Green Day: Too Much is Not Enough. Or is it?
My hypothesis on the real reason Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong smashed his guitar on stage at the iHeartRadio festival this weekend: He was preemptively trying to earn back some rock-and-roll cred after agreeing to appear on the Ellen DeGeneres Show this Thursday. Billie Joe is quoted as saying, “I’m not fucking Justin Bieber, you motherfucker!” before wrecking his Les Paul. If I ever get so worked up that I smash my guitar, I’ll probably say the same thing.
Ha ha. Green Day was going to perform live on Ellen, the least rocking show on TV since Midday Live with Bill Boggs in the late ‘70s. I guess the band’s members feel they are missing out on the stay-at-home, liberal-but-still-Christian mom/grandmom audience. I see a cross promotion with JCPenny in their future.
But that isn’t happening now that Billie Joe is headed to rehab, which is standard practice from a marketing standpoint these days, I guess. Perhaps Armstrong is under stress due the impending release of not one, not two, but three studio albums. That’s right, America’s premier arena-punk act has back-to-back-to-back albums coming out, starting with this Tuesday’s Uno, followed by Dos in November and Tre (yes, “Tre”) in January. The first single and video from Uno, “Oh Love,” has already racked up over three million views on YouTube, which I only mention as an excuse to include photos of tattooed cutey Kristen Leanne, who appears in the video.
Putting out three albums in five months is the just the kind of fun, nutty thing you get to do when you are a world-famous, megastar rock band. You’ve sold 70 million albums around the world. You’ve done international tours. You’ve won all the awards. You smash guitars because you’ve got 300 more just like it in your 10-car garage. Why not?
I’ll tell you why not. Because the albums won’t be good.
Or, at least, they won’t be as good as they could be. Not when you forget that less is usually more (unless we’re talking about oral sex or Godzilla movies). Remember the Use Your Illusion pendant albums from Guns ‘N Roses back in the ‘90s? The yellow and orange one was mediocre, and the blue one was plain, old dull. But if they’d chopped the weakest half of each album and combined the rest into one solid record, people wouldn’t say, “Man, Guns ‘N Roses was cool once. Then they put out that crappy double album and tarnished what could have been a good legacy. Now that I think about it, I wish Axel Rose had overdosed on heroin after Appetite for Destruction and died. That way he’d be a legend instead of some crank who devolved his own weird, creepy caricature. Now he’s a guy who makes people turn the channel in embarrassment whenever he does his bizarre sidestep routine and croaks into a microphone on some boring-shit VH1 awards show. Asshat.”
Come on, I’m not the only one who says that all the time. Right?
Plenty of revered double sets have graced music-store shelves over the years. Pink Floyd’s The Wall. The Beatles’ White Album. Psy’s Gangnam Style All-Nite Dance Party: Sexy Lady. I realize I am entering the accursed realm of rock-and-roll blasphemy and may be duly punished by the music gods for saying this, but, as legendary as those recording are, wouldn’t they be just a bit better as single albums?
Take the White Album for example. You really can’t live without the indulgent weirdness of Revolution 9? Would the listening experience be downgraded by the absence of Rocky Raccoon? Or Wild Honey Pie? Sometimes it’s better to run out of room for all the good songs than it is to have plenty of room leftover for so-so ones.
Technology is only making it worse. I hate to sound like an old guy here, but I’ve got this dichotomy going on: I love science and technology… for you. For me, I’m practically Amish. I didn’t think there was anything wrong with vinyl. CDs are fine, I’ve got a million of ‘em, but they fit too much music.
That’s right. 80 minutes is too long. 80 minutes lets bands think, “Wow, we can fit, like 28 songs on here. That means we don’t have to pick on the 8 or 9 good ones. We can also release those 18 fucking shitty ones too!” I once read that the Rolling Stones – or maybe it was Selena Gomez, I forget – would write 1000 songs but only pick the best 12 for the album. But now, with MP3 technology, they can record all 1000 of them! They can call it Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out… for the Next 6 Weeks.
We’ll know by January if Green Day managed to prove me wrong and pull off the unexpected feat of coming up with three albums full of worthwhile material. If they don’t, I’m going to take those three disks, smash them on my front steps in a rage, and shout, “I’m not fucking Justin Bieber, you motherfucker!”
You know, I almost hope those albums suck…