Throughout the past few years, it’s become a common joke to rag on the popular late 1990’s rock band, Nickelback, often referred to as one of the worst rock bands of all time. As an absolute lover of Nickelback and the rock anthems they’ve created, I have encountered a fair amount of backlash for my support of the hated Canadian rock group. When some of my friends found out about my closeted love for Nickelback, they actually asked if I had hearing problems or enjoyed torturing myself. While everyone loves to hate Nickelback and state how irrelevant they’ve been since about 2008, I’m here to prove the haters wrong once and for all.
First of all, who hasn’t secretly had an obsession with the 2005 smash hit, “Photograph”? I dare any hater to tell me that they can’t recognize the song by the first two seconds of acoustic guitar chords. Haven’t we all had at least one slide show or iMovie featuring old pictures of classmates or friends with this song perfectly accompanying it in the background? “Photograph” takes us all back to those days when we were carefree and hadn’t discovered the anguish of Calculus or having to pay rent yet. And not to mention the age-old question that leaves the listener burning with anticipation for a never-delivered answer: “What the hell was on Joey’s head?” WE WILL NEVER KNOW.
Now I’d like to draw your attention to another 2005 hit, “Rockstar.” This slow rock jam detailed the glamorous life of Hollywood and the music industry. Who didn’t fantasize about how cool these guys’ lives sounded, preaching about parties at mansions and owning fifteen cars? In addition, Nickelback turned out awesome tracks like, “This Afternoon,” “I’d Come for You,” and “If Today Was Your Last Day” in 2008. Nothing soothes the soul like the enchanting raspy rock vocals of Chad Kroeger making us feel all the feels.
Nickelback is a band of badass rockers who make us all wish we could slay on an electric guitar and embrace our inner, edgy alter ego. I knew all of the words to “Animals,” a 2005 track describing a night of teenage sexual deviance and angst, when I was in third grade (sorry, Mom). Now, despite my complete lack of knowledge on what I was actually singing about (i.e. “You’re beside me on the seat/Got your hand between my knees/And you control how fast we go by just how hard you wanna squeeze”), I felt like a rockstar myself, just listening to this intense rock and roll. Nickelback unleashes the badass within us all.
So why all the hate on Nickelback? A man in early 2015 went so far as to listen to Nickelback for seven days straight as a challenge to raise money for charity. And it actually worked.
Nickelback tops lists on websites for the top worst bands of all time. People criticize Chad Kroeger’s natural rasp as sounding like a dying frog. And yet, the band still has sold over fifty million albums worldwide and performed countless sold out arena shows.
Many criticize the band for the stereotypical, over sexualized nature of the songs and the perpetual use of rock and roll themes, such as drugs, booze, partying, money, and women as sexual objects. My advice is to take Nickelback songs for what they are: rock and roll. And just like any other genre, there are going to be songs that reflect some of the more unflattering aspects of our culture. Just look at any rap song in today’s music industry, and you’re going to find references to all of these “taboo” topics. Whether you’re still skeptical, or you’re just a hard-wired Nickelback hater, everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion on the band and on music in general. My only message is to keep an open mind to Nickelback and all musical genres, songs, and styles. Never dismiss an entire collection of music based on one or two songs. There is a limitless archive of music out there just waiting to be discovered. So, whether it’s Nickelback (seriously, go check out Nickelback) or another band, keep an open mind, expand your musical horizons, and be a rockstar.