Know Your Enemy (Green Day song)

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"Know Your Enemy"
Single by Green Day
from the album 21st Century Breakdown
Released April 16, 2009
Format Digital download, CD single, vinyl
Recorded 2008
Genre Punk rock, pop punk[1]
Length 3:11
Label Reprise
Writer(s) Billie Joe Armstrong / Green Day
Producer(s) Butch Vig, Green Day
Certification Gold (RIAA)
Green Day singles chronology
"The Simpsons Theme"
"Know Your Enemy"
"21 Guns"

"Know Your Enemy" is a song by the American punk rock band Green Day. It was released as the first single from their eighth album 21st Century Breakdown, through Reprise Records on April 16, 2009. Billboard described the song as being lyrically "just as politically charged as last time (on American Idiot)", having a "Modern Rock radio-ready chorus", whilst the song's producer Butch Vig "brings enough punk sheen for mass appeal."[2] It was the first, and one of only three songs, to top the Rock Songs, Alternative Songs and Mainstream Rock Tracks Billboard charts at the same time. Know Your Enemy has been certified Gold by the RIAA and has sold 798,000 copies as of August 2010.

Release and reception[edit]

It was referred to by Spin as sounding "like an out-take from the Dookie sessions".[3]'s Bill Lamb said the song was "standard issue Green Day", "not a stroke of genius" and "not on par with their last album", but said it was a "great appetizer" for one of the most eagerly awaited albums of 2009.[4] Pitchfork Media described the track as having "pedantic stiffness" and "nothing more than a rote protest song preaching to the converted".[5] Rolling Stone called the song one of the highlights of the album, praising the punk-oriented sound and calling it a "Clash-size bootboy chants".[6] Billboard said that "The lead single from the band's new release, "21st Century Breakdown", finds the group just as politically charged as last time", but also said that "While the subject matter is broad and may be missed by some, "Enemy" has enough charm to amp up the airwaves until (21st Century) Breakdown is released."[2]

Billie Joe Armstrong told Q, "It’s a rallying song. It’s about liberating yourself from a lot of bullshit that you see on TV."[7] The song managed to top both the Billboard Mainstream and Alternative Songs charts at the same time, while cracking the Top 30 on the Billboard Hot 100, so far reaching number 28.[8] The song entered the Alternative Songs chart at number eight and rose to number one in its second week. It kept the top spot for six weeks. It became available as a downloadable song for the music video game Rock Band on July 7, 2009, along with the songs "East Jesus Nowhere" and "21 Guns" and is also featured on the soundtrack to the video game NHL 10.[9] It has been used on the trailers for the movie The Spy Next Door as well as being used to promote Comcast and the Wimbledon on ESPN.

During their "21st Century Breakdown" tour show in Minneapolis on July 11, 2009, Billie Joe Armstrong told the crowd that the song had been recorded on the first day of the Republican National Convention in Saint Paul, MN.[10]

"Know Your Enemy" was used as the theme song for WWE SmackDown since the show's debut on Syfy from 2010-2012.

It is also played at Green Bay Packers games when the away team comes out of the locker room.

FC Halifax Town also use this as their walk out song when playing at home.

The song is also featured on the Awesome as Fuck live album.

The song appears in Shaun White Skateboarding and as DLC for the Rock Band video game series.

Music video[edit]

The music video was directed by Motion Theory's Matthew Cullen (who helmed the video for Weezer's "Pork and Beans" in 2008), and it premiered on MTV and other stations across the globe on April 24, 2009. In the video, the band is performing at night on a stage in a field surrounded by a barbed wire fence. Shots of the band are also frequently seen through night vision closed-circuit cameras that surround the field, as well as on helicopters that patrol the area with searchlights. The final chorus of the song shows fire burning behind the band in silhouettes of the band members (Billie Joe has a man with a guitar behind him, Tre Cool has a man playing the drums behind him, Mike Dirnt has a man playing bass behind him). The video was shot in Downtown Los Angeles.

Track listing[edit]

CD and digital download
No. Title Length
1. "Know Your Enemy"   3:12
No. Title Length
1. "Know Your Enemy"   3:12
2. "Lights Out"   2:16
3. "Hearts Collide"   2:39
Hot Topic limited CD
No. Title Length
1. "Know Your Enemy"   3:12
2. "Lights Out"   2:16
Digital download - EP
No. Title Length
1. "Know Your Enemy"   3:12
2. "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" (live) 4:24
3. "F.O.D." (live) 2:24
Digital download - Single
No. Title Length
1. "Know Your Enemy"   3:12
2. "Lights Out"   2:16
3. "Hearts Collide"   2:39
7" vinyl
No. Title Length
1. "Know Your Enemy"   3:12
2. "Hearts Collide"   2:39
Vinyl Box Set
No. Title Length
1. "Know Your Enemy"   3:12
2. "21 Guns"   5:21


