Ask a friend what they think about the band Nickelback and the first reaction you’ll get is a scrunched face.
But why does this happen?
This article will try to make sense of how one of the best-selling bands in history became the most hated in the music industry.
The rock band formed in 1995 in Alberta, Canada, consisting of guitarist and lead vocalist Chad Kroeger, keyboardist and backing vocalist Ryan Peake, bassist Mike Kroeger, and drummer Ryan Vikedal, who was replaced by Daniel Adair.
They achieved commercial success after the release of their 2001 album Silver Side Up, which featured hit songs like “Leader of Men” and “Hollywood,” but some songs on their previous two albums “Curb” and “The State” also bolstered their image in the music industry.
But it was their song “How You Remind Me” that made everyone a Nickelback fan.
The minority of people who admire Nickelback will point out that the band sold more than 50 million albums worldwide, becoming the second best-selling foreign act in the U.S. of the 2000s, right behind The Beatles. You have to give it to them, that’s quite an achievement.
Before Nickelback became the hilarious punchline of hundreds of internet memes, you were jamming out to their songs on the radio. The melody of their songs were worthy enough to rock to, and the lyrics were catchy enough to sing to.
Now if you try and Google “Nickelback,” you’ll only find articles that have to do with how hated and awful they are. There was even a crowdfunding campaign to keep them out of London, and a petition with thousands of signatures to replace them at the halftime show at a Lion’s game years ago.
They were a joke to start with when they signed to an extreme metal label.
In 1999, Nickelback signed with predominately metal label Roadrunner Records, but their music didn’t quite fit in, and because of that they were mocked by members of the metal community, which consisted of all the people who first listened to their music. That’s how they came to be known as “the band that ruined Roadrunner Records.”
“They suck by virtue of their label mates at the time, and Roadrunner’s signing of them was akin to The Learning Channel signing John and Kate Plus 8 – forever turning into a shitpile of mass market garbage,” one person on Reddit wrote in 2014.
Comedy Central may have started the worldwide hate for the band.
While Nickelback was racking in money from sold-out concerts and radio play, Comedy Central’s show Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn, a comedy show featuring four comedians discussing news stories, may have changed the minds of millions of people around the world.
Comedian Brian Posehn was responding to a study that tied violent lyrics to violent behavior, and famously said, “No one talks about the studies that show that bad music makes people violent, but listening to Nickelback makes me want to kill Nickelback.”
That’s when people stared to adopt this view as well, and even when the joke became ‘so last year’, the sentiment remained.
Their over-use of inappropriate themes.
Those who have more carefully listened to their lyrics know that they talk a lot about strippers, sex, prostitutes, drugs, and drinking alcohol. I mean, it’s not shocking because they are a rock band, but because they’re more “pop” than “underground,” this seems to get them more into trouble, surprisingly.
For example, people have called out the band for the pretentious lyrics of the 2006 hit “Rockstar.” The song had commercial success, but music critics considered it the worst song of all time.
Cause we all just wanna be big rockstars
And live in hilltop houses driving fifteen cars
The girls come easy and the drugs come cheap
We’ll all stay skinny ’cause we just won’t eat
And we’ll hang out in the coolest bars
In the VIP with the movie stars
Every good gold digger’s gonna wind up there
Every Playboy Bunny with her bleached blond hair, and well
Hey hey I wanna be a rockstar
All their music sounds the same.
That’s pop music for you, but people just said enough is enough with Nickelback. It might be because we had high hopes for this band. After the death of Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain, we were waiting for another star to be born and shine as bright as him, but we forgot that no one could replace ‘the flagship band’.
But you know who hates Nickelback the most? Nickelback.
“We are one of those bands that a lot of people think take themselves seriously,” Chad told Blabbermouth in 2014. “And no one—no one, and I know this is hard to believe—can make as much fun of us as we make fun of ourselves. And we are harsh. If you think the Internet’s rough, you should sit in a van with us. We are really harsh. We make up the best alternate lines to our own songs. And this is some top-shelf stuff.”