• Pop Vicious

Green Day vs. Blink-182

written by: on June 10, 2011

Working in the film/tv/theater industry affords various advantages when talking about the entertainment business, on a whole. But for the most part, it gives a warped perspective on what actually matters—namely, when you work so close to theater, you get the distinct feeling that musicals still matter. In this world where Broadway is an equal to NBC or Warner Brothers, there is a force of nature that has gained steam, even in the face of its own identity as a complete farce: “American Idiot” on Broadway is cleaning up.

Parody videos by Ted Leo aside, Green Day’s magnum opus is believable as a Broadway musical, simply because its existence is exactly why anybody with moderately musical ears listens to Green Day, and why they remain a cultural force as the other pop-punk juggernaut lollygags their way into obscurity.

Green Day are dumb. Perhaps even more importantly, Blink-182 are dumb. Born out of the somewhat fruitful early ’90s punk scene, both trios took divergent paths to stardom that belie exactly who they are and what they say about who listens to them. Blink-182 picked up an incredible fill drummer and sold out, creating “All The Small Things.” Green Day achieved moderate success until the release of American Idiot, which catapulted them to “Biggest Band In the World” status. Blink-182 broke up after releasing the polarizing self-titled album. Green Day made what could be considered a carbon copy of American Idiot, then forgot about it when it flopped. For having remarkably different careers, the two are always, and rightly, compared to each other. Their histories are intertwined through a listener base that, like the bands themselves, seems the same from afar but markedly different up close.

The cipher to decode exactly why these two bands are different is, of course, the one record that doesn’t belong in either discography. Blink-182’s self-titled was the record that broke them up, yet it was also the record that saw the band growing up. Sure, they were still teenage lyricists (“Easy Target” and “Go” prove this), but for every high school turn of phrase, Blink-182 made a concerted effort to not do what they had done before. They were still three-chord down-strummers, but when faced with their own limitations, Blink-182 chose to strive to make something new of them. Blink-182 were reachers.

Green Day have never been reachers. They’re the same three chord down-strummers that Blink-182 are, but with the key difference that they’ve never wanted to be anything other than themselves. In a way, that’s commendable, but only until you realize the aforementioned fact that Green Day are dumb. They wrote a concept record about the Jesus of Suburbia. They’re skate-rat kids who are fine with being skate-rat kids, even if it means they sell their souls for a few extra hundred thousand dollars to singers who couldn’t get on “American Idol.”

In this age of marginalized fame, being a stupid kid and being proud of it is seen as something to laud (see Creator, Tyler The). Green Day, fortunately, get the same treatment. Blink-182 don’t because they’ve always been a publicly traded entity.

From “All the Small Things” on, Blink-182 have been a joke, the corporate Green Day. When they tried to mature, that was a desperate band having realized their own limitations—self-actualization, if it means maturity, is nothing to laud. Blink-182 have floundered in the face of unmitigated record delays, to the degree that their record release probably won’t chart very high, if it ever sees the light of day.

Definitively, Green Day sold out late enough in their career when it was cool to sell out, and sell high. Green Day have become a cosmic tongue-in-cheek. Blink-182, to most, are just a straight up joke. Like all reachers, their sincerity is treated as a joke to any who aren’t reachers themselves. Green Day are the easy joke to make, because it’s exclusive, even if that exclusivity is limited to everybody not in an “American Idiot: The Musical” seat right now. It’s easy for you to joke about Blink-182, but at least they’re trying. If you’re content with not trying, I welcome you to sit down in a padded red chair and listen to “St. Jimmy,” as performed by a multitude of mildly good dancers. But if, like me, you want to discover what it’s like for a bunch of kids to be more than themselves, then listen to Blink-182 one more time. That’s where you’ll find me—at least until they make Take Off Your Pants And Jacket On Ice.