Chart (2009) Peak
Australian ARIA Singles Chart[11] 20
Austrian Singles Chart[12] 11
Belgian Singles Chart (VL)[13] 26
Belgian Singles Chart (WA)[14] 34
Canadian Hot 100[15] 5
Czech Airplay Chart[16] 1
Eurochart Hot 100 Singles[17] 23
German Singles Chart[18] 14
Irish Singles Chart[18] 11
Italian Singles Chart[19] 17
Japan Hot 100[20] 5
New Zealand Singles Chart[21] 13
Norwegian Singles Chart[22] 17
Swedish Singles Chart[23] 8
Swiss Singles Chart[24] 20
UK Singles Chart[25] 21
US Billboard Hot 100[8] 28
US Billboard Adult Pop Songs[26] 36
US Billboard Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks[8] 1
US Billboard Alternative Songs[8] 1
US Billboard Rock Songs[8] 1
US Billboard Pop 100[8] 43

Year-end charts[edit]

Chart (2009) Position
Hungarian Singles Chart[27] 159
Preceded by
"Feel Good Drag" by Anberlin
Billboard Hot Modern Rock Tracks number-one single
May 9, 2009 – June 13, 2009
Succeeded by
"New Divide" by Linkin Park
New chart Billboard Rock Songs number-one single
June 20, 2009
Preceded by
"Lifeline" by Papa Roach
Billboard Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks number-one single
June 20, 2009
Succeeded by
"Sound of Madness" by Shinedown



  1. ^ Single Review: Green Day - Know Your Enemy : Female First
  2. ^ a b "Know Your Enemy". Billboard. Retrieved May 16, 2009. [dead link]
  3. ^ Gaston, Peter (March 24, 2009). "Green Day Set Release Date for 21st Century Breakdown!". Spin. Retrieved July 9, 2009. 
  4. ^ Lamb, Bill. "Green Day - "Know Your Enemy"". Retrieved July 9, 2009. 
  5. ^ Raposa, David (April 22, 2009). "Green Day - "Know Your Enemy"". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved July 9, 2009. 
  6. ^ Sheffield, Rob (April 27, 2009). "21st Century Breakdown: Green Day: Review". Rolling Stone. Retrieved July 9, 2009. 
  7. ^ "First Look: Green Day's new video "Know Your Enemy"". NineMSN Music Fix. Retrieved May 5, 2009. 
  8. ^ a b c d e f "Artist Chart History — Green Day". Billboard. Retrieved July 9, 2009. 
  9. ^ "MTV Games, Harmonix & Warner Bros./Reprise Records Partner With Green Day to Bring Their Music Exclusively to Rock Band". June 11, 2009. Retrieved July 9, 2009. 
  10. ^ "Concert review: A Green Day reckoning". July 11, 2009. Retrieved July 12, 2009. Before singing the current radio fave "Know Your Enemy," he said, "The day we recorded this song was the first day of the Republican Convention. The Republican Convention was here, right? We got those [bleep] out of office, right?" 
  11. ^ "Top 50 Singles Chart". Australian Recording Industry Association. Retrieved July 9, 2009. 
  12. ^ "Green Day — Know Your Enemy". Retrieved July 9, 2009. 
  13. ^ "Green — Know Your Enemy". Retrieved July 9, 2009. 
  14. ^ "Green — Know Your Enemy". Retrieved July 9, 2009. 
  15. ^ "Canadian Hot 100 - Know Your Enemy". Billboard. Retrieved July 9, 2009. [dead link]
  16. ^ "RADIO TOP100 Oficiální: Know Your Enemy". Rádio Top 100 Oficiální. International Federation of the Phonographic Industry. 
  17. ^ "European Hot 100 Singles — Know Your Enemy". Billboard. Retrieved July 9, 2009. [dead link]
  18. ^ a b "Green Day — Know Your Enemy". aCharts. Retrieved July 9, 2009. 
  19. ^ "Green Day — Know Your Enemy". Retrieved July 9, 2009. 
  20. ^ "Japan Hot 100 Singles". Billboard. Retrieved July 9, 2009. [dead link]
  21. ^ "Green Day — Know Your Enemy". Retrieved July 9, 2009. 
  22. ^ "Green Day — Know Your Enemy". Retrieved July 9, 2009. 
  23. ^ "Green Day — Know Your Enemy". Retrieved July 9, 2009. 
  24. ^ "Green Day — Know Your Enemy". Retrieved July 9, 2009. 
  25. ^ "Green Day — Know Your Enemy". Chart Stats. Archived from the original on August 28, 2012. Retrieved July 9, 2009. 
  26. ^ "Hot Adult Top 40 Tracks — Know Your Enemy". Billboard. Retrieved July 9, 2009. [dead link]
  27. ^ "Éves összesített listák - MAHASZ Rádiós TOP 100 (súlyozott)". Mahasz. Mahasz. 

External links[edit]