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