[This was my Sunday column for GlobalNews.ca. – AC]
The concept of musical taste is one of the most subjective things you can discuss. There’s no telling or way of predicting which songs will get your brain to flood the body with dopamine, the body’s feel-good hormone.
Certain songs make you want to dance and give you shivers. Others induce no emotional or physical reaction at all. And others still fill you with antipathy, disgust, and maybe even rage.
This brings me to Nickelback, the Alberta band that has sold more than 50 million albums worldwide and the most successful rock band in the world of the 2000s. How You Remind Me from 2001’s Silver Side Up album was the top rock song of the decade, the fourth-best selling song overall, and the most-played song on U.S. radio between 2000 and 2009.
Groundbreaking? Certainly not. They are a pure mainstream post-grunge rock band that knows how to deliver anthemic, party-on songs both on record and in concert to a global fanbase. Revenue generated by the band is used by their various record labels to develop new and emerging acts, making their success a vital part of the ecosystem of the star-making machinery behind the popular song.
Yet out of virtually every other musical act on the planet, Nickelback attracts the most hate and abuse. Admitting to liking Nickelback is akin to saying you hate puppies and kittens. The anti-Nickelback memes are endless. Invoking their name is universal shorthand when you need to describe something awful.
I mean, people really, really hate Nickelback.
UPDATE: A thought from Bryan in Boston: “I think they dominated the radio more than anyone else at a time when radio stations became less independent. They became associated with rock at a time when there was a sense of existential threat. So classic rock fans may not have been into their lack of musicianship, early grunge fans may view them as sellouts or lacking “soul”, and for millennials, such as myself, they represented the mainstream and something that the bands I loved seemed juxtaposed to.”