Nickelback: Underrated and over-hated

Avery Wickersham (TheLorian)

Anyone who has been engaged with social media in the past five to ten years has likely seen countless memes, posts, and articles about Nickelback—not about their music, but about the seemingly unnecessary hate they’ve received as a group. There are posts on Reddit from as recent as a year ago, and it’s still a running joke. 

There are many memes about Nickelback that are enough to make one chuckle. David Grohl, the founder of the Foo Fighters, has a tweet that reads:

“If you play a Nickelback song backwards, you’ll hear messages from the devil. If you play it forwards, you’ll hear Nickelback.”

Many people have the same strong feelings about Nickelback’s songs. This collective hate has been branded the “Nickelback phenomenon.” Boiled down to its essence, Nickelback’s hate comes from being so successful and over-played that it drove many fans away. According to NPR:

“Nickelback sold millions of records in a style that’s fallen out of fashion through overexposure. The genre to which the band has typically belonged — umpteenth-generation copy-of-a-copy post-grunge, dispensed with urgent, Creed-esque self-importance — has seen the scales of public opinion tip overwhelmingly against it.”

I am one such fan that has not strayed from Nickelback. I have multiple songs of theirs on my playlist, and I consistently ask for Nickelback to be played in various group settings. The answer is generally “no.”

Nickelback, especially in their earlier music, actually has a lot of good songs. It’s best to listen to Nickelback with an open mind. Some of their best songs include, “How You Remind Me,” “Someday,” “Savin’ Me,” “If Everyone Cared,” and “Gotta Be Somebody.” These songs have the elements of basic rock: strong bass, a loud drum, guitar riffs, and throaty vocals. The lyrics are also very poetic. “If Everyone Cared” is a song about the world coming together and living life to the very best. “Savin’ Me” is about leaving behind a nasty world full of bad choices. While their style is rough and grungy, these songs have an aspect of redemption.

It’s easy to get into the rock ‘n’ roll aspect of Nickelback’s music, and almost everyone knows their music (even if they don’t want to admit it). There is a strong evocation of nostalgia when one of their songs comes on the radio. Many college students will recognize their songs when they start to play, and may utter the phrase, “I haven’t heard this song in years!” There’s always something special about hearing a song for the first time in a long time. It takes many people back to a time and place they didn’t know existed in their brain.

The fact that most people don’t want to accept is that Nickelback has really strong music and is a good rock band. A lot of the hate about Nickelback went mainstream. People hate on them because of the memes and Vines that circulated over the years. Some of their songs are a little more hedonistic, so there are legitimate reasons for hate on Nickelback; however, if Nickelback haters listened to some of their old music, they might be surprised at how much they actually like the band’s music.

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