Nickelback haters are just jealous

There is an undeniable genius in finding mass public acceptance

Two canadian institutions that deserve more respect

Chris Ryan/Corbis

When Detroit Lions fan Dennis Guttman heard that Nickelback would be playing during his team’s halftime show on American Thanksgiving this week, he wondered why organizers had picked a Canadian act, let alone one with a such an awful reputation. (A U.K. magazine once voted it “the worst band in the world.”) Guttman started a petition to have it booted from the show, and within weeks drew over 50,000 signatures and international attention. “Does anyone even like Nickelback?” he wrote.

For the band from Hanna, Alta., this kind of pile-on is nothing new. They’ve been taking abuse from armchair music critics since they broke on the scene in 2000. When reports emerged that Nickelback might be performing in Winnipeg to kick off the NHL season, Free Press music critics called on the NHL to scrap the plan, calling it “tantamount to spitting on Bobby Hull’s toupée.”

There have always been bands that people dislike, or dismiss as overrated and artless. But the response to Nickelback goes far beyond that—to the point where some say they are ashamed the band is Canadian. It is a view so vicious it borders on cruel. And it’s just plain wrong.

Nickelback serves a huge and devoted fan base. With record sales in excess of 30 million, it’s one of this country’s top cultural exports. Billboard named it the top band of the 2000s based on chart success, and its song How You Remind Me was named the top rock song of the decade.

The numbers, of course, are often used against it, cited as evidence that the band is too popular to be any good—that they are, in effect, rock ’n’ roll’s lowest common denominator. But there is an undeniable genius in finding mass public acceptance. It’s what every artist, businessman and politician hopes to achieve—but rarely does—when they present an idea or product to the public. Like Tim Hortons or Wal-Mart, two other blue-collar champions, Nickelback knows who it serves and works hard to deliver for them. And like Rush, another hugely successful but often critically derided Canadian group, Nickelback has put its stamp on music history. Rolling Stone said the song How You Remind Me with its “combination of Nirvana dynamics and early Pearl Jam sludge made it official that early-nineties alt-rock was the new classic rock.”

Criticism is always subjective, of course, and fair enough. But it can also be thoughtless, and even tinged with envy, particularly when it becomes as virulent as the sort Nickelback faces. “Any reviewer who expresses rage and loathing for a novel is preposterous,” Kurt Vonnegut once said. “He or she is like a person who has put on full armour and attacked a hot fudge sundae.”

Nickelback’s music isn’t for everyone. But when the band takes to the field in Detroit this week, there is no doubt the fans will far outnumber the noisy critics. It will be a moment of Canadian accomplishment worth celebrating.


Nickelback haters are just jealous

  1. This is a joke , right?  Rush “critically derided?’ . Uh, no. Quite the opposite. Nickelback is JUSTLY derided for being unoriginal yet still huge. The same derision is for the fans who blindly support them instead of going to the source, because of mass marketing. Also, Payola is still alive and well in commercial radio, I’ve seen it first hand. Bands like this BUY their way to the top. Have they worked hard? Yes. Do they deserve respect for that? Yes. Do they deserve respect for their derivative music? NO. Do they deserve success beyond the bands they stole from? NO. When they start actually trying to be original AND CONTRIBUTE to music instead of recycling, they will win support from the people with intelligence. “Nickelback Haters Are Just Jealous” Haha…you are  six years old, right?

    • Rush is proof that you can take 3 extremely talented musicians, have them play intircate and complex songs, and it’ll sound ok at best. Sometimes simplier is better when it comes to music.

  2. if you don’t like it, don’t listen.  simple as. At the end of the day, whatever you think – many people like the music (enough of them to make these guys filthy rich). Find something better to do with your time than slam a band who you don’t happen to like.  go listen to someone you do and leave them alone. 

    • And you find something better to do with your time than tell someone who doesnt  like them  and is BOMBARDED WITH HEARING THIS CRAP DAILY IN GROCERY STORES, ON OTHER PEOPLES RADIOS ETC AND DOESN’T HAVE A CHOICE, to be quiet about it. See how that works? This all started with the guy who wrote the article anyway, so maybe he is the original time waster. In fact he is, because I GUARANTEE there will continue to be many  who despise this crap.

  3. If this had been written by a staff writer, I’d maybe forgive the title, but since it’s by ‘the editors’…no chance. There is nothing that annoys me more than the intellectually lazy contention that people who dislike or criticize a person, band, institution, etc, are just ‘haters’. It is just a childish, lazy way of dismissing the validity of criticism that comes from a variety of places, few of which relate to jealousy. 

