21st Century Breakdown

  • Record Label: Reprise
  • Release Date: May 15, 2009
User Score
8.0

Generally favorable reviews- based on 332 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 31 out of 332

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  1. Feb 10, 2011
    9
    Following American Idiot, Green Day have done it again with another brilliant album and story accompanied. But unlike American Idiot it is not as good. With American Idiot each song had its own specific style and personality where as with Breakdown several of the songs have the same style even to the point of sounding similar.

    Not as good as American Idiot but brilliant none the less!
  2. Sep 10, 2011
    8
    Green Day's songs are now at the point where they are all beginning to sound quite similar in almost every possible way. At least these are enjoyable, intense pieces from another great concept album.
  3. Nov 10, 2011
    8
    Greenday's "21st Century Breakdown" is unpredictable and epic in every sense. The songs are good and has a smell of rock. Overall a great package, but "American Idiot" was better.
  4. May 1, 2016
    7
    Is not a punk album, but it's still catchy, 21st Century Breakdown would probably be the laziest album of the band, arenas will be a bit disappointed, but some tracks will return the powerful crowd as Bullet In a Bible or as the breakout Dookie
  5. Aug 5, 2016
    9
    I must say, in terms of sound quality and consistency, that this is one of the finest rock albums ever produced, as well as another Green Day masterpiece on par with American Idiot.

    The sonic tone, with the ever-familiar aftertaste of ardent punk, manages a successful splice with stadium rock that allows for both fun, catchy songs ("Horseshoes and Handgrenades", "Know Your Enemy"), as
    I must say, in terms of sound quality and consistency, that this is one of the finest rock albums ever produced, as well as another Green Day masterpiece on par with American Idiot.

    The sonic tone, with the ever-familiar aftertaste of ardent punk, manages a successful splice with stadium rock that allows for both fun, catchy songs ("Horseshoes and Handgrenades", "Know Your Enemy"), as well as more grandiose tunes that soar to heroic heights ("21 Guns", "Last of the American Girls") and tug on the heartstrings of the listener, as well as a few tracks that bring out the best of both worlds ("East Jesus Nowhere", "21st Century Breakdown"). The band has never sounded as good as they have on this album, not even on American Idiot in which they were still experimenting with their shift into rock opera territory and still had an overwhelming punk flavor. For some reason I skipped over this album and went straight to the Uno/Dos/Tre trilogy after finishing American Idiot, and the clean, clipped sound of the guitar on those albums just didn't do it for me. But where those albums failed, Breakdown exponentially succeeds as a perfect blend of sugar, spice, and everything nice.

    The themes and story of the album have received some criticism, and while I agree that the storyline isn't as focused as Idiot's, it doesn't need to be--rather, it functions more like a collection of short stories than a novel. Christian and Gloria function as the primary characters, but rather than having their tales told in a linear manner, the album's scattershot presentation of them is perfectly reflective of the album's main theme--the collapse of American (and truly, world) culture during the modern age. External forces such as religion and politics are attacked with force and vigor alongside internal ones such as a growing sense of insecurity and alienation, the feeling that the lives of individuals don't carry as much weight as they did even twenty years ago.

    The juxtaposition between Christian and Gloria is one of the most interesting things the album has going for it, in my opinion--Christian, struggling to be good for Gloria while still battling with his own demons, and Gloria, who is placed upon a pedestal as an example to and a light for the masses scrambling in the dark for answers and purpose--and the characters are highly self-reflective of frontman Billie Joe Armstrong and his wife Adrienne. Armstrong's battles with substance abuse are well-known in the music community, while Adrienne is his rock, the visual representation of the ideals which he believes are the best humanity has to offer (self-admittedly, "Last of the American Girls" was written with Adrienne in mind), and he dramatizes and romanticizes the struggles they endure every day in order to create a lasting, rallying battle cry for the people of the US, and the world.

