California trio Green Day’s sixth studio album, Warning (2000) showed that the band were still keen to expand their sonic palette on tracks such as Minority with influences taken from outside punk and its associated sub-genres.
Their previous release, 1997’s Nimrod, had produced the massive crossover hit ‘Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)’ – a distinctly un-punk, string-laden acoustic ballad that gained heavy MTV rotation and brought the band huge commercial success. Although Warning succeeded in showcasing Green Day’s evolving sound it failed to match the sales records of previous albums and was their first release to not achieve Platinum status.
Along with the broader musical horizons came fresh lyrical perspectives; whereas earlier Green Day songs had primarily focused on the pleasures of substance abuse (and, indeed, self-abuse) Warning marked the start of Billie Joe Armstrong’s move towards songwriting as political commentary, paving the way for future releases such as American Idiot (2004).
‘Minority’, the album’s first single, is the foremost example of the band’s political statements around the Millennium. Clearly the sentiment of not being aligned with the mainstream struck a chord with many listeners as the song topped the Billboard Modern Rock chart for 5 consecutive weeks.
Musically, ‘Minority’ has a heavy folk influence, often sounding more like an Irish jig than a typical Green Day song. As such, there’s an underlying triplet feel – all the paired quavers are played ‘shuffled’ rather than even (see the transcription for a notational explanation of the feel).
The frequent use of triplets in the chorus and bridge sections requires consistent and precise right hand picking (you are using a plectrum, aren’t you?). Triplets and other odd groupings of notes can be troublesome when played with strict alternate picking because every new beat begins with a different pick direction – unfortunately the only solution to this is repeated practice at slow tempos (avoid the temptation to try and ‘tough it out’ using only downstrokes as it’ll make your playing sound tense).