Nickelback – Photographs


There’s a town in Florida called Celebration that was designed, built and engineered by the Disney Corporation. It’s an ode to the small town of American mythology – where everyone knows everyone elses’ names, where little league is the sport of choice, where there’s a church on every corner and where 97% of the population are white. In its early years, actors were employed to aide the impression of the the yokel spirit and snow was sprayed on the ground every Christmas whether it was cold or not.

Celebration is, in more ways than are readily recognised, the epitome of American values. It presents the right image, it taps into patriotism and nostalgia and it is effortlessly controlled by a ruthless corporate behemoth that purports to be about family values. If it looks genuine and it sounds genuine then who cares if it actually is genuine?

Ladies and gentleman, welcome to Nickelback country.

Writing about music on WWM is always a tricky proposition as it always flares up far more defensive responses than your average ITV show. However, with Nickelback I feel I’m on safe ground.

To like this band you must be a tone deaf, semi-illiterate fucktard who enjoys the sensation of being aurally patronised and having their values slowly beaten into a bloody pulp by a thousand men in very expensive suits. You must be a masochist whose musical purchasing revolves around the latest ‘Now’ compilations and ‘Hardcore Urban Trance Classics 2009’. By all accounts and all tastes and all allowances for musical snobbery, you must be a moron.

‘Photographs’ is the band’s most recent single – a rerelease following the highly explicable but no less painfully successful ode to money and directionless consumerism ‘Rock Star’. It’s a contrived amalgamation of supposed memories from lead mullet Chad Kroeger, all perfectly emoting what is an archetypal upbringing for your average middle class ‘troubled’ teenager who still shops at The Gap – you know, the ideal demographic for this sort of thing.

Like a fake medium hustling a rich and grieving widow, Kroeger channels picture perfect vagaries of screen-door memories in middle America Nowheresville, picking out the schoolgirls who broke his heart and his numerous brushes with the law. He contemplates how he went astray, becoming a reflective and wizened soul who wants a second chance at life – all the while seemingly forgetting that he’s actually a former session musician from Canada whose only conviction is for being a drink-driver.

This follows the same line as their previous single ‘Rock Star’ which is basically a list of rock star cliches – a song particularly interesting as it features a rock star singing from the point of view of an ‘everyman’ about how he really wants to be rock star. Projected self adulation it may be, but it’s also about a rock star clearly becoming annoyed that his rock star life doesn’t follow that of what a rock star life should be – so he sings a song about he’d rather have a rock star image than be the actual rock star he is. Are you still with me?

Music is all about image, I’m not denying that, but there’s something deeply sinister about the way Nickelback go about it – their lyrics are almost focus-group driven, sculpted from marketable subjects that can inspire the most ferverent puchasing and imbued nostalgia. They drip Americana; etched into every rumpled t-shirt and straggly rat-tail is a sense of rugged machoism and glistening self importance, all topped off by a style that was popular roughly 15 years ago.

Of course, Nickelback aren’t the image of the real America, they’re the image of the corporate America. They’re the image of socially responsible rebellion, of radio friendly rock music and of all-out war-waging pomposity. Yes, there are other bands who use the flag as their image and some are far worse than these pseudo hillbillies, but I don’t think there’s a band out there who wear it so brazenly – who tread the line between sincerity and self parody so closely.

Listen to the lyrics. It’s like they’re cribbed from Facebook photo comments to achieve maximum effectiveness – a false history wrapped within a culminated life and sponsored by Disney. They’re the Miley Cyrus of rock bands; tightly squeezed by an army of imagemakers who can take their sub-average cliches and present it with so much glitter and sparkle that you hardly notice what’s beneath it all.

The talkbacks will begin soon and we’ll all wade through the usual music arguments. Let me save us all some time; I know there’re far worse bands in the world, I know that commercial rock is nothing new, I know that the music industry has always been about image and I know that even those precious fuck-you rock bands that I grew up on were really powered by Sony.

Nickelback are a new breed of all that, though. They’re a genetically spliced super group that combine the twin powers of alt dot origins and massive commercial appeal. Much like GI Joe, they have a copyright logo where the cock and balls should be – and should that sort of behaviour really be encouraged in the first place?

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27 Responses to “Nickelback – Photographs”

  1. Swineshead Says:

    They’re an atrocity, I agree – but there are bands and artists out there, closer to home, that irritate me more.

    Step forward Mark Fucking Ronson.

  2. The Tombstone Says:

    That’s a good point, the songs may suck but at least they write them, not just take people’s songs and ruin them. Nickelback used to be proper angry grunge though, if you check out their old stuff before the “How You Remind Me” atrocity. I reckon they like making money rather than making music no one hears. As I sit hear at my low paying job having only ever sold one song I wonder if perhaps they’ve got the right idea, anyone got DFS’s corporate headquarters’ number, I’ve got a great song about sofas for them, I’ll even sit in them and pretend they’re comfy.

