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Today on the MP3 Shuffle we say Happy Birthday to Billie Joe Armstrong, lead singer, guitar player and songwriter for California pop-punk band Green Day.
Formed in 1986, the band broke through to the big time in February 1994 with the massively successful album Dookie, a record that took full advantage of the new world Nirvana made safe for groups armed with loud guitars and 3-chord DIY attitudes. “Longview” and “When I Come Around” were essential ‘90s-era song staples, just as much at home on Top-40 radio as blasting through the earphones of skateboarders and sensitive loners.
Historically, if a pop-punk band sticks around long enough it will end up working mainly on one side of the street: Your No Doubt’s and Blink-182’s will go full-on commerical pop while your Buzcocks and Dead Milkmen continue to keep it real on the left end of the radio dial. Over the years, Green Day seems to have managed to have it both ways while inviting constant scrutiny as to whether they are/were a “real” punk outfit. These questions persist despite the fact that, for example, they were one of the few A-list rock bands of the 2000 decade to get explicitly political with their work and not apologize for doing it (2004’s rock opera American Idiot).
For now, judgements about Green Day’s place in rock history will have to wait, because the band is still going strong in its fourth decade. Help celebrate Billie Joe’s birthday by taking your MP3 player, pressing the “shuffle” button, and sharing the first 10 songs that you hear: