Saying hello to Green Day's "Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)"

When you think of heart-tugging weepy ballads, you think ”My Heart Will Go On,” ”End of the Road,” or even ”I Will Always Love You,” right? You certainly don’t think of sneering punk-rockers like Green Day. But if you’ve paid attention during the past few weeks of network TV, you’ve been hearing a lot of the Bay Area bad boys: Their song ”Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)” — an uncharacteristically mellow acoustic tune complete with a string section — keeps turning up on the tube. The song accompanied a strangely sentimental Seinfeld montage at the end of the pre-final-episode clip show and also played a major role in two recent ER episodes, both of which focused on the death of a 12-year-old boy. (Gloria Reuben, who plays physician’s assistant Jeanie Boulet, sang the song at the boy’s funeral.) Following the Seinfeld episode, sales of the band’s platinum album Nimrod have increased by nearly a third (according to SoundScan), jumping 20 spots on the Billboard album chart.

But as odd as it is that a bunch of snotty punks have suddenly become this season’s prime purveyors of sap, it’s stranger still that TV’s farewell song of the moment is titled ”Good Riddance.” ”I purposefully didn’t put that in the script,” says ER executive story editor Samantha Corbin. ”I figured if I wrote, ‘And then she sings the song ‘Good Riddance’ at Scott’s funeral,’ that would probably raise a few flags.”

For cynical industry watchers, however, it’s the song’s multiple NBC appearances that are raising flags, especially since Warner Bros. owns Green Day’s label and the companies that produce Seinfeld and ER. Surely this smells of synergistic marketing, no? The band and their label decline to comment, and Seinfeld‘s producers were unavailable, but Corbin insists it’s not so: ”I didn’t know [it was in Seinfeld] until I saw it. I was like, ‘Now everyone’s going to be thinking it’s Must Green Day TV.”’