A Scientific Explanation for Nickelback Hatred: “Hypocritical Bullshit Performed Through Gritted Teeth: Authenticity Discourses in Nickelback’s Album Reviews in Finnish Media”

Frankly, I’ve never understood why Nickelback has become such a lightning rod for haters. And not just a little hate; it’s like all the hate in the rock’n’roll universe is focussed on them and what they do.

Why? You may not like their music or image, but they’re a very competent, steady rock band that knows what their fans want do their best to deliver. In the process, they’ve sold tens of millions of records grossed hundreds of millions in concert receipts. They’re no worse than most of their peers–and honestly, they’re better at what they do than 90% of them.

What, then, is the source of this hate? Let’s ask science. This is from Mental Floss. Note the name of this paper:

Nickelback is a band that everyone loves to hate. Saying that someone likes the Canadian rockers is a terrible insult, even though the band manages to sell millions of albums around the world. What’s with all the shade?

One Finnish researcher tried to get to the bottom of why music critics love to hate on Nickelback. Her study in Metal Music Studies, beautifully titled “‘Hypocritical Bullshit Performed Through Gritted Teeth’: Authenticity Discourses in Nickelback’s Album Reviews in Finnish Media,” argues that it’s a matter of authenticity. Critics don’t see Nickelback as genuine. 

Salli Anttonen of the University of Eastern Finland examined reviews from Finnish music media published between 2000 and 2014, finding that in many ways, the band has been stymied by its mainstream popularity.

Critics have attacked Nickelback for being too calculated in their artistic approach, she writes, citing some of the harsher reviews:

“Their songs are ‘optimally safe’, where ‘everything is up to par with the requirements of the genre’, and which create ‘an illusion of hard rock’ (Ojala 2002). The music is described as being ‘fake’ (Riikonen 2012), ‘forced’ (Hilden 2011) and ‘performed through gritted teeth’ (Riikonen 2012). Van der San (2011) claims that Nickelback is ‘calculatingly hit-focused’; Ojala accuses them of ‘laughing all the way to the bank’ (2003). Overall, the descriptions imply that the songs are not genuine self-expression written willingly, but instead forced and made for commercial reasons.”

 They’re also a little too similar to beloved bands like Nirvana, and they aren’t perceived as adding anything original to the formula, instead cranking out hits that might be described as grunge-light. “The hope and memory of grunge can be seen to be soiled in the worst kind of way in the hands of bands such as Nickelback, who represent everything grunge was against, not least of all commercialism,”Anttonen writes.
Intrigued? You should be. Keep reading. (Via Tom)



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.

2 thoughts on “A Scientific Explanation for Nickelback Hatred: “Hypocritical Bullshit Performed Through Gritted Teeth: Authenticity Discourses in Nickelback’s Album Reviews in Finnish Media”

  • April 8, 2016 at 3:36 pm

    More accurately, they are musically unadventurous, but lyrically honest and earnest. Many hipster artists these days party like Nickelback song lyrics, cheat on their girlfriends, have picky riders and contracts, and sing about saving the world or politics. Wouldn’t that be the true definition of hypocrisy?

  • April 10, 2016 at 3:56 pm

    I think this is bullshit to be honest. I’m a rock Musician in Toronto and I honestly can’t understand the hate. It’s as if a few people began disliking them and made it cool to the point where everyone wants to feel included so they joined the club.

    Her argument that they don’t say or convey any thoughts or expressions that are genuine is complete and utter bullshit. I’m not a huge fan but I definitely dig a lot of their songs and riffs. As a fan of Rock you’d be stupid or lying to yourself if you can’t appreciate anything about them.

    I’ve never been into doing what everyone else is because it’s cool. I don’t feel that pressure and I think it’s really juvenile and in a large way a display of weak-mindedness or a lack of integrity and objective reasoning for someone else to hate something because it’s cool. My band writes songs about everything from Women and their sexual organs to the political and moral decay of the world that we live in. Why? Because we’re human beings with many interests that draw inspiration from a lifetime of experiences. To say that they’re music is hypocritical is stupid and unfair.

    They write heavy riffs and catchy songs that they enjoy, they have a dynamic pallet of subjects that they write about including their politically driven song Revolution which has a super catchy hook I might add. My advice to everyone is to stop listening to others and make up your own damn mind. Stop perpetuating and circulating hate for the sake of hating or just to make a joke.

    If people knew that Nickelback was over $1,000,000 in debt, struggling and almost quit before they even had a hit single, they’d probably have a little more respect for how hard they’ve worked, what they’ve accomplished and the strength of their art based on their success alone.


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