Green Day Release Snappy New Single “Bang Bang”
Punk rock veteran band Green Day have released the first single, titled “Bang Bang”, from their twelfth studio album Revolution Radio. Set for release on October 7th, 2016, Revolution Radio is a record that the music world has anticipated for quite some time now. In 2012, Green Day released a trilogy of albums titled ¡Uno!, ¡Dos!, and ¡Tré! that received positive reviews from critics but mixed reviews from fans. Green Day shined in their major label debut Dookie (1994) and in their rock opera American Idiot (2004), but many fans would tell you that the band haven’t shown nearly as much consistency or innovation since then. I tend to agree with those fans. Although I like the trilogy, I feel that the albums are rather inconsistent and somewhat uninspired. With “Bang Bang”, Green Day seem to want to continue the political protest shtick that they adopted on American Idiot. Is that a yay or a nay?
“Bang Bang” opens with radio static and the voice of a female newscaster who says “It’s definitely not the first video to surface of an execution” before it transitions into the instrumentation; alongside the additional radio static and newscaster snippets, it sounds flat and stifled. That sound appears to be a purposeful choice, however, as the guitars and drums suddenly burst into life twenty seconds into the track. The guitars are loud, fast, and aggressive—the signature adjectives that describe punk rock.
Frontman Billie Joe Armstrong enters with his distinctive punk vocals, and there’s not much to say about them (but not in a bad way). The chorus is pretty catchy, but not at first—it took me a few listens to warm up to it. “Bang bang! Give me fame!” and “You’re dead! I’m well fed!” shortly followed by “Ahhhh-ahhh” both stand out to me, but not much else. However, in the second chorus, the drums pound with added intensity and force toward the end, and that sounds especially great. Likewise, the verses are immensely melodic and ridden with punk rock guitar power, a characteristic Green Day combination that I’ve always loved. (The verses are also pretty short, but personally I don’t mind that.)
The bridge takes a different turn—the guitar fades into the background in the second half, the drums command a slower beat, and the vocals lead the change in key. It gives the track a darker and more unusual vibe, one that I’m not completely sold on. However, the powerful drums at the end are absolutely fantastic and exactly what I want to hear from Green Day. The track closes with a return to the melodic chorus, filled with catchy “Bang bang!”s and forceful guitar-driven hooks. Armstrong closes on a note that sounds like a hesitation, as if there’s more to the track, but instead it just ends right there.
Even after more than thirty listens, I still don’t completely know how I feel about “Bang Bang”. On one hand, I’m a fan of the return to the classic Green Day sound, the sound that they do best, but on the other hand, I’m tired of this political protest narrative that the band seem to want to maintain. It felt fresh and creative on American Idiot, but now it feels tedious and worn out. Armstrong has stated that “Bang Bang” is “about the culture of mass shooting that happens in America mixed with narcissistic social media” and if that’s the case, I can only imagine what the rest of Revolution Radio is about—and not in a good way.
Have you listened to “Bang Bang” yet? Watch the lyric video for the track on YouTube below. If it gets you curious for Revolution Radio, keep an eye out for the record come October 7th.