Nickelback – I just need to talk about it.

DISCLAIMER: It is not my intention to hurt any feelings with this post.  I don’t know why this topic is as divisive as it is, but the divisiveness is clear.  It evokes anger from both supporters and dissenters.  Fervent anger!  And so any opinion on the matter is likely to offend.  I don’t want The Meeting to ever be about offending.  I want to bring us together in love.  That being said, I feel compelled now to write about…


Just reading that word sent shock waves of horror down the spines of some readers.  Somewhere, a laptop was just angrily hurled out the window at the mere sight of that name.  Meanwhile, others are cheering because maybe, just maybe, some schlub with a blog is going to say something nice about their beloved “band” from the North.

Sorry, supporters.

You see, a few years ago, me and some friends started a CD club. Each month, someone took a turn compiling a disc of songs they had been listening to, usually with some kind of theme attached to it. It was awesome.  A few years in, a CD arrived that largely featured the music of Nickelback.

It was the last CD anybody ever sent out.

Okay, so the club really faltered because we were all a little burned out after three years of trying to get CD’s out every month.  But Nickelback remains guilty by association.  So when my friend Jay suggested recently that I blog about them, I laughed and said “maybe”, knowing I would likely never do it.

Then, like an unexpected punch to the gut, Nickelback released a new album.  And I was mysteriously drawn to an article about it on Billboard.  And in the article, the “band” claims that they don’t hear much complaining from their audience (except maybe in Portugal).  And I was forced to consider that this is their SEVENTH album, and it will probably sell millions  of copies and spawn hit songs that I won’t be able to remember five minutes after hearing them.  And I was forced to think about all these people who are really excited about the new Nickelback album.  And it made me confused.  And sad.  And kind of angry.  And then I kicked my dog.  (DISCLAIMER: I didn’t really kick my dog, nor would I ever.  Unless she kicks me first.  I’ve got principals)

In the Billboard story, frontman Chad Kroeger says they are “getting back to basics” with the “band’s” new album.  Having never really paid close attention to their musical “progression”, I wondered what “back to basics” meant.  So, I did the unthinkable; I listened to the new album.

I know what your thinking – this is the dramatic twist in the story where Matt reveals, to his astonishment, how perfectly delightful the new Nickelback album really is!  No.  But I did listen.  You know that Nickelback song where they get kind of anthemic and talk about being unified or something?  And that other Nickelback song where they try to sound like edgy bad boys?  And that other Nickelback song where they try to be inspirational and heroic over some generic cause or thing?  Yeah, those are all on the new album, a few times.   I thought that’s what they always did, but apparently they felt the need to get back to this from some other place they have been.

So, the new album left me empty.  I don’t really remember much about it.  I don’t even know what it’s called.  But I’ve heard it before.  And forgotten about it then, too.

And I guess that’s my personal thing with Nickelback.  It’s not that they are terrible musicians.  It’s not even that they are unlistenable, per se.  It’s just that, at the end of the listening experience, it doesn’t feel like I’ve actually experienced anything. I’m sure I’ve heard every Nickelback hit from the past ten years, often over and over, on the radio.  Yet, as God is my witness, I can’t name a single one of their songs.  Seriously! But they continue to sell millions of albums and score hit songs.  Why is that?.  Is it a statement on the current blandness of mainstream radio?  Is it a statement on our inability to challenge ourselves in music and art?  Is the problem with me?  Do I just not get the greatness of Nickelback (okay, it was kind of tough for me to string together the words “greatness of Nickelback”.  Oh man, I just did it again).  I know that me and Portugal aren’t the only one’s who feel this way.  Recently, 40,000 citizens in Detroit, a city that is practically in Canada, signed a petition trying to get Nickelback banned from playing halftime of the Lion’s Thanksgiving Day game.   The band themselves acknowledge that they aren’t critical darlings (huge understatement).  And while I am only joking about feeling angry, Nickelback genuinely seems to anger some people (have I mentioned Portugal?).

Defenders will certainly point out how many records the “band” sells anually, and how many hits they have had on the radio.  Okay.  But millions of people watch the Kardashians and the Housewives of (insert name of mid to large-sized city here) every week, and those shows both blow and offer nothing positive to our culture.

So what do we do about Nickelback?  Just leave them alone.  I’ve always said, I will never begrudge an individual their personal likes or musical preferences, unless it is causing them physical or emotional harm.  And while Nickelback comes close, their music is ultimately harmless.  Boring and void of relevance, but harmless.  I do not condone throwing rocks at Kim Kardashian, and so I can not condone throwing rocks at Nickelback (are you listneing, Portugal?).  I understand not liking them.  I don’t like them.  But if they make you angry, I think there is something deeper going on that probably needs some professional attention.  We can talk about it if you’d like.  I’m always here for you in The Meeting.

So, all of you fans of Canada’s answer to Creed (Canada really overestimated the need for an answer on that one), God bless you.  Keep doin’ your thing.  If you feel so led, you can even defend your beloved “band” here.  I’ll probably forget about it right after I read it, but don’t let that stop you.

POST SCRIPT:  Usually, when I’m writing, I listen to the band or album I’m writing about.  Couldn’t do it here.   So, to keep me sharp, I’ve been listening to Codes and Keys from Death Cab For Cutie.  It’s a great album that I wholly recommend.  It actually took me a while to come around to it, which I like.  It has grown on me and gets better with each listen.  It’s not forgettable.  Rather, it keeps pulling me back for deeper listens.  So read about Nickelback, but go and listen to Death Cab For Cutie.


~ by themattmorrisshow on November 30, 2011.

5 Responses to “Nickelback – I just need to talk about it.”

  1. Love it. Thanks for this Matt!

  2. this was a good read. thanks for it.

  3. That was awesome. And it has inspired me to want to resurrect the cd club. What do you think?

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