Year 4, Day 38: The Offspring – Americana
- Have You Ever
- Staring at the Sun
- Pretty White (For a White Guy)
- The Kids Aren’t Alright
- She’s Got Issues
- Walla Walla
- The End of the Line
- No Brakes
- Why Don’t You Get a Job?
- Pay the Man
About the Album
Americana is the fifth studio album from American punk rock band, The Offspring. The track Pay the Man was recorded in 1996 while the rest of the songs were recorded from July-September of 1998. The Album was released on November 10th 1998 through Columbia Records. The album debuted at number six on the Billboard 200 and peaked at number two on the chart while spending 22 nonconsecutive weeks in the top 10 of the Billboard 200. The album is certified 5x platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).
Thoughts on the Album
The final three albums. Man, I’m got some good albums in store for you. The 1990s were a weird time for music… I mean it was full of polar extremes: grunge and punk to boy and girl groups. Following their unexpected (and unprecedented) success of their third album, Smash, The Offspring where looking at a major question/decision/problem: what direction do you head in next? Enter today’s album, Americana.
The first thing that sticks out about the album, is the album cover and artwork. It is through the artwork that you see the themes of the album. Americana is personified as the evil creature, or a roach, each with an arm/tentacle that is holding an item that responsible for or a contributing factor to the decadence of American society (i.e. guns, drugs, television/other media, fast food, etc.). This is reflected by the musical content on the album such as an ode to urban decay and the disappointment of adulthood in The Kids Aren’t Alright; the low-life, slacker anthem, Why Don’t You Get a Job?; or the delinquent-woeing, Walla Walla.
The track that sticks out on the album is the one that is most recognizable: Pretty Fly (For a White Guy). While the song was panned as joke, it was massive hit that received equally massive airplay on the radio and TV screens thanks to an equally clever music video. The song itself is infectiously catchy, and equally clever and witty. The song does deserve some credit, it was an excellent commentary on a certain type of person from the 1990s that people had to put up with.
The following track, The Kids Are Alright is no slouch. It is a straightforward rocker. The riffs are excellent, the lyrics are sharp and biting, and it has the ability to make you sing along to it. The album opener, Have You Ever, combines blistering punk with intelligent lyrics and excellent melodies. Walla Walla is seemingly another joke song that is blisteringly fast and tells the story of a man who goes to prison (hence the reference to Walla Walla or Washington State Prison). Staring at the Sun and No Brakes are straight up punk rockers: no gimmicks, just guitar, bass, drums, excellent melodies, and excellent vocals.
Why Don’t You Get a Job? is another catchy track, filled with 1990s cheese pop-rock. The track is the most blatant rip off of the Beatles’ Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da. Which is incredibly ironic because the track lambastes the shack who takes and leeches off others. Ironic indeed. Americana, the eponymous track, is a dark and brooding mid-tempo rocker. The track is their most socio-critical track ever written. It is a highly underrated song.
Americana is arguably The Offspring‘s best album to date and one of the best rock albums of the 1990s period. While many dismiss the album thanks to pop-punk singles (and hits) Pretty Fly (For a White Guy) and Why Don’t You Get a Job?, there is no denying the massive success that the album is. For better or worse, you can see/hear the influence this album had on pop-punk bands of the late 1990s and early 2000s.