Disclaimer – I am a Nickelback fan. I’ve seen them live. I will again. I celebrate their entire catalog.
The wife and I are officially parents now. We just had our first dinner “date” cut short because the baby wouldn’t stop crying for the babysitter.
Just as the food landed on our table, the call came. I watched my wife’s demeanor, and heard her say into the phone, “…should we come and pick him up…?”
Knowing that was rhetorical, I accepted our fate and said to the server, “…can we get some to-go boxes…?”
I’m not upset. It’s kind of fun to experience all of these new “firsts” that you’d never imagine would make you smile. All of the best “firsts” are still to come. First words. First steps. First Nickelback album…
…okay, I derailed for a second.
So, on our way back home, the song “Lullaby” from the Nickelback album “Here and Now” came on the playlist. I said, “…oooh, good song, the baby is going to hear Lullaby…” Once the song started, my wife said/asked, “…oh, I like this song…its called lullaby?”
Me: “Yup – I don’t get why people have a beef with Nickelback.”
Wife: “People have a beef with Nickelback?”
Me: “YES! Some people have a visceral hate for Nickelback.”
Here is a fun party game. If you want to get people riled up, don’t talk about Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. Skip the debates about religion or the situation in the Middle East. Just take a sip of your drink, and exclaim as loudly and proudly as you can…
“I LIKE NICKELBACK, THEY ARE A GOOD BAND!”
You might as well say that you like Staind, Creed, or Dane Cook (I don’t get that hatred either).
I really don’t get it. They don’t sound bad. They must be doing something right – they’ve been around for a while and they have about 9 albums to their credit. I will admit that their lyrics can be a little “not PG” sometimes. They certainly don’t create complex metaphors to talk about different types of sexual behaviors. Or, maybe they do, and I’m just good at decoding metaphors.
That would probably be my biggest knock against them – the lyrics are sophomoric at times, borderline R rated at others, and can promote/glorify some behaviors that aren’t exactly dinner table friendly. BUT, other lyrics are pretty good. The songs that I really like have some decent lyrics…
- How You Remind Me
- Savin’ Me
- Too Bad
- If Today Was Your Last Day
- Far Away
- Gotta Be Someday
That list isn’t in any particular order.
If you don’t have strong feelings either way about Nickelback, I’d say listen to those songs, listen to the lyrics, and then try to tell me they suck.
I typed “why do people hate nickelback” into my browser. Here is the screenshot.
I checked out a couple of the hits. The article from Black Squirrel Radio probably gives one of the better academic assessments. Here are a couple of it’s high level arguments:
- Formulaic approach to song writing (music and lyrics)
- “Eye-rolling” lyrics
- Thematic content of the music (see my comment above about sex metaphors)
- The “look” of their frontman Chad Kroeger
- A negative PR whirlwind shit storm full of memes and internet content
The site called “Know your Memes” has a nice rundown of the internet fodder that is Nickelback’s persona. I’m good at separating content from subject, so if something is genuinely chuckle-worthy, I can still laugh even if I personally like the subject of the joke. Some of this stuff is just funny. I really like the military ban on Nickelback. That is hilarious. I bet Private Pyle was a Nickelback fan, and that is why he ran into problems.
picture credit: Warner Bros. Entertainment
I’m not trying to argue that Nickelback should be considered a great band, I’m just saying they aren’t awful, and shouldn’t be getting the amount of scorn that they do. Some of their earlier stuff is worth the criticism. You can say that about a lot of bands. For example, The Goo Goo Dolls put out some stuff early on that is barely palatable. After a couple of albums, they found their sound and evolved. Now they are a pretty damn good band. I’d say the same thing about Skillet (a christian rock band). Their early stuff is pretty bad. But, they found a sound and lyrics framework that has led to some really good albums (Comatose and Awake are my two favorites). Some bands do the opposite – they peak early and regress. Bush and Weezer are two bands that come to mind.
And just to address a thought that might be forming in your head…
“Man, he really likes shitty music…”
My tastes are all over the map. I have rap, country, metal, classical, classic rock, punk, etc in my music collection. I don’t limit myself to a genre. If it sounds good, I’ll listen to it. A good indicator for me that a song has some staying power is if I feel like hitting repeat and listening to it a few times. There is a song by Adelitas Way called “Alive” that I probably listened to on the way to work for a WEEK STRAIGHT. I don’t get tired of good music. I listen to it, try to identify instrument nuance and listen to the lyrics. “Rebirthing” by Skillet is another song that I just couldn’t turn off. “Saturday Night” by Lonestar (yes, country) is another one of those songs.
“Tear me up” by Chris Weaver Band
“Therapy” by Aaron Zimmer
Anything by Lifehouse.
I can think of a ton of songs from different genres that just make me want to keep listening. You get really lucky when you find an entire album that you just want to loop. Weezer “Blue” was probably the first album I had that I just kept listening to. Just a collection of great tracks. Many of Adelitas Way, Sick Puppies, or Theory of a Deadman albums have fallen into that category over the past couple of years. In my mind, if a band hits just once (whether its a song or an album), then they are worth at least some type of credit. Who doesn’t love “Life is a Highway” by Tom Cochrane? If you can’t find anything redeeming about ANY of the 9 songs I listed above, then this is a moot discussion.
As a fun side note, there actually are some scientific studies conducted to see why people like different types of music or sound patterns. Who knows, maybe there is a perfect “formula” for the masses when it comes to arranging sounds…
Sorry, I digress again.
When it comes to Nickelback, “All The Right Reasons” was one of those albums I could just loop. I will say that subsequent albums didn’t get the “loop” treatment until “Here and Now” in 2011. I’m not going to say that all of the critics’ issues with Nickelback were cured in this record. The sounds are still similar to typical Nickelback fare; however, I’d argue the lyrics grew up a lot. Following that album, “No Fixed Address” wasn’t as good, but it did have some good tracks “Edge of a Revolution,” and “What Are You Waiting For?” come to mind. Their most recent album in 2017, “Feed The Machine,” appears to be a deviation from their normal musical patterns. For me, the jury is still out on that album, but if you compare it to their first album, you can’t help but notice a band that grew up and refined its sound. I need to listen to it more – it is definitely different.
I’ll close my support of Nickelback by saying that not everybody hates them. A screen shot for “Nickelback is a good band” yields this.
And, this article on Noisey makes a nice argument for why they don’t suck to the degree that your Dave Matthews Band fan friend would have you believe.
So, don’t believe the hype – check out some of their work and form your own opinion.
Are you a fan of Nickelback? Do you need to keep this fandom hidden from your friends to avoid scorn/criticism? Do you hate Nickelback? Either way, let’s hear about it below.