I Like Nickelback

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I Like Nickelback

Nickelback. The notoriously hated poster children of “Butt Rock.” The bane of the hipster existence. It’s as if everyone with an outlet to express an opinion got together and decided that Nickelback would be the chosen target for verbal bile and slander anywhere from Twitter to hand written poster boards at sporting events. They’re the easiest target since society beat up Hootie & The Blowfish in our collective alleyway.

Hating Nickelback is a meme. Do a search for #NickelbackSucks, and you’ll see how wide this phenomenon has spread through an impressive range of demographics. People are ecstatic about Nickelback having to cancel their 2015 tour because the lead singer, Chad Kroeger, has to have surgery on his voice box. Concerts they’d never have to see anyway.

This may be as close to coming out of the closet as I’m going to get: I like Nickelback.

Nickelback is comforting to me. It’s safe. It’s easy. The combination of digitally enhanced vocals, the alternating of acoustic guitar with a pleasurable electric tone, and accessible heavy ballad sentiments are the musical equivalent of a McDonald’s double cheeseburger. And I like those. A lot. I only eat about one per month because McDonald’s double cheeseburgers aren’t for everyday. To be fair, neither is Nickelback. But that doesn’t mean they need to be hated. Ignored, maybe. But hatred towards a band that sold 50 million albums and hasn’t really done anything so vile to deserve the ridicule they receive seems a bit extreme.

Chris Brown beat up Rihanna. The hatred of Chris Brown makes sense. But Nickelback is just a pop band that made the song “Rockstar” featuring Texas God Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top. And “Rockstar” sounds great when you’re on your 8th daytime Bud Light at a pool party with a hotdog in your hand and a cigarette hanging off your lip. Know what doesn’t sound good then? Mumford & Sons or whatever else folk-rock flavor of the week is popular right now. Turn that fedora banjo trash off. If I want a folksy alt vibe I’ll put on some Todd Snider. But for now, as I fade away into a booze soaked afternoon, I want to disappear into the absence of thought that is Nickelback. Let’s make some margs and forget we exist.

Pop music has become extremely disposable. After their day in the sun, the majority of the top songs on iTunes will never be heard on the radio or even played privately again. But it wasn’t always this way. Songs had longevity. And Nickelback may be the one of the last extremely well selling groups to be kept on public rotation in perpetuity. Perhaps that’s why there’s such an outpouring of vitriol in their direction. Today’s pop music consumer doesn’t understand how a group can’t be ghosted. The #1 song on iTunes is currently, “Cheerleader” by Omi. It’s severe trash. In six months, I’d be surprised if anyone really even remembers it existed. A musical piece of gum to be chewed then ground into the sidewalk. Nickelback was Billboard’s Rock Group of the Decade in the 2000s, and you’ll probably hear them the next time you’re in a Walgreen’s or at the supermarket. Nickelback is still present.

“And that’s the point, Mike. It’s just bullshit music for sheep people to listen to who don’t have a choice. Nickelback is audibly force fed to the public. It’s not a good band just because it still gets played all the time.”

But their record sales make the argument that people used to like Nickelback in droves. They bought the CD. They listened to it on their own in their cars until it wasn’t “cool” after the sheep were herded in another direction. That’s not having an opinion, that’s just mob mentality.

And who’s to say what “good” is? One could make the argument that “good” and “popular” are two different things. Although, Nickelback has been currently branded as neither despite their success. The Fast and Furious series was once deemed to be a joke of a film franchise until people collectively decided to loosen up and have a good time. There are people who laughed in my face about going to see Fast Five in theater who couldn’t wait for Furious 7 to come out because it was a “thing.” Nickelback is the opposite. Was a “thing” for some. Now, a “thing” no more. Their Nickelback fandom skeleton to be locked away forever as they happily “admit” to liking Taylor Swift as if that’s a brave statement.

Am I a fan of the Nickelback deep cuts? No. That’s not what Nickelback is about. Nickelback is about the hits. Maybe I wouldn’t be considered to be a true fan. But I don’t think Nickelback would mind. I think Nickelback would just be happy that they make me feel good from time to time. Life is hard. Sometimes I need the Nickelbacks of the world to make it easier. On the cheap. No strings attached.

Or maybe that’s just me. Maybe I’m trash. Maybe I’m the bad guy. Maybe I’m the problem. I’m the guy who loves Chili’s. I’m the guy who gets extra mayo on his Jimmy John’s after the gym. I’m the guy with beer hidden in a coffee cup at Whole Foods. I’m the guy singing along to Nickelback’s “Photograph” with the windows down in his pickup truck next to a Prius at a stop light in a hipster neighborhood of Los Angeles. I’m the guy in the drive-thru at Little Caesar’s buying a $5 Hot ‘n Ready to eat on the way home. I’m the guy who gets nostalgic for the years when the WWE had Nickelback’s “Burn It To The Ground” as the opening theme for Monday Night RAW.

Maybe I’m the asshole. Just another waste of space dickbag who wishes they were forever drunk in a sports bar eating chicken wings and drinking domestic beer. And I’m fine with that. I like Nickelback.

Image via Shutterstock

Mike Burns is a comedian, author, and writer of television. He was born in Saginaw, MI and lives in Los Angeles, via Chicago via New York. Mike graduated from Michigan State University with a degree in Advertising that he threw in the trash. He's also the creator of @DadBoner and the author of "Power Moves: Livin’ The American Dream, USA Style by Karl Welzein."

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