Hipsters and music snobs might want to close the blackout blinds and stay in bed tomorrow for another Nickelback album cometh. Their seventh album, Here and Now, arrives just in time for the Christmas shopping season.
Is there are more reviled rock in the world today? Have you ever heard anyone admitting to like Nickelback? I mean, who would dare say that they listen to this kind of party-and-get-shitfaced chunk rock and the maudlin power ballads?
Well, someone must because Nickelback is one of the few contemporary rock bands who can still be counted on to sell millions of records and gross in the $100 million range when it comes to tours.
This, I believe, is a Good Thing.
First, let’s ask this central question: If no one will admit to buying Nickelback albums, where are all these CDs going? I think the situation is analogous to what happens with pop music. Who, for example, buys a Britney Spears album or a record by LMFAO?
Casual music fans like what’s popular, that’s who. These are the folks who buy half a dozen or so CDs a year, usually from Wal-Mart or Best Buy. All they want is music that they can sing to, pump their fist to and blast in the car (pick-up?) as they head to their buddy’s place with a 24 of Blue and a mickey of Five Star. They don’t give a shit about what critics say. They know what they like and no one’s gonna tell them otherwise.
I’m not staying that hardcore Nickelback fans are also into LMFAO. And categorizing these people as unsophisticated rubes from the sticks is also wrong. There are plenty of this sort everywhere you care to look. You’ll find them in the heartland fly-over regions of the continent, but they also sit down next to you at your favourite urban coffee place.
They’re part of the vast genus of music fans that only cares to wade so far into the pool because, well, they’re got other things on their mind. They’re perfectly happy and content and fulfilled in the shallows. They can’t tell the difference between Vampire Weekend and The Weeknd, nor do they care to. They’re just not that interested.
And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.
Yes, everything about Nickelback is expertly calculated, from the anthemic choruses to the schmaltzy ballads to the pyro at their concerts that’s intense enough to frighten Beavis and Butthead. But have you been to a Nickelback show where 18,000 people lose their minds when the band plays “Burn It to the Ground?”
As hard as this is for a lot of people to understand—and this still amazes me when I’m confronted with it–not everyone on the planet is as intensely into music you or I. The very fact that you’ve found this site and are reading this underscores that fact. But you should also know that while there are millions of us, there are billions of casual music fans. And even though each of them doesn’t spend a lot on music, their numbers add up.
And who are we to deny these people the high they get from the glory of music just because we don’t share their tastes?
Nickelback is on the Roadrunner label, an imprint that specializes in the hard’n’heavy. Most of Roadrunner’s roster are niche acts, modest selling groups who have comparatively small but very loyal and active audiences. This includes Hatebreed, Killswitch Engage, Canadian dudes Hail the Villain and Baptized in Blood, Murderdolls, Devil Driver and tons more.
The profits Nickelback kicks into Roadrunner’s coffers goes a long, long way to signing, supporting, nurturing and promoting these other groups. Hell, if it weren’t for Chad’s power ballading, it would be tough for, say, Billy Talent, to survive in the tough US market. Same thing for acts like Atreyu, Opeth,Porcupine Tree, CKY and Alexisonfire. Nickelback performs an important subsidy function, even more so than label mates Korn, KISS, Stone Sour and Megadeth.
There has always been a need for Nickelback’s sort of rock—and it’s always been derided as substandard stuff for the substandard music fan. There was a time in the late 70s when magazines like Rolling Stone sniffed at acts they categorized as “corporate rock,” a term that pretty much coalesced into a genre, much like we use “indie rock” today.
Bands like Boston, Kansas and Toto were pilloried for appealing to the masses with their less-than-authentic approach to rock’n’roll. Yet at the same time, the magazine elevated groups like Fleetwood Mac and the Eagles to godlike status. I never got that.
I guess what I’m asking here is for everyone not to be so hard on Nickelback and their fans. It’s become nearly mandatory to declare a hate-on for Chad and Co. lest someone call you out as some kind of mouth-breaking, knuckle-dragging, dog-in-the-bed-of-your-gun-rack-equipped-pick-up, referring-to-all-women-as-bitches Neanderthal. Yes, some Nickelback fans are like that. But so are some Washed Out fans I’ve met.
Do I like Nickelback? No. But because I appreciate their role in the rock’n’roll ecosystem (even if Detroit Lions fans don’t) I refuse–refuse–to disparage someone who does.
And just remember how some of those Nickelback profits are recycled. Your next favourite indie/metal band just might be underwritten with some Here and Now dollars.
If you’ve read this far, you’re must be at least somewhat interested in my argument. If you have the stones, give this video a good look/listen with a new perspective. If you’re a working-class stiff in a dead-end job living for that Friday night after payday, how can something like this NOT speak to you?
Oh, and notice that this video has been viewed 15.9 MILLION times…