Well, Green Day certainly can’t be accused of having poor timing. Two days before the 2016 American presidential election, one of the most divisive elections in recent U.S. history, the iconic group arrived at the MTV EMAs to accept their Global Icon Award and, fittingly, decided to play a song over a decade old, busting out their 2004 hit “American Idiot.” And there was little doubt as to what — or who — they were referring.
After performing their single “Bang Bang” from their latest album, Revolution Radio, earlier in the evening, the band emerged again to accept their award from actor Idris Elba, with front man Billie Joe Armstrong taking a moment to address the timing of the situation. “Most of all, it’s nice to be out of America just for a second, because of this horrendous election that’s going on right now,” he said. “Our entire country is about to have one big, collective heart attack.”
“American Idiot,” then, originally written to protest president George W. Bush and the wars and lies of his early-to-mid-2000s administration, became the perfect way to back up Armstrong’s sentiments during an election that has seemed to last longer, and produced much more vitriol, than any other. “Can you hear the sound of hysteria? / The subliminal mind-Trump America,” he sang, tweaking the lyrics at the beginning of the song.
With fans chanting along, the band launched into the final chorus a capella before the devastating power of its instrumentation kicked back in and delivered the awards show a forceful — and fitting — conclusion. Check out the video of Green Day’s “American Idiot” performance above.