By Matthew Schlissel
¡Uno! isn't just the ninth studio album from veteran punk rockers Green Day, it's a mission statement: Green Day is here for the long haul. For starters, the group ensures that age has nothing to do with it. The band is as energetic, sharp, whimsical, carefree, and as reckless as ever. Second, the only way forward is to go back to your roots. While they have certainly expanded their sound over the years, mostly to fit huge auditoriums and broaden the scope of pop-punk, Green Day still digs from the deep well of Clash melodies and Ramones riffs to keep them going. Third, contrary to popular assumption, they haven't turned down their aggression. They have no intention of resting on their laurels. Green Day are one of the biggest punk bands of all time and not only do they not need to create a new album (They could probably tour on "Longview" forever) but they do not need to create an epic trilogy of pop punk madness. These are the youngest old men in rock right now, and Stereo IQ is more than excited to present the best lyrics from the first of what will be three highly ambitious albums.
10) "I wanna get inside of you / I wanna crack your cranium delirium / On the lower east side of your mind" -- Troublemaker
On the simplest, poppiest, hand-clapping song of the album, Bille Joe takes his shots at Hollywood's finest. Despite his fame, he's never been a celebrity -- he's forever a misfit. The play on words make the fact that Billie Joe sounds like he's cramming too many syllables into one mouthful, tolerable, and it reminds us of the fun, angsty, and ultimately, sick part of Green Day we all know and love.
9) "All the losers, can't even win for losing / And the beginners don't even know what song they're singing" -- Rusty James
Billie Joe creates a scene that not only references The Clash, but evokes a narrator similar to Joe Strummer. We get someone who is lost in the shuffle of change -- gangs disbanding, friends leaving -- as everything changes and he ends up in the middle of nowhere. What we do know is this song is also about growing up and feeling older. Our speaker is wise enough to know that a tune rich with youthful arrogance is a cocky song not worth singing.
8) "Gonna ride the world like a merry-go-round / Like a Ferris wheel, like it's breaking down / Drinking angels' piss, gonna crash and burn / I just want some action, so gimme my turn" -- Nuclear Family
Billie Joe is the Joker. Not only does he see the world ending, but he eggs it on, he wants it to come, he wants it to hit him. Like so many great Green Day songs, Billie Joe explores boredom, isolation, and above all, disconnect from the world around us. Here it's not sad though; he turns it into an ecstatic cry for more. If the world is going down the drain, he'll be smiling on the way down.
7) "A blink of an eye, barely scraping by / Dominated by passer-by's / Feeling out of luck, when the traffic's stuck / And you're feeling so left behind" -- Carpe Diem
If you made a drinking game out of all the cliches on a Green Day album, you'd by hammered by the third song. Luckily for us, Billie Joe knows this, and even acknowledges this. So then, "Carpe Diem" (already the title uses a phrase that's been beaten to death since Horace first came up with it a hundred billion years ago) gets by because of its unique songwriting. With this one stanza Billie Joe shows us that life is getting faster and in the blink of an eye, or an iPod, we can become submissive to it --"dominated by passer-bys". This is great showing instead of telling, which makes the last line, "you're feeling so left behind", great and extremely relatable, even if it is a bit of a cliche.
6) "We are the vultures, the dirtiest kind / They cut you once, In your heart and your mind" -- Kill The DJ
Billie Joe spends the entire song making his case for the depravity of DJ's. Since disco isn't really around anymore, and he mentions New York City, we're led to believe he's referring to the modern equivalent -- hipster music.The song is aggressive and explicitly violent but with these two lines he gets to the core of his hatred for, let's call them, "the others": They are musical "vultures" who create music to tear other people down, in order to validate themselves. Ironically he may be guilty of this as well, but he's the only one calling a spade a spade.
5) "Old days are fine but are left so far behind / From California to Jane Street / Kids alright, alright as they'll ever be" -- Sweet 16
Billie Joe is a nostalgic freak like no other. Here he knows he is older and the past is the past, but he remembers it fondly. For him, the love he had when he was 16 was better, purer, and rawer. Unlike most adults, he knows that no matter how dirty or mean or painful young love can be, the kids are alright. They are no worse off than the adults they will become.
4) "Won't you stay and count the circles 'round my eyes? / And we can watch the stars until the sun begins to rise" -- Stay The Night
Billie Joe is, and has always been, a romantic. He fights for teenage love like nobody's business. Here he writes an entire song dedicated to one man's plea for a girl to stay the night. He's tired of being alone. The song's entire message can be expressed in these lines, which act as the poetic core of the song. They are full of allusions to staying up all night with someone, playful images of them being tired, and romantic symbols that go beyond cliche and support the idea that there is nothing better than having someone you can watch the sunrise with.
3) "Talk myself out of feeling / Talk my way out of control / Talk myself out of falling in love / Falling in love with you" -- Oh Love
A lot of Green day songs are about uncertainty. Much of that ambivalence comes with being a teenager and even more of it comes with being a teenager in love. Here we have a song in which Billie Joe is standing away from it all, asking for it to come back. Actually, he shouting for it to come back. The problem is he is is own worst enemy, constantly second guessing himself, talking himself out of the good things in life, and always ending up back where he started -- standing far, far away, shouting for it all to come back.
2) "Like a Chinese drama and conspiracy / It's the death of a nuclear family, staring up at you / It's looking like another bad comedy / Just as long as it comes in hi-fidelity, for me too" -- Nuclear Family
Like the great puck rockers before him --Bob Dylan, Johnny Rotten-- Billie Joe sees everyone around him panicked over the end of the world and can't help but laugh. The absurdity is too much. In fact, he likens the whole thing to a Chinese drama, which may be obscure and unfamiliar, but certainly we can imagine a frantic, spectacular and totally absurd scene. What's more is that he mocks it by using the very thing that may bring down this sinking ship --modernity. The economy is crashing, families are being torn apart, and here he asks for the end of the world to come in high fidelity. While most freak out at the mere sight of the end of the world and the death of the traditional family model, here our fearless punk takes the piss out of it.
1) "I'm sick to death of your every last breath / And I don't give a f--k anyway (SHUT THE F--K UP!)" -- Let Yourself Go
Billie Joe has never been one for subtly. His teenage humor and his shortstop antagonism has always kept Green Day's spirit young. On "Let Yourself Go", he lets the music and spirit of their old Warped Tour days take them over and go straight for the simple mantra. The "sick to death of your every last breath" can almost be poetic, until it's brutally interrupted by a line that could've appeared on Dookie "I don't give a f--k anyway". While these two adjacent lines are great on their own, it is the faint scream of "shut the f--k up" in the background that steals the show. It may be the most inspired moment of the album.
Check out all the lyrics and explanations for Green Day's ¡UNO! on Stereo IQ:
Green Day - Angel Blue Lyrics
Green Day - Carpe Diem Lyrics
Green Day - Fell For You Lyrics
Green Day - Kill the DJ Lyrics
Green Day - Let Yourself Go Lyrics
Green Day - Loss Of Control Lyrics
Green Day - Nuclear Family Lyrics
Green Day - Oh Love Lyrics
Green Day - Rusty James Lyrics
Green Day - Stay The Night Lyrics
Green Day - Sweet 16 Lyrics
Green Day - Troublemaker Lyrics