Insomniac (Green Day album)

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Insomniac
Studio album by Green Day
Released October 10, 1995 (1995-10-10)
Recorded December 1994–May 1995 at Fantasy Studios in Berkeley, California
Genre Punk rock
Length 32:49
Label Reprise
Producer Rob Cavallo and Green Day
Green Day chronology
Dookie
(1994)
Insomniac
(1995)
Nimrod
(1997)
Singles from Insomniac
  1. "Geek Stink Breath"
    Released: September 25, 1995 (1995-09-25)
  2. "Stuck with Me"
    Released: December 27, 1995 (1995-12-27)
  3. "Brain Stew/Jaded"
    Released: July 3, 1996 (1996-07-03)
  4. "Walking Contradiction"
    Released: August 20, 1996 (1996-08-20)

Insomniac is the fourth studio album by the American punk rock band Green Day. It was released on October 10, 1995 through Reprise Records. Though it peaked at number two in the United States and went double-platinum (according to the RIAA)[1] by 1996, Insomniac did not have the sales endurance of its predecessor, Dookie, largely due to its slightly darker lyrical tone and heavier, more abrasive sound.[2] Insomniac is the band's third-best selling album behind Dookie and American Idiot with sales at over 10 million worldwide and 2,100,000 copies in the US alone.[3] The album was reissued on vinyl on May 12, 2009.

Background[edit]

Before the name Insomniac was decided on, the band considered naming the album Tight Wad Hill (after track 13 on the album). After visiting collage artist Winston Smith for the album cover, Billie Joe Armstrong asked him how he managed to make such intricate pieces in such short times. Smith answered: "It's easy for me. I am an insomniac."[4] Armstrong himself has said that the album title comes from his own insomnia, after having been woken up frequently during the night due to his son's screams. Armstrong also mentions his insomnia in the song "Brain Stew."

"Panic Song" was inspired by bassist Mike Dirnt's panic attacks he has suffered as a result of being born with an enlarged mitral valve in his heart.[5]

Cover art[edit]

God Told Me to Skin You Alive

The collage on the album cover was created by Winston Smith [6] and is called God Told Me to Skin You Alive, a reference to the Dead Kennedys song "I Kill Children". Interestingly enough, the cover art contains an image (the dentist) that was originally used in a collage featured in the inside cover art of Dead Kennedys' album Plastic Surgery Disasters (1982). Smith knew drummer Tré Cool from Green Day's time at Lookout! Records and told Cool that if he ever needed album artwork that he should call him.[4] The cover art features several hidden images: a naked woman, three fairies, and several other ghostly faces in the flames.[4] There are also three skulls on the entire album cover and back, one for each member of Green Day. One of the skulls requires you to view the piece at an angle. The hidden skull is taken from Hans Holbein's 1533 painting The Ambassadors.[4] Green Day's version, however, is slightly different from the original, with the woman holding Armstrong's Sonic Blue Fernandes imitation Stratocaster rather than an acoustic guitar.[4]

"Geek Stink Breath" is the lead single from the album.

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"Brain Stew/Jaded" is the third single from the album.

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Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars[7]
Robert Christgau A−[8]
Entertainment Weekly B[9]
Rolling Stone 3.5/5 stars[10]
Sputnikmusic 3.5/5 stars[11]
Spin 8/10 stars[12]

Insomniac did not have the big sales or airplay as the singles from Dookie, but it was generally well received by critics. It earned three and a half out of five stars from Rolling Stone, which said "In punk the good stuff actually unfolds and gains meaning as you listen without sacrificing any of its electric, haywire immediacy. And Green Day are as good as this stuff gets".[10]

Entertainment Weekly gave the album a B with particular praise for Billie Joe Armstrong, stating that: "Fans needn't worry about Armstrong, a new father, rhapsodizing over the joys of changing diapers or whining about being a wealthy rock star. Once more, the songs relate the travails of a pathetic, self-loathing goofball whose sense of self-worth is continually reduced to rubble by sundry jerks, authority figures, and cultural elitists."

However, Green Day was slightly criticized for not progressing as much as their predecessors. Entertainment Weekly stated that: "Insomniac does make you wonder about Green Day's growth, though. Between albums one and four, The Clash, to take an old-school example, branched out from guitar crunch to reggae, dub, and Spectorized pop. By comparison, Green Day sound exactly the same as on their first album, albeit with crisper production and, ominously, a palpable degeneration in their sense of humor. The few hints of growth are fairly microscopic: a tougher metallic edge to a few of the songs ... and lyrics that are bleaker than Dookie's."

Allmusic similarly noted that "they kept their blueprint and made it a shade darker. Throughout Insomniac, there are vague references to the band's startling multi-platinum breakthrough, but the album is hardly a stark confessional on the level of Nirvana's In Utero. ... While nothing on the album is as immediate as "Basket Case" or "Longview," the band has gained a powerful sonic punch, which goes straight for the gut but sacrifices the raw edge they so desperately want to keep and makes the record slightly tame. Billie Joe hasn't lost much of his talent for simple, tuneful hooks, but after a series of songs that all sound pretty much the same, it becomes clear that he needs to push himself a little bit more if Green Day ever want to be something more than a good punk-pop band. As it is, they remain a good punk-pop band, and Insomniac is a good punk-pop record, but nothing more."[7]

Singles and commercial success[edit]

The first single released from Insomniac was "Geek Stink Breath". The song was successful on both Top 40 and rock radio stations and peaked at number 27 on the Billboard Hot 100 Airplay.

