By: Andrew Bank (Syracuse University)
There’s an old saying in rock ‘n’ roll that whatever you lack in talent you can make up for with an abundance power chords and fireworks. The inexplicably iconic Canadian rockers Nickelback have followed this rule closer than most rednecks follow NASCAR.
In fact, they’ve become one of the world’s most successful hit-producing machines in a time when the capacity to produce listener-friendly singles often determines how far artists can go in the music industry.
It’s cliche to rant about how modern music lacks the originality, depth, and staying-power of tunes from previous decades. And it’s even more so to rip on Nickelback for all their songs sounding as if they came from the same generic template (check out this widely celebrated video below and you’ll surely see what I mean).But still, it’s necessary to recognize the degree to which this band truly sucks.
Before you nod in agreement, open up your iTunes and click on one of the eight Nickelback songs that are a staple in your (and probably my entire generation’s) digital music collection. After all, there are few things more exhilarating than killing time on the Internet with some “Hero” or “Photograph” blasting in the background.
Ah. Now, we can continue.
Nickelback are laughable because they embrace the stereotypical image of “rock stars” so well. In concert, they can be spotted meeting the unspoken quota of eleven “how are you guys effin’ doing tonights,” ” four “this one’s for the ladies,” and three “if you know the words SCREAMs.” They even released the obligatory hit-single loathing the rocker life (for originality, the boys named this one “rockstar”).
Sure, plenty of other commercially successful bands are guilty of following similar career models. But at least these artists have had something distinctive setting them apart from their contemporaries. David Cook won American Idol, 3 Doors Down write the music for those corny National Guard commercials, and Creed (who might as well be referred to as Nickelback’s ugly cousin) have taken people “higher” with shades of Christian rock.
So what is it that makes Nickelback so special? Honestly, I think it’s their self-awareness and indulgence of their own Essence of Suck. They know exactly what they are, and aren’t afraid to revel in it. And because of this, they have built a loyal fan base who is more than willing to embrace it as well. When you buy a Nickelback song or concert ticket, you know what you’re in for. There are no surprises with Nickelback, and in an ever-changing world we sure love our constants.
*Andrew Bank is a senior Television, Radio, & Film major at Syracuse University. Visit ANDREWBANK.COM to read more of his work.