Poor Chad Kroeger. No matter how many albums they sell, they can’t seem to win over the hearts of critics or the general public. But have you ever wondered exactly why so many people love to hate Nickelback?
Salli Anttonen studied Finnish reviews of the band between 2000 and 2014, and reached the conclusion the band are seen as inauthentic.
The University of Finland doctoral student even wrote paper on the subject, entitled ‘”Hypocritical Bullshit Performed Through Gritted Teeth”: Authenticity Discourses in Nickelback’s Album Reviews in Finnish Media’.
Early reviews of Nickelback were quite positive, but as they became more commercial (read: mainstream), music enthusiasts began to think the band were in it for the money, rather than artistic expression.
“Their songs are ‘optimally safe’, where ‘everything is up to par with the requirements of the genre’, and which create ‘an illusion of hard rock’ (Ojala 2002),” Anttonen writes.
“The music is described as being ‘fake’ (Riikonen 2012), ‘forced’ (Hilden 2011) and ‘performed through gritted teeth’ (Riikonen 2012). Van der San (2011) claims that Nickelback is ‘calculatingly hit-focused’; Ojala accuses them of ‘laughing all the way to the bank’ (2003).
“Overall, the descriptions imply that the songs are not genuine self-expression written willingly, but instead forced and made for commercial reasons.”
She adds that Nickelback is a bit boring, following tried-and-tested music formulas like Nirvana’s, but never adding anything new to it.
They’re also said to be hypocritical, because they have songs about drinking, but never really drink onstage.
But it doesn’t stop with their songs. Their fans have something to do with it as well. Apparently, they appeal to teenage girls more than they do with metal enthusiasts, which can be blamed on their cheesy lyrics.
“The teenage girl is the most contemptible fan of all, and the mere suggestion that a band is popular with ‘the girlies’ may suffice to conjure the whiff of artistic failure,” as one critic put it.
Anttonen summarises her research by saying the band from Alberta, Canada can never escape the hate.
“Nickelback is too much of everything to be enough of something. They follow genre expectations too well, which is seen as empty imitation, but also not well enough, which is read as commercial tactics and as a lack of a stable and sincere identity.”