Nickelback, the Canadian rock band led by Chad Kroeger, has been regarded as one of the most hated bands globally for seemingly an age. Despite achieving commercial success with albums like Silver Side Up (2001), The Long Road (2003), and Dark Horse (2008), the band is perpetually criticized, and their music is mocked—all while dominating adult contemporary charts in the duration. So why do people hate Nickelback?
Some, like the creator behind the Marty Music YouTube channel, asserts that “Nickelback is NOT as bad as you think.”
But a lot of people are not on board with this argument.
Why do people hate Nickleback? Let us count the ways
They champion an unoriginal and boring musical style
Nickelback is often criticized for their music being objectively boring and lacking genuine substance. They’re sometimes panned for reflecting elements of more successful bands while being overly commercial and inauthentic. A Daily Beast article titled, “Nickelback Really Loves Being the Most Reviled Band in Rock Music” mentioned “the band’s appropriation of hard rock sounds and elements (such as Slayer, Pantera and Ramones T-shirts)” as one of several reasons they’re so heartily dismissed by music loves.
They sometimes wander into misogynyn
Chad Kroeger’s often misogynistic lyrics and public antics have intensified the dislike towards Nickelback. Songs like “Something in Your Mouth” and “Figured You Out” feature eyebrow-raising lyrics that have rightfully attracted criticism. The Daily Beast singled out the chorus of “Something in Your Mouth” as problematic: “You’re so much cooler, When you never pull it out, Cause you look so much cuter, With something in your mouth.”
Affiliation with metal record label while being decidedly non-metal
Nickelback’s association with Roadrunner Records, a label reputed for producing metal bands, created an early disconnect from some fans. Accusations of the label buying the band’s hit to ensure profitability and global recognition gave critics further ammunition, with some even claiming that Nickelback is proof that any band can achieve fame with sufficient investment.
The Metal Sucks website, in a 2008 article about the curious arrangement, contended that Nickleback’s commercial success allowed bands their critics actually liked to continue.
“‘F*ck Nickelback,’ I hear you say,” the article reasoned. “Touche. But let’s read between the lines here: Nickelback, quite honestly, are a large part of the reason that Roadrunner Records is able to continue to release records by other, less-sucky acts. Simply put, Nickelback’s 7 million records sold fund every 100,000 to 200,000-selling release by other Roadrunner bands we like, such as Killswitch Engage, Machine Head, Opeth, Megadeth, Dream Theater, Biffy Clyro, Life of Agony, Trivium, Soufly, etc etc etc etc. Get it?”
Who likes Nickelback anyway?
Vocal critics in the music industry
Musicians like Slipknot’s Corey Taylor have openly criticized Nickelback, as the Daily Dot has reported on. Taylor once dubbed them the “worst band of all time.” Taylor’s very public beef with Kroeger has been highlighted by major music mags like NME. Such public disparagements by renowned artists have strengthened the negative narrative surrounding Nickelback.
Does Nickelback have a ghost fanbase?
Ironically, Nickelback’s “How You Remind Me” was the most-played radio hit of the 2000s, hinting at a silent, possibly closeted fanbase, considering the conspicuous absence of open Nickelback admirers. This paradox has intensified the enigma around the band’s fanbase and the extent of genuine appreciation for their music. Think about it—who do you know that likes Nickelback, enough to buy/stream records and concert tickets?
Nickelback and grunge
Nickelback’s rise coincided with the post-Nirvana era after Kurt Cobain’s death in 1994. Attempting to fill the void left by iconic grunge bands, Nickelback was perceived as the harbinger of the post-grunge era, a transition met with disdain by fans of the original grunge bands. Their ill-defined genre and commercial approach exacerbated their image as the desecrators of the grunge legacy.
Yet, Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic defended Nickleback’s honor in a 2019 tweet, according to Rolling Stone — albeit for getting its hit “Photograph” appropriated by Donald Trump.
The science of hating Nickleback
Nickelback’s notorious reputation has even attracted academic scrutiny. A study by the University of Eastern Finland, titled “Hypocritical Bullshit Performed Through Gritted Teeth: Authenticity Discourses in Nickelback’s Album Reviews in Finnish Media,” examined the band’s lack of originality and significant influences, concluding their inability to infuse their essence into their music as a reason for the widespread dislike.
Are they just, ultimately, mediocre?
The recurrent themes of sex, love, and heartbreak in their songs, coupled with a perceived lack of musical innovation, have led to accusations of the band’s inherent mediocrity. Critics argue that Nickelback’s every venture into the recording studio results in a purely commercial product, lacking genuine artistic craft.
While their commercial success and substantial fanbase cannot be denied, the myriad factors contributing to Nickelback’s negative reputation seemingly overshadow their musical accomplishments. From unoriginal and insipid music, offensive lyrics, and questionable commercial tactics to being deemed the assassins of grunge, Nickelback remains enveloped in a shroud of disdain and mockery. Whether this scorn is a consequence of their own doing or an exaggerated response to their mediocrity is a debate that continues to echo in rock music discourse.