A Serious Question: Why Do So Many People Hate Nickelback SOOOO Much?

I was reminded of the universality of Nickelback hatred the other night while watching an episode of Modern Family. Mitch and Cameron, still stinging from the previous year’s poorly-received Christmas carol performance for the family (Mitch was falling-down drunk), recounted the abuse they had received over the last twelve months. And bazinga! Another dig at Kroeger and Co.

Mitchell: The family has been mocking us relentlessly all year.
Cam: Nicknames like Screeches and Herb, Simon and God-awful, Nickelback.

On a recent Ongoing History of New Music episode entitled “10 Things About Music That Really Annoy Me,” I listed irrational Nickelback hatred as one of them. It’s not that I’m a fan of the band or their music, but I am bamboozled by the vast amount of hatred they seem to generate. As the Modern Family scene illustrates, they’ve become a universal punchline.

Nickeback Joke copy

Surely there are other acts much more worthy of such intense derision. Yet the email started flowing. For example:

Soo…*rolling up sleeves* You invited all comers to take you on re the top ten things you can’t stand musically including the inexplicable hatred for Nickelback?  Well to be fair, I don’t hate them.  But they swamped the airwaves with so much of their crap that my ears began to bleed whenever their music played.  Good for them that the music they made allows newer, more promising bands something to live off of while they work to make it big.  Wouldn’t think that that was what they had in mind, though. ‘Oh hey, let’s make it big so we can fund bands that are better than us while we become a rock laughingstock’.

A couple of not-likin Nickelback thoughts.

First: You know the Nickelback creation myth about how they got their name?  Some lame thing like a couple of them worked at some lunch place where the daily special was $4.95 and when they got paid with a $5, they’d ask the customer if they wanted their ‘nickel back’?…

OH BALLS.  Alan, what creature is on the back of the Canadian nickel?  A BEAVER.  Rock n roll is all about getting laid (as if that’s news to you ) so I will argue til the frickin cows come home that Nickelback is all about the beaver, and not spare change.

Second: I bet anything that Nickelback, whose sudden and inexplicable rise to fame and just as sudden and inexplicable fall into the land of ridicule (mebbe a big meteorite hit them?) still light their farts on fire.

See? Then came this link to The Daily Dot:

In 2014, listening to Nickelback isn’t just a crime of bad taste. It might get you arrested. Last week, two men were detained by police after one of the officers on duty mistook their conversation about Nickelback to a reference to a “nickel sack”—or a bag of marijuana.

This isn’t even the first time the band has made headlines in the past month. In May, former Phillies MVP Ryan Howard was forced to respond to allegations that the first baseman likes the band, after fans held up a sign that read: “Ryan Howard listens to Nickelback.” Howard had a defensive nervous breakdown over it.

“Is it bad to listen to Nickelback?” Howard asked. “I mean, I’m not afraid to say that I diversify my musical portfolio. I didn’t know they could see or hear what…How do they know I listen to Nickelback? I listen to everything. I don’t know if there’s a specific song by Nickelback.”

Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel faced similar accusations in 2012, when an angry Occupy protester’s sign went viral on the Internet, and Emanuel quickly renounced the band in an email. According to the Chicago RedEye, Emanuel’s spokesperson clarified the unpopular mayor’s Nickelback stance with a simple “no.”

I don’t get it. Hey, we’re free to like and dislike whatever music we choose, but what I’m baffled at the level of hatred Nickelback manages to generate. Is it even possible to have a rational conversation on the subject?  I’ve tried. Here’s a post from last year called “In Defense of Nickelback” and another one that suggests that Nickelback haters need to chillax a little. And here’s one more sober article worth reading.

Again, I’m not a fan. Just confused at this particular corner of human nature. There are many, many more things worth hating this much.



Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

9 thoughts on “A Serious Question: Why Do So Many People Hate Nickelback SOOOO Much?

  • December 14, 2015 at 10:26 am

    The following is all based on my faulty memories from back when I followed the band. Please excuse any errata:

    In its defense, the terrible joke shown above is the exact same type Power 97 in Winnipeg started promoting Nickelback with a series of free concerts when they first started becoming popular. The terribly cheesy backstory on the band name and their rep makes a joke putting Nickelback and 50 Cent (another name associated with hype and a substantial amount of cheese) on the same stage seem rather clever.