The second single, released exclusively in the United Kingdom, was "Stuck with Me". The song was moderately successful in the UK, Australia, and New Zealand, but was not one of the group's bigger hits in the US.

The third single from the album was "Brain Stew/Jaded". The two were separate songs (tracks 10 and 11 on Insomniac), but they were released together as a single and a music video.

The last single from the album was "Walking Contradiction".

The song "86" was released as a promotional single.[13]

Track listing[edit]

All lyrics written by Billie Joe Armstrong, except where noted, all music composed by Green Day, except where noted.

No. Title Length
1. "Armatage Shanks"   2:17
2. "Brat"   1:43
3. "Stuck with Me"   2:16
4. "Geek Stink Breath"   2:15
5. "No Pride"   2:19
6. "Bab's Uvula Who?"   2:08
7. "86"   2:47
8. "Panic Song" (lyrics written by Mike Dirnt and Armstrong) 3:35
9. "Stuart and the Ave."   2:03
10. "Brain Stew"   3:13
11. "Jaded"   1:30
12. "Westbound Sign"   2:12
13. "Tight Wad Hill"   2:01
14. "Walking Contradiction"   2:31
Total length:
32:49
Japanese version
No. Title Length
15. "I Wanna Be on T.V." (written by Sam McBride and Tom Flynn; originally performed by Fang) 1:17

Charts[edit]

Album[edit]

Year Chart Position
1995 Billboard 200 2
1995 Canadian RPM Albums Chart 4
1995 Australia (ARIA) [14] 5

Singles[edit]

Year Song Peak chart positions
US Airplay[15] US Mod
[15]
US Main
[16]
CAN
[17][18]
CAN
Alt

[19][20][21]
AUS[22] UK
1995 "Geek Stink Breath" 27 3 9 22 1 40 16
1995 "Stuck with Me" 46 24
1996 "Brain Stew/Jaded" 35 3 8 35 1 28
1996 "Walking Contradiction" 70 21 25 19

Personnel[edit]

Production[edit]

In popular culture[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "RIAA Certificates for Insomniac". riaa.com.
  2. ^ Green Day: Behind the Music
  3. ^ http://www.billboard.com/articles/news/481423/green-day-the-billboard-cover-story Retrieved Feb 3 2013
  4. ^ a b c d e "Winston Smith Gallery: God Told Me to Skin You Alive (Insomniac), 1995" at the Wayback Machine (archived November 29, 2001). winstonsmith.com.
  5. ^ Myers, 2006. p. 22
  6. ^ "The Montage Art of Winston Smith". winstonsmith.com.
  7. ^ a b "Insomniac". Allmusic.com. 
  8. ^ "Green Day". robertchristgau.com.
  9. ^ Browne, David. "Insomniac". ew.com. October 20, 1995.
  10. ^ a b Coleman, Mark (November 2, 1995). "Insomniac". Rolling Stone. Retrieved February 26, 2012. 
  11. ^ "Green Day - Insomniac (staff review)". Sputnikmusic. Retrieved 2012-09-27. 
  12. ^ Spin (12/95, p.118) - 8 - Very Good - "...Rage and release become an infinite loop, spinning faster all the time, old pleasures maniacally revved up to suit what INSOMNIAC and all of us know are `Jaded' times....The Green Day three have never crunched as powerfully....a sustained thrill..."
  13. ^ "Green Day 86 - Eighty Six Spain Promo CD single (CD5 / 5") (72974)". Eil.com. Retrieved 2013-12-06. 
  14. ^ Steffen Hung. "Green Day - Stuck With Me". australian-charts.com. Retrieved 2012-09-27. 
  15. ^ a b "Green Day single chart history". Billboard. Retrieved 2007-07-16. [dead link]
  16. ^ "Green Day - Billboard Singles". allmusic. Retrieved 2010-10-26. 
  17. ^ "Top Singles - Volume 62, No. 21, January 08 1996". RPM. Retrieved 2010-10-26. 
  18. ^ "Top Singles - Volume 63, No. 3, March 04 1996". RPM. Retrieved 2010-10-26. 
  19. ^ "Rock/Alternative - Volume 62, No. 11, October 16, 1995". RPM. Retrieved 2010-10-26. 
  20. ^ "Rock/Alternative - Volume 62, No. 24, January 29, 1996". RPM. Retrieved 2010-10-26. 
  21. ^ "Rock/Alternative - Volume 63, No. 24, July 29, 1996". RPM. Retrieved 2010-10-26. 
  22. ^ Steffen Hung. "Australian charts portal". australian-charts.com. Retrieved 2012-09-27. 
  23. ^ a b Insomniac liner notes. Retrieved 2011-10-13
  24. ^ "SNL Transcripts: Elliot Gould: 05/29/76: Babs' Uvula". snltranscripts.jt.org.