Why The World Hates Nickelback

Written by Delaney Tobin

 

They were one of the most popular bands of the mid-2000’s. With easy-to-memorize bops, and an edgy, bad-boy vibe paired with band members who looked as wholesome as bible camp counselors, they seemed enjoyable for everyone. However, without warning, reason, or ceremony, they became one of the most universally loathed bands in recent history. Now everyone knows their songs but can’t sing along, for fear of public ridicule. What happened here? Where did they go wrong? And most importantly…

Why does everybody hate Nickelback?

This is a question so confusing that scientific studies have actually been conducted, such as the one by Salli Anttonen, a cultural studies Ph.D. student at the University of Eastern Finland, scathingly entitled, “‘Hypocritical bullshit performed through gritted teeth’: Authenticity discourses in Nickelback’s album reviews in Finnish media.” Yeah…not the most impartial study but a thorough analysis nonetheless. If you would like to read more about her take on the band, the full article is can be found here: Authenticity discourses in Nickelback’s album reviews in Finnish media. Anyway, “science” aside, one can theorize other reasons for this band, and other major pop culture figures, failing to win the hearts of the public, or losing them after initial popularity.

 

In this case, it appears that the bulk of people have fallen victim to what Tocqueville calls the “tyranny of the majority” in his book Democracy in America. The basis of this is that people tend to be extremely susceptible to go with whatever the popular opinion is about things. It becomes a tyranny because often times if anyone chooses to voice an opinion or belief that is not in line with what the preponderance of society thinks, they are shut down and even ostracized. Although the example of Nickelback is a bit trivial, it is a perfect illustration of how this phenomenon works. Even now, you will never hear anyone saying they enjoy their music, and in the rare event that you do, they will be met with great mockery and protest, which is an immense detriment to freedom of opinion and expression. Many people, Salli Anttonen obviously excluded, don’t even know why exactly they dislike them, they just do because everyone else does.

This type of mob mentality is dangerous.

Tocqueville states in his book that a tyranny of the majority is much more dangerous than an actual tyrant, such as a dictator. Being forced to go along with what everyone else thinks due to fear of alienation from one’s peers puts a stop to individual thought and creative thinking – no one will have any desire to have original ideas anymore. Tocqueville goes as far as to say, “I know of no country in which there is so little independence of mind and real freedom of discussion as in America.” He’s not wrong, even on seemingly free-thinking places such as college campuses, there have been people who have been violently driven from them for daring to voice an opinion outside of the norm. When individuals begin fearing extreme backlash from their peers for having original beliefs, conversations tend to cease, as does freedom of thought.

If the tyranny of the majority is capable of changing the general opinion about a popular band, imagine what else it can affect. Is it possible to have a stance on major issues without being swayed by popular opinion?

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6 Responses to Why The World Hates Nickelback

  1. Anonymous says:

    I enjoyed this post , because I remember how Nickelback exploded seemingly out of nowhere, then all of sudden as you stated became hated by everyone. It is true people know their songs and sing the in the car when alone but in public shun them. The story of Nickelback is a good example of Tocqueville’s tyranny of the majority. We all can think of time while in high school or within groups we belonged to where we agreed with the majority of those in the group or school to fit in even when we didn’t agree with what the group was saying so as not to be cast aside. If one thinks about it, this type of thing happens a lot in our society in many different areas.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Hi Delaney, this is another great, creative, and thought-provoking post that you have written. I just don’t even know how you come up with these topics to write about, but they are so good. I can honestly say I have never listened to Nickelback and now I am reflecting on how I ended up in this majority. What I think the best part of this post is the way you take a difficult concept like Tocqueville’s Tyranny of the Majority and made it into a concