There's a point on Nickelback's latest album, No Fixed Address, about five seconds into "She Keeps Me Up," when you realize this is what it sounds like when Chad Kroeger attempts to write a song that deviates from the band's longtime successful formula. As soon as that Franz Ferdinandesque beat starts, it hits you, right in the face: This band is even worse than I thought.
I attempted to listen to Nickelback's discography from beginning to end. I attempted this not because I lost a bet or Chad Kroeger had a gun pressed against my back but in an effort to figure out what it is that gives this band such high suck points. I didn't make it far. I just couldn't take it. So instead, I opted for the greatest-hits album, which is full of all the songs that make us hate Nickelback anyway.
Two things became clear about halfway through: It makes sense that these guys sell so many albums, and sweet holy fuck, are they the worst thing to happen to my ears in a long time.
Despite having never played any track by the band on purpose, I was dismayed to discover that I know the words to their songs. I. Know. The. Words. To. Nickelback. Songs. That's the real problem for all of us. They're inescapable.
There was a time, maybe a decade ago, when there were about 20 straightforward, relatively bland, "rock 'n' roll" bands selling lots of records that appealed to the actual masses. Think of anything on a '90s alterna-rock compilation or most '80s hair metal. There were so many bands to loathe, but there was no one in particular to focus on. That time is gone, though, and what we're left with is Nickelback, and the band now has our full negative attention.
Nickelback gets played so much on radio and on television and at public events that an avowed music elitist such as myself knows the words to songs I try very hard to avoid. I don't try to learn the words to normal pop trash like Britney Spears and Rihanna, but I've never been embarrassed — actually embarrassed — to reflexively sing along with garbage music until I felt the words to "How You Remind Me" puke out of my face.
While I failed in trying to swallow the whale whole, Jesse Carey, of the Relevant podcast, succeeded, and made a profit too. He raised money for the organization Charity: Water by listening to nothing but the Nickelback discography for six consecutive days. That's like swallowing the whale whole, shitting it out, and then swallowing it again, over and over, for a week, only with a slight benefit to somebody else as a result of the suffering.
When asked why he would do such a thing, Carey wrote on charitywater.org, "Because it is the ultimate test of human endurance. I'm willing to put my personal health at risk for the challenge. Obviously, exposure to such a large quantity of Nickelback is very dangerous." He knew the risks and did it anyway. Perhaps he was inspired by raising $5K in 48 hours and eventually $35K in total. That's inspiring on its own.
The campaign got all sorts of international media attention because hatred of Nickelback is strong. That hatred is almost as popular as the band. And that's the problem. But there may be a solution.
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Kroeger himself nailed it in a recent interview with the Pulse of Radio: "All these critics, they're just tireless. They keep ragging on the band. If they had stopped writing all this stuff about us, there would be no controversy left in the band, and we probably would have died out years ago. They don't know that they're still responsible for us being around today."
There it is, right there. Stop expressing your hatred for Nickelback, be it on Twitter or by threatening your friends who've "liked" the band on Facebook. Stop giving fantasy football leagues names like "No Nickelback Fans Allowed." Stop writing endless blog posts and articles like this one about how awful the band is.
Stop now, please, for the love of God, and maybe people will finally forget about Nickelback.
Nickelback's No Fixed Address Tour with Pop Evil. 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 28, at Coral Sky Amphitheatre, 601-7 Sansbury's Way, West Palm Beach. Tickets cost between $19 and $74 plus fees. Call 561-795-8883, or visit livenation.com.