    In closing, 21st Century Breakdown is quite deserving of its Grammy Award for Best Rock Album, as it succeeds as a fun, thoughtful yet easily accessible album that offers something for rockers everywhere, on top of spreading a pretty poignant message about the dissolution of society in our day and age. 9/10
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  6. Jul 29, 2011
    10
    Waaayyyy better than American Idiot! The songs all have a very different sound to them (aside from 21st Century Breakdown and See the Light, obviously); it feels like every song on here should be a hit single. The solos come in at a perfect time, and the lyrics are genius, although it feels like the album's subject of war and paranoia is a bit less relatable than the subjects ofWaaayyyy better than American Idiot! The songs all have a very different sound to them (aside from 21st Century Breakdown and See the Light, obviously); it feels like every song on here should be a hit single. The solos come in at a perfect time, and the lyrics are genius, although it feels like the album's subject of war and paranoia is a bit less relatable than the subjects of loneliness and boredom in Dookie. That one's still my favorite Green Day album, but, needless to say, this one's pretty dang good, too, just in different ways. Expand
  7. Feb 1, 2011
    10
    This album is amazing! I feel its better than American Idiot in every-way. Don't understand all the mixed reviews. Its like they took what they did on American Idiot and made this album even bigger. The songs flow together perfectly and its such an epic feel on every song! My favorite album of 2009!
  8. May 12, 2011
    9
    its awesome and touching and full of hate. green day creates a story so powerful it makes me wanna rebel against drinking coke and loving america. green day was killing this album. i love this album. the lyrics were great. i hate America just like they do.
  9. Jun 22, 2011
    10
    Not only is every song good, but they made a whopping 18 of them. Rarely do albums have this many songs, and definately not as good as these. Green day really took their time with this album, but once you hear it, u will see why
  10. Apr 9, 2012
    8
    Better and more songs than American Idiot, but it doesn't have any of the great plot elements of American Idiot, and feels sort of bland. Overall it's an OK album, but after the masterpiece of American Idiot, this really is a bit of a disappointment. It lacks the energy and political commentary of American Idiot, but I would still recommend it if you are a Green Day fan.
  11. DarrylC
    Oct 20, 2009
    10
    Simply a great album. You can listen to this album over and over and not get tired of it. I would rate this album superior to American Idiot only because every track is superb. They are able to vary their sound and see be Greenday. Richer melodic material and deeper tonal texture woven together to form a satisfying epic album. Viva La Green Day!
  12. DaveR
    May 18, 2009
    10
    Amazing. Absolutely amazing. It's such a fun album to listen to, so epic. The powerful guitar riffs just make you want to jump in the air in excitement everytime you listen. Good job Green Day, you've outdone yourselves this time.
  13. AllenD
    May 28, 2009
    8
    I have read numerous reviews, some rating this album as a masterpiece, others as mediocre and others as absolutely terrible. I could write an essay about why those who think this is anything less than a good album are delusional, but I'd prefer to listen to the album again so I'll be brief. Regardless of what you think of the narrative concept or the lyrics, this alum sounds I have read numerous reviews, some rating this album as a masterpiece, others as mediocre and others as absolutely terrible. I could write an essay about why those who think this is anything less than a good album are delusional, but I'd prefer to listen to the album again so I'll be brief. Regardless of what you think of the narrative concept or the lyrics, this alum sounds amazing. The riffs are bouncy and heavy the melodies are catchy and Billie Joe's voice sounds as good as ever. Quite simply, this album rocks. Expand
  14. LeeK
    Jun 2, 2009
    10
    In my opinion, this album is among the best that this legendary band has ever recorded. Instead of going back to their roots to create an easy fan pleaser after the great success of AI, Green Day took a massive step forward and made one of the deepest and most satisfying albums ever. There is not a single track on the CD that I could pick out as being a 'filler', they are all In my opinion, this album is among the best that this legendary band has ever recorded. Instead of going back to their roots to create an easy fan pleaser after the great success of AI, Green Day took a massive step forward and made one of the deepest and most satisfying albums ever. There is not a single track on the CD that I could pick out as being a 'filler', they are all masterpieces. And for those fans who say it is terrible because it is not like their old music, it isn't that they have lost the talent to create another purely punk record, they just don't want to. They had the desire to show their full talent and potential and this album is it. Expand
  15. AnonyMous
    Jun 24, 2009
    9
    You know, it's not perfect. Some of it seems a little too familiar. Some of it's redundant. The concept is sometimes lost in the excitement and it's a little too long. But I can say, without reservations, that it's the most musically diverse and interesting album Green Day has ever made. The music is generally terrific and relevant, and practically every song here You know, it's not perfect. Some of it seems a little too familiar. Some of it's redundant. The concept is sometimes lost in the excitement and it's a little too long. But I can say, without reservations, that it's the most musically diverse and interesting album Green Day has ever made. The music is generally terrific and relevant, and practically every song here could be an individual success. Green Day hasn't just made a great collection of songs--they've made a great album. Sensational. Expand
