Explaining the Nickelback phenomenon – love them or hate them?

Canadian rock band, Nickelback are a love them or hate them band. With over 50 million copies of their music sold worldwide, Nickelback has caused divides for years. Forming in 1995 and releasing a variety of tracks that have reached chart and gold status, the band has – in no shadow of a doubt – created tracks that all of us has had stuck in our heads. Previously labelled as the most successful rock band of the 2000’s decade by Billboard, ‘This Is How You Remind Me’ was listed as the fourth best-selling song of that decade. So, why is this successful rock group one of the most hated bands of our time? It’s become a normal thing to show such distaste for what originally appeared to be one of the most prominent bands of our younger years; it’s moved away from our twelve-year-old selves quoting ‘never made it as a wise man, I couldn’t cut it as a poor man stealing,’ in our MSN names and personal messages to show how edgy we really were. For many people, Nickelback was, and could still be, a gateway into the alternative scene. They were a starting point for many, but as we’ve grown older and wiser and the metaphorical tables have turned and our attitude towards Nickelback have dropped dramatically. If you ask fans why they like Nickelback, a regular answer will be that they’re very lackadaisical about what people think about them, and never take themselves too seriously. We’re about to go down a rabbit hole into why is Nickelback perceived as the worst band of our millennial lifetime?

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Before we go into the reasons why let’s look at the success that Nickelback has achieved during their continuing reign. Firstly, in 2017, Nickelback was rated as the 11th best-selling group of our time, and the second-best selling foreign act in the US behind The Beatles. Selling over 50 million copies of their music worldwide, Nickelback has achieved masses of awards for SOCAN’s International Achievement Awards select years through 2003 and 2008. The Canadian rock group has fallen into different genre’s over the years, which could be one of the reasons why they’ve appealed to many, as well as the reason they have annoyed many. Releasing statements such as “maths made me famous,” Chad Kroegr has earned himself a pretty terrible reputation. The impressive £6.1m income puts Kroegr on a pedestal, and potentially made his ego slightly larger than it should be. In 2017, Kroegr got into a public feud with Slipknot’s lead vocalist, Corey Taylor, claiming Stone Sour was a “Nickelback Lite” and that Taylor’s rooted band, Slipknot was merely a gimmick. Nickelback, for years, has been the easiest target, but Kroegr’s attempt at passing the torment was not received well. Taylor released a statement about Kroegr’s remarks responding with the facts of Taylor’s award as Sexiest Dude in Rock with a mask while Kroegr’s claim to fame is Ugliest Dude in Rock without one. The feud didn’t run deeper than sly comments, but the stunt by Kroegr brought relevancy back to Nickelback as they continued to ride the wave of Feed The Machine in 2016.

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People around the world have rallied against Nickelback, petitioning to have them not play live shows or be apart of a Thanksgiving football game. The petition gained over 55,000 signatures but didn’t deter the band, but ultimately got them booed off after one song. It’s astonishing to know that Nickelback haters are more motivated than their actual fans, with a Portugual show being boycotted by protesters, buying tickets and showing up to the show to throw rocks at them onstage. In 2008, The Guardian voted Kroegr for Douchebag Of The Year Award for reasons being that he is a “self-important drunk driver and propagator of the worst music ever. With bad hair.”

58426a7f14e63It’s not a secret that they’re very much disliked, and one of the biggest reasons being is that they are merely just a bit naff. But, Nickelback does know how to create tracks that are appealing to the masses, and hooks that will get stuck in your head involuntarily. The band has sold millions through a way that has become out of fashion: overexposure. Remember the early days of Kerrang! when every other song would be ‘This Is How You Remind Me’? The video was played so much that most 20-something’s will be able to tell you the video without watching it in years. Many believe that Nickelback rides off the back of prior successful bands, being a copy-of-a-copy of post-grunge drizzled with a splash of Creed-esque self-importance. Recently, Nickelback have taken a few left turns, trying to keep up with the changing times and relevant musical sounds, with their latest releases being on the heavier side and heavily compared to the likes of Trivium. Could it be the constant comparison, the seeming unoriginality of their music that fuels the fire of protestors? In an attempt, Finnish researcher Salli Attonen places it down to authenticity, and that Nickelback isn’t seen as genuine. Reading through music publications through 2000 and 2014, Nickelback has been attacked for its music, leading Attonen to this conclusion, with critics describing that Nickelback songs are ‘optimally safe’ and only being up to par on the genre creating the illusion of heavy rock while the band laugh their way to the bank. A major note, and possibly one of the factors that contributed early on to their growing hatred, is that they like to fall into the grunge genre while being everything grunge is not by commercialising themselves.

Nickelback is too much of everything to be enough of something. They follow genre expectations too well, which is seen as empty imitation, but also not well enough, which is read as commercial tactics and as a lack of a stable and sincere identity.

— Attonen

With their ingenuity regularly questioned, Nickelback likely face many more moons of being on the backlash of the alternative scene’s hatred, but Kroegr has since said that a lot of their success does come down to Nickelback’s protestors. The question may forever be unanswered, but Nickelback will feign on to be the biggest cause of division in our friend groups for a very long time.

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