Know Your Enemy

Album: 21st Century Breakdown (2009)
Charted: 21 28


  • Singer Billie Joe Armstrong told Q magazine May 2009 about this rock number: "It's a rallying song. It's about liberating yourself from a lot of bulls--- that you see on TV."
  • This was the lead single from the 21st Century Breakdown album.
  • The music video was directed by Matthew Cullen, who, as the co-founder of production house Motion Theory, has worked with acts like Modest Mouse and Beck. He told MTV News: "We shot in downtown Los Angeles - in a real urban center - and the video is Green Day performing. There isn't another single person in it. It's based very much on my interpretation of the lyrics, but it connects to the title of the song, and it plays to the environment of fear that we've created for ourselves. There's a lot of symbolism that I tried to mirror [in the shoot]. I took a lot of influence from Green Day's lyrics and the imagery of [street artist] Banksy. It may not sound like a lot, but it's huge visually. It's gonna be a new experience for a lot of their fans. I mean, it's still Green Day, but it's just bigger."
  • Armstrong told The Sun April 24, 2009 that this "was the first song we were really into. I thought, 'Yep this is kinda saying something.'" He added: "I've never really written a song like that before. I've always liked songs like Freefalling by Tom Petty - it's the same riff over and over again. And that's hard to do - firing on one riff."
  • This entered the Billboard Hot 100 at #40, earning Green Day the highest debut of their chart career. The rock band's previous best arrival was the #53 bow of "Working Class Hero" in 2007.

Comments: 12

  • Hayes from Newark, OhGreat song, "Saint Jimmy" sang it to Johnny, I think he was referring to Whatsername(for trying to flush his drugs)

    for me, this song means "if you don't know that you are the reason your a total screw up, then you might was well kill yourself now. you are your own enemy"
  • Miles from West Linn, OrTheir worst song on the album as far as i'm concerned
  • [p3yt0n} from Somewhere, InIf he didnt repeat himslef all the time in this, it would be a great song. its still good though.
  • Scott from Reading, Palove this song
  • Amelia from Modesto, CaVery annoying song :/
    He repeats himself too much
  • Peter from Kc, MoThis song is very similar to Rage Against the Machines song with the same title. Rage's is far better however
  • Josh from Omaha, Nethis a good song this is why i like Green Day
  • Hunter from South West, MiThere are too many songs with this name. But Rage Against The Machine's is by far the BEST!
    Also, Greenday are losing the punk feel
  • Andrew from Lindenhurst, Nyi really don't like this song but i really don't like the pop- punk sound
  • Ben from Manchester, United KingdomGood awesome song :-) Hope the new album's good.
  • Ashley from Edmonton, AbI actually really like
    this song ;D
  • Matt from Houston, Txnicely punk driven. although a lot of post-american idiot fan will be dissapointed.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

dUg Pinnick of King's XSongwriter Interviews

dUg dIgs into his King's X metal classics and his many side projects, including the one with Jeff Ament of Pearl Jam.

Bob DaisleySongwriter Interviews

Bob was the bass player and lyricist for the first two Ozzy Osbourne albums. Here's how he wrote songs like "Crazy Train" and "Mr. Crowley" with Ozzy and Randy Rhoads.

Spot The Real Red Hot Chili Peppers Song TitlesMusic Quiz

The Red Hot Chili Peppers have some rather unusual song titles - see if you can spot the real ones.

The End Of The Rock EraSong Writing

There are no more rock stars - the last one died in 1994.

Bible LyricsMusic Quiz

Rockers, rappers and pop stars have been known to quote the Bible in their songs. See if you match the artist to the biblical lyric.

A Monster Ate My Red Two: Sesame Street's Greatest Song SpoofsSong Writing

When singers started spoofing their own songs on Sesame Street, the results were both educational and hilarious - here are the best of them.