Why I Hate Working For Nickelback

Chad Kroeger once said something that changed my life. I’m paraphrasing, but it was close to “People say Nickelback sucks. Well, we pack arenas and have sold over forty million records. You don’t like us, but we clearly don’t suck.” I don’t know why I stumbled on a video of the Canadian frontman defending his place in pop, but that day I became a musical adult. Immediately digesting his words, I could now tell the difference between what I didn’t like and what sucked. As a magazine editor, I was finally free to include artists in the publication that I didn’t like, but knew were important to the pop lexicon. For years since, I’ve lived that ideal. I’ve felt that if the bands I hate give my friends as much joy as the bands I love give me, then I’m all for it. I haven’t turned up my nose at other’s taste too many times as an adult. Today, I work for a record label that is half owned by Chad Kroeger (the other half owned by legendary cyber-goon Jonathan Simkin) and I hate it… because now I can’t defend Nickelback.

I don’t listen to Nickelback, and when I say that I don’t mean “I don’t listen to Nickelback and here’s why they’re ruining the world” like you’re often going to hear from any under-forty culture geek. I mean I can’t even name one of their songs. I know that when I’m watching hockey that their songs play either at the arena or during the television overlays, but I don’t throw my hands in the air bitching about my life being inundated with heavy riffs and Vedder-y vocals. You can’t get riled up about them the way people do about Fox News, because there isn’t an equivalent of John Stewart pointing out their perceived shortcomings. They’re around, but they’re easily avoidable if you choose not to listen to them.

You see, Nickelback isn’t designed for me to love. I listen to Slumberland bands and collect Shadows albums. If I lived in Red Deer and was a pool shark, I might be required to have an opinion but I’m more irritated by acts that are sold to me as interesting and cutting edge but can’t write a song, like Salem or the xx. The Kroeger boys aren’t shredding on slightly overdriven Les Pauls so that some hipster editor of a magazine can write a glowing profile about them or have after-party tastemakers discuss their current output. Having to hear complaints about them is alien to me.

I remember my first debates over the validity of pop icons. They were always with my older brother. As young boys, we refused to listen to acts that didn’t play their own instruments or write their own music. I find it odd that over the last year or so, I’ve been pummeled with press about the Weeknd, and if we were to compare the two acts by judging hard work and creative control, Nickelback would win every time. Nickelback writes their own songs while the Weeknd has either had his songs written by the guy who did Esthero’s music, or stolen them from his ex-partner Jeremy Rose. The Weeknd has more handlers for image and music direction than any act out there. I mean, I’ve accepted that trip hop had to come back if grunge was going to, but a bunch of boner-killing, emo R&B? Get real.

The last refuge of the hater is always, “Well, I just think their music sucks,” but where do you even hear Nickelback songs? Okay, you love Xiu Xiu, but for some reason you sit around listening to Top Forty rock radio just for the schadenfreude? It reminds me of going to house parties and hearing people boast about not having a television, but after thirty minutes it’s clear they know more about The Voice and 2 Broke Girls than any mouth breather out there. It’s the same with Jersey Shore. Why do you keep up with the pageantry of orange beefcakes and fat floozies when you asked me to come with you to a George Kuchar marathon last week? I understand when people gripe about the heavy decline of acts that were once “cool” and critically acclaimed like the Rolling Stones or M.I.A. because fans feel like something was ripped away from them, but I find it hard to believe that the irony crowd was once really into early, underground Nickelback (if there ever was such a thing).

It doesn’t make you interesting to rip on an act that’s universally disliked by those who consider themselves informed. It’s too safe. I don’t listen to the Insane Clown Posse or buy Dane Cook tickets, but their art (yep, it’s art) doesn’t offend me. If I were offended by every artist that didn’t appeal to me, I’d become one sour senior citizen. There’s that character in Hannah and Her Sisters named Frederick who watches professional wrestling just so he can ponder what level of mind watches it. It’s important to remember that Frederick’s wife cheated on him with Michael Caine, and once you’ve had Caine, you’ll have it again (that’s a slogan, right?)

I used to listen to the plebes carve out a trite conversation by ragging on the Albertan swagger rock outfit and, if prompted, chime in with a different perspective. Now, with my new position, it would just come off as nepotism. I’ll miss the days of cornering a too-cool-for-Christmas kid wondering why they’re even talking about Nickelback. I don’t like Nickelback, but they don’t suck. You do. TC mark

image – Rene Hartmans


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  • ebl

    stupid article.

  • KM

    I disagree. You can sell out shows everywhere you go and still suck. Sorry.

    • RAN

      That’s a very 1% viewpoint.  So elitist. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1123705458 Drew Shackleford

    Nickleback still sucks.

  • John Cortes

    What is suck?

  • http://twitter.com/RebeccaAWatson Rebecca A. Watson

    YES! Thank you for this article. Well done. I expected yet another article about how much Nickelback sucks (yawn) and was pleasantly surprised. 

