Ever wondered what the deal was with Nickelback? Why do they get so much hate? And do they really deserve it? Well, today we get to the bottom of the mystery of Nickelback…
Nickelback seem to get an awful lot of bad press. But the question is why? Nobody seems to be able to put there finger on the exact reason, so we thought we’d give it a try. Today, we answer the question: why do people hate Nickelback?
The cultural reaction to Nickelback has gone through four distinct phases:
- Nickelback were incredibly popular and at the top of the charts, everyone loved Nickelback.
- There was a Nickelback-lash, in which a lot of people expressed increasing hatred of Nickelback.
- Hatred of Nickelback became a popular meme and source of humor.
- Some people have emerged in an anti-Nickelback-lash and started to defend liking Nickelback.
While many popular entertainers have experienced this progression of cultural relevance and reference, few have done so as powerfully and with the persistence of Nickelback. In fact, this phenomenon has been explored everywhere from music publications to university studies, with people the world over trying to figure out why people hate Nickelback.
Just how much do people hate Nickelback?
Here are just a few examples of Nickelback hatred from around the world:
- A man in London began a crowdfunding campaign to keep them from ever performing in that city. (source 1)
- Police in Australia took to social media to accuse Nickelback of being “hazardous to your hearing” on Facebook, and “crimes against music” on Twitter. (source 2)
- Not to be outdone, police in Canada threatened to torture criminals with Nickelback music (source 3)
- There is a Chrome plugin called “Nickelblock” that will remove all mentions of the band from your online experience (source 4)
- For a while, “Nickelbacking” was the new Rickrolling, in which one tricks others into listening to a Nickelback song
These are just a few examples of the widespread derision the band has engendered. But why?
Why do People Hate Nickelback?
It seems to us that people hate Nickleback for 4 key reasons:
1. They were successful genre musicians
They were perceived as being unoriginal, a band that simply copied styles and techniques that were explored more adventurously and more authentically by other bands. They started in the 90s as a cover band, and never developed an original style or substance. Their sheer commercial popularity and success led many to feel that Nickelback was bland, inauthentic, and formulaic. So, even early in their success, many people hated them for seeming insincere and simply producing popular music for the money. As a teenager at the height of Nickelback’s fame, this was the reason that my friends and I disliked them.
2. Brian Posehn hates Nickelback
In 2003, Comedy Central started a panel show called Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn, where comedians discussed news stories. In one of the shows, comedian Brian Posehn said, “No one talks about the studies that show that bad music makes people violent, like listening to Nickelback makes me want to kill Nickelback.” The quip was funny, and used in a commercial for Quinn’s show that ran on the network for months. Everyone who watched Comedy Central was exposed to this joke multiple times that year, making Nickelback the butt of similar jokes and helping to cement a certain image of the band in the mind of people who watched the network.
3. DFS Commercial
In 2008, Nickelback allowed their song “Rockstar” to be licensed for a commercial for a furniture store in the UK. The commercial was terrible, with poor production values, and prominently featured the song.
The commercial was later banned for being deceptive and exaggerating the size of the sofa. The fact that the commercial aired so widely and was seen by so many, was so bad and poorly made, and associated the band with cheap, discount sofas was terrible for Nickelback. It cemented the perception of the band as sellouts who are only in music for the money, and not having integrity or authenticity.
4. Enter the memes
A number of memes and online videos critical of the band went viral. Among them:
- A 2004 video compares Nickelback’s “How You Remind Me” and “Someday,” showing the striking similarity between the two songs. In 2007, the video was posted on YouTube and received hundreds of thousands of views.
- A 2007 video of Nickelback on stage in concert in Portugal. The crowd responded very poorly to the band, someone threw something at Chad Kroeger, and they left after performing only two songs. Check out the video here.
- On February 2, 2010, a woman started a Facebook page with the question “Can this pickle get more fans than Nickelback?” Less than two months later, on March 30th, the pickle had 1,580,178 fans, and Nickelback had 1,487,303
- In February of 2017, an officer at the US Department of Defense issued a memo banning “terrible rock groups,” including Nickelback. The memo was leaked to Twitter and covered in the news media
Over time, the two perceptions: that Nickelback is an objectively bad band that makes terrible music, and that hating Nickelback is funny and good material for jokes, merged into a single cultural awareness and reference point. Once there was widespread adoption of these two ideas, the world was ripe for an endless stream of Nickelback jokes, memes, and general mockery.
For example, in 2017, when Arnold Schwarzenegger tweeted about gerrymandering and said that the US Congress is “less popular than herpes & Nickelback,” he was, in a sense, not referring to the band itself specifically, but to the larger meme, the general cultural reference point of hating Nickelback.
But, not everyone hates Nickelback. Honestly.
In recent years, some defenders of Nickelback have emerged, helped along by the more-or-less good grace the band has had about being the butt of an endless stream of jokes.
Music writers are rethinking their assessment of the band, possibly aided by nostalgia, and Smashing Pumpkins’ Billy Corgan has publicly praised their songwriting. The Chainsmokers were recently compared to Nickelback (in January 2017, Esquire called the Chainsmokers the “Nickelback of EDM”) and they rose to the occasion, engendering a comedic musical dialogue between the two bands. In fact, it may be that the Chainsmokers will become the new band to hate, and the worst of the Nickelback hatred is behind us. As the Chainsmokers say, Nickelback jokes were “a lot cooler a couple years ago.”
However, one would hope the Chainsmokers would learn from experience, and not license any of their songs to a discount sofa company. There’s only so much we can take.
So what do you think about Nickelback? Be honest! Let us know in the comments down below.
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By James Anderson – My own from Dublin, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link