Green Day is back after four years with their new album, Saviors. The band went back into the studio with long-time, legendary producer Rob Cavallo to release one of the biggest albums of the year - not just in the punk scene, but within the music arena in general. To coincide with the release of Green Day’s fourteenth(!) studio album, the Punknews crew dug through the band’s discography to find what they deem to be Green Day’s most underrated tunes.
The only rule for a song to make the list: a music video couldn’t have been shot for it.
Think we missed one? Post your favorite, underrated Green Day song in the comments below!
“Whatsername” serves as the final chapter of the story within American Idiot. The protagonist, Jesus Of Suburbia is now older, working a desk job, and reminiscing about his adventure(s) with St. Jimmy, but he can’t remember the name of his love interest. Between the lyrics, massive gang vocals that belt out the anthemic choruses, and screaming guitar octaves, “Whatsername” punches you right in the gut with nostalgia, relatability, and closure of the journey that you just took, that is American Idiot. -Ricky Frankel
Green Day’s storytelling prowess and skillful musicianship are on full display on “Misery”, making it one of the most experimental and affecting songs in their entire catalog. The band makes expert use of acoustic guitar, accordion, horns, and a Farfisa organ as they blend mariachi and polka together to create an unsettling atmosphere that grows more ominous by the second. Billie Joe Armstrong’s voice alternates between sorrowful and snarling (especially on the line “Hellhounds on your trail now once again, boy”) as he tells the tragic tales of Virginia, Mr. Whirly, Vinnie, and Gina. It is impossible not to get goosebumps whenever you hear “Misery” and the song’s message of “It’s not what you make, it’s what you leave” is sure to stay with you long after the final note rings out. -Em Moore
Since the release of Insomniac in 1995, the song “86” has remained my favorite from the album. Most know this simple yet powerful song tells of the band’s explosion from their former home 924 Gilman Street, following signing to a major label. Musically, this song is the most akin to their Lookout Records era material which seems fitting. The band knew at this point that the past was behind them. This song has rarely been performed live. The ban on the band was lifted in 2015 when Green Day performed at Gilman for an AK Press benefit show. In closing I chose this song because I feel it showcases the band embracing their change in identity as they were becoming an International sensation, which is more than well deserved. -Jason Baygood
“The Judge’s Daughter”
I was 10 when Dookie came out. I fell hard and fast for that record like so many others. My dad owned a record shop at the time, so I bought up a load of old, cost-price Green Day records as soon as I could save enough pocket money (UK term for ‘allowance’). While ripping through the plethora of songs now available to me, “The Judge’s Daughter” was the one that stopped me in my tracks. From the unfussy cymbal splash that opens it, the lyrics about a girl not knowing you exist, to the propulsively simple chord progression, it exudes youthful naivety. But that youth also brings a whole shit-ton of energy, angst and abandon. To cap it all off, it has one of the most absurd solos to ever grace a Green Day song. All of this viewed against the backdrop of the commercial behemoth that was Dookie was almost too much to handle for a feverishly excited 10-year old was almost too much to handle. I still remember it being the first time I understood how a bunch of kids in a garage turns into the biggest band in the world. It’s magnificent and it means a hell of a lot to me. -Sam Houlden
Have you ever been in a situation where someone keeps pushing your buttons? Green Day sure have and they let the person who did the pushing know exactly what they’re thinking about on “Take Back”. Sandwiched in between “Reject” and “King For A Day” on Nimrod, “Take Back” rips by in a rage-filled blink-and-you’ll-miss-it one minute and nine seconds. Boasting fast, aggressive hardcore punk instrumentation and incredible guttural screams, it is one of Green Day’s most cathartic songs to listen to and scream along with. Not to mention it has some of the best lines including the classic, “You better grow some eyes on the back of your head / I fight dirty, just like your looks”. Capping off the frenzied anger of the song, it ends with a scream of “Shit!” (which is frustration incarnate) before ending in a blaze of distortion.“Take Back” not only shows Green Day at their most punk, it is also a reminder not to piss them off. - Em Moore
A B-Side from the Nimrod recording sessions, “Suffocate” is the lead track of Green Day’s second compilation record, Shenanigans. And while the collection is a treasure trove of songs that die-hard fans love to dig into, it is largely ignored by the band when it comes to their setlists. I don’t expect Green Day to ever play tracks like “Espionage” or "Ha Ha You're Dead" live, but “Suffocate” is 90s Green Day at their best. It’s super catchy and aggressive in all of the right places. It would have fit perfectly on Nimrod. -Ricky Frankel
“Restless Heart Syndrome”
Green Day have perfected the art of transporting the listener and nowhere is that more apparent than on “Restless Heart Syndrome”. Delicate, desperate piano opens the track before strings, guitars, and drums sweep in to complete the haunting atmosphere that makes you feel like you are wandering around inside the mist of someone’s mind. The lyrics explore the impacts of pharmaceutical dependency and have a vulnerable confessional quality to them which is heightened by Billie Joe Armstrong’s softer vocal delivery. He makes use of a higher register and hits higher notes than on the rest of 21st Century Breakdown, adding to the affecting nature of the song. His voice gets deeper as the song goes on, notably on the growly final repetition of “You are your own worst enemy”. The instrumentation also gets heavier during the song, moving into more guitar-driven territory following the excellent breakdown that follows the line, “Know your enemy”. “Restless Heart Syndrome” is a beautifully crafted song. - Em Moore
“2,000 Light Years Away”
Well, fine, technically a music video was made for this… but that was decades after it was released. “2,000 Light Years Away” is one of the few Green Day/Jesse Michaels collaborations. If you listen closely, you can hear the germination of Common Rider which would come a decade or so later- JM talking about romantic connections even though, as described in the recent Common Rider reissue, such a feeling was alien to him personally. The song works off a wonderfully circular refrain while the the tune bounces along, daring to be one of the early punk songs that wasn’t about cops or riots- it was about missing a girl. That’s common place now, but then, it was pretty daring, showing just how much of an influence Green Day has had on punk and music as a whole. -John Gentile
“Best Thing in Town”
You can’t talk about Green Day without mentioning their indomitable energy. It is present in everything they do and can be felt especially strongly on “Best Thing in Town”. A sense of barely contained chaos permeates the song as the band captures the mind-bending weirdness of falling in love in two minutes of frenetic punk rock. Every time I listen to this song, I feel like my atoms have been electrified and if I don’t move, I will explode. “Best Thing in Town” more than lives up to its name and once you start listening to it, you won’t want to stop. - Em Moore