The Offspring - Americana (Cover Artwork)

The Offspring

Americana (1998)


Wow, 1998. I'm not as punk as you, because I discovered punk music on November 10th, 1998. That day, of course, is when The Offspring released "Americana". Before that, I enjoyed listening to the somewhat slow and bland alternative mix of bands, with the occasional rap/rock crap that was played on the local radio stations. The first single to Americana, as everybody knowns, was "Pretty Fly (for a White Guy)", and I fell in love with it. The song itself was actually very intelligent and funny... but little did I know a huge resistance was being formed from the punk rock crowd, spouting the term "sell-out" whenever anyone mentioned the band. Hell, I didn't know anything about the scene, really. Their second single, "Why Don't You Get a Job" was equally poppy... and kind of funny but not really. Still, it was enough for me to buy their album.

This is the day, for me, I become a punk. The second I put it into my $50 sony cd discman, I was amazed. Every song on the album was good, which is something I'd never expirienced in the mainstream music scene before (seriously, buy ANY album that's recently been released -- and chances are the non-singles will suck). However, listening to this album changed me for ever. Soon enough, I'd skip tracks #4, #7, and #11 each time. Those songs were: Pretty Fly for a White Guy, She's Got Issues, and Why Don't You Get a Job... which were 3 of the 4 singles released by the offspring from the album. They were all poppy little bubble-gum tracks thats main objective were to attract the preppy crowd into buying their CD. It worked.

Suddenly I was in love with their punker songs on there, and I couldn't get enough of them. I then bought their older CD's, and soon enough this album (after about 4 months of listening to it daily, and I'm seriously not exaggerating) stopped going into the CD player. Albums like Ixnay on the Hombre, Smash, Ignition and self/titled were taking their turns. I bought each album in reverse chronilogical order, and each time I thought "this is the best album I've ever heard". Each time, I started to dislike the songs that were huge radio hits (with the exception of Smash's "Come out and Play" and "Self-Esteem" because those were just really fucking good songs, not like Americana's singles which had the sole purpose of getting airplay). These guys are, sadly, the most underrated punk band in the world because they made the mistake of trying to sell albums to the mass. For those of you who assumed Americana sucked after hearing the three "radio airplay" singles, as I call them, let me give you a mini review of each song.

1. (Voice Track) 2. Have You Ever - Possibly one of the best songs they've ever made, and a great choice to be a first track. How anyone could listen to this song and not love it is a mystery. Very well written, exploiting all that teen angst (or middle aged angst, depending on the listener) you might have.
3. Staring at the Sun - Another good punk song. By this time, I started to think "maybe these guys aren't just another pop band".
4. Pretty Fly (For a White Guy) - Well, what can I say? It's what got me into punk music, which is fucking ironic. I hate this song with a passion, because its the reason so many people consider the offspring a horrible band. Closed minded people suck? Oh well. The song itself is a great pop song, by the way.
5. The Kids Aren't Alright - This was also released as a single, but it's one of their best songs on the album. It didn't get as much radio airplay because it wasn't a pop song, funny huh? Definately one of the best on the album.
6. Feelings - This was a cover of a real bad song that was made in the 70's. Good quality punk.
7. She's Got Issues - By the time this was released, I was already into the punker side of Offspring and turned the radio off whenever it came on. Another example of a good pop song, but it really killed the Offspring's reputation. Three pop singles from one album is enough to ruin any punk bands reputation for a long time.
8. Walla Walla - Decent song. Too fast to be a single, although it does get old kinda fast.
9. The End of the Line - Incredible fucking song. Sad as hell, beautifully written. This reminds me of Dexter's incredible writing (especially in his older albums) - he's one of the best songwriters in all of punk music. Very distinct style. But back to this song, it's one of the best on the album.
10. No Brakes - Another great song, very fast and very hard.
11. Why Don't You Get a Job - Skip. This. Crap.
12. Americana - Very dark and well written song, not really as punk as some of their other stuff but it is VERY VERY good.
13. Pay the Man - Weird song. Long. Kinda slow, kinda metal-ish. You need to hear the song to know it. I personally like it, although it's not something you'd expect to hear from them. I liked it.

So there you have it. 10 good/great songs, 3 poppy songs that most punks hate. You'd expect a higher score than a 3, wouldn't you? Yeah. But it gets a 3. If you were a fan of the Offspring before they released this album, you'd probabaly know why. It is a great album if you get rid of those 3 songs -- it's quite a shame. The Offspring as a band get a 10 in my book, they are brilliant song writers and Dexter has one of the best punk voices I've ever heard. This was the first and last band I ever called a sell-out, because they really did change their style to get radio airplay... but they didn't completely do it. They only changed their singles... which pisses me off, but it did get me into punk music, which has made my life change completely. I guess that their singles, crappy as they may be, did serve a purpose that wasn't all bad.