An in-depth analysis of why people hate Nickelback

Written by on November 17, 2016

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If you think Nickelback is bad,

you are not alone.

In fact, you are a member of an exclusive group of millions of music-listeners who despise the Canadian rock band. Nickelback is arguably the most hated band in America, and its detractors are very vocal about their distaste. It’s gotten to the point that people who enjoy Nickelback are denying their fandom and hiding their CDs like criminal contraband.

Although there are several legitimate reasons for Nickelback’s reputation, there is also a considerable amount of bad luck at play. Yes, Nickelback’s story is one of musical mediocrity, but it is also a sad tale of public image and internet memes.

The most common complaint about the band is their formulaic approach to songwriting, which often results in several songs sounding suspiciously similar. For example, if you play their hits “How You Remind Me” and “Someday” simultaneously, you will hear a cohesive mashup that almost sounds better than the individual songs. It’s not just these songs, either. You could spend days listening to Nickelback albums without hearing an interesting song structure or chord progression. It sounds like the band is using a pop formula to make rock music, which is a recipe for critical failure.

Another area in which Nickelback critically fails is its lyrics. While many of their lyrics are run-of-the-mill rock ‘n’ roll lines, others test the limits of eye rolling. In “Photograph,” for example, vocalist Chad Kroeger delivers this lyrical gem: “Look at this photograph. Every time I do it makes me laugh. How did our eyes get so red? And what the hell is on Joey’s head?” Kroeger never answers that question, but in the official music video, it appears that Joey has a pasta strainer on his head.

And then there is Nickelback’s thematic content, which is quite shallow and has scarcely changed over the band’s career. Nickelback’s catalogue is polluted with references to the rockstar lifestyle- drugs, sex, money, women, cars and sex. Their track “Rockstar” is an ode to that lifestyle, and “Something In Your Mouth” is, well… it’s something.

But Nickelback is not THAT bad. For all their musical shortcomings, they have one major redeeming quality: their music is genuinely catchy. The aforementioned radio hit “Photograph,” for example, has an infectious chorus that can remain stuck in your head days after hearing it. It’s stuck in my head right now, actually. When Kroeger starts yelling “Every memory of looking out the back door,” it is difficult to avoid foot-tapping. If you listen up and down their discography, you will hear catchy chorus after catchy chorus. This is how they became radio mainstays in the first place.

But there are dozens of radio mainstays who make low-quality catchy music, like Maroon 5, for example. And unlike Nickelback, people love Maroon 5. Why is Nickelback so hated compared to similarly shallow groups? This is where several non-musical factors come in to conspire against the band.

It all started with the band’s image, particularly the appearance of Kroeger, the frontman. It’s not that Kroeger looks bad, it’s just that his goofy dyed-blonde hair and cheesy goatee don’t match his grizzled rocker persona. Unfortunately for Nickelback, many people view Kroeger as weird-looking rather than unique. And it has been proven that appearances play a large role in public identity, even in the music industry.

There is also the unfortunate inclusion of an anti-Nickelback joke in an often-aired Comedy Central commercial. Back in 2003, when the cable channel was aggressively advertising its new panel-comedy series “Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn,” it frequently aired an advertisement featuring comedian Brian Posehn. When asked about a study connecting violent lyrics with violent behavior, Posehn quipped, “No one talks about the studies that show that bad music makes people violent, but listening to Nickelback makes me want to kill Nickelback.” This probably planted the seed of Nickelback-hate in America’s head.

Then came the memes. As with most memes, the origin of Nickelback memes is unclear and probably somewhat random. But once the memes started, they spread like wildfire. Anti-Nickelback captions began appearing on Grumpy Cat and Bad Luck Brian images. A Facebook page called “Can This Pickle Get More Fans Than Nickleback?” succeeded in its goal. Picket signs referencing the band started appearing at protests, and before long, “[insert name] likes Nickelback” became a legitimate American insult.

Rather than taking offense, band members took their meme-fame in stride. They sarcastically responded to critics on Twitter. They even posted their own Nickelback meme on Facebook: a picture of a man holding a “Ted Cruz Likes Nickelback” sign.

It was wise of Nickelback to take their detractors lightly. When the majority of music-listening Americans hate a band for a combination of valid and less-than-valid reasons, the band must embrace their image if they want to survive in the marketplace. While Nickelback’s album sales continue to slide, they remain a marketable rock outfit. And who knows? Their next album could be a modern classic that mends their image and proves all the haters wrong.

But it probably won’t be.

