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21st Century Breakdown (song)

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Title: 21st Century Breakdown (song)  
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Subject: Born on the Fourth of July, Working Class Hero, Green Day discography, 21st Century Breakdown, East Jesus Nowhere, 21st Century Breakdown World Tour
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

21st Century Breakdown (song)

"21st Century Breakdown"
21st Century Breakdown
Released December 21, 2009
Recorded 2008–2009 at Ocean Way Recording, Hollywood, California; Studio 880, Oakland, California; Jel Studios, Newport Beach, California; Costa Mesa Studios, Costa Mesa, California
Genre Pop punk, alternative rock
Length 5:09 (album)
4:41 (radio/video)
Label Reprise
Writer(s) Billie Joe Armstrong / Green Day
Producer Butch Vig, Green Day
Green Day singles chronology

"East Jesus Nowhere"
"21st Century Breakdown"
"Last of the American Girls"
Audio sample

"21st Century Breakdown" is a song by the American punk rock band Green Day from their album of the same name. Billie Joe Armstrong composed the song which is mainly based on his personal life and musical influences. The song was released as the fourth single from the album on December 21, 2009.

Background and composition

Much of the song was written about the personal life of its songwriter, Billie Joe Armstrong. According to David Fricke of Rolling Stone, its opening lyrics "Born into Nixon, I was raised in hell" refer to Armstrong's birth year of 1972, while "We are the class of '13" references his eldest son Joseph's high school graduation year of 2013.[1] Later in the song, lyrics begin to reference the song's musical influences. "Last one born / but first one to run" is an allusion to Bruce Springsteen's Born to Run.,[2] while "I never made it as a working class hero" is a clear reference to the John Lennon song, "Working Class Hero", which the band had previously released as a cover.[3]

The song's guitar usage is similar to that of The Edge.[4]

Release and reception

On September 10, 2009, Green Day's official site announced that the song would be the band's next single.[5] However, on September 25, Green Day instead said that "East Jesus Nowhere" would be released as the next single and offered a release date of October 19.[6] On October 21, the band again asserted that "21st Century Breakdown" would be released as a single and gave a release date of December 21.[7]

Reception to the song has been mainly positive. Spin thought that "21st Century Breakdown" was "Green Day's most epic song yet".[4] AbsolutePunk exclaimed that it "bursts forth with resilient aplomb".[2] Adam Downer of Sputnikmusic called the track "heavily indebted to The Who [and] Queen".[8]

Music video

The music video for "21st Century Breakdown" was directed by Marc Webb In September 2009.[5] It premiered on-air and online October 19, 2009 on MTV and a number of its subsidiary websites. It starts off with a wall with the spray-painted woman and man from the album art of 21st Century Breakdown. After they kiss the first chord strikes. The video is animated in graffiti. Then the graffiti version of Billie Joe Armstrong turns into the real Armstrong then everything is in real life.[9]

Track listing

All lyrics written by Billie Joe Armstrong, all music composed by Green Day.
No. Title Length
1. "21st Century Breakdown"   5:09
2. "Last of the American Girls" (live) 3:54
Total length:


Chart (2009) Peak
French Singles Chart 41[10]
Japan Hot 100 92[11]
German Singles Chart 71
Danish Singles Chart 3



External links

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