  3. Swineshead Says:

    Oh fuck – I’d forgotten about DFS. How does that song tie in with the ad? I don’t get it.

  4. The Tombstone Says:

    Because you don’t have to be a Rockstar to afford the sofas.

  5. George Says:

    Good deconstruction of Nickleback there. Can I throw The Kooks and The Frattelis into the Nickelback Hall of Shit musicians? If music had an abortion, it would sound like them.

  6. George Says:

    Sofas are an integral part of the life of a rockstar. I remember been a young kid, thinking ‘when I grow up, I’m going to be a rockstar, and have so many damned sofas…’

  7. The Tombstone Says:

    So how about you Swineshead, if some company offered you, say £500,000 for the use of one of your songs for a really cheesy ad and you’d risk alienating your fans and looking like a chump do you reckon you’d take it?

  8. The Tombstone Says:

    Can’t say I’ve heard much of The Kooks or The Fratellis. Most of these bands all sound and look alike to me. Give me Kate Bush, Frank Zappa and Genesis anyday.

  9. Swineshead Says:

    Of course I bloody would – but I don’t have any fans and I never act as though I’m an artist. I also have been known to write the odd advert now and again, so I’m hardly Bill Hicks.

  10. Swineshead Says:

    Zappa used to be my teenage idol. But then I stopped taking acid and got myself a haircut.

  11. George Says:

    I liked how bleeding alternative putting Captain Beefheart made me feel in sixth form. In those days, the Libertines were considered underground.

  12. The Tombstone Says:

    Captain Beefheart is a legend. Any famous adverts I’d have heard of Swineshead, you’re not the I’m Lovin’ It guy are you? *draws back fist*.

  13. Swineshead Says:

    Not famous ads at all. So niche you wouldn’t have a clue. If you had heard of anything I’d done, I’d be a much richer man.

  14. daveselectricblanket Says:

    Go on, SH, don’t be shy. Not all of us have written adverts, you bastard, so do share.

    If it was the jingle for Banana Bubble (the cereal that thinks its a milkshake) I’ll set fire to myself in reverence to you.

  15. Swineshead Says:

    I’ve only ever made jingles for our rubbish podcast, matey.
    I’ve written print ads but I can’t really say where – so just LEAVE IT, alright? He’s not worth it.

  16. daveselectricblanket Says:

    Oh, and don’t we all love Zappa’s performance on Crossfire, the one that lives happily on YouTube? Sod Nanook Rubs It, that’s why I respect him.

  17. Swineshead Says:

    That Youtube crossfire clip is distilled Zappa – his attitude in a nutshell.
    Some of his albums (about 50% of his work, in fact) are poop. But the remainder is grand.

    They’re just WORDS.

  18. charliemingles Says:

    This is bland ruibbish, but its a work of genius compared to McFly massacaring winer takes it all at the closing olympics ceremony. they all looked about 45. and couldnt sing. but surely neither music is made for normal people.

    McFly is/was made for tweenies. Nickelback is made for suburban american housewifes who think they want to rock out with the bad boys and are too embarassed to put on their billy-ray sirus LPs.

  19. George Says:

    Not housewives, teenagers. Suburban teenagers, not always American either. I actually split up with a girlfriend after I found out she was a Nickleback fan. She took me me to watch The Butterfly Effect and it was so poor I thought ‘God, one more thing’ and then she dropped that bombshell.

  20. charliemingles Says:

    well lets not split hairs. I think the general point is one of blandness. but let people listen to what they like is my view. so long as they dont want me to shag them afterwards. luckily – they usually dont.

  21. Swineshead Says:

    The Butterly Effect was pretty good, I thought. For what it was.

  22. Jamie Says:

    I expected much worse going into The Butterfly Effect, and at points it was a bit silly but overall I enjoyed it.

    Who knew Ashton Kutcher could act?

  23. Swineshead Says:

    Anyone who saw Dude, Where’s My Car?

  24. The Tombstone Says:

    Ashton Kutcher sucks, I don’t fuck around with pranks if he pranked me then he’d be getting a call from the ‘hospital’ saying his Ass burgers brother was dead and when he turns up all teary eyed I’d be like, “Ha! not so fucking funny now you cunt.”

    And Frank Zappa has never made a bad song, anyone who says otherwise is a cunt, end of. Same goes for Kate Bush, Tom Waits and Genesis.

  25. Swineshead Says:

    No, Tombstone – you are wrong. Zappa made plenty of bad songs – he was still brilliant though.

    And Punk’d or whatever you call it is shit, yes.

  26. Swineshead Says:


  27. The Tombstone Says:

    Yes Genesis from 1967 to the present day from progressive folk to cheesy synth pop they have excelled. No matter who the singer/drummer is they are one of the best bands this country has ever produced. I will see anyone who disagrees in the car park with novelty oversized boxing gloves.

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