You can't trust the internet to know anything about anything (says the lady writing about it on the internet). Rolling Stone readers have named Green Day as the best punk band of all time on an online poll.
Yes, of all time. It's not like the choices were among the likes of Green Day, Blink 182, and Sum-41. Also making the top 10--and losing to Green Day--were The Clash, The Ramones, The Sex Pistols, Black Flag, The Dead Kennedys, Bad Brains, and the Stooges. As in, pretty much all the important bands of the genre. All lost to a trio of '90s upstarts most famous for their syrupy acoustic song "Good Riddance".
I mean, this is the internet, and it seems that a bunch of Green Day fan sites rallied together to make this happen. Maybe Rolling Stone shouldn't place so much importance on what a bunch of 13 to 18-year-olds have to say about the history of punk music. They're a major music publication capable of covering any artist they want. They don't have to rely on the opinions of children to make their stories happen.
I'll admit to digging a few Green Day songs back in the day. Remember Dookie? From 1994? Yeah, I owned the crap out of that record. It was like owning any other Green Day record, because up until American Idiot they only had about three songs that they shuffled around a bit to fill records. It could be argued that even American Idiot was a reshuffle of the old material with more pretentious lyrics. I never had too much against the guys--their simple three-chord pop punk was sunny and bland and fun, like much that happened during the '90s. It was watered down to all hell, but never particularly terrible. It filled the radio like so many vague expressions of musical tomfoolery at the time.
But then they got "political". A lot of bands went this route during the Bush route, but few took it quite so seriously as Green Day. Their happy era of origin had been crushed to bits by an incompetent government and they were not pleased. So they wrote the same songs over again, only with some tighter production values, longer running times, and lyrics that vaguely conveyed frustration. Even the nine-minute epic "Jesus of Suburbia" holds little content beyond its indignant rallying cry, "I don't care if you don't care!" While punk's never been much for poetry (see Against Me!'s first album for a brilliant exception to this rule), there's a reason most artists keep their songs to three minutes or less. Punk songs are outbursts, inarticulate cries that echo against a generation's rage. Our generation picks Green Day for our punk because we're complacent, confident that three dudes in tight pants and eyeliner can effectively communicate our discontent. Green Day may be just another Warner Music Group product, but kids are too busy scoffing at all those other American idiots to notice.
I think I'll go curl up with my Black Flag and my Misfits and try to drown out the sound of a genre forgetting itself.