I Get Mail

I love it when people leave comments on this page, but sometimes I get email regarding stories I publish elsewhere–the Ottawa Citizen/Vancouver Sun, for example, or from my weekly columns in the Metro papers.  

(Should you ever want to send me an email, either use the “Talk to Me” link to the right or just use [email protected].)

Here’s a sample of some recent correspondence:

Dear Mr. Cross,

I read your article on hatred towards Nickelback with great interest. I too was saying the same thing during the Grey Cup half-time show, “Why do people get so upset about Nickelback?” Indeed, I am definitely not a fan, but their considered success is to be applauded. When I learned recently that Mr. Kroeger is also a successful songwriter for Nashville country artists, my thoughts were, what a remarkable contribution Canadian artists continue to make in today’s popular music arena.

As an avid music collector and listener in all genres, I’ll be playing more attention to your website. So keep up the good work. And in the words of those rock an’ roll Neanderthals you made reference to: “Nickelback rules man!”

All good things,

Paul Barriscale



Detroit DJ here. My station does play Nickelback, much to my disappointment. We are triple A. I agree with you – there is a place for Nickelback in the eco-system of music, as you put it. Sure.

Like you – I do not *hate* Nickelback. I don’t *HATE* any artist though – different strokes for different folks. But I think their music is bland. Boring. Cheese-ball.

Remember the rush of post Pearl Jam, Eddie-Vedder-Sound-a-likes? They all made me groan. For a while there in the late 90s, you couldn’t turn on the radio without hearing some guy trying to deepen his voice with a “Heeeeyaaaaaaa…Hoooooo-aaaaah…” thrown in there.

It was like turning into a bout of depression. Just…awful.

Nickelback seemed to be at the helm of this ship. Certainly not the first band to have this style, but for whatever reason – they became the poster boys for it.

Everyone going crazy for them because they had some pyros thrown into their live show.

I am not against arena rock. I’ve seen Hinder. I’ve seen Aerosmith. I’ve seen Foo Fighters pull it off pretty decently when they played the Palace of Auburn Hills here in Detroit.

It’s great! Dirty. Perhaps a bit sexist. You might even call it cock-rock.

Cheesy? Sure. Very cheese-ball.

But Nickelback is different. For whatever reason.

Take the lyrics for Photograph. One cannot read the lyrics to that song and POSSIBLY think it is well written.

Switching gears ever so slightly – let’s look at LIz Phair. An amazing artist who released some killer albums from 1993 to 1998. Then the 2003 “self-titled” (uggghhh!!!! – who self-titles their 4th album?!?!?!?) came out and all the little indie-snobs and their perfect indie-kingdom in which Liz Phair was reigning queen came crashing down.

Suddenly – everything was slick. Over-produced. The edge was dulled down. The witty, searing lyrics were rounded out to generic bland…well – crap.

I say that as a long time fan.

We were crushed. Crushed because it no longer sounded like a performer with something to say.

It sounded like a bland record-company album that was designed to move units.


So maybe, it’s part of a “resistance”, so to speak.

A resistance of people who love music…and when they see hoards and hoards of fans of Nickelback – we become afraid, because – especially popular music – is become something we can discard.

My two favourite decades for music – are the 60s and the 90s.

Popular music was BANG ON.

It SAID something.

It was politically charged.

It was depressed.

It was positive.

It was narrative.

It was drug fuelled too.

But it was interesting.

it was so interesting and it was mainstream.

That’s the key. It was “mainstream”.

You turned on the radio and you heard people with a brain.

It was smart and for the masses. that is something which can rarely be accomplished, and I think it’s that attitude that is selling us short.

Nickelback is brainless. They certainly have an audience – but I think they should stick to that audience.

Keep moving units with that audience.

They don’t belong on Triple A radio.

They don’t belong at a Lions game.

They can keep moving units with whoever keeps on moving their units – but they represent something bigger, I think – at least for me – as someone who has had a bad taste in his mouth over Nickelback BEFORE it was cool to hate Nickelback…

They represent the absence of art.

And the hoards of people running to worship it…that’s just downright scary.

So that might be why we are defensive.

That might be why some people even use the “H” word – hate – when they are asked what they think of Nickelback.

Maybe. What do I know? But it’s fascinating.



I am a long time music lover and listener – I go back to the “Spirit of Radio” CFNY days (Jimi Veale and Neil Morrison (Brother Bill) and I were roomies for a while way back when).

Anyway – I definitely agree with your point about Nickleback being hated perhaps because of their genericness/blandness/formula rock. When you talked about the historic bands that engendered the same kind of reaction in the past – you failed to mention a few that i seem to recall as being universally hated:

1) Air Supply

2) Asia

3) Bay City Rollers

Undoubtedly there were a few more – although I don’t recall Zep being on that list ….



I was so happy to see your article in the newspaper today.  I too am mystified to learn about this loathing of Nicklelback. I have enjoyed all kinds of music throughout my adult life.

My son is a musician now.  Bass guitar.  We have gone to see him play in places that I never knew existed in Vancouver.  I loved the Rolling Stones.  My son calls them sleezy. Typical “sex, drugs, and rock and roll” he says.  Any band that had a good slide guitarist caught my attention.  Any band that I could hear the lead singers words loud and clear with a strong background of exciting guitar work and drums caught my attention. 

Nickleback caught my attention.  Their strong moody, male sound was attractive to me after seeing so many women singers dominating the scene. I think they will go far, despite all of the negativity. Their song, “We will Stand Together”  is universal. 

Some people just don’t get it. 



My take on the Nickelback hate is simply that they are this generation’s Loverboy.  I didn’t understand the hate then, I don’t know.  I took a lot of heat in the 80’s for liking Loverboy, I see people today getting similar heat for Chad.



Hi Alan,

Oh gosh, yes, the old days. The old days of dropping in on the record store, to see if they had the tape I was looking for, to see what tapes they had, see if they had any tapes that I didn’t even know I wanted yet. It just seemed like something we would be doing forever, to be forever filling out the collection of tapes you had, and forever finding other tapes you had to buy. It was a beautiful world, so much music always in your mind, back in those old days.

But I guess that’s progress. Who am I to say, right? Anyway, thanks for the reminiscing and the memories!



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.

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