All the Songs on Green Day’s ‘American Idiot,’ Ranked

Not too long ago, American Idiot ruled rock music. Green Day’s 2004 opus dominated on the charts and in the hearts of restless punks from coast to coast, selling an estimated 6 million albums in the U.S. It earned the band a pair of Grammy Awards, spawned a Broadway musical, and provided a politically-charged soundtrack for those who weren’t comfortable with staying silent in a post-9/11 America. 

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And, yes: American Idiot still hits home. The epic 13-song concept album sounds as urgent and immersive now as when listeners first peeled off the shrink-wrap of their new CD (back when CDs were a thing) a couple decades ago. 

But which American Idiot song rules hardest on an album that rules so hard? Read on for our ranking of every last track on the album. 

13.Extraordinary Girl”   

“Extraordinary Girl” would be a solid entry on most Green Day albums, but when compared to much of American Idiot? It can feel sonically and lyrically a step behind the album’s heavier-hitting entries. 

12.Are We the Waiting” 

Sandwiched between the fast-paced “St. Jimmy” and balladeering effort of “Boulevard of Broken Dreams,” “Are We the Waiting” feels like reaching halftime during an adrenaline-fueled football game. It’s a place for listeners to take a breather before strapping in for the rest of the ride. 

11.She’s a Rebel”  

A meat-and-potatoes pop rock song, this tight, two-minute tune still sticks with listeners like eating a tried-and-true comfort dish. 

10.Give Me Novacaine” 

On an album that demands a start-to-finish emotional investment, “Give Me Novacaine” plays like a reminder that sometimes it’s OK to feel nothing at all. In the start-and-stop chorus, frontman Billie Joe Armstrong sings: 

Give me a long kiss goodnight
And everything’ll be alright
Tell me that I won’t feel a thing
So give me Novacaine 

9.Boulevard of Broken Dreams” 

Out of all the American Idiot singles that stormed radio airwaves and award show voting booths, “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” built the strongest resume; it peaked at No. 2 on Billboard’s Hot 100 singles chart to clock in as the band’s highest-charting song to date. It dominated rock radio for months as well, holding strong at No. 1 for 14 weeks. In 2006, it earned the band a Grammy Award for Record of the Year. For us, it’s great but not the greatest…on this masterpiece album, at least. But it is certainly worthy of all those awards. The universal feeling of walking a lonely road keeps listeners flocking to this one. 

8.Wake Me Up When September Ends

These days, it’s hard not to see this tune as an autumnal meme, but when “Wake Me Up When September Ends” debuted, listeners gravitated toward it for how it tackled long-lingering grief and life’s unexpected coming-of-age moments. Peel back the online ribbing that heats up every September, and a memorable, powerful message remains. 


Wholly ambitious, unapologetically theatrical, and at times completely off-the-cuff, “Homecoming” still sounds unlike anything else Green Day released in their 35-plus years of four-chord punk-pop shenanigans. The second of American Idiot’s two nine-minute cuts, the marathon track swerves from harmony-layered guitar-pop hooks to old-school rock reprises and arena-sized sing-alongs. If nothing else, it proves why Broadway show-makers transformed a California-made rock album into a hit musical on the Great White Way. 


Of the American Idiot radio singles, “Holiday” was the most overshadowed. Driven and rambunctious, it toes a line between post-9/11 angst and political commentary—and still very much holds up today.

[RELATED: Behind the Meaning of Green Day’s Protest Song “American Idiot”]


On a release overflowing with familiar radio hits and anti-establishment anthems, why would a back-half album cut be ranked this high? Because “Letterbomb” rips, plain and simple. A self-destructive breakup song, Armstrong delivers a whip-sharp chorus—It’s not over ‘til you’re underground / It’s not over before it’s too late—while bassist Mike Dirnt and drummer Tré Cool lean fully into the song’s frantic energy. Bonus: Longtime Bikini Kill singer Kathleen Hanna provides backing vocals on this one. 

4.St. Jimmy” 

Years after it first challenged the decibel limit in car stereos, there’s still something liberating about rolling down the car windows, turning the speakers up to an obnoxious level, and howling “I’ll give you something to cry about!!” when Armstrong and company kick into the bridge of this snotty, snarling punk rock epic. Or, in the singer’s words: 

It’s comedy and tragedy 
It’s St. Jimmy, and that’s my name 
… and don’t wear it out 


After a marathon of loud, visceral songs, “American Idiot” ends not with a roar, but a whisper. Like a getaway driver peeking in the rearview mirror after narrowly escaping chaos, “Whatsername” ties this sprawling album together with a subtle grin and a touch of melancholy. And while it may be an under-appreciated song when compared to Green Day’s deep catalog of hits, it’s nonetheless one of the best from this era of the trio’s. 

2.American Idiot” 

A sonic gut-punch and lyrical call-to-arms, “American Idiot”—born at the height of George W. Bush’s presidential administration—still resonates with rule-breaking renegades who continue to be unsatisfied with the status quo. 

“We always wanted our music to be timeless,” Armstrong said in 2004. “Even the political stuff that we’re doing now. I would never think of ‘American Idiot’ as being about the Bush administration specifically. It’s about the confusion of where we’re at right now.” 

1. “Jesus of Suburbia” 

Inspired during the Idiot sessions by The Who’s “A Quick One, While He’s Away” and Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” the band wanted to deliver a mini modern-rock opera. The end result? “Jesus of Suburbia,” a nine-minute opus penned for mall punks, wayward stoners, and a generation of teenagers lost in a suburban wasteland. 

In 2021, Armstrong described his time writing the song as being “in uncharted territory, really for the first time. I’d taken my songwriting to another level.” 

With a few power chords and a line that’ll be repeated at Green Day concerts from now until the band’s final bow (“I’m the son of rage and love”), listeners can forevermore jump headfirst into this story of angst, self-destruction, and, in its own way, the search for redemption. 

Photo by David Pomponio/FilmMagic

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