William Sutton: “Bang Bang” is close to a return to form for Green Day following their disappointing trio of 2012 albums, Uno!, Dos! and Tre!. A searing pop punk number driven by thundering drums and bass, this track is, like much of their recent back catalogue, politically charged, as it addresses the prevalence of mass shootings in the US and how this interacts with an ever growing dominance of social media. Whilst “Bang Bang” is a good track and much better than most of their output since the release of American Idiot in 2004, the track struggles with the feeling that this is a band in their fourth decade and we have heard it all before and often heard it done better. Nonetheless it is a welcome return from the band and provides positive signs ahead of the release of Revolution Rock in October. [7/10]
John DeLeonardis: I have to reveal that Green Day was my first favorite band, and remain one to this day; nimrod. was the first CD I ever bought. Being 10-12 in the era of American Idiot was perfect timing for me; the following 21st Century Breakdown sounded like a staler, at-least-it’s-still-pretty-catchy version of the former. Though their next venture into a trio of albums seemed like an overabundance, creating a single mixed CD of favorites from each of the three resulted in a surprising package of simple, pleasing, and (mostly)undramaticized pop/rock, hopefully signaling that Green Day could actually be on another up-swing in their impressive career.
But new single “Bang Bang” has me worried: the instrumentation seems less lax and off-the-cuff than the bulk of the last three albums — and that was a big part of the trilogy’s charm — and this track sounds like a C- side from 21st Century Breakdown, as if they realized they were just working on a copy of “St. Jimmy”. When I listen, I hear more current Panic! at the Disco — somehow aurally transmitting the sound of ‘trying way too hard’ behind an un-striking product — than I do Insomniac, this band’s own snappy, catchy, bratty ‘pop-punk’. With that being said, though, that may be a brilliant move on Green Day’s part to try and get a refreshment of audience members, especially in a time where any rock-oriented music is dying…. All things considered, I’ve still got faith in the album from a band I love, and am just hoping this was an unfortunate pick for lead single. [3/10]
Morgan Y. Evans: While the most energized and convincing punk material of the year thus far belongs to Motörhead Music signees Barb Wire Dolls, the new ready made for shouting along Green Day song proves there is still life coursing through the veins of the trio. The bloated triple album series should’ve been narrowed down to one White Album style double record, but it seems in the aftermath of the bloated ¡Uno!, ¡Dos!, ¡Tré! trilogy that the arena punks have since sharpened their focus. This sounds more classic Green Day than anything they have done in awhile.
Andrew Paschal: Despite their earlier career, at this point it’s hard for me to listen to Green Day and not feel like I’m listening to a VH1 protest song against the George W. Bush administration, and yet here they nonetheless choose to tackle the timely topic of gun violence. It’s hard to confront current political issues convincingly when your musical strategy to addressing those issues hasn’t changed at all in more than ten years, however. While it’s fine for artists to maintain their sound, that works more successfully when you go for timelessness rather than timeliness, something Green Day does not achieve here. [5/10]
Max Totsky: Say what you will about 2004’s overzealous political-punk monolith American Idiot, but at least it marked the peak of Green Day’s power, embracing a time where three Californian “punks” could act as the most important voice of reason for youth who didn’t quite know how to express their dismay towards the Bush administration. However, when Billie Joe Armstrong awkwardly sneers “bang, bang, give me fame / shoot me up to entertain” in an attempt to comment on today’s mass shooting culture, it becomes clear that such influence has decayed in the past ten years. Nobody said Green Day have to be eloquent political spokespeople, but when you so openly try to dissect the huge issues in today’s culture, you need to have a bit of nuance. Instead, it’s the musical equivalent of drawing a mustache on a picture of Donald Trump. To top it off, it’s all extremely generic, with pounding drums and shredded guitars that should sound vehement but instead feel like an over-polished smudge of sound. They’re back and they have shit to say, but with music as pedestrian as this, I’m curious to know if anyone is willing to listen. [4/10]
Adriane Pontecorvo: Nothing makes me feel young again like hot, fresh pop punk. Those speedy guitar riffs sound like they could have been pulled straight from the Offspring’s peak, and Billie Joe Armstrong pulls off snot-nosed teenage angst like he’s still 14. Listening to this track it’s almost unfathomable that this year is Green Day’s 30th anniversary. It’s the kind of song you listen to on repeat in your room after fighting with your parents, at full volume, and it’s so, so catchy. Excellent nostalgia for restless days. [9/10]
Tanner Smith: As the years have gone on, Green Day has calcified into a cynical, one-note nostalgia act that uses tired signifiers, mostly revolving around the military and war, to make some kind of rockist political statement. “Bang Bang”, unfortunately, does not buck this trend, marrying Billie Joe’s anemic prattling to subpar garage rock that MTV2 might have co-signed back in 2002. Green Day were once the musical equivalent of The Simpsons both in tone and popularity, marrying a steady diet of pop culture with outsider influences. But, now, they seem to have forgotten the crucial elements that made them so wonderful in the first place: indelible melodies, irreverent humor, and wit. [4/10]
Jared Skinner: Amidst the backdrop of a turbulent election year filled with violence, protest and frenetic energy, Green Day releases a song that accurately corresponds with a tumultuous 2016. The combination of singer Billie Joe Armstrong’s vocals, written from the point of view of a mass shooter, commanding power-chord progressions, booming drums and bass, along with a very in your face, tight sounding production make for an effective and topical return for the Californian punk rockers. [7/10]
Chris Ingalls: They’ve dipped their toes into rock opera, and now Green Day are back with a simpler sound reminiscent of… well, this ain’t exactly Kerplunk, but “Bang Bang” would fit nicely on Insomniac. The half-time bridge in the middle of the song shows that the band isn’t afraid to stretch out a bit, and the song in general is enough proof that Billie Joe, Mike and Tre are still capable of writing and performing energetic material a couple of decades into their career. [7/10]
Chad Miller: Pretty predictable Green Day song. The guitar in the song needs to back way down. There’s so much of it the whole time that you become immune to it pretty early on. The melody was pretty uneven too. There were parts I really enjoyed, but most of the song seemed to reside in a relatively boring and functionless state. [5/10]
Scott Zuppardo: Finally some genuine punk rock from the mainstream kings thereof, despite a fluffy bridge for the purists to bitch about this could be their next smoking gun. [8/10]
Paul Carr: Luckily for Green Day the world is just about terrible enough for them to ride to the rescue with a spiky, politically flavoured, punk number. Fortunate, because their epic second act has been flagging of late and, after all, Green Day + Social Commentary = Big hit. Some might suggest that this might be a slightly cynical attempt to reconnect with the mainstream. However, that cynicism would detract from what is a very good comeback single. All the elements that make a Green Day song a good one are all present and correct. Distorted power chords, a rumbling bass line and big hitting drums. The band sound animated and engaged with a throwaway chorus that will quickly burrow into your brain. The lyrics attempt at a commentary on the world’s ills yet manage to be nonsensical at the same time. There are a couple of clunkers and it can come across as a little smug and self serving. However, they are not aiming for the politicised audience of say Anti-Flag for example. They are the last of the punk superstars and they know their way around a catchy tune. Just don’t take it too seriously. [7/10]
Christopher Laird: Green Day is back? If this song is their grand reintroduction then they are back in the way we USED to know them pre-American Idiot. This is the Green Day that plays fast. This is the Green Day that writes angsty lines like “Daddy’s little psycho and momma’s little soldier”. Maybe this is just part four of a five part song suite for their next epic concept album. We’ll find out when the album drops. [6/10]