    That Nickelback is a commercial success doesn’t surprise or bother me. Frankly, the recent Funny or Die sketch they did lampooning the backlash toward their appearance today showed me that they’re a lot more modest and self-aware than I would have thought. But the fact remains that, in my eyes, they make pandering, formulaic, sometimes misogynous music, and I can’t celebrate that as some great Canadian gift to the rest of the world. We have a disproportionate number of innovative, talented, and original artists in this country who will never sniff mainstream American airwaves. Even those who breakthrough but don’t conform to the top 40 radio norms are subject to ridicule and derision (see the backlash about Arcade Fire winning Best Album at last year’s Grammys). 

    There’s plenty of commercial demand for Canadian asbestos, too. That doesn’t mean it’s an export we should be proud of.

    • This.

    • Are you really the great Dave Steib of back-to-back starts in the Allstar game and crotch adjustment fame?

      • Just an ardent fan, but I’d like to think that Mr. Steib hates Nickelback too.

  4. “But there is an undeniable genius in finding mass public acceptance.
    It’s what every ARTIST, businessman and politician hopes to achieve”

    Ok, now I know you CLEARLY don’t understand what an artist is. Or what art is.

  5. Jealous? No, we Americans are annoyed because Nickelback is a horrible, horrible band. There are plenty of other Canadians I would’ve loved to see, like Neil Young. In fact, I’d rather watch Neil Young take a dump on stage for four minutes instead of listening to Nickelback. There’s no doubt in my mind it would’ve sounded better.

    Nickelback is the epitome of mainstream garbage. That this band ever became famous is a mystery to all of us.

    • I’m upset that they played the show in Detroit!

      Detroit has one of the best musical histories in the United States. Why bring the city, who has enought problems. down to the level of Nickelback!

  6. Everybody who commented on this article below are idiots.  They are a great band, it’s not even up for debate.  And they are very popular.  I agree 100% with this article.

  7. And it sucks they didn’t play NHL faceoff, we get stuck with these old guys and three days grace that are two hit wonders.  The Free Press critics are just as dumb, just like half their staff. 

  8. Please don’t put shame Rush and put them in the same article as one about Nickelback. There’s a reason Nickelback gets the backlash they do.

  9. Check This Motown Tribute To Nickelback –> http://youtu.be/3KzP4bC1Ypg?hd=1

    • One trillion times better than the original.

  10. I have to thoroughly disagree with this article. Nickelback is no credit to Canada – no band that (repeatedly) writes songs about women as dismissable objects that exist purely for the purpose of sexual pleasure while espousing the merits of binge drinking should ever be. Adding insult to injury is how the band then pretends to be philanthropic two seconds later by writing a song like, say, “When We Stand Together” (which was apparently written for Slave Lake) and then straddling it right next to those crass songs about the two aforementioned topics. The bizarre nature of such a juxtaposition is simply unbelievable. As for that argument which says Nickelback knows who it serves and works hard to deliver for them, I don’t think writing the same song over and over again can be considered as working “hard”.Overall, I really don’t see how their music can be considered as a “top CULTURAL export” (emphasis mine), and I don’t think it ever should. A country as rich and just as Canada deserves much better than this.

    • So who’s the Canadian, Marc or David?

      • Both – Marc relocated to Nashville with his band to get more exposure while David works out of Montreal.

        Just a nice happy story for a change  :-)

  11. Please do not put a talented and musically complex group like Rush in the same breath as a ponderous, derivative, overblown band like Nickelback.

    I did like the taking the mickey out of themselves on Funny or Die though.  Must be the Canadian in them that brings out the self-derogation.

  12. True enough. I actually hate Rush more than Nickelback.

  13. I like ’em, and I have good taste in music.

  14. You 4 are the best CANADIAN BAND OUT there right now just finished the interview with E-Canada YOU ARE NOT GOOFS CHAD!!!!. give yourself some credit!!
      i think everyone loves you as much as I do already have 18 lined up for a concert in ottawa when are you coming.Luv Rhonda

  15. Nickelback isn’t THAT bad a band…I mean, there IS Justin Bieber! That said, the NFL could have gotten a better act.

  16. No, we aren’t, and no, there’s not.

  17. Huh? The local radio play and play their tunes in perpetuity and this did not help Nickelback.  I am sure they will live in infamy due to the repetitiveness of their sound but the quality is lacking. They have had one or two original hits that were and are played to the maximum by every radio in North America and Europe. Please move on and promote other Canadian acts with the potential to actually remain original. THE HIP, GUESS WHO and even Neil Young will always be my favourite Canadian born acts because they stayed somewhat true to their roots.

  18. Nickelback could NEVER be compared or in juxtaposition in any way to the original sound of RUSH. I must add RUSH to my list of Canadian bands that will always remain a bastion of artistic, unique sound quality. I also enjoyed Bryan Adams immensely BEFORE he became overplayed and overpaid.

  19. Thank the CRTC for Nickelback every fifth song.

    Radio stations have to fill thier quota somehow.

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