Reader's opinions
  1. Eric Scheurer   On   August 15, 2017 at 4:06 pm

    I have to say, I’ve been to hundreds of rock concerts…and seen Daughtry/Nickelback last night at blossom music center in Cuyahoga Falls, OH…and Nickelback played for over 2 hours !! That’s unheared of these days !! From my vast experience of rock concerts…the headlining band goes between an hour and an hour and a half. They REALLY get into making the crowd happy. You can tell they really love what they do…it’s not just a job to them. They make u feel what they are feeling. I was totally impressed as this was the 1st time seeing them live !! Definitely will see them again !! A great group of dudes.

    • Billiejo Myers   On   April 22, 2019 at 12:51 pm

      I totally agree with you. I love to listen to them, you can understand the lyrics, not muffled. There songs all have meaning and a story, which keeps your interest. My friend and I listen to them ALOT. We love them. There songs are from the heart, and yes you can really tell they love what they do. Very exciting, and very EXCITING to WATCH Yeah A. There is nothing wrong with Chad’s hair either.

  2. Destiny   On   November 24, 2018 at 8:26 pm

    I always wondered why people hate them, but now that I took the time to see, it turns out it’s all because of a not even funny comedian on a not funny skit program, that’s a waste of air time and a world full of sheep, jumping on the fad band wagon.that is all that I see going on these articles. How fucking laughingable.

    I still like them and until there is something to make me legitimately good reason to hate them, I will continue to like them.

    I’ve been a fan since they formd and I was a kid then, I’m now 30. If anything hate Metallica, they’re dicks to their fans, going as far as to sue them! Plus they only have probably five good songs ie. Sandman, don’t fear the reper etc.

    • Grey   On   January 22, 2019 at 7:58 am

      I totally agree – reading this I couldn’t believe the hate spiraled from some comment a comedian made on a show, both of which I haven’t heard of, which instantly makes everyone else hate them too; forgetting how good they actually are (?!?!?!).

  3. Mikayla   On   November 28, 2018 at 10:25 pm

    You guys suck! You probably all listen to that nasty pop music in today’s reality, while this band makes rock music a forever legend, if you really understood the lyrics to some of their songs, you wouldn’t be such a hater towards them, for example, listen to their song “If everyone cared”, I think the universe needs to hear that one. Look. I understand we all have opinions, but don’t hate on these dudes, they haven’t done a slight bit of harm to anyone, except for them getting the harm of people hating on there music. Nickleback is actually a really great band!

  4. JEFFREY CUSICK   On   February 20, 2019 at 1:56 pm

    I’ve liked them ever since Curb! (the real first album) Music is cool and they’ve done several good collaborations with other artists. They still sell out concerts and are rich. I don’t think they really care that much. The ones that hate go home and jam out to lullaby every night anyway hahahahahahahahahahahaaaa!@!!!

  5. Gus Man   On   April 30, 2019 at 3:39 pm

    Popularity and attention are the new-world currency. Once a hatred for anything becomes popular, if you don’t hate it too… you will suffer. So even people who love NickelBack say they hate them, just to avoid the scorn. It is so sad to see this trend destroying society. Be true to who you are! NickelBack is bubble-gum, catchy rock, and that is often a good thing! It depends on your mood, what do you want to listen to today? Maybe NickelBack, maybe not… it’s OK.

    • Ty   On   September 18, 2019 at 2:33 pm

      Their earlier stuff was cool like curb and the state. Silver side up was pretty kick ass and the long road was pretty good. After that it kinda went from making good albums to making good songs here and there. But the first three I’ll listen front to back no problem

    • alicia   On   April 2, 2020 at 12:46 pm

      I think SOME (not all) of the songs Chad has written/recorded over the past 20 years or so are WAY BETTER than Maroon 5 songs.

  6. Joni   On   October 7, 2019 at 7:47 pm

    This is way off!! The hate came from the greed the band has!! They are such asses that they had a black out on national tv during a fundraising event when it was their turn to play to the masses and that is what started the hate toward them. Get your facts straight! They have done greedy things like this publicly many times and now the people hat them. I love their music but think they are big douche bags for this reason. They are nothing but greedy.

  7. Chris Wilson   On   July 1, 2023 at 1:07 am

    I was not a fan. My wife was. However, I listen sometimes. They speak real. Are you f’n kidding me? AC/DC–do most of their songs sound the same? Shallow is the opinion, not the music. Opinions are like A-holes, everyone has one and they all smell bad. Yeah, bad stuff, blah, blah. Does the music sound good? Get the F on you nit wits. Is the music good? That’s all that matters.

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