Nickelback played at half time and the world stayed on its axis.
What was supposed to happen, something as cataclysmic as the gulf oil spill?
It was only rock and roll. Maybe not everybody’s idea of good rock and roll, but nothing damaging.
I didn’t hear the band’s half time few songs at the Detroit Tigers-Green Bay Packers’s game, but the set at Sunday, November 27’s Grey Cup showdown between B.C. Lions and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers at B.C. Place was inoffensive. Nothing to get twisted over.
The Detroit fans who beforehand signed an anti-Nickelback petition, all 55,000 of them, had the bigger beef than those B.C. fans of Vancouver, Nickelback’s adopted home, who hardly made a fuss. One Detroit Twitter comment spoke for the others, “the people of Detroit have suffered enough.” In Vancouver, there was all but silence.
Many of the people who signed the petition wanted to know why Nickelback was chosen over Motown acts or veteran rockers.
So, let’s speculate.
Motown Records, the independent label that put Detroit on the map as “the sound of young America” with classic record after classic, from My Girl to Reach Out, has been in Los Angeles more than 40 years. Most of the acts that were the sound of young America are no longer with Motown. Some are dead.
A tribute to the original Motown would be ghostly if not ghastly and does anyone know what Motown means these days?
Each of the rockers that made Detroit a bastion of hard, uncompromising rock can be dismissed, Bob Seger possibly being the exception. MC 5, too left wing.. Iggy And The Stooges? Too fucked up. Ted Nugent? Too right wing. Mitch Ryder? Oldies circuit. White Stripes? Broken up. Alice Cooper? Before Detroit became the band’s hometown, it was based in Phoenix.
Seger becomes the logical choice. He currently has a double CD of his hits and a couple of EMI reissues of two of his biggest albums. It would have been timely if he did play. Maybe he was on tour. Maybe he declined. Maybe he wasn’t asked.
Nickelback was . Probably had no idea it was walking into controversy.
Not that leader Chad Kroeger is blind and deaf to adversity. As soon as it became successful, Nickelback had its critics. Kroeger and Nickelback know this, but sell records, sell concert tickets and garner industry awards. To a band that has sold millions, a petition of 55,000 is relatively meaningless. Some people don’t like Nickelback. So what?
It would be more worrisome if there was a benign acceptance of Nickelback.
If everybody hated Nickelback, there’d be no discussion.
In short, Nickelback must be doing something right to cause such a division and that is good,
It’s cause for a personal reevaluation of what we want from rock.
For Nickelback’s critics the band is shallow and doesn’t offer much. For the many who are fans, Nickelback offers enough.
The problem is, what does “enough” mean?
When the band has had its day, will selling records be enough? As it’s been noted before, just because you sell a lot of hamburgers doesn’t mean you make a great hamburger. Quantity over quality.
That maybe is what Nickelback’s legacy will be. No legacy at all.
It won’t have been an influence. Not like other half-time performers (who, admittedly, played the more prestigious Superbowl) such as The Who, Rolling Stones, Prince or Paul McCartney. By comparison, Nickelback is anonymous and meaningless.
Another reason for the anti-Nickelback faction’s loud protest is that Nickelback has become successful without media help. It stubbornly believed in itself, became successful because of such bullheadedness, and sees no reason to deviate from the course it’s set for itself.
It is, then, a people’s band.
It sells records in spite of being scorned for being unfashionable or unhip.
There is an entire history of people’s bands such as Tommy James And The Shondells or Three Dog Night, who were regarded as commercial, a dirty word in the late 60s and through the 70s. The one that springs instantly to mind as the standout example of the people’s band is Grand Funk Railroad, who were regarded as being worse than commercial; they were a hype. Grand Funk wasn’t asked to play the Detroit game either, despite being from Flint, Michigan.
Grand Funk Railroad’s music was blunt and simplistic, more so than Nickelback’s, and definitely a product of the time. The trio had the worst reviews of any band. Some were cruel. Some were unfair. Some perpetuated myths. Grand Funk went on selling records, only later in its original incarnation trying to appease its critics, which was a losing cause. As a people’s band, Nickelback might have its enemies, but right now is having the last laugh. One day, the laughter will stop, but there is a feeling that this will be Kroeger.s decision.