The only thing more unusual than Green Day declaring themselves God’s Favorite Band on their new greatest hits compilation is the path that took them to such a humorously lofty claim.
The East Bay, California trio–singer/guitarist Billie Joe Armstrong, bassist Mike Dirnt and drummer Tre Cool (replacing original drummer John Kiffmeyer in 1990)–were fixtures of the Berkeley DIY club 924 Gilman Street, performing and producing snotty punk releases on the independent Lookout Records at the beginning of the decade. Suddenly, in 1994, the trio burst onto the mainstream scene with Dookie, their first release for Reprise Records. Producer Rob Cavallo gave the tracks a pop-friendly sheen, but the attitude was still there–and in the maelstrom of post-grunge rock music, fans were quick to latch on. Dookie ultimately sold a staggering 10 million copies in America, spinning off the alternative rock chart-toppers “Longview,” “Basket Case” and “When I Come Around.” But the group’s three follow-up albums failed to capture the same spark despite Top 10 debuts on the Billboard 200 and rock radio staples like “Brain Stew,” “Warning” and “Minority” (plus the crossover acoustic ballad “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)”).
Then, in the mid-’00s, a second act began: after the alleged theft of the masters to a fifth Reprise album, the group hunkered down and recorded American Idiot, an ambitious concept album that reflected the country’s emotional scars following the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the subsequent, unpopular wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Released in the waning months of the 2004 presidential election, American Idiot became an out-of-nowhere success almost as big as Dookie, selling 14 million copies around the world and spinning off the hits “American Idiot,” “Holiday,” “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” and “Wake Me Up When September Ends” (the latter two reaching the Top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100, the band’s highest charting singles).
Follow-up album 21st Century Breakdown (2009) continued the themes of American Idiot, yielding two more pop hits in “Know Your Enemy” and “21 Guns”; the following year, songs from both albums were turned into a Broadway musical. While the group’s mainstream popularity was tested with a poor-selling set of albums in 2012 (¡Uno!, ¡Dos! and ¡Tre!) and Armstrong’s stint in rehab after a bizarre onstage meltdown, they regained momentum with a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction in 2015 and a subsequent chart-topping album, the punk-oriented Revolution Radio, the following year.
Greatest Hits: God’s Favorite Band, available November 17, tells that story across one CD or two LPs. (The band’s last compilation was 2001’s International Superhits!, released before the American Idiot years.) It’s the first Reprise-era set to include anything from the Lookout Records years (opening track “2000 Light Years Away,” from the 1991 album Kerplunk), and also features two new recordings: a version of Revolution Radio track “Ordinary World” with guest vocals from country singer Miranda Lambert, and the new song “Back in the USA.”
Pre-order links and the full track list are below.
Greatest Hits: God’s Favorite Band (Reprise, 2017)
- 2000 Light Years Away
- Welcome to Paradise
- Basket Case
- When I Come Around
- Brain Stew
- Hitchin’ a Ride
- Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)
- American Idiot
- Boulevard of Broken Dreams
- Wake Me Up When September Ends
- Know Your Enemy
- 21 Guns
- Oh Love
- Bang Bang
- Still Breathing
- Ordinary World (feat. Miranda Lambert)
- Back In The USA
Track 1 from Kerplunk (Lookout, 1991)
Tracks 2-6 from Dookie (Reprise, 1994)
Track 7 from Insomniac (Reprise, 1995)
Tracks 8-9 from Nimrod (Reprise, 1997)
Tracks 10-11 from Warning (Reprise, 2000)
Tracks 12-15 from American Idiot (Reprise, 2004)
Tracks 16-17 from 21st Century Breakdown (Reprise, 2009)
Track 18 from ¡Uno! (Reprise, 2012)
Tracks 19-20 and original version of Track 21 from Revolution Radio (Reprise, 2016)
Track 22 is a new track