February 1st, 1994, was the date of birth for Green Day's Dookie, a 14-track, sub-40-minute bundle of blistering, hook-heavy joy. In the 20 years that it's been blaring from alternative radio stations, Discmans, and warbling car stereos, it helped define the sound of the 1990s, and it's still steering the music we listen to today.
Green Day's third studio album and major label debut is so energy-packed, you can't help toe-tapping, head-nodding, or air-drumming along. The fast, energetic bass riffs and drum chops make other rock albums feel flaccid and overweight. This is quintessential driving music: rolling down the windows and blasting this album was a rite of passage, even if you got your driver's license a decade after the album's debut.
Dookie has the same no-slowing-down eagerness as early Beatles albums: uptempo melodies, catchy lyrics, and harmonies you can belt out with your best friend. Each song feeling like a radio single. Indeed, if you've tuned in a rock radio station in the past 20 years, you've likely heard nearly every song on this album. That sound permeated the 1990s, chasing off Nirvana's gloom—Kurt Cobain died just a couple months after Dookie's debut—and opening the door for bands like The Offspring, Blink 182, Weezer, and scads of other punk-tinged pop groups.
Yet somehow, two decades later, Dookie sounds fresher than just about anything it inspired. It's got the kind of rambunctiousness that never grows old, even if the hooks are so familiar you could sing them in your sleep. Personally, the twanging bass lead-in to "Longview" still sends shivers up my spine. Just like it did 20 years ago.