10 most criminally underrated Green Day songs
There’s a reason why Green Day are one of the most beloved alternative bands of all time. Their albums are filled with songs that explore topics many believe should not be discussed publicly. They cover anxiety, depression, interpersonal violence, and queerness in a way that makes their fans feel like people, rather than defective members of our society. But they’re not just a staunchly liberal punk band — they’re also a silly group of guys who name their songs after toilet companies and occasionally sing in ridiculously exaggerated Southern accents.
With all of the love Green Day have received over their 13 albums and 36 years as a band, there are bound to be some songs that slip through the cracks, doomed to never receive the same amount of widespread attention as tracks like “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” and “American Idiot.” To remedy this, we did a deep dive on the band’s first five albums to pull out some real hidden gems. Here are 10 criminally underrated Green Day Songs, in no particular order.
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“Going to Pasalacqua” – 39/Smooth (1990)
Armstrong’s ability to clearly articulate the complexities of anxiety and self-esteem in “Going to Pasalacqua” makes the track a standout — oh, yeah. And he was only 17 at the time, making the song even more impressive. But it’s not just the maturity in the lyricism that makes “Going to Pasalacqua” a hidden gem: The song served as a hint as to what Green Day would be capable of in their career, and Armstrong’s songwriting would only improve on subsequent releases.
“The Judge’s Daughter” – 39/Smooth (1990)
The chorus on “The Judge’s Daughter” is one of the best on all of 39/Smooth. Billie Joe Armstrong’s vocal stylings make it sound like a court case, with the singer on the stand attempting to explain his actions while an attorney cross examines his statements. The track also features Armstrong performing a surprisingly complex guitar solo that’s not typically seen in Green Day’s later recordings.
“Christie Rd.” – Kerplunk! (1991)
“Christie Rd.” embodies ‘90s teen angst perfectly. It ticks all the boxes: hanging out on top of your beat-up car next to your local train tracks, getting high and decompressing from the woes of being a teenager. Even if you weren’t lucky enough to be a teenager in the early ‘90s — or if you didn’t happen to have any train tracks nearby at the time — the themes of being bored, lonely, and misunderstood highlighted in “Christie Rd.” are arguably universal experiences for teenagers of all generations.
“Dominated Love Slave” – Kerplunk! (1991)
Following the release of 39/Smooth, Tré Cool joined Green Day to shake things up. The drummer switched places with Armstrong for “Dominated Love Slave,” taking over lead vocals and guitar. He held nothing back on this track, donning an exaggerated Southern accent to let fans in on his desire to be slapped and get a little “naughty.” While the song may not see the band at their best musically, it does see them at their most goofy — and that’s just as important.
“Burnout” – Dookie (1994)
Much like the previous track, “Burnout” dives into being an apathetic teenager struggling with their mental health. Armstrong sings, “I’ll live inside this mental cave/Throw my emotions in the grave.” As the opening track to Dookie, Green Day’s first major label release, the song effectively set the tone for the rest of the now-iconic album — but it tragically doesn’t get as much love as the record’s more popular tracks “Basket Case” and “When I Come Around.”
“Pulling Teeth” – Dookie (1994)
“Pulling Teeth” is one of the more serious songs on Dookie, with Armstrong discussing domestic violence. The lyrics, set over relaxed guitar riffs, depict an unhealthy relationship where a woman is physically and mentally abusing her boyfriend. They shed light on how men can be survivors of interpersonal violence — a fact that is often overlooked, especially so around the time when the record was released.
“Armatage Shanks” – Insomniac (1995)
This song is named after a British toilet company, which in itself would have warranted it a spot on this list. However, it keeps getting better from there. “Armatage Shanks” opens with an unforgettable drum solo before Armstrong arrives to share the good news he has perfected the “science of the idiot.” It’s a perfectly passive aggressive song about how the general public has branded him as a maladjusted, pessimistic loner.
“Panic Song” – Insomniac (1995)
The fevered bassline in the intro to “Panic Song” encapsulates the theme of the track perfectly: panic (which you probably could have guessed from the title). The hysteric, non-stop strumming that hits listeners right out of the gate is reminiscent of how someone’s heartbeat might feel during an anxiety attack. Plus, the fact the intro is a whopping two minutes of instrumentation slowly building in intensity can be pretty anxiety-inducing in itself.
“Platypus (I Hate You)” – Nimrod (1997)
Green Day peppered in so many profanities in “Platypus (I Hate You)” that the lyrics could not be included on the album’s inlay due to legal reasons. The instrumentation is just as aggressive, with a breakneck tempo that doesn’t let up for the duration of the track. As for the bizarre name, Armstrong reportedly thought simply naming it “I Hate You” was too boring, and always wanted to name a song “Platypus.”
“King for a Day” – Nimrod (1997)
A celebration of gender nonconformity, “King For A Day” is about a person who sneaks clothes from their mother’s closet when she’s away to be “king for a day, princess by dawn.” The lyrics see Armstrong take a refreshingly progressive stance in the punk scene of the time, as he sings, “Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.” The instrumentation is as playful as the lyrics, complete with a boisterous horn section.