In Defense of Nickelback

An interesting assessment by Larry LeBlanc from


It’s time that folks give Nickelback some slack.

One of the premier global music acts of our time, the Canadian quartet remains an universal punching bag; pilloried for its mega popularity; and for jump-starting fans’ bloodstreams with mega doses of adrenaline.

Many musicians today spill their beer at the mention of Nickelback’s name.

They regard these post-grunge heavyweights as a sinister force.

Last year, the Black Keys’ Patrick Carney sniffed to Rolling Stone magazine that, “Rock ‘n’ roll is dying because people became OK with Nickelback being the biggest band in the world.”

In a dead-on, chisel-it-on-my-tombstone retort against detractors, Nickelback currently kick off shows on its global tour with the anthem-styled “This Means War” containing the lyrical message, “Say anything you want / But talk will get you nowhere,” as gargantuan balls of flames erupt from behind members onstage.

Such trench warfare by Nickelback is waged not against women and kids, but against earnest music journalists; internet-blogging bomb-throwers; and those music aficionados who try to sing along with Feist.

You know you want to read the rest.

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.

Alan Cross has 38324 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

13 thoughts on “In Defense of Nickelback

  • The fact that Nickelback is such a polarizing force just draws attention to the problem. The 50 million people who bought Nickelback albums are those who are comfortable with mediocrity. On the otherside of the coin, technology has allowed people to specifically formulate their own tastes (eg, those who push beyond mediocrity) Thus, for the first time in history, big-selling, fan-frenzied, middle-of-the-road, arena rock, is going to a whipping post for the millions who once remained on the fringes.

  • I've never bought into this idea that liking a Nickelback song means that you're not a true music fan, or that you're somehow into mediocrity. They've sold 50 million (or whatever) albums for a reason, and it probably has something to do with the fact that they write catchy songs that millions of people *gasp* like. I realize that "real" music fans don't like that idea, but they are one of the most successful bands ever for a reason.

    This idea that people need to "push through mediocrity", as Tyler suggests, is just musical snobbery. It's also a meaningless statement. It sounds good to say it, but what does mediocrity actually mean when it comes to music? Because for any statement you can make about how Nickelback is mediocre, I can immediately apply to a band who is loved by critics. My guess is that for most, mediocrity basically translates to "popular", because people like the idea that they are somehow different/better than the average person, and music is a good way of expressing that.

    By the way, I could really care less about Nickelback. I like a few of their songs, but wouldn't consider myself a fan. I just hate musical snobbery!

  • The definition of mediocre: of only ordinary or moderate quality; neither good nor bad; barely adequate. Mediocre music suggests a mediocre culture. A mediocre culture suggests a decline in social intelligence.

  • "They've sold 50 million (or whatever) albums for a reason, and it probably has something to do with the fact that they write catchy songs that millions of people *gasp* like. I realize that "real" music fans don't like that idea, but they are one of the most successful bands ever for a reason."

    Yeah.. They're one of the most successful bands in exactly the same way as McDonald's is a successful restaurant. But I don't take a date to McD's. There are Nickelback songs that I like. I don't necessarily change the radio station when they come on, save for a few songs. But most of their music seems so stock that I just don't see the point in listening to them. If I give you the choice between plain vanilla ice cream and absolutely any other flavour of ice cream that exists or has ever existed, or any topping you ever wanted, chances are you'd only seldom go for that plain vanilla.

  • Nickelback are the Worst. Band. Ever.

  • I find it funny that Nickelband is pilloried for being bland, generic, mediocre, etc. mostly because they stay pretty close to the sound they've developed over the years, and don't vary much on the same themes. In fact, that's why I'm not a fan of theirs myself.

    However, you look at other bands like AC/DC who never stray from their formula, and yet they've endured as Classic Rock icons.

    The fact is, there aren't many mega-bands that really mess around with their styles (U2 for example). Why this unhealthy fixation on Nickelband, I just don't know. Instead of bashing them online in forums with a snootier-than-thou musicophile attitude, I'd rather just let bygones be bygones and go listen to the stuff I would rather listen to, while letting everyone else enjoy their own.

  • I find it ridiculous that people are so passionate about trashing people that are just trying to create something. Critics should remember that while they sit in their dark rooms staring at a computer screen trying to say something witty, bands like Nickelback are creating and making a ton of cash in the process.

    It's pretty easy to crap on others from the safety of the internet, but really if you don't like what they do, don't listen, change the channel, support those bands that do inspire you, but don't be a troll. They have as much right to exist as anyone else, and perhaps a bit more because unlike many they are putting themselves out there and creating new stuff.

  • Honestly, it's very hard to find any contemporary (non-black urban) music that isn't "faggotity". Dance, Alt-angst, wimpy soft pop, strident chick-led… Nickelback – they're okay, you're "okay". Sure we always had the Elton Johns etc., of earlier generations, but they could always be universally relatable as singers and performers. I don't believe it is the same anymore. "Hard", heh heh?

  • I have no grudge against Nickelback — truth is, they've written some pretty solid hard rock rongs — but I love that this essay full of glowing praise comes from someone writing on behalf of an organization that represents record companies. Of course most record labels would love Nickelback: bands like them make loads of cash for record companies.

  • And for the record, I used to own Nickelback's second(?) CD, The State. It was actually quite good, and sounded kinda different from what a lot of other rock bands were doing at the time. Kinda wish I still had it.

  • Pingback: A Journal of Musical ThingsBefore You Continue Hating Nickelback, Consider This... - A Journal of Musical Things

  • Pingback: A Journal of Musical ThingsA Serious Question: Why Do So Many People Hate Nickelback SOOOO Much? - A Journal of Musical Things

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