Why Do People Hate Nickelback?


Rock band Nickelback standing with a blue background.

Why do people hate Nickelback? Let’s get into the psychology of it – Author Anne Erickson, Photo via Richard Beland

First of all, let me just say that I like Nickelback. I’m certainly not one of the haters. That’s the main basis for this article. Why do people hate Nickelback so much when their music is obviously so popular? It’s consistently topped the rock radio charts for decades, and Nickelback continually sell out amphitheaters around the world. So, why the hate?

I have some theories. The main one is that when something gets super big and popular, there’s almost always a backlash. Also, it’s human nature, at least for some, to want to see someone or something that’s hugely successful finally fall.

With Nickelback, the band blew up quickly with their breakout album, 2001’s “Silver Side Up.” The album featured the band’s breakout hit, “How You Remind Me,” as well as rock radio hits like “Never Again” and “Too Bad.” Nickelback very quickly went from playing small venues to the biggest venues in the world. This quick rise to fame could be one reason why some people hate on Nickelback.

I remember seeing Nickelback open for 3 Doors Down at Pine Knob near Detroit right when “How You Remind” me was breaking. I was just a baby. Not literally, but I was so green and new to the music world. Chad Kroeger was actually signing merch outside after the band’s opening set. I met him and got him to sign a CD, and he called me “sweetheart,” and I practically fainted. Of course, this was years before I became a serious radio host and journalist, and I kind of miss the naiveté and joy of moments like that. In any case, Nickelback were quickly becoming the biggest things in the early-2000s.

Chad Kroger’s take

What does Kroeger think of all the Nickelback hate? In an interview with Metal Global, he said that he thinks it’s because it was pretty much impossible to escape the band’s music for at least a decade. Nickelback were all of the radio, and not just rock station. They were also big on pop stations and even AC formats. In fact, even though most of my career has been in rock radio, I was middays on a Top 40 station for a while when Nickelback’s song “Photograph” was big. I played that song every single hour, to the point where my mom was like, “Anne, please stop playing that Nickelback song. I’m going to smash that photograph!”

In that interview, when asked about the Nickelback hate, Kroeger said, “I think I’ve got a pretty good grasp of where things kind of went off the rails for us. I think that because we write so many different kinds of music, I think that if you were listening to a radio station any time between 2000 and 2010, ’11, ’12 even, we were kind of tough to get away from. Because if you didn’t want to hear it and you changed to a different radio station, you’d probably hear it on there, and then changed to a different radio station, you probably were going hear it in so many different places. And, we were really tough to get away from. And that’s not my fault. We just write the songs.”

So true. It’s like what I described earlier. Nickelback is one of those unique bands that had hard-hitting hard rock songs for active and mainstream rock radio (“Rockstar,” “Burn It to the Ground,” “Something in Your Mouth”) and pop-rock anthems for pretty much all the pop and melodic formats (“Someday,” “Photograph”).

In the same interview, Kroeger also poked fun at the hate. “And so with that comes backlash. And then what happens is then comedians start making jokes, and then it starts making it on to TV, and then it makes it into movies and stuff like that,” he said. “Then it just turns into this wave of, it’s fun to pick on and it’s an easy joke. And I get it. I understand. There are bands that when I hear them on the radio, I… And they’re very popular bands… I mean, we all have those. No one is exempt from that. There are certain bands where you just hear them and you just don’t like them.” Later, he added that, “It’s just part of the history of the band.”

Other loved-yet-hated bands

Two bands that I compare Nickelback to in terms of popularity and almost getting too big or too well-liked across the board are Creed and Hootie and the Blowfish. Both of those bands got extremely huge with many different audiences. They both, as with Nickelback, also had singles that you couldn’t escape.

In the end, there’s no denying that Nickelback, and the other bands I mentioned, are good bands. They write solid rock songs that appeal to the masses. So, don’t hate. If it’s not your cup of tea, that’s fine. But, just keep it to yourself, okay?

By the way, Nickelback is releasing a documentary called “Hate to Love.” For more information on that film, go here. Also, check out some modern “dad rock” songs, including one from Nickelback, here.

Anne Erickson
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Posted by Anne Erickson | Features, Music, Rock

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