Chicago vs. Green Day – Song Parallels
What do a bunch of classic rock legends and a group of young Berkeley punks have in common? Well, not much, probably. But in the case of Chicago and Green Day, they have at least one descending chord progression in common.
And this isn’t just any collection of chords we’re talking about — it’s the signature stuttering riff that powers ’25 or 6 to 4,’ the early Chicago hit that’s become a rock radio mainstay over the last four decades and change. Given the song’s enduring popularity, it’s probably one of the more easily recognizable hooks of the rock era — and when Green Day released ‘Brain Stew’ as a single from their fourth album, ‘Insomniac,’ in 1996, plenty of people noticed it owed a certain sonic debt to Chicago.
While the ‘Brain Stew’ riff isn’t a direct lift from ’25 or 6 to 4,’ it follows the same descending pattern — and while it would be hard for Chicago to argue that they own a trademark where that’s concerned, it would be equally difficult for anyone from Green Day to pretend they’d never heard the Chicago song. Have a listen to clips from both tracks below and see if you can hear the similarity.
Listen to Chicago, ’25 or 6 to 4′
Listen to Green Day, ‘Brain Stew’