Thursday, July 21, 2011

Top 10 Green Day B-sides.

Had I been the one Mitch Clem asked to cover for him, I would have made the exact same comic.
The original strip can be found here:

Green Day is one of my favorite bands. Just in case I haven't made myself clear, I'll repeat: It is 2011 in the post-American Idiot and 21st Century Breakdown era, and Green Day is one of my favorite bands.

Now that we have that settled, I'll be first to admit that while I've been listening to Green Day for a good ten years or so, my collection of their music is fairly limited to songs that can be found on commercial releases and the b-sides from their two most recent studio albums. A good number of any other non-album tracks they have are generally a live fan recording or a collaboration with U2 and generate no interest for me. However, I still have a decent number of their b-sides or non-album tracks and I have compiled a list of my ten favorites. It should be noted that a few of these appear on Shenanigans, but that's a compilation album of a bunch of their b-sides and none of the tracks make an appearance on a proper studio album, which was my only real criteria when making this list.

10. Governator
From: The American Idiot CD Single, 2004

This song, pulled from the American Idiot sessions, actually sounds very similar to what the Network's album (Money Money 2020) sounds like. Mike Dirnt even handles the lead vocals (he and Billie Joe have very similar singing voices) just like a good number of songs by the Network. The song takes a break from the American Idiot story and is very obviously about (at least a fictional version of) the Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger. From the song's title to the repeated line "I'll be back" in the chorus, it's one of the actual political songs written during Green Day's "political" album.

09. Like a Rolling Stone
From: 21st Century Breakdown, 2009

It's a Bob Dylan cover only available as a bonus track from the iTunes edition of the album. Imagine Billie Joe singing the original version and you've got a good idea of what it sounds like. It's nothing super special; I just really like the song.

08. Espionage
From: Hitchin' a Ride CD Single, 1997; Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me OST, 1999; Shenanigans, 2002

A very simple, but cool spy-themed instrumental from the nimrod-era. I guess since it's an instrumental I don't have a whole lot to say about it, but it shows off a bit of surfier side to Green Day- something that doesn't pop up much elsewhere (save for their other instrumental, Last Ride In, from the same time period).

07. Lights Out
From: Know Your Enemy CD Single, 2009.

This one might be controversial to include. It reminds me a lot of a Warning-era song, dressed up in some distortion. No, really. Listen to the chorus of Fashion Victim and then the chorus of Lights Out and try to tell me that they aren't even the slightest bit similar. Given that 21st Century Breakdown was 18 tracks long, I don't know why this one wasn't put on the album in another song's place. This one is a solid tune and it gets buried from the general public. It's a damn shame.

06. The Ballad of Wilhelm Fink 
From: Short Music for Short People, 1999.

A short song. Acoustic. It's good.

05. Don't Want to Know If You Are Lonely
From: Warning CD Single, 2000.

In the Nothing Nice 2 Say strip that I put at the top of this comic, Zach Miller writes that Green Day did the best Ramones cover when they covered Outsider. Now, I think Outsider is a fine cover, but I find that this Hüsker Dü cover is much better, if only because I find that Don't Want to Know If You Are Lonely is a better song than Outsider. It doesn't do much to change the original, but why mess with perfection? 

04. Scumbag
From: Warning CD Single, 2000; Shenanigans, 2002.

Here's a little secret: I think Mike Dirnt writes some of the band's best songs. Unfortunately, he doesn't write too many. It's obvious why this song didn't wind up on Warning: the lyrics are far too pessimistic and the music is much too distorted. Imagine, if you will, that Insomniac's songs were a little poppier and then this song would've fit right at home.

03. Shoplifter
From: American Idiot CD Single, 2004; Shoplifter iTunes Digital Single, 2004

I got this one as a free download for buying my copy of American Idiot at Best Buy. In terms of story continuity, it could be about Whatsername before she ended up on the streets where she met Jesus of Suburbia/St. Jimmy. It's a fun song about a girl who (surprise, surprise) shoplifts and gets caught. I know that I've heard another song that sounds just like it before, but I just can't remember what that other song is right now.

02. Do Da Da
From: Brain Stew/Jaded CD Single, 1996; Shenanigans, 2002.

This one has an interesting story to it. If you listen to the song, you'll probably pick up on the fact that the chorus repeats the line "well, now you're stuck with me" a few times. You also might notice that this song was released on the Brain Stew/Jaded single, which comes off of 1995's Insomniac. Lastly, you'll probably think to yourself "Hey, didn't Insomniac have a song with the title Stuck With Me in which the lyrics never say the words 'stuck with me'?"  That's because this song was originally given the titled Stuck With Me and the band toyed with the idea of putting it on Insomniac. After they decided against it (I'm assuming because musically the song is much more upbeat than the rest of the album), it was too late and the cover sleeves for the album had already been submitted. So the band just decided to stick their as-of-then-untitled song onto the album, which became the Stuck With Me everyone knows while the original was re-titled to the oddly childish Do Da Da.

01. Ha Ha You're Dead
From: Shenanigans, 2002.

I'm not sure if this one counts because it is only available on the b-sides collection and nowhere else. Either way, this is a great song. Very hateful, but that's one of the things Green Day does best.

I told you Mike Dirnt pens some of their best songs.

XX. Paper Lanterns/2000 Light Years Away
From: Awesome As Fuck, 2011.

Their new live album features them playing a bunch of songs from throughout their career, unlike Bullet in a Bible which was mostly American Idiot songs. One of the iTunes bonus tracks is a live cut in which they play Paper Lanterns (originally from 1,039/Smoothed Out Slappy Hours) and 2000 Light Years Away (from Kerplunk). I love both of these songs and I do think it's cool that Green Day still plays them live. These aren't really b-sides... just live versions of songs from the band's studio albums, so I didn't include this on the main list. I just wanted to include it somehow so here it is.

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