Just like every story has a beginning, middle, and end, the dying fad known as Nickelback also has a three part chapter breakdown: the early 90’s grungy sound of complaints and dirty talk, the Bono-esque change and save the world perspective, and the reign of April — or Avril if you prefer the French version. When I saw AccuRadio’s geographic map that measured which States love Nickelback and noticed California’s response was neutral, I wasn’t the least bit surprised. California has always had a long-standing battle between two musical genres: classic rock and old school rap. The the fact that Nickelback has a hint of rock ‘n’ roll-ness to them that poses as a modern day rendition of the Eagles’ hit “Hotel California” explains why half of California likes them, while the other half, who love 2Pac’s “California Love,” hates Nickelback — and so we stand in the middle at neutral. The rock doesn’t outweigh the rap, nor vice versa. But the battle between rock and rap doesn’t stop there. Listen to any, literally any Red Hot Chili Pepper’s song, and I guarantee you’ll hear the world California mentioned at least once. Then there’s The Notorious B.I.G.’s who sang about “Going Back to Cali,” and Johnny Cash’s “Shamrock Doesn’t Grow in California;” needless to say the list dates back for decades. To make the contest between rap and rock even more difficult, California decided to proclaim itself as “The Weed State,” years before any of this Colorado business. Now, who smokes more weed? Rockstars or gangsters? Whichever side you pick clearly stands as the cooler choice in this day and age, therefore declaring the cooler genre of music. See, mom, marijuana really does relate to everything.
California, like the three chapters of Nickelback, breaks down into sub-categories. California is home to the cities of Los Angeles (secretly where everybody wants to be), San Diego (something something Chargers), San Fransisco (something something Raiders), Calabasas (home to the Kardashians – burn it down!), Anaheim (the birthplace of fast food and Disneyland), Laguna Beach (that place where Lauren Conrad spent a lot of time crying) and many others. With every city, comes a different mentality, and the same goes for Nickelback’s much-too-long showcase of albums.
Even though Nickelback formed in 1995, it took until 2001 for the Canadian group to make their mark on U.S music charts with “How You Remind Me,” the only song we remember from their Silver Side Up album and the start to an era of complaints. Frontman Chad Kroeger admits that in 2000 he started analyzing what all the top hits on music charts had in common, and ended on the conclusion that it was depressing, hate-filled lyrics about failed romantic relationships — a universal topic that everyone could relate to. Then, in 2005, Nickelback released For All the Right Reasons, which featured more songs about failed relationships with a twist — sweeter and softer lyrics in singles such as: “So Far Away,” “Savin’ Me” and “Photograph.” At this point, Kroeger was definitely onto something strong with his theme of love as those three songs landed in the Top 10 of U.S.’s Hot 100 chart. Kroeger even went as far as to replace electric guitars and drums with the piano and string instruments to convey more genuine, heart-felt emotions even though he was nervous because he felt For All the Right Reasons wasn’t a very rock ‘n’ roll album. Us Californians simply can’t hate a man for writing love songs, we’re too into yoga and self-expression for that. Nickelback was still ‘aight in our eyes.
As MTV became more and more popular over the years, so did the importance of music videos, and Nickelback knew that love-based music videos would win the hearts of viewers more than sex-based music videos. Perhaps that’s why we let Nickelback into our hearts, we got so caught up in their sentimental I-miss-you-so-much-baby music video crap that we forget what their other songs were. Almost overnight, Nickelback went from being the sweethearts from Canada to horny, sex-driven, doggy-style cravin’ morons. In 2003, Nickelback released the single “Figured You Out,” and its album art that featured five cheerleaders sitting on a gym bench in uniform with pom poms. OK, still harmless. Cheerleaders are something sports fan strongly appreciate in America. But then, the song starts with the openings lines: I like your pants around your feet, I like the dirt that’s on your knees, I like the way you still say please, while you’re looking up at me, you’re like my favorite damn disease. Poor, poor cheerleader. This half-naked girl must be sucking Chad Kroeger’s dick somewhere dirty as hell while he’s giving her a disease. Probably mono. If you’re trying to win the hearts of Californians, Chad, at least have the girl kneeling in sand on the beach — not in dirt, you sick bastard! Then there’s Nickelback’s single “Animals,” which features two silhouette rhinos doing it doggy-style as the cover art. “Animals” goes a little something like this: I’m driving past your house while you were sneaking out, I got the car door opened up so you can jump in on the run, your mom don’t know that you were missing, she’d be pissed if she could see the parts of you that I’ve been kissing. How old is this girl, Chad, that she has to sneak out of the house to go for a sexy car ride with you? Sounds like high school behavior. Nickelback’s cringe list of sex songs goes on with “Something In Your Mouth” — no need to elaborate, and “S.E.X.”
In 2011, Nickelback entered the second chapter in their music history about saving the world one sing along at a time. Head warning: Kroeger and Bono did not collaborate on the following songs together, but they probably should have for more success. People still have a soft spot for U2, right? It’s almost as if Nickelback listeners heard Kroeger grow up from album to album. Kroeger stopped singing about blowjobs in cars and realized that the world is a fucked up place, and the only ones who can save it is us. By “us,” I mean Nickelback fans. Kroeger put his money where his mouth is and donated $50,000 to British Columbia’s Children Hospital (maybe he only plans to save Canada), and performed on the WWE Tribute in honor of The Troops. Nickelback’s oh so heroic actions turned into tunes with Here and Now‘s stomp-stomp-clap single “When We Stand Together.” While Nickelback thought they deserved a pat on the back and a chance to perform for the NFL Thanksgiving game Halftime Show in Detroit to promote Here and Now, football fans and anyone with ears thought otherwise. An online petition to remove Nickelback from the halftime show received more than 55,000 signatures. Not only was California not fully on board, now Michigan wasn’t either.
The downhill spiral continues for Nickelback as their newest album No Fixed Address came out in 2014, one year into his marriage to fellow Canadian Avril Lavigne. It’s no secret that Lavigne’s music also flopped along with Nickelback’s in 2013, the year the two met, with her single “Hello Kitty” bombing on music charts and also sparked racial controversy. Once married, Kroeger took it upon himself to incorporate a little bit of wifey’s musical style into his own, which explains why Nickelback’s newest single “She Keeps Me Up” is such a mess. Shouldn’t Lavigne be the female voice in that song instead of Ali Tamposi? No wonder divorce rumors currently circle their marriage. While Nickelback tried to keep their rock ‘n’ roll image in check by admitting that “She Keeps Me Up” is actually about the use of cocaine, the song’s nu-age, disco pop sound remains undeniable thanks to the influence of Kroeger’s love for Lavigne. As for the nonsense lyrics, thank Lavigne for that as well. Kroeger sings of a funky little monkey and coca-cola roller coasters while Lavigne commands for someone to chuck a cupcake at her in “Hello Kitty.” The two really do belong together in a small Canadian town known as Gumdrop Lollipop Chocolatey Swirl Land.