  16. NathanG
    Jul 10, 2009
    10
    I really like Green Day's older stuff. 21st Century, like American Idiot, is simply better than the older stuff. But it is certainly not American Idiot 2. It is actually quite different. Green Day just keeps getting better and better, and this album is simply a masterpiece.
  17. Andrea
    Aug 4, 2009
    8
    Great record with great songs. If only there isn't the piano, it would be better.
  18. Ikarus14
    Oct 9, 2009
    9
    Makes American Idiot look mediocre in comparison.
  19. Michael
    May 16, 2009
    10
    This album blows my mind. This is better then 'American Idiot', It seems like some of the vintage rock n roll style they adopted on 'Warning' and then ditched for 'American Idiot' has returned in some of the tracks, although it's not dominant on the same level as Foxboro Hot Tubs. Musically to my ears this album sounds like a mix of Warning, American This album blows my mind. This is better then 'American Idiot', It seems like some of the vintage rock n roll style they adopted on 'Warning' and then ditched for 'American Idiot' has returned in some of the tracks, although it's not dominant on the same level as Foxboro Hot Tubs. Musically to my ears this album sounds like a mix of Warning, American Idiot and Insomniac with a sprinkle of Dookie, although that doesn't mean they are rehashing their previous sounds because they've built upon them and made them fresh again, they even try new things that would otherwise be considered not Green Day ... like Billie Joe singing falsetto on some of the tracks. The lyrics are great and quiet a few lines on this album will offend any person who is against free thinking, religious and an annoying conservative. Expand
  20. PB
    May 16, 2009
    10
    Not only is 21st Century Breakdown more ambitious than American Idiot, but genuinely a better album in general, with more ambition, more accessibility, and more depth than it's slightly 2D predecessors. An truly excellent album of stellar proportions, it blew away my scepticisms and exceeded all expectations.
  21. ThomS
    Jun 25, 2009
    10
    Great album. Truly is. It has more diverse instrumentation than previous albums by Green Day. Also it does deserve its praise. When the worst critic review simply calls it average, it's a sign that you have something good. Besides critics have In Rainbows 40%, so no loss with a few bad seeds.
  22. RolfG
    Jun 27, 2009
    10
    A collection of great songs, it's an album with a song to everymood! It's probobly going to be a classic one, it's not punk rock any more it's classic rock. A masterpiece with ambition and very good written catchy rock songs!
  23. MikeW
    Jul 2, 2009
    8
    I'm not a Green Day fan, but I was really hooked by 21 Guns; I'll admit, it sound similar to most of they're stuff, but hey, they've found what works and they're running with it. It's not the most original sound, but it's good.
  24. PatrickB
    Jul 7, 2009
    9
    Not as good as American Idiot, but very close. I love putting this on and rolling through the whole thing in a sitting.
  25. Stefano
    Aug 29, 2009
    10
    Great album for one major's rock band in the world!!!!
  26. TysonB.
    Sep 21, 2009
    10
    It is really good.
  27. PissFish
    Sep 6, 2009
    9
    American Idiot achieved the impossible, it made Green Day Cool and Popular and mainstream. But Does this really mean it was a great album ? No, American Idiot (in my opinion) was a bit Tacky and sounded over produced. 21st century Breakdown achieved the long awaited, to make Green Day Brilliant. The title track 21st century is a brilliant capture of 21st century life and songs like before American Idiot achieved the impossible, it made Green Day Cool and Popular and mainstream. But Does this really mean it was a great album ? No, American Idiot (in my opinion) was a bit Tacky and sounded over produced. 21st century Breakdown achieved the long awaited, to make Green Day Brilliant. The title track 21st century is a brilliant capture of 21st century life and songs like before the lobotomy and Viva la Gloria are also master pieces. there is only one BAD song on this album and that is Know your Enemy which sounds like it should have been on American idiot but worse. All together though this album is an amazing slice of Rock History. Expand
  28. MariahL
    Nov 4, 2009
    10
    How can you not love this album if you don't fine but you cannot see the musical genius behind it and the complexity it is truly a masterpiece leave it to create two of the most influential and memorable albums of the decade deal with it sorry if you miss old Green Day but they have moved on and are great STILL.
  29. EddM
    May 15, 2009
    10
    A masterful album! A brilliant narrative throughout the album and hugely enjoyable from start to finish!
  30. Kevin
    May 15, 2009
    8
    I'm enjoying this album right from the first listen. Does stay along the same vein as American Idiot but if it ain't broke, why fix it? Worth picking up if your a fan of the band for sure.
Metascore
70

Generally favorable reviews - based on 30 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 16 out of 30
  2. Negative: 1 out of 30
  1. The performances are blandly professional, because any major-label rock band of Green Day's abilities could shit this stuff out in their sleep, and emotionally inert. This is the crafting of a modern epic as a dreary day-job routine.
  2. 21st Century Breakdown is far from a bad album, and, like Idiot, will likely be the best release this year from such a popular band.
  3. It could have easily gone any of several wrong ways, but Green Day's punk has long since been tempered with pop's most attractive attributes, and 21stCentury Breakdown, like its predecessor, is unapologetically accessible and relentlessly exhilarating.