Why is it Cool to Hate Nickelback; or is it McNickelback.
The corporate rock machine that is Nickelback confuses me on multiple levels. I have spent the last few days going over information on the world’s most hated band and I found myself wondering why it is cool to hate Nickelback. Really the band has humble beginnings small town guys from Hanna Alberta who started a rock band after being in a cover band. They played countless bars, struggled to get found, released an Indie album “Curb”, had mild success with their 2nd album “The State.” That’s when I heard what I thought was their first single “Leader of Men” I just thought they were the Canadian answer to Bush or Bush X as they were called here. The lead singer had a similar image to that of the lead singer of Bush and I thought after that album we would never hear about them again. So how does a band go from the Canadian equivalent of Bush to having thousands of people protesting their half time performance during a Thanksgiving football game in Detroit?
Madonna is performing the half time show for the 2012 NFL Super bowl. The Black Eyed Peas performed in 2011, Britney Spears and NSYNC performed in the early 2000’s all of whom are not the stereotypical football fans favorite bands. No one protested, there were not Facebook groups about it that people flocked to in the tens of thousands. Why this hate for Nickelback? I cannot stand Madonna, I find her fake annoying and one of the many shock performers that built a formula of staying in the news by causing “controversy” and once the controversy stops they usually go away. Madonna sadly will not go away. I assume millions of NFL fans have the same opinion of Madonna. So why no protest of her performance or those pop stars in years past? Nickelback who’s new single “Bottoms Up” is #9 on the Billboard Rock Charts has 50,000 Detroit residence singing a petition to block their performance. So how is their song #9 on the Rock charts?
Where are the Nickelback fans? Their albums sell millions, their concerts sell out all over the world. They have packed stadiums and made millions of dollars but no one listens to them. Is it because of what a friend of mine told me that they seem like the McDonalds of the Radio? Are they the McNickelback of the radio?
When Nickelback's 3rd album “Silver Side Up” was released in 2001 I like the rest of the world heard “How You Remind Me.” I thought it was a neat rock radio song, the production of it was great, the writing was simple and to the point. Being a metal and rock fan the lack of guitar solos bothered me but that was par for the rock radio climate of the early 2000’s. Then everyone around was complaining about the song, I read in an article that for a solid year around the world “How You Remind Me” was played something like every three minutes and fifteen seconds which was crazy because the song is only 3:44 in length which meant it was played for a solid year on rock radio. So one would assume from the mass over play Nickelback would run into a backlash and their success would end. “Silver Side Up” pumped out the hits, every week Rick the Temp on Much Music threw to a new video it seemed. NIckelback was blowing up despite the Canadian fans growing sick of them.
So that’s were they would end I figured, the world was sick of them. They polluted the radio airwaves for a solid two 2 years with that album and everywhere I went I heard grumbles about Nickelback. So in 2003 when their 4th album “The Long Road” was released I figured they’d be dead in the water. I was wrong.
Somehow this band that no one I knew listened to had another hit album. During this albums time in the spot light they did a tour of Atlantic Canada and I drug a friend of mine to see them in St. John. He hated Nickelback, not ne glimmer of respect for them but he came kicking and screaming to the show. With the Trews opening and Nickelback headlining it was actually a good show. They were an amazingly solid band live, they had pyro; they covered “The Four Horsemen” by Metallica. The crowd was packed and singing along to every song and I found it funny the many of the Fredericton locals I had heard complaining about Nickelback were there singing along.
Now almost 10 years later I listened to Nickelback's new album, the first one I have heard since 2003 that is other then their radio hits. I have a much different perspective on Nickelback, no they are not a band that I would listen to but I find myself not listening to a lot I heard in the early 2000’s but what I do hear is a lack of heart. The new album “Here and Now” seems like a producers blueprint. It feels like protools created templates like Microsoft Word had done for resumes in the late 90’s. The album has two songs about sex, two songs about drinking, two songs about love, two songs about changing the world. The rock songs have Chad Kroeger’s signature “Yeah” yell. The slow ones have his generic heart torn words of painful love. It is just a mess of filling the subject lines.
Now I do not want to sound like a Nickelback cool to hate member because that is not what I intended on becoming as I listened to their catalogue. What I have found is the corporate machine that is Nickelback has turned into a company that operates to give people what they want. The demographics have been studied and Nickelback puts out albums to fill them all. This is where the mass amount of hate flows from. It is not because they are poor songwriters, they are not poor musicians. They are all great players with the best equipment, best production, stage, best marketing. Where the hatred comes from is the lack of being GENUINE.
No one can say they are a Nickelback fan because that person does not exist. No one can find all of their songs good. Their new album switches so quickly from a use and abuse song about women to an I don’t want to fall in love with an angel song. The emotions that go up and down on the album and the songs have no purpose being beside one another. The Nickelback format has become a house for the lowest common denominator, what do people like; sex, love, booze, peace, grass go make a song for each one.
I saw an interview on Much Music where Chad Kroeger said, “You can dislike Nickelback but you can not say Nickelback sucks, because we have millions of fans.” No a person cannot say they suck, they are great at what they do; they know how to be the guilty pleasure of millions. I have just one gigantic thought or word of advice for Nickelback for their next album, be honest. Sure you may lose some fans, you may not sell as many albums but for Christ sake at least it would not be as transparent as this dribble that is being released this Tuesday Nov 21st. Pretend like you are music fans again, pretend like this music gig is not all about the money. You already have lots of money I am sure of it. The members of this band get to do what millions dream of, any person who love music or who has ever picked up an instrument has dreamt of living their life doing what they love. Nickelback gets to perform in front of millions of people, quite lying to them. Quite trying to be cool and maybe one day you will be. Or just throw the golden arches on the album cover and get it over with already.
With that being said if your a Nickelback fan stand up, if you like their music stand behind them.
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