This Friday, Green Day will release Greatest Hits: God’s Favorite Band, which showcases Billie Joe Armstrong’s unexpected duet with country singer Miranda Lambert. Even more surprising is that the collaboration between the superstars happened right here in Denver.
Back in August, Green Day and Lambert happened to be playing shows in Denver on the same day – the band at Fiddler's Green, Lambert at Red Rocks. The pair made time the day after their shows to book a session at local recording studio Side 3 Studios, according to a studio assistant manager who reached out to Westword via social media. The artists brought their own engineer, Chris Dugan, and Side 3's head engineer Andy Flebbe assisted.
"Everyone was 100 percent professional and great to work with — that's no B.S. or fluff," Side 3 studio manager/producer Jon Bonus says. "I would love if all up-and-comers saw how their team, especially Chris, worked in terms of being organized but still having fun and being creative."
Side 3, opened in 2006, frequently hosts national acts, including recent visits from Lil Yachty, Flume and Lil Wayne, though they don't always publicize high-profile clients' sessions. This particular session posed one logistical challenge. "We had to make sure we had enough space to park three huge tour buses!" Bonus says.
This wasn’t Armstrong’s first time trading pop-punk sneer for earnest acoustics: He teamed up with Norah Jones in 2013 for faithful covers of Everly Brothers songs. The track with Lambert is a reworked version of “Ordinary World,” which first appeared on Green Day’s Revolution Radio in 2016. The original song is a sweetly strummed ballad that seems to draw from the socially conscious rhetorical-question model of “Blowin’ in the Wind” and “Where Have All the Flowers Gone,” and Lambert’s piercing voice should bolster its power.
Still, the pairing is unexpected. Green Day and Armstrong have long been known for their political dissent and middle-finger-to-the-man positivity. Lambert, like most other rulers of mainstream country music, refuses to discuss politics at her concerts or in the press. She does, however, continuously upend expectations of gender roles more subtly within her music. Sure, her breakthrough hit "Gunpowder and Lead" still sparks many NRA boners, but single "Vice," following her high-profile divorce from Blake Shelton — World's Sexiest Man, don't ya know? — was an unapologetic view of female sexuality, anger and weariness of norms that Nashville typically upholds.
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God’s Favorite Band is Green Day’s second greatest-hits compilation after 2001’s International Superhits! This one includes hits spanning the band’s entire career, beginning with a track from Kerplunk! and hitting every album except Dos! and Tres! In addition to the Denver-recorded song, it includes a previously unreleased track titled "Back in the USA." The album’s overblown title comes from Stephen Colbert’s joking introduction of the band when the act played The Late Show in March 2017.