The 10 Most Powerful Protest Songs of the 21st Century

2. Green Day – “Wake Me Up When September Ends” (2004)

Protesting: Bush

Like it or loathe it, punk rock is one of the few genres in which protest songs thrive. Still, no one could have predicted punk-rock pin-ups Green Day’s instant success when they returned in 2004 with the Grammy Award-winning and Billboard-topping album American Idiot. They’d stopped singing about bumming around, getting stoned and the size of their dookies and had instead tapped into the yoof’s post-9/11 disillusionment with the Bush administration, while criticizing its foreign policy and those who endorse it. “Wake Me Up When September Ends,” the record’s fourth single, is a plodding antidote to the album’s hyperactive, pogo-tastic title track. Its tear-jerking music video, starring Jamie Bell and Evan Rachel Wood as a soldier and his girlfriend torn apart by the Iraq War, should have won another Grammy for Shameful Emotional Pornography. But, later, it became a quasi-official tribute song to the victims of Hurricane Katrina, which is rather lovely.