green day’s latest commercial ventures

April 21, 2010

Spring has spring and Green Day’s song licensing team is busy.

It’s been exactly 20 years since the Operation Ivy-inspired East Bay San Francisco punk band released its first EP, 39/Smooth, and yet it continues to skyrocket itself further into the rock-commercialist stratosphere with more lucrative multi-media endeavors than any other act on the market.

Last week, Reverb Games shot Green Day into the same new media pantheon as the Beatles, Aerosmith and Metallica by announcing the 47-song track listing for its upcoming band-centric video game Green Day: Rock Band. Even though the press release promised a “setlist featuring songs from the iconic punk band’s career,” it instead pulled tracks from three Green Day albums, only one of which (Dookie) was released during its still-underground days of the mid-90s.

Furthering this trend of using the band’s alternative past to promote its mainstream present is the Green Day musical. American Idiot — which was originally performed at a small repertory in Berkely, Calif. two years ago — opened on Broadway in New York City last night.

Based on Green Day’s 2004 politically inspired concept album of the same name, American Idiot pieces together the sonic story of a protagonist named Jesus of Suburbia who, according to the band’s vocalist Billie Joe Armstrong, represents “a new generation of Americans as they struggle to find meaning in a post 9/11 society.”

Following in the thread of the 1993 production of Who’sTommy, the rock opera keeps the album as intact as possible — depressing story arc, heroin-injection scenes and all — while spreading it across a large cast and incorporating visual cues.

So while organizing choreography for songs from your punk manifesto might sound a little sacreligious, for a band like Green Day (references to the color of money aside), it’s all in a year’s work.

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