What happened to Green Day? They were once a likeable pop punk trio from Berkeley who happened to enjoy some major mainstream success. But over the last decade, the band has made a very public point of taking their good name and running it through a shitfactory of commercialism and over-indulgence, making just about every mistake an aging group of high-priced punks can make: They released concept albums. They recorded rock operas. They turned their albums into Broadway musicals. They made a Rock Band video game. They lent their songs to every fucking Disney movie, sports highlight reel, Vince Vaughn comedy, and Rhapsody commercial that needed a catchy guitar hook. They redefined their “look,” dressing like a cross between Avril Lavigne and hired goons in a Joel Schumacher Batman movie. And they committed the worst injustice of them all: They stole riffs from Dillinger Four. YOU DON’T STEAL RIFFS FROM DILLINGER FOUR.
But in 2012, Green Day elevated things to Andy Kaufman-levels of absurdity, making us question whether or not it was actually some ingenious joke at our expense. There was so much absurdity, in fact, that it’s hard to believe it all happened in one year. Let’s dissect it all chronologically, shall we?
February 14: It all started on Valentine’s Day, a holiday traditionally dedicated to cheap chocolate and gettin’ all kindsa bizz-ay. But while the world was collectively preparing to enter/be entered by our significant others, head Green Dayer, Billie Joe Armstrong, drops this boner-killer of a misspelled tweet on us all:
Happy Valantine’s day! Officially started recording the new record today. It’s FUCK TIME!!!!
The band then follows this announcement up with weeks and weeks of unending studio update videos, each more pointless than the last. Just what the world wanted: a behind-the-scenes look at middle-aged men applying eyeliner.
April 11: Almost two months to the day after Billie Joe’s aforementioned Valentine’s Day announcement, he follows up with this tweet:
Ok. Here’s the deal. We’re making a 3 album trilogy. Not 1. Not 2. But 3 albums. Called ¡UNO! ¡DOS! ¡TRE! Coming September November January
Wow. That’s a lot to absorb there, Billie. First off, what could you possibly have to say that takes three whole albums? Are you each recording 60-minute long apologies for the last decade? Ok, here’s the “deal”: You are not The Clash and this is not your Sandinista!.
And the titles…Uno, Dos… Tre? Huh? But that’s not how you spell “tres.” OH WAIT A MINUTE. That’s the name of the guy in the band! Whoo boy, you got us there! That clever wordplay is a joke that keeps on giving for at least 15 seconds and is definitely worth devoting three full length albums to!
July 16: Green Day premieres the video for “Oh Love,” the first song off their new albums. If the band hadn’t released 5,000 hours of studio footage proving otherwise, you’d swear Billie is making the lyrics up as he goes along. The video is essentially 5 straight minutes of sideboob, with a somewhat more NSFW version available on Playboy’s long-irrelevant website. That version features 3 boobs, 1 buttock (female), and a shot at 46 seconds in where it looks like Billie and Tre are totally gonna make out. That’s right, Green Day fans, this is what you’d been waiting three years for.
July 27: Billie Joe joins NBC’s “The Voice” as a “talent” consultant to Christina Aguilera’s team, instructing them on how to apply eyeliner or whatever.
August 17: Green Day bassist/sleeves unenthusiast, Mike Dirnt, mentions in an interview with MTV that the band would play 3,000 shows in support of the albums, suggesting that either a.) Mike Dirnt has no concept of time or numbers; b.) Mike Dirnt has a very odd sense of humor; or c.) Green Day is committed to touring non-stop into their 60’s. (The band would go on to play 14 shows in 2012 before canceling their fall tour, falling a mere 2,986 shows short of their goal.)
August 20: Rovio, creators of Angry Birds, announce that they have teamed up with Green Day to create a special edition of the game to promote the band’s upcoming albums, featuring pig characters based on the three band members. At this point, this kind of thing is par for the course.
September 4: Green Day releases this video for “Kill The DJ” and suddenly we wish we were the DJ.
September 6: Green Day performs at the VMAs and win an award for Best Lookout! Records Band To Perform With Chris Brown or something. But here’s when it hits us: Green Day is starting to resemble a group of elderly women. They are slowly becoming The Golden Girls before our very eyes.
September 21: The infamous iHeartRadio fiasco. Of all the Green Day antics of 2012, what happened at the iHeartRadio Festival takes the cake. And that’s saying something. Midway through playing “Basket Case,” Billie Joe apparently did not appreciate having his set cut short to make room for Usher’s performance. What followed was destined to become YouTube gold—the punk equivalent of Epic Beard Man or the Bed Intruder videos. When he was flashed the “1 minute” remaining sign, Billie had himself a 21st century breakdown, reminding the crowd that he’s been around since 1988 and that he’s not Justin Bieber, all while dropping an impressive 20 f-bombs over a 60-second period. It’s hard to choose a highlight in all of it but Mike Dirnt smashing his bass in dutiful solidarity at 1:37 is tough to beat. At first, Dirnt stood there in silence as Armstrong ranted, looking off into the distance with a facial expression similar to that of Keanu Reeves when he is trying to act concerned. When Billie Joe started to smash his guitar, Dirnt’s system seemed to come online with a look that says, “Oh, we’re doing this now?” and he proceeded to swing away as well.
October 30: Sure enough, Green Day releases this Twilight soundtrack video for “The Forgotten” which is one part Billie Joe piano ballad and 10 parts Kristen Stewart lip-biting her way through a wooded glen.
November 21: Green Day announce plans to pound their “Uno, Dos, Tre” gag a little farther into the ground with !Quatro!, a documentary “revealing what it was like to make those records.” Oh good, because between the three albums, the endless studio update clips, the music videos, and the relentless social media feeds, we really didn’t get a “feel” for the material.
And that brings us to today. What a year. But what does Green Day have in store for 2013? Here are a few guesses based on the past decade:
Green Day theme park: Ride the Boulevard of Broken Dreams to the park’s concession stand where you can trade in your regular dollars for Billie Joe Fun Bucks™!
Green Day concert on Mars: With special guests, the Black Eyed Peas!
Green Day hybrid car: The 2013 Toyota Prius Green Day edition gets 50 mpg (highway) and 60 on Christie Roads.
Green Day Times Square restaurant and souvenir store: Located adjacent to the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company, 21 Guns is the premiere Green Day destination store/family bar and grill. Have your picture taken with the St. Jimmy and Jesus of Suburbia mascots and purchase some designer Green Day merchandise. Thanks for coming! Hope you had the Time Of Your Life!