Just to get it out of the way, no one is saying you should like Nickelback. In fact, if we're being honest, there are plenty of good reasons you might actively dislike them: their occasionally problematic lyrics, how their success has resulted in the signing of other bands that aren't very good, the “She Keeps Me Up,” the sound of Chad Kroeger's voice, the fact that their Vevo page is a mess, so on and so forth. And yet, somehow whenever you ask someone to explain why Nickelback are monsters worthy of scorn, 95 percent of the time you're going to get this tired response: All their songs sound the same.
This is, of course, simply not true. Nickelback have about four core types of song they write, which shouldn't be surprising because that's how most bands operate; seriously, unless your favorite band is Ween, odds are good a band you love is just recycling the same ideas over and over again.
So, seriously, why all the hate for Nickelback? They don't write the worst songs in modern music. They're not the worst live act. Chad Kroeger doesn't even have the most punchable face. Again, hate them if you want, but Nickelback as the most joked-about band is a meme that was run into the ground years ago. Let's find a new object of scorn. Here are some suggestions.
FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH
A glimpse into the cesspool that is the odd subgenre known as “Bro Metal” reveals that the coagulated refuse known as Five Finger Death Punch is the soggiest brown gem of them all. How this deformity of metal ever made it to the national stage is a mystery best left to conspiracy theorists and basement-dwelling meme builders, but here we’ll explain why their music deserves your wrath and rejection. First, besides sounding like a wood chipper plugged into an amp and being a general embarrassment to metal, FFDP should have parted ways with lead singer Ivan L. Moody as soon as he was arrested for allegedly strangling his longtime girlfriend and mother of their 17-year-old daughter. At that exact point, the band should have fired him immediately; that they haven’t — All that Remains singer Phil Labonte finished out FFDP’s tour after Moody’s “mental meltdown” last November, but only as a temporary fill-in – makes the group worthy of the crosshairs on your shade grenade. KRISTY LOYE
Maroon 5 were once a good band. Songs About Jane is a solid enough record. “Makes Me Wonder” is a genuinely great song. But after that it's been pretty much an endless parade of uninteresting pop fluff. Their songs may not all sound the same, but they're the most unremarkable earworms in modern music, taking everything great about pop music and sucking the soul out of it. And even then, that might be okay were it not for the fact that you can't actually escape them. You are way more likely to come across them on TV or on the radio or at the mall than you are Nickelback. I know it's hard to hate someone as beautiful as Adam Levine, but just imagine you had no idea what he looked like. You'd be way less forgiving. You know this in your heart. CORY GARCIA
Pearl Jam is the golden calf of '90s-era grunge rock; with its tinny, lo-fi guitar intros and overblown choruses, the band seduced a generation of Gen-Xers into believing that their commonplace suburban agonies were worthy of stadium praise. Its songs are full of pseudo-profundity obscured by the incoherent warblings of Eddie Vedder. Listening with a 21st-century ear, the music is self-indulgent and intolerable, a kind of angsty white-guy navel gazing. Ultimately, the group's catalog is a marginally creative collection of classic-rock hooks run through with enough reverb to shake the hearts of the disaffected. Using an angry, pounding pathos to conceal its lack of substance, Pearl Jam has plagued us with obnoxious earworms kept alive by a dying radio industry. And for all of the band's laudable activism against Ticketmaster and beyond, you can't get around the fact that the music suuuuuuuuccccckkkks. KATIE SULLIVAN
Whenever I hear a Pentatonix song, I wanna bang my head between two frying pans because then at least I would hear some bells. It’s been awhile since that Ben Folds TV show made a cappella troupes popular and long enough for those Pitch Perfect movies to have killed the trend, and yet this quintet is a platinum-selling group, all without the conventional support of things like drums, guitars and keys. Millions of you can’t be wrong, I guess, but it all rings hollow to me. Plus, I just can’t forgive them for pilfering such a metal name to attach to their nice but wiener-softening singing. Pentatonix is the anti-Viagra. JESSE SENDEJAS JR.
I really wish someone would muzzle Pitbull. Anytime I see him, he’s pandering to his audience in the phoniest of ways. Look, ’Bull – no one is that happy to be at work, even someone who’s making millions of dollars for inane, Donald Trump-approved lyrics like “In Brazil they're freaky with big ol' boobs, And their thongs, blue, yellow and green,…” In case you haven’t heard, “Mr. Worldwide,” there’s a global movement of women who aren’t going to stand for your marginalization anymore. Stop reducing people to breasts and underwear already. These lyrics are from the song “International Love,” in which “Mr. 305” (why does he keep reminding us he is a Mister??) actually raps, “In Lebanon, yeah, the women the bomb.” Seriously? What Nickelback musical crime is worse than that? JESSE SENDEJAS JR.
RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS
I’ve covered this in greater detail before, and I don’t hate their entire catalog (By the Way is an underrated piece of art, IMO), but the Chili Peppers just never resonated with me. This has mostly to do with the fact that frontman Anthony Kiedis has, to put it politely, questionable songwriting capabilities, but also because I’ve seen them live twice and Kiedis seemed bored and uninterested on both occasions. He also only seems to sing about California and relationships gone wrong. It was fun for a while, but at some point, you have to change the narrative a bit, dude. CLINT HALE
If you were a high-school/college student in the late '90s and early 2000s, you gained instant cred by listing Radiohead as one of your faves. I know this because I did this. I touted Kid A as landscape-altering, lauded Hail to the Thief as underrated, labeled OK Computer a masterpiece. Only issue is, I really don’t like Radiohead. Yeah, The Bends was actually a pretty good album, but then the band decided to get weird for the sake of being weird. Maybe I just don’t “get” it; perhaps my musical tastes simply aren’t sophisticated enough to grasp a band as deep as Radiohead (some of my musical tastes are questionable, to be honest). Or perhaps Radiohead is what I suspect, a good band who has been labeled a great band by those who feel compelled to do so, for no real reason at all. CLINT HALE
It's amazing that the Smashing Pumpkins are still held in high esteem, given their downward trajectory for the past ten years. From Gish to Machina II, the Pumpkins actually had a good decade-long run before disbanding. They released six albums through the year 2000, two of which garnered them worldwide acclaim and cemented the band's legacy in the history books (or on Spotify). But no, they couldn't just stay dead, not with renowned narcissist Billy Corgan at the helm. So in 2007, Corgan and drummer Jimmy Chamberlin released Zeitgeist under the Smashing Pumpkins name, even though half of the band was unaccounted for and hadn't been replaced. (Corgan did the vocals, guitar, bass and keyboards and even aided in producing the album.) So hate on Nickelback all you want, but at least the Canadian alt-rockers have maintained some semblance of their original lineup and don't purport to be anything beyond an (allegedly) enjoyable alt-rock outfit. Corgan, meanwhile, still thinks he's God's gift to music. MATTHEW KEEVER
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
First things first: I count myself among the legions of U2 fans. Since my teens, I’ve admired the way they fuse hard rock with Irish soul, geeked out over The Edge’s innovative guitar techniques, and respected the hell out of the way they treat being in a band as a kind of spiritual calling. That said, I’m also impressed with the kind of haters U2 attracts, because they have a knack for getting under people’s skin like no other band I’ve ever seen. People don’t just dislike U2; their critics seem to have an acute moral objection to them, which makes more sense the longer you think about it. I also totally get why people think Bono is an insufferable ass, or that the whole Songs of Innocence iTunes fiasco was a huge mistake — even if it wasn’t totally the band's fault, and the album itself is solid — but U2 has always treated their detractors with a combination of grace, humor and Irish insubordination. Plus, time and again, they’ve proved they can take the heat – and come back even stronger. Speaking of... CHRIS GRAY
Hate is Kanye's fuel; where to even begin? How about with "Bring Me Down": "There'll always be haters, that's the way it is." Or "Power": “Screams from the haters got a nice ring to it/ I guess every superhero need his theme music.” And so forth, and so on... CHRIS GRAY