History will decide whether Hanna rockers are rock legends or multi-platinum joke
Strong criticisms have haunted the band Nickelback during a large chunk of their career.
There seem to be a few reasons why people hate the biggest rock 'n' roll band of our time.
• They became wealthy by sticking with the same song formula their whole career.
• Other preceding bands like Theory of a Deadman on its label (Roadrunner Records) sound just like them.
• Frontman Chad Kroeger's new haircut looks weird, etc.
As time goes on, as if Kroeger's guitar strings have some mystical magnetic force, the band seems to keep attracting more waves of criticism.
Like it or not, the boys are coming to town playing the Scotiabank Saddledome on May 16.
Earlier this month, Patrick Carney, drummer for garage-rock duo the Black Keys (who are also playing the Saddledome on May 11), told Rolling Stone magazine "Rock & roll is dying because people became OK with Nickelback being the biggest band in the world."
I have to hand it to Nickelback for refusing to let the barrage of verbal bullets take them down. The band responded on its Twitter account, saying "Thanks to the drummer in the Black Keys calling us the Biggest Band in the World in Rolling Stone. Hehe."
This latest childish, pop-culture episode of one famous musician telling other famous musicians that they suck has succeeded in getting press attention.
Even more recently, Nickelback have been going on the defensive, exchanging words with their own detractors on Twitter — earning yet a few more headlines on music websites.
In light of Nickelback (once again) being a water-cooler topic, I'd like to beg to differ with Mr. Carney's damning assertion that Nickelback is killing rock 'n' roll. For decades, legacy bands have survived being second to so-called flavour-of-the-month acts.
Memorable Bands Weren't Always Top Dog
Important records throughout rock history, like The Beatles' Abbey Road, Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon and Nirvana's Nevermind all sold astronomically well and continue to win new generations of fans but, as far as radio airplay is concerned, did not always have a number-one single.
Sometimes the rock genre was not always champion of the Billboard Hot 100, and when it was, number-one rock singles during these albums' respective eras were fun and catchy, but sometimes forgettable.
So what if great rock tunes weren't always chart-toppers? I don't believe that that equals the genre being dead.
Nickelback has sold millions of records but so have The Backstreet Boys, Vanilla Ice and The Monkees.
Music history indicates that rock bands who've earned status in rock fans' hearts as legendary always survived being in the more-popular shadows of long-forgotten pop acts whose brighter flames in the public eye sometimes tended to burn out quicker.
With some exceptions such as Foo Fighters, I think of post-grunge rock groups like Nickelback, Hinder and Daughtry as today's commercial, mediocre but accessible entry points for people who may not religiously listen to rock 'n' roll.
My older brother cranked grunge favourites like Nirvana, Alice in Chains and Soundgarden a lot when I was a kid but my real entry point into rock 'n' roll growing up was during the late '90s when the nu-metal movement was fronted by bands such as Korn, Limp Bizkit and Papa Roach.
These bands are still around but aren't the chart-toppers that they might have been before. I've since pawned my copy of Limp Bizkit's "Significant Other" but if it weren't for those bands, I wouldn't be listening to the classic rock greats and promising new acts, like The Sheepdogs, that I do today.
I'd imagine it was the same for those who grew up with the glam-metal scene of the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles during the '80s; a time when Poison and Quiet Riot were the reigning monarchs of hairspray and spandex.
The only thing Nickelback is guilty of is being today's cool band to mock because their polarizing fame makes them an easy target. I'd imagine it might have been the same for Limp Bizkit and Poison during their heyday.
Love Nickelback or hate them, they're a band that, I think, many people find fun and accessible enough that I just can't take them seriously as some sort of threat to rock 'n' roll's existence.
Let It Be
We can debate in the press and troll on the Internet all we want but I think that the immediate answer to Nickelback's merits as musicians is a personal one, shaped by our own tastes. We can all say our peace but none of us will be right or wrong.
Music is subjective and anyone can be a critic.
I don't care for Nickelback either but if you ever tell me you're a fan, I'm not going to change your mind if I tell you that they could sing about more things than just, for the most part, women and booze.
What do you think of Nickelback?
And for me to criticize them for relying only on crunching power chords their whole career when I listen to AC/DC (and that band seems to have its share of critics too) would make me a hypocrite.
Let's just let Nickelback do their thing and let the times decide their legacy. I would think by 2032, we'll know for sure whether they'll be crowned as legends among the ranks of The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix and Nirvana or just be another fun-while-they-lasted memory like The Archies or Cinderella.
Rest assured that this spring, rock 'n' roll in Calgary will be very much alive once Nickelback comes and leaves.
- By Shane Flug