BY: NOAH CASTAGNA
Defined as “the act of willfully allowing one’s ears to bleed” by Urban Dictionary, Nickelback is perhaps one of the most hated rock bands of all time. Misguided critical attention has plagued the group since their debut, with many pointing out their lazy power chords and self-plagiarism. What these critics fail to recognize is the insanely memorable imagery that defines their discography and bolsters them to a nearly unattainable level of success. From the ground-breakingly experimental “Burn It To The Ground” to the masterfully composed “Gotta Be Somebody Radio Disney Edit,” the members of Nickelback have proven they have an unrelenting grip on the expert manipulation of overbearing songwriting and tedious power chords. This is Unpopular Opinions, a Lariat blog series centering around opinions so thoroughly disagreed with that simply conceding to one aspect of their defense will get one mildly maimed. For the second entry of Unpopular Opinions, I will examine the dark complexity of Nickelback’s releases and cement their place as one of the greatest bands of all time.
The prodigal group originally consisted of Ryan Peake and the three Kroeger brothers (Chad, Mike, and Brandon) under the name Village Idiots. This was later eclipsed by Nickelback, inspired by Mike Kroeger’s former job as a cashier at Starbucks, where he frequently utilized the phrase, “Here’s your nickel back.” The band hails from Canada, and as such, some would erroneously lump the group with other Canadian nu-metal bands like Theory of a Deadman or Three Days Grace. Where many fail to draw a crucial distinction, however, is in the variety of their music; Nickelback’s ability to maneuver seamlessly between somber pieces like “Side Of A Bullet” (which laments the tragic murder of Pantera and Damageplan guitarist “Dimebag” Darrell Abbott) and more lighthearted, pop-esque romps such as “S.E.X.” while still keeping each track unique contrasts greatly against the vanilla releases of other Canadian rock bands. Nickelback embraces the ridiculousness of their music and runs with it breath-takingly successfully.
That is where the fervor for Nickelback lies: they don’t back down from being lyrically outrageous. Whether he’s recounting a haunting tale of a friend lost to drug addiction in “Just To Get High” or longing to “be great like Elvis, without the tassels” in “Rockstar,” frontman Chad Kroeger has a firm hold on searing memorable, sometimes ridiculous imagery into the listener’s brain. The crazy ride Nickelback’s music takes you on is adrenaline-fueled fun for any listener; be it a thirteen-year-old who isn’t as cool as he thinks he is, or a lonely forty-two-year old who really should have outgrown it. While grinding power chords requires little to no skill or effort, it compliments Nickelback’s effortless style immensely well, creating a pounding beat for Chad to growl out raspy tales and delivering songs that never disappoint.
Nickelback has built a genre of their own and redefined the common perception of good music. They demand attention, whether it’s incomprehensible hatred or overwhelming support, and most definitely deserve recognition as one of the greatest artists to ever grace the industry.