Behind one band’s quest to merge the best of Hitsville, U.S.A. with the worst of Alberta, Canada.
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Scott Bradlee is hardly what anyone would call a Nickelback fan.
“All I remember doing is changing the radio station every time I’d hear a Nickelback song come on,” Bradlee, a jazz musician in New York, told the Daily Dot. “I had no opinion. I didn’t even think of Nickelback.”
But then came November, when Nickelback, one of the most indescribably lame bands on the planet, was picked to play the halftime show of the Thanksgiving Day gridiron bash between the Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers.
Stranger still, the game was being played in Detroit—Hitsville U.S.A.—the land of Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, and the rest of the Motown legends.
This was not right, the people of Detroit valiantly declared. They even launched a petition, “The Detroit Lions: Replace Nickelback as the halftime show for the Thanksgiving Game,” which gathered over 55,000 votes. But nothing changed; the Lions brass backed Nickelback.
Reading about the spout from his home in New York City’s Astoria neighborhood, Bradlee hatched the plan to blend the two sides together. Bradlee would merge the sounds of Nickelback and Motown together. He sat down and transcribed the band’s multiplatinum single “How You Remind Me” into a Motown song, repurposing the melody from guitar to piano and adding a horn section to convert on the crossover.
Bradlee posted the video to YouTube just before Nickelback took the Ford Field stage on Thanksgiving Day. Titled “A Motown Tribute to Nickelback,” the video went viral, racking up over 120,000 views. It now sits at 230,000 views and has helped earn Bradlee and his buddies a trip out to British Columbia in August, where A Motown Tribute to Nickelback will perform alongside artists like Charles Bradley, Chromeo, and the Tragically Hip at Virgin Mobile’s Live at Squamish music festival. Bradlee agreed—despite the fact that the tribute had only had one song.
“Now the question becomes, what happens if we decide to become a real band?” Bradlee explained to the Daily Dot. It appears we’re likely to find out.
Bradlee and his bandmates are committed to developing a full set of Motown variations on Nickelback for their Squamish show, but the group wants to make it more than just a one-shot deal. They actually want to cut a full-length album of repurposed Nickelback tracks, one for every track in the band’s seven-album catalog.
“Some songs do lend themselves to Motown a little bit better than others, but we haven’t found a song that’s stumped us yet. There’s such a rich history of Motown going through the early 1960s and through the Soul Train era, we can always find something that’ll work.”
Recently, the group launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise the $3,000 necessary to pay for studio time and song licensing fees. With 12 days left, Bradlee and his cohorts are still $1,500 short, but that’s done little to delay the effort. As Bradlee notes in the project’s video, the crew’s already handled two of the most important parts of becoming a band, “taking pretentious band photos” and setting up a Facebook page.
“Nickelback is about all I’ve been listening to. We’ve been digging on ‘Lullaby,’ their new song. And we’re really excited about ‘Rock Star.’ My dream is that any time Nickelback records a song, A Motown Tribute to Nickelback will record that same song.”
Chad Kroeger and the boys in Nickelback are on tour through the summer but should start work on their eighth album shortly after touching down in Canada this fall. Sounds like Scott Bradlee better get ready.
Kickstopper: A Motown Tribute to Nickelback
- Location: New York City, N.Y.
- Summary: A pianist in Astoria wants to record an album of Nickelback songs in the Motown style
- Goal: $3,000
- Amount raised of press time: $1,486
- Days left: 12
- Best buy: For $50, A Motown Tribute to Nickelback will call you and sing Nickelback songs in the Motown style. Backers will also get an autographed copy of the album upon completion.
Photo via YouTube
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