  • OG

    I haven’t turned up my nose at other’s taste too many times as an adult.”

    …yet a good portion of this article is spent pretentiously criticizing others.

    • Ruthied

       I totally disagree with your interpretation of this article. If it’s pretentious to criticize pretentiousness, I think we’re getting right at the heart of his point.

      • http://www.facebook.com/brianmay Brian Gregory May

        What about the pretentiousness of criticizing the pretentious criticism of pretentiousness? 

      • Guestropod

        we’re through the looking glass here, people

  • http://www.facebook.com/brianmay Brian Gregory May

    No, he’s wrong. Nickelback really does suck.

  • JB

    Haha SUCH a brave article to post on a site as hipster friendly as Thought Catalog. Nicely done man. 

    And “suck” or not, all that Nickelback money has helped 604 put some great artists out there :)

  • kaylee

    schadenfreude is actually getting pleasure from other people’s pain, not from your own. nothing against the article

  • Guesting Testing

    Selling tons of records and tickets to shows doesn’t mean you’re good.  Just demonstrates how misguided the public can be a lot of the time.  Example – Justin Bieber, One Direction, Lady Gaga.

    • Kelly Burgess

      Maybe people just like different things.

      • Guesting Testing

        Yeah that is actually what i was saying.  But that doesn’t mean that it’s high quality.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002448686428 Davey Kuraner

    I agree that it’s uninteresting conversation to complain about underwhelming bands (Nickelback, The xx, etc.), but I feel it’s fine to dislike these bands, and if asked, I’ll state my position. Because if we all play nice and accept all the bullshit, none of it will be weeded out and discarded as it should be, making way for the different, the innovative, and the better. Then we will have 3,000 Nickelback imitators in the next 10 years. Fuck.

  • Anlon

    Eddie Vedder is an American institution. 

  • http://www.twitter.com/mexifrida Frida

    I was actually demeaned the other day when someone looked through my iPod and i happened to have “Someday” by Nickelback on there.
    I remember being about 8 and watching the music video on tv and crying because the lyrics seemed like they were coming from my father.
    So, okay, they are not my style now, but it has taught me not to demean others for things like that, because you never know the connection it may have for them.

  • Andri

    This is a very well articulated rendition of “haters gonna hate.” which is good and worth saying. What I find more interesting, though, is that the article’s title is something that would draw just the kind of hipsterish haterating kind of person. Is TC using subversive tactics? or just trying to tap into their hipster demographic? Curiosities…

    • Ruthied

       Of course he’s using carefully crafted language to get us to read the article. That’s required journalism these days.

  • http://twitter.com/robwoh Robert Wohner

    I think I’d agree with much of your thesis but you undercut your argument a few times. You condemn critics for  excusing Nickelback’s legitimacy and defend them because of their sales.  But you then randomly and arbitrarily criticize bands like the xx because you don’t like their songwriting. If you’ve created a personal standard from which to judge what makes a song is good or not, you’d then have to concede that others can use their own standard to judge a band’s songs, bands like Nickelback.  If your argument was that all bands have their place in their own sphere without getting criticized by people not their audience, we might be agreed. But if you think you’re qualified to make an opinion on what sucks or not, you’d have to give others that same opportunity. Making Nickelback fair game. You don’t distinguish what makes your standard any better than theirs. 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_6IFPDSFKEQJE2ZPP3ASE35MRL4 Laura

    *Jon Stewart

  • Rye bread

    I like this article and its ideology. Haters gonna hate.

  • Poo

    What is this guy babbling on about? 

  • Katie

    I like Nickelback. There, I said it.

  • Karlycatherine

    My mother is obsessed with Nickelback. So I haven’t had the luxury of ignoring them. When I say obsessed I don’t mean she has a few t-shirts,. we’re talking fucking Nickelback license plates. And I feel like I’ve had to listen to them enough to say, that yes they do indeed SUCK. All of their songs are terribly bland . They have that “if it aint broke dont fix it” thing going on that very few artists with careers longer than three years can pull off, and Chad Kroeger-assuming he writes all of the lyrics-seems to be a little bit obsessed with oral sex. The lyrics are fucking awful. They are the definition of shit. I can get behind what the writer here is saying, but as someone who has been forced to listen to them quite a lot, and as someone who loves music-everything from T.V. On The Radio to Skip Spence to fucking Jewel I feel like I have more room to say so than your average “too cool for Christmas” hipster. FUCK NICKELBACK.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1363230138 Michael Koh

    my gf said she’s okay with nickelback, we haven’t been together since

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1217597690 Mitch Lavender


  • Anonymous

    Why is this the 3rd Nickelback article I’ve read this week (on three unrelated blog sites)?

  • http://kylelamar.com/ Kyle LaMar

    I can’t take any of this seriously because you work for Nickelback.

  • Michaelwg

    Reading this article was the equivalent to listening to a Nickelback song, which is to say I didn’t finish it, and made a snarky comment about it.

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