- "There's nothing dirty about our record. They want artists to censor their records in order to be carried in there. We just said no. We've never done it before. You feel like you're in 1953 or something."
- — Billie Joe Armstrong on releasing a censored version to be released at Wal-Mart
21st Century Breakdown is the eighth studio album by the American punk rock band Green Day. It is the band's second rock opera, following American Idiot (album), and their first album to be produced by Butch Vig. Green Day commenced work on the record in January 2008. Forty-five songs were written by singer and guitarist Billie Joe Armstrong by May 2009, but the band members did not enter studio work with Vig until. The writing and recording process spanned three years and four California recording studios and was finished in April 2009.
21st Century Breakdown was released May 15, 2009 through Reprise Records. Armstrong has described the album as a "snapshot of the era in which we live as we question and try to make sense of the selfish manipulation going on around us, whether it be the government, religion, media or frankly any form of authority". The singles, "Know Your Enemy" and "21 Guns" exemplify the themes of alienation and politically-motivated anger present in the record.
Critical response to 21st Century Breakdown was generally positive. Critics praising the album considered the composition and Armstrong's lyrics a success; skeptical reviewers were critical of the album's concept, describing it as vague and directionless. The record achieved Green Day's best chart performance to date by reaching number one on the album charts of various countries, including the United States Billboard 200, the European Top 100 Albums, and the United Kingdom Albums Chart. It was awarded the Grammy Award for Best Rock Album at the 52nd Grammy Awards held on January 31, 2010. As of December, 2010 21st Century Breakdown has sold 1,005,000 copies in the United States and more than 3.5 million worldwide.
The album was first announced by the band on the live broadcast of the 2009 Grammy Awards.
On February 9, 2009, Green Day announced the album title the that the album would be split into three acts, those acts being "Heroes and Cons", "Charlatans and Saints", and "Horseshoes and Handgrenades"
On March 17, a teaser trailer for the album was posted on the band's website.
On March 25, the international release date of May 15 was announced.
Early April of 2009, Green Day premiered "Know Your Enemy" on television. A portion of the single was used as an introduction piece to the 2009 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament Championship game.
The band first preformed the album in full at a string of California club shows in April of 2009. At each show, spectators were given programs containing the lyrics.
The first single was released on April 16, and the premiere of the music video was on April 24 on the MTV UK website.
21st Century Breakdown was released internationally on May 15, 2009, through Reprise Records. A special edition vinyl version was limited to 3,000 copies and consisted of three 10" records for the acts, a CD copy of the album, a sixty page art booklet, and a code for the digital download of the full album.
The record reached number one on the Billboard 200 in the United States, where it sold 215,000 copies in the first week, was was shortened by three days. The album remained at number one on the Billboard Top Rock Albums chart for three weeks. In Canada, the album debuted at number one on the Canadian Albums Chart, selling 30,000 copies in the first week. The album debuted at the top of sales charts in twenty-four countries, including a peak at number one on the European Top 100 Albums.
21st Century Breakdown was released only in a Parental Advisory version containing explicit lyrics. Wal-Mart refuses to sell albums with a Parental Advisory sticker and requested that Green Day release a censored edition, in which Green Day refused.
The second single, "21 Guns", was released to radio stations on May 25.
The band set off on a world tour in July 2009, with the North American leg lasting through September, and the European leg lasting through November.
"East Jesus Nowhere" was released as the album's third single in October 19, 2009.
All lyrics written by Billie Joe Armstrong, all music composed by Green Day.
|1.||"Song of the Century"||0:57|
|Act I: Heroes and Cons|
|2.||"21st Century Breakdown"||5:09|
|3.||"Know Your Enemy"||3:11|
|4.||"¡Viva la Gloria!"||3:31|
|5.||"Before the Lobotomy"||4:37|
|7.||"Last Night on Earth"||3:56|
|Act II: Charlatans and Saints|
|8.||"East Jesus Nowhere"||4:35|
|10.||"Last of the American Girls"||3:51|
|12.||"¿Viva la Gloria? (Little Girl)"||3:48|
|13.||"Restless Heart Syndrome"||4:21|
|Act III: Horseshoes and Handgrenades|
|14.||"Horseshoes and Handgrenades"||3:14|
|15.||"The Static Age"||4:16|
|17.||"American Eulogy" (A. "Mass Hysteria" / B. "Modern World")||4:26|
|18.||"See the Light"||4:35|
- Billie Joe Armstrong – lead vocals, guitar, piano
- Mike Dirnt – bass guitar, backing vocals, lead vocals on "Modern World"
- Tré Cool – drums, percussion
- Jason Freese – piano
- Tom Kitt – string arrangements
- Patrick Warren – string conducting
- Butch Vig – producer
- Chris Lord-Alge – mix engineer
- Chris Dugan – engineer
- Keith Armstrong – assistant engineer
- Nik Karpen – assistant engineer
- Wesley Seidman – assistant engineer
- Brad Kobylczak – additional engineering
- Joe McGrath – additional engineering
- Andrew Schubert – additional engineering
- Brad Townshend – additional engineering
- Ted Jensen – mastering
- Chris Bilheimer – design, photography, stencils
- Andrew Black – stencils
- Micah Chong – stencils
- David Cooper – stencils
- Marina Chavez – back cover photo