For The Record | Issue 24

For The Record | Issue 24

I Love Nickelback

Mentioning Nickelback is a surefire way of attracting attention. It worked, didn’t it? You saw the title and immediately dived into this column with knee-jerk cynicism, eager to mock and insult my music taste. But why, exactly, do you hate the world’s most hated band?

No, I don’t love Nickelback. But I also don’t spew vitriolic bile every time they’re mentioned. Let’s face it: Nickelback are no worse than half the shit masquerading as rock out there. They have a handful of decent songs, can play the hell out of a stadium, and frontman Chad Kroeger has got to be given credit for un-ironically keeping a goatee for so long.

Nickelback are one of the few bands in history who are absolutely acceptable to hate without justification. It seems strange though, doesn’t it? The rock quartet aren’t controversial or polarising. They’re safe, bland and predictable, three traits shared by many of their cock-rock contemporaries. So just why do we hate Nickelback?

It’s pretty much impossible to talk about music in the early aughts without mentioning Nickelback. They’ve sold almost 50 million albums, and are one of the most successful artists of the past decade. Through sheer ubiquity they have become the very definition of rock music.

So here’s what I think: we hate Nickelback because we hate what rock music has become. We hate Nickelback because we know their success and influence is our own fault. We hate Nickelback because we hate ourselves.

Nickelback seem to receive the most criticism for their lack of musical diversity. They use the same chord progressions and distortion, they sing about the same things, and they haven’t changed their flannel shirts for years. But why haven’t they changed? Why did they self-plagiarize and never progress? Because we bought their fucking music; we filled their concerts; we lined up in droves and affirmed their style. We shouted from the rooftops, “We love you Nickelback! Don’t go changing!”

Last year, Nickelback were scheduled to play during an NFL halftime show. A petition was created to replace them, and it received over 50,000 signatures. But their seventh studio album, released a few weeks before the football game, sold nearly 300,000 copies within its first week. Someone’s obviously listening to the Canadian “rockers”.

We hate ourselves for destroying rock music, for pissing on the graves of the rock greats. Despising Nickelback has become an easy way to deal with our self-loathing. Most of us don’t even know why we hate Chad and co – “It’s because they suck,” the aforesaid petition read.

For the record, I’m sure we all resent the hell out of the fact that we missed the Stones in their heyday, The Clash’s guitar destruction and Hendrix’s anthems. We didn’t get any of that. We got Nickelback, and it’s all our fault.
This article first appeared in Issue 24, 2012.
Posted 4:57pm Sunday 16th September 2012 by Lukas Clark-Memler.