Deadpool really had it right. Taking on Fred Savage/”The Grandson” of The Princess Bride, Deadpool (played by Ryan Reynolds, of course) fearlessly defends Nickelback by speaking simple facts about the successful Canadian rock band.
More than fifty million albums sold worldwide. The 11th best selling musical act of all time. Billboard’s most successful rock group of the 2000s. Six Grammy nominations. 12 Juno Awards. Six Billboard Music Awards. Two American Music Awards. One People’s Choice Award. One thing that this Deadpool trailer did not mention: Nickelback’s “How You Remind Me” was the best selling rock song and fourth best selling song of the 2000s overall.
Sure, you can stake your claim on the elitist hill of “Just because things are popular, doesn’t mean they’re good,” and you’d probably be willing to die on that hill; however, I’d ask you to reconsider that. I’m not here to tell you that you’re wrong for disliking Nickelback — that would make me quite the elitist myself — but I’m here to tell you that outwardly hating one of the most successful rock bands of our generation, is simply silly.
Nickelback currently consists of Chad Kroeger on lead vocals/guitar, Ryan Peake on backing vocals/guitar, Mike Kroeger on bass, and Daniel Adair on backing vocals/drums. Their lineup has been incredibly consistent over the years, three out of the four current members started the band back in 1995. Adair — who joined in 2005 — replaced former drummer Ryan Vikadel (1998-2005) and serves as the band’s fourth drummer, with Mitch Guindon taking that role in 1997-1998, and Brandon Kroeger drumming from 1995-1997. This consistency has lead to incredible chemistry both in studio and in live performances. It also means it’s been the same four guys hearing the same trite, boring comments about them for years.
People have long hated things that are popular, to give them an immense form of some indie credibility currency. But, that always seemed to go a step further when Nickelback came up in conversation. It wasn’t just cool to dislike Nickelback, it was cool to actually hate them, criticize them as people, and call them talentless hacks. These are things that, while are opinions, have no merit behind them. Do they write the most complicated, intricate songs in the world? No. Do they have to? Also no. Have they ever claimed to do so? No — at least not that, at the time of writing, I am currently aware of. You simply don’t get to be a successful musician if you aren’t good at your chosen instrument.
I’m willing to give you Nickelback hating folks that bit, but I’ll raise you something in return: Kroeger and co. are musical geniuses.
This point was first brought up by ChartAttack, when in a review for their 2008 release, Dark Horse, said that “Chad Kroeger is a genius because he knows exactly what people want and precisely how far he can go.” He’s right. These guys know who their audience is, what they want, and how to give it to them successfully. They also take into consideration what they want to do as creatives, which is certainly not an easy line to walk.
When you’re walking this line, you’ve got to do a little bit of everything. You have to, at times, write songs that are derivatives of your prior songs (for the fans), and also experiment every once in a while. For example, songs like “Animals,” “S.E.X.,” “Something In Your Mouth,” and “Figured You Out” are pretty similar songs. “Every Time We’re Together” is essentially a sequel to “Photograph,” and so forth. Songs like “Rockstar,” “Good Times Gone,” “This Afternoon,” and “She Keeps Me Up” were very different for Nickelback at each song’s respective release.
None of these points are bad. That’s the thing that this Nickelback hating crowd seems to disregard. Knowing your audience is absolutely brilliant. When you’re making any form of art, or even product that you’re looking to sell, you have to know your audience. If you’re selling football helmets, are you going to market them to baseball players? If you’re selling a cat tree, are you going to come up with commercials for dogs? Most likely, the answer to these two questions is no. Nickelback often gets ridiculed for writing these similar songs, but at it’s core, every genre is derivative of its predecessors. So no matter who your favorite artist is, or whatever your favorite genre is, most likely there is some repetitiveness amongst it — and that’s OK.
If you’re going to criticize Nickelback, at least make it about something that’s fair. I’ll give you another point: some of the songs they have wrote may not have aged gracefully. The aforementioned “Something In Your Mouth” and “S.E.X.” both, respectively, would fall under this category. Their repetitive use of sex, strippers, and alcohol throughout their lyrics — I can understand that. However, you also have to give them credit for reeling this in over the past decade or so. With each release that followed Dark Horse (2011’s Here and Now, 2014’s No Fixed Address, and 2017’s Feed the Machine), Nickelback toned down a bit on the objectification of women. Instead, they have surprisingly provided us with some songs that have political undertone: “Edge of a Revolution” off of No Fixed Address and essentially all of Feed the Machine.
Nickelback hasn’t just adjusted some of their lyrical content, they have also changed musically over the last two albums. If you haven’t listened to their newer music, give “Feed the Machine,” “Million Miles an Hour,” and “The Betrayal ACT III)” a shot to start. You might be surprised by what you hear. It’s a far cry from “Someday” and “Gotta Be Somebody.” Is it better? I can’t say. Music is beautifully subjective.
So, where did all of this extensive hate for Nickelback come from? I’m not sure. But in an industry where there are a lot of real problematic artists, perhaps — if you are one of the people straight hating on Nickelback — you should redirect your anger towards those artists. As far as I know, Nickelback hasn’t had any scandals regarding sexual assault or other crimes that plague the music industry. Instead of hating on them, I would recommend speaking out against those bands and artists that have had these scandals, yet continue to get a massive platform.
Once again, the point of this article was not to tell you to like Nickelback. Like I said, music is beautifully subjective — and you can like/dislike whatever you want. But, stop hating Nickelback for no reason. Their music doesn’t “suck,” you hating them sucks. Besides, I’d wager that “How You Remind Me” would be wedged somewhere between “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “Mr. Brightside” on the list of “songs that a room full of people will sing no matter what the occasion is.”
Do yourself a favor, let go of that whimsical hate of Nickelback. You’ll be happier. I’ll be happier. Sing Nickeback loudly and proudly in the shower, so next time “How You Remind Me” comes on at 6:30pm on a Tuesday in your favorite local bar during happy hour, you can confidently sing back with everyone around you.