Friday, December 18, 2009

30 million Nickelback albums and the decade from hell

The two-week-long climate summit in Copenhagen is escalating to a frantic climax - and a possible deal on CO2 emissions. With the world's fate for maybe the next 10,000 years hanging in the balance, each headline out of the Danish capital carries world-shaking importance.

And yet this headline tops them all. It's the most disturbing news I've read in QUITE a while:

Billboard names Nickelback top band of decade

No, that's not a typo. In the 60s (and all time) we had the Beatles. Led Zeppelin ruled the 70s. Even the desert of the 80s produced U2 and several cult favorites like the Pixies (I'm excluding MJ because he wasn't a "band"). The 90s gave us Nirvana and Radiohead. And in the 2000s... Nickelback? Here's the scoop:

Nickelback is the top group of the decade, according to Billboard magazine.
Rapper Eminem has been named the top artist of the decade, and 'N Sync garnered the title album of the decade for its bestselling No Strings Attached (2000).

Nickelback was the highest-ranking band of the decade, only finishing behind solo artists Eminem, 50 Cent, Alicia Keys, Beyonce, Nelly and Usher, for overall impact and importance.

Despite a distinct lack of critical acclaim, the rock band formed in Hanna, Alta., has sold more than 30 million albums worldwide. In the last decade, it released The State (2001), Silver Side Up (2001), The Long Road (2003), All the Right Reasons (2005) and Dark Horse (2008), which has garnered them a 2010 Grammy nomination for best hard-rock performance for the track Burn It To The Ground.

"We've just accepted that we're never going to be the critics' darlings, and we're OK with that," frontman Chad Kroeger told Billboard in 2007.

Yes, Joe Lieberman is pulling the plug on the public option, Republicans are stalling climate legislation and threatening the fate of the next 20 generations to walk the planet, but Nickelback has sold 30 million albums??? That's what I'm most worried about.

Nickelback is like diarrhea of the ears - when the music starts, you know it's not gonna be good, and they just keep drawing it out. They don't so much play their guitars as bang on them repeatedly - Kurt Cobain's grunge was musical, even melodic, but Nickelback just grunges through each painful song as if drawing a jagged blade out of a wound. There's no creativity in lyrics or melody - it's like a 5th grader wrote all their songs. In short, Nickelback is terrible.

At least I'm not the only person whose sanity remains. The story continues:

But it's not only music reporters who disagree with Billboard magazine's assertion.

Readers of the U.K.'s Word Magazine recently voted Nickelback the worst band in the world, with Kroeger and company locking down an impressive 20 per cent of the vote. Looks like not everyone is a fan of greasy, bleached hair and enlightening, philosophical song titles such as Something in Your Mouth and S.E.X.

Sample lyrics: "Maybe in the parking lot / Better bring your friend along / Better rock together / Than just one at a time / S is for the simple need / E is for the ecstasy / X is just to mark the spot / 'Cause that's the one you really want."

From top group of the decade to worst band in the world — only Nickelback could be so polarizing.

A recent Time Magazine cover story labeled the 2000s "The Decade from Hell," and it wasn't kidding. Over the past ten years, we were shocked by 9/11, lost George Harrison to cancer, became mired in two wars, continued emitting CO2 unabated, finished off eight years of wage and employment stagnation with the worst economic collapse in 70 years... and bought 30 million Nickelback records.

In many ways, the last decade culminated America's century-long march toward vapid consumerism: an America in which quantity and price trump truth and beauty, in which the driving force behind all life seems to be the goal of squeezing the maximum number of units out of the smallest set of resources. In the victories of both Bush and Obama, the last decade also encapsulated the tension between New and Old Americas, between educated elites who take pride in sophistication, and "everyman"-types who eschew artful (one might say "snooty") tastes.

Nickelback seems to embody these mass ideals pretty well, having managed to squeeze 30 million albums worth of product out of their limited musical capital. Fitting that the worst band in the world would be the top band of the decade.

Of course, just because music has mass appeal doesn't mean it's bad. The sign of a TRUE artist is one who can create sophisticated art that still appeals to the Everyman (if you have to take a class to appreciate a work of art, it's not great art). If you'd like REAL music, read my post about the anniversary of John Lennon's assassination. Or go download some Arcade Fire at Lala. In fact, do that right now.


Hope: I'm not the only one

1 comment:

  1. nickelback is the best so if you have somthing to say bad about nickelback what have you been listening to clean your ear they rock