    In my mind, it was a combination of things. The singles from The State were powerful, reminiscent of Live or OLP. When Silver Side Up blew up and they became household names, we felt they really had something, that here was a band that would continue to make great music for years to come. It was another Canadian band doing well internationally as well as domestically, something we could all be proud of. Boys from rural Alberta making good.

    Then there was a lot of douchebaggery about the money. Since they’d produced The State and Silver Side Up themselves, it was a ton of money for a relatively new band. The word that Ryan Vikedal had been forced out seemed like a cash grab, and suggested that the solidarity seen in so many Canadian rock bands was lacking here. The Chad Kroeger solo for the Spider-man movie reinforced this.

    Then, the more singles that were released, the more formulaic they seemed. The hit-maker hooks didn’t hide the lack of substance to many of the songs. The really leant themselves to overplay, however, which can make any song annoying . Alert music fans started to say “hey, this sounds exactly like their previous single!” We asked ourselves where the love of the music was. We already knew the band was no Hip, but we started to ask ourselves if we’d been fooled into liking something more akin to Limp Bizkit.

    By the time “Rockstar” rolled around – where the lyrics were all about the seedy, material benefits of popularity and how they could look forward to phoning it in for years to come based on their early popularity – we believed implicitly that this was what Nickelback was all about. The hooks were still catchy, but liking their stuff was akin to a love of Reality TV – filled with self-loathing over enjoying something made to appeal to the lowest common denominator in all of us.


  • December 14, 2015 at 10:53 am

    While new generations would rather listen to the highly diverse and innovative music playing on top 40 radio than Nickleback, I find it even more galling that my generation hates the band, sighting the usual excuses that they are formulistic and have a one-track writing style and content. Same people that would pay $200 to see one original member of AC/DC, a band nobody has ever accused of innovation.

  • December 14, 2015 at 11:04 am

    I don’t know about Nickelback but I know who makes my ears bleed when listening to the Edge. I turn off the radio whenever ASS comes on. At least I think that’s what they are called.

  • December 14, 2015 at 12:23 pm

    I remember watching Much Music years ago. Nickleback was giving an interview and Chad spent most of the time explaining why Nickleback didn’t suck. We sell out arena’s, we have huge record sales, we don’t suck.

    If you spend more time explaining why you don’t suck instead of promoting your new album then by proper definition… you truly suck.

    So its the bands own fault.

  • December 14, 2015 at 12:37 pm

    I don’t hate Nickelback. They are a good rock band and I even like a few of their songs. My favourite is “Savin’ Me,” and I think the video they made for it is one of the best videos I’ve seen in recent years. It’s brilliant! But, by the same token, I do find them formulaic in a way, and the thing that really turns me off usually, is the subject matter of their songs. How many tunes can you listen to about going to a bar, getting drunk, probably getting into a fight, and then picking up some skank to take home with you for the night? That said, I don’t dislike them as much as Hedley, which is a band I think are extremely formulaic and really suck! The thing is that Americans really love Nickelback, and I think that rubs some of us the wrong way too, because of the music that is mostly popular south of the border, which is so phony and manufactured…well at least the stuff that is making all the big bucks. I thank God I live in Canada, where people still have decent taste in music.

  • December 14, 2015 at 11:09 pm

    Listen I used to love them , I went to there concerts , had all there albums I was a big fan. But then I felt like they changed there music style , in the new album I feel like there is very few rock songs. Other then edge of a revolution they suck I mean they had a rapper featured in a song what dose that tell you . In my opinion they need to get back to the days of there silver side up album and actually be a rock band again not whatever they are trying to be now.

  • December 15, 2015 at 8:33 am

    Scott McVicar, I couldn’t said it better, it’s exactly how I’ve felt about it too! I had mad respect at first when they came out, and after seeing an interview at Much around 1999… and then, things just got repetitive… Anyway…

  • December 28, 2015 at 6:51 am

    I’m french and Iover Nickelback.
    No one is forced to love them. If one don’t it’s ok. No need to spit hatred.
    Haters need to chill out : it’s only rock and roll… but we like it. 😉


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