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EW's Great Performances of 2004

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If we were ruled by anomalies alone, Green Day’s ”Jesus of Suburbia” would qualify as a bona fide breakout simply because it’s a nine-minute-plus punk song that gets mainstream radio play. But this epic tirade, which L.A.’s popular KROQ ushered onto the airwaves, goes to great lengths in another way, too: Unfolding in five chapter-like sections, the tune — by turns corrosive, buoyant, and sarcastic, but always winningly melodic — establishes the central character in American Idiot, the band’s critically acclaimed rock opera, as a rare hero for the disillusioned and the disenfranchised. (Sample sentiment: ”Lost children with dirty faces…no one really seems to care.”) ”Lyrically, I relate to things that are a little bit more morbid,” explains Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong with a laugh. ”But that’s the dichotomy with what we do, because the music is uplifting.” Uplifting? Try transcendent.