Over the course of 15 years, [artist id="988"]Green Day[/artist] have been snotty, silly and serious, and their music videos reflect that. They've done low-budget, big-budget and no-budget, and have worked with some of the biggest names in the business.
Through it all, they've compiled a video catalog that's loaded with iconic clips, ones that you've seen a million times before and know every frame of — plus a few that might have slipped by. So, in celebration of their hotly anticipated "Know Your Enemy" video (which will premiere on more than 250 MTV online and on-air outlets), we've decided to take a look back at Green Day's music-video history.
From pimple-faced punks to world-weary troubadours, it's been quite a voyage — and here are some of the highlights:
"Longview" (directed by Mark Kohr): A song about the dazed and dumb in suburbia (to the point where wanking becomes a source of entertainment) and a video that's about largely the same thing (Billie Joe Armstrong manhandles a monkey — get it?). Somehow it all worked, and "Longview" has become a classic. Highlights include Armstrong stabbing a couch with a knife, Tre Cool and Mike Dirnt keeping the beat while crammed in a bathroom and a showering of feathers at clip's end. But you knew all that already.
"Basket Case" (directed by Mark Kohr): A Technicolor whirl of pills, goldfish and grotesquely masked mental patients. (I've had nightmares like this, though instead of Green Day rocking out, it's usually the Hamburglar. And he's chasing after me. AAAAAAH!)
"When I Come Around" (directed by Mark Kohr): The clip that launched a thousand horizontally striped sweaters. Green Day wander the streets of San Francisco while the lives of sad citizens (a guy in a bathrobe, a girl dressed like Marie Antoinette, an old man in a wheelchair) play out around them. Look out for a special appearance by then-pal, now touring member Jason White, who can be seen making out with his girlfriend in the clip. There is also a live version of the video, taken from the band's infamous mud-slinging appearance at Woodstock '94.
"Geek Stink Breath" (directed by Mark Kohr): Gnarly song, even gnarlier video. A friend —White again? — gets a rotted tooth pulled from his head and Green Day decide to film it for their video. Much blood ensues. A clip that grossed out pretty much everyone, including MTV programmers who deemed the footage too gruesome to be shown during daytime hours.
"Brain Stew/Jaded" (directed by Kevin Kerslake): Two videos in one! The first is a sickly, sepia-toned slog through a landfill (complete with Hula dancers, a stern-faced teacher and a horse that keeps falling down); the second a manic, super-saturated spin-out in what appears to be Armstrong's trash-strewn clubhouse. Somehow, this all works.
"Hitching a Ride" (directed by Mark Kohr): Welcome to the Nimrod era. Green Day do vaudeville (Armstrong's bow tie is truly a sight to behold), then rock out at a speakeasy while a giant-headed Kewpie doll dances the Charleston. Armstrong also battles a giant dude in a white suit — confusing, but awesome. Definitely an underappreciated tune and video.
"Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)" (directed by Mark Kohr): Another instant classic and the soundtrack to 10,000 senior proms. Little more than Armstrong and his acoustic (plus, an inexplicable one-second cameo by Jason Priestley), the video would also become iconic and would garner Green Day their first MTV Video Music Award, for Best Alternative Video.
"Minority" (directed by Evan Bernard): Green Day kick off the Warning era by throwing themselves a parade, complete with paper-mâché float, punk-rock accordion players and giant balloons in their likenesses. Armstrong also manages to sneak a middle finger by the censors too. Shhh, don't tell anyone.
"American Idiot" (directed by Samuel Bayer): Welcome to the comeback. A big, booming video, "Idiot" announced Green Day's return to dominance and marked the beginning of their collaborations with Bayer, a director who works on the massive, to say the least. The video is full of iconic images, including a melting American flag, a flood of green slime and exploding speakers. And, of course, since Bayer's at the helm, the whole thing takes place in a giant abandoned hangar.
"Holiday" (directed by Samuel Bayer): The opening title sequence (yep, there's a title sequence) mimics Stanley Kubrick's "Dr. Strangelove." The video itself is a nightmarish spin through Las Vegas, à la "Fear and Loathing." The band also take on multiple personas, including a velvety Elvis, a puking preacher and a crusty punk. Everyone ends up spun-out and lost in the desert, which leads us directly into ...
"Boulevard of Broken Dreams" (directed by Samuel Bayer): ... the "Boulevard" clip, which shows us the inevitable hangover after the holiday. To give the footage an extra-grainy look, Bayer slashed the film with a razor blade, poured coffee on it and burned it with cigarettes. All that abuse paid off, as "Boulevard" would walk away with six VMAs, including Video of the Year.
"Wake Me Up When September Ends" (directed by Samuel Bayer): How do you top the success of "Boulevard"? Why, with an epic clip starring Jamie Bell and Evan Rachel Wood as a pair of star-crossed lovers torn apart by the war in Iraq, that's how! Stretching more than seven minutes in length, the video dared to portray the conflict in Iraq in a negative (realistic?) light and drew the ire of several conservative pundits. Meaning that, nearly a dozen years after their first video blasted onto the scene, Green Day were still finding new definitions of the term "punk."