Nickelback (get the title? Ha!) gets a lot of flack, but I’ve never heard anyone give a clear reason why. Whenever I try to ask someone why they don’t like Nickelback, the answer is “they just suck.” And you’re right, they do suck, but that isn’t enough. When you dismiss something out of hand, you lose sight of why you hate it in the first place. It’s imprtant to remember so your hate stays pure. Nobody ever said “Jeffrey Dahmer just sucks.” They say he used to eat people, and it’s the same basic premise with Nickelback.
“… Did you just compare Nickelback to Jeffrey Dahmer?” Yes I did, why do you ask? Also, why are you interrupting me? This is a pre-written blog, I can’t hear you. Then why am I answering what is clearly a voice in my head? How about you just shut up?
Anyway, plenty of people hate Nickelback, but very few people can identify why. But that’s what I’m here for, sweet babies. I’ll never let your hate be unfounded. If nothing else, I promise to help you direct your hate and find specific reasons. Every reason you need can be found in their first single, 2001’s inexplicable hit “How You Remind Me.” This is the song that made America sit up and say “I guess we want more songs by this band?” Read on, noble voyager, read on.
The first, and easiest reason to hate Nickelback is the lazy writing. It’s a combination of poor wordplay and complete nonsense. The first line of the song is “Never made it as a wise man, couldn’t cut it as a poor man stealing.” THOSE AREN’T OPPOSITES, CHAD! If you’re trying to say you can’t handle being at either extreme, you need to find different items, because at best you’re working from a square or diamond right now. The next line doubles down on the absurdity, “Tired of living like a blind man; sick of sight without a sense of feeling.” That is not at all what being blind is. In fact, it’s exactly the opposite of being blind. See, when you’re blind it means you can’t see. What Chad indicated with the exact translation of his words is that he could see, but not feel. That would be congential analgesia if we’re discussing a literal inability to feel physical sensations like pain; or alexithymia if he means an inability to feel emotions. Neither of those describe blindness, and it’s insulting to the listener to imply that they do.
Those two lines (the first two lines of the song) imply a lack of understanding of words. Later we get gems like “said I love you and I swear I still do; and it must have been so bad, cause living with me must have damn near killed you.” We would be on to something here, some form of explanation of what went wrong, or what was right at the start, but instead it ignores all of that and moves on to the chorus. How does she remind you? You say “this is how (she) reminds (you),” but how? You haven’t said anything current except that you still love her. You’re speaking words in sentences, but the sentences don’t come together to form a coherent narrative. Why the hell are you doing this to me, Chad?
The only other mention of anyone other than the lead singer in this song comes from the line “Not like you to say sorry, I was waiting on a different story.” What the hell does that mean? You’re blaming her for something that you haven’t mentioned in your narrative, then saying that you were “waiting on a different story.” I suppose you were taking artistic license and saying that you had hopes things would turn out differently, but that thought doesn’t fit this part of the song. It doesn’t fit as the second idea in the sentence you started. This is halfway through the first chorus, and you’ve made a terrible song, Chad. This song is as bad as anything Rob Thomas and Matchbox Twenty ever put out. I don’t say that lightly. Your song is as bad as Space Jam is good.
There are lots of theories as to why this music is so bad. The first for me is that this is essentially the Mad Libs of rock music. I think the producers already had the music written, and they told the songwriters to write words that fit the rhythm and sound they’d created. That’s one of the only explanations I can come up with for words that definitely fit the sound of the song, but make absolutely no sense at all. Also, there were apparently four writers for this song. Four people have “How You Remind Me” as a writing credit on their resumes. They should be fucking ashamed of themselves.
My next theory isn’t really a complete theory by itself. It feels more like an addendum to the last theory. I think there were one or two phrases written that the producers wanted worked in, and the (four!) writers were just supposed to make it work. This is exemplified by the line “and I’ve been down, to the bottom of every bottle.” This is a great line that fits a lot of rock song themes, but there is nothing in this song that expresses the kind of depression that drives a man to drink. There’s some sadness, but you only mentioned the object of your depression twice in the entire song. I’m not feeling the kind of energy that makes someone ruin their life. You want a good example of that? You look at “Whiskey Lullaby” by Brad Paisley and Alison Krauss. That shit will give you the feels. “He put that bottle to his head, and pulled the trigger; and finally drank away her memory.” Damn. Just damn. But instead we have this song, which feels like the equivalent to a comedian writing a really killer punchline and needing to create a joke to fit it into your set. Unfortunately, we got the equivalent of Bill Burr’s “Oprah” bit, but performed by Jeff Dunham.
My final theory for how this song made it off the table of four writers, through however many producers and record executives, then to the airwaves, is that the music industry, and Nickelback in particular, really just hold us that much in contempt. I think they hate us as much as we’ve grown to hate them. You know what? The thesis of this blog was that it’s important to know why you hate something instead of just hating them. But I’m willing to reject my thesis. I don’t care why you hate Nickelback as long as you do. Hate them, and hate them with all your might. I’m going to go do something I love now to wash the memory of this out of my head. Goodbye. Love and kisses!