye to: country singer Lynn Anderson, British pop vocalist Cilla Black, soulful songstress Natalie Cole, gospel singer-songwriter-choir director Andraé Crouch, Grand Ole Opry icon Little Jimmy Dickens, Lesley “It’s My Party” Gore, Motörhead leader Lemmy Kilmister, legendary blues singer/guitarist B.B. King, prominent Nashville producer Billy Sherrill, soul legend Percy Sledge, and the inimitable frontman of Stone Temple Pilots and Velvet Revolver, Scott Weiland, just to name a few. They may be gone, but their momentous musical contributions will be eternal.

Although it’s painful to accept those who are no longer with us, a new year allows us to gleam into the future with great eagerness of what is yet to come. This year promises thrilling new releases from David Bowie (January 8), Panic! at the Disco (January 15), Elton John (February 5), Radiohead, The Cult, Green Day, Lady Gaga, Nine Inch Nails, Katy Perry, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Gwen Stefani, Rooney, and Lucinda Williams.

So here’s to a new year, new music, and making new memories in 2016.

Music Snobbery: A Self-Righteous Affliction

snob

We’ve all encountered them; music snobs. That person who thinks they know more than the average music buff. They feel entitled to an unjustified sense of coolness by playing the anti-mainstream music game of my favorite band or artist is better because mine is more obscure. Yet, these so-called music aficionados are the first to abandon their favorites upon the very first sign of even a miniscule amount of commercial triumph, because of some imaginary belief system based on tiresome and ridiculous self-imposed “rules,” which decree mainstream success is evil and taboo.

 

Everyone’s entitled to their own preferences, but if you consider yourself a music “expert,” then lose the teenage mentality of discounting entire genres due to your own ignorance of it. I’ve never let anyone else’s perceptions dictate what I like. I’ve never listened to anything simply because it fits into one category or another. In fact, the music I find to be the most rewarding has always found its way to me on its own accord, devoid of recommendation, hyped propaganda, or any degree of superficial coolness.