Just How Bad is Nickelback, Actually? (part 1)

chadkrogerA co-worker (at my incredibly boring and non-rock related day job) and I have a running joke where we see who can mention Chad Kroeger, lead singer of the band Nickelback, in the most bizarre way. For example, we will say things like:

“Would you rather eat some of Chad Kroeger’s beard hair or spent a year in Riker’s Island prison?”


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“Would you rather call your father and tell him you are a huge fan of Chad Kroeger or be trapped in the board game Jumanji for 30 years?”


“Let’s say you’re dying of thirst in the desert, and you see a masked figure approaching. He offers you some of his water canteen, but then takes off his mask and reveals himself to be Chad Kroeger. It is a given that you do not accept the water, but do you attempt to pour the rest of it out so nobody can have it?”

Needless to say, it got pretty abstract. When Kroeger celebrated his birthday last week, we made a whole big thing about it.

Here’s the thing, though. Neither of us like Nickelback or Kroeger in the slightest. In fact, in many circles, Nickelback is regarded as the shittiest active rock band out there. To be fair, they have millions of fans and are massively successful, but I’d be willing to wager some of their fans still think they suck. This isn’t an editorial statement. I really would bet actual money on that fact.

But why?

Well, Nickelback is widely seen as the quintessential butt-rock band. Butt Rock is the colloquial term given to music originating in the mid-late 90’s that ostensibly were influenced by grunge groups like Nirvana and Pearl Jam. However, popular opinion is that these later groups seemed to learn all the wrong lessons. Butt-rock groups keep the raspy vocals and heavy riffs of grunge, but have a very specific goal of being as radio-friendly as possible. These groups tend to be produced and polished to the extent that all rough edges have been well-sanded. Lyrically, they tend toward the facile and simple. It’s kind of like pop-country music, only the clientele is way uglier. Most importantly, perhaps butt-rock’s defining characteristic is a lack of creativity or innovation. Remember, they’re not trying to challenge anyone. Think Puddle of Mudd. Think Staind.

This is all fine in theory, but does Nickelback fit the mold? We will find out when I delve deeply into Nickelback’s Top Five most popular songs on Spotify. I’ll “enjoy” each one three times and record my thoughts. It’s come to my attention that I’ve never actually sat down and listened to a Nickelback song. I’ve heard bits and been deeply unimpressed, but everything deserves a fair shake, especially if it’s being accused of belonging to the “butt rock canon.” Happy Birthday, Chad Kroeger. See you next time.

Now I present two Nickelback songs played simultaneously.

Photo: By Thakingdome (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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