Nickelback Part 2: I’m Not Sure Why I’m Doing This

nickelbackI’m not 100% sure what I’m trying to prove by listening to five Nickelback songs three times each. Maybe I’ll find something to enjoy. Maybe I’ll conclusively prove that they’re terrible. It just seems like something that might be a decent critical exercise. After all, Nickelback has been consistently popular for a decade now, and they have more worldwide fans than my top three favorite bands combined. As our own Fred Marion put it in his scientific study of the Nickelback phenomenon “In the end, though, SOMEONE’S buying their records, and it’s a whole lot of SOMEONES at that.”

In other words, who am I to argue with millions of people? Maybe I’m the problem. Let’s give Nickelback a day in court.

But before we do that, here’s a few more Chad Kroeger-related “Would You Rather Scenarios.”

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1. Would you rather kill 15 Chad Kroegers an hour for three hours, or be forced to murder John F. Kennedy once?

2. Suppose you find a genie in a magic lamp. It is a given that you will use the first wish to make it illegal to say “Chad” and “Kroeger” together in the same sentence. However, do you also use your last wishes to kill all genies, lest Chad Kroeger find a similar lamp? 

3. What if it turned out that Chad Kroeger secretly wrote the song “Paint It, Black”? Would that be enough for you to kill Mick Jagger? What would be? 

4. If Chad Kroeger was able to walk on water would you stop drinking water? 

1. How You Remind Me

Nickelback doesn’t really do texture. The guitars and bass kind of run together to form a sludgy and homogenous mass that doesn’t really change until the bridge, which is basically just a quieter version of the first verse. There’s nothing wrong with using the same four chords during the whole song, but mix it up, ya know?

2. Burn it to the Ground

This song is basically about what a bunch of assholes C. Kroeg and his friends are.

We’re going off tonight
To kick out every light
Take anything we want
Drink everything in sight.

This would be kind of cool if I believed him in the least. And Chaddo, you’d better not  drink everything in sight. Sometimes people carry goldfish in bowls. You don’t want even more fish in your belly*, do you?

I can’t shake the feeling that this song was written specifically for young white male pregames. You know, a bunch of dudes hanging around getting pumped before they go to the actual party. The song doesn’t describe an actual memory that Nickelback has but serves more like instructions. It just rings kind of false. I also think part of my problem is with the production, as well. That “guitar riff” might as well be coming from a keyboard. It’s kind of glossy and a bit nauseating.

. If Today Was Your Last Day

There is a Pacific Ocean of irony in this band’s career, but perhaps the most poetic example is when Kroeger mews “Against the grain should be a way of life” in an overproduced piece of gristle designed to pick up as many fans as possible.

Before I really listened to this song, I feel like it was possible to simply disregard Nickelback without actively hating them.

But then I heard “Every second counts, cause there’s no second try.” 


4. When We Stand Together

This one isn’t categorically awful. The hook is passable. Sure, it’s overproduced, but as long as you don’t look at Chad Kroeger, this one fades perfectly well into the white noise of FM radio. It’s not my cup of tea, but very few beverages are.

5. Rockstar

Fuck this band. A million times fuck this band. This is the worst kind of pandering horseshit. It’s a song about being a rock star that’s very obviously a pop-country song. “We’ll get the mouth breathers and their girlfriends, too,” said a cynical executive grossperson.  “Rockstar” undoes all the goodwill that “When We Stand Together” accrued. God, that seems like a million years ago.

This music is so unrelentingly terrible, that I’m not even sure it’s protected by the 1st Amendment. Following the Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire (1942)  ruling, Nickelback’s music may constitute powerful and devastating words that “by their very utterance inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace.”

Why did I ever doubt my gut reaction?

The problem with Nickelback is the problem with “butt rock.” They’re simply trying to do too many things at once. Every song is a guitar ballad and a stadium rocker and introspective mood music all at once. It’s as if they have to be everything to everyone. This may be seen as a cynical grab for more fans, but I believe it comes from an honest and heartbreaking desire to be liked. Nickelback’s music is so damn…simple. There’s no (intentional) irony, no wordplay. These guys just want to rock, and don’t understand why everyone keeps making fun of them.

And their earnestness just makes me hate them more.

Here’s Richard Hell’s “Love Comes in Spurts.”




*Chad Kroeger has a lot of fish in his belly.

Photo: Thakingdome at English Wikipedia [GFDL ( or CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

2 comments to “Nickelback Part 2: I’m Not Sure Why I’m Doing This”
  1. I think Nickelback’s issue is they didn’t evolve. They’re trying to write the same songs they wrote when they were 16… You’re right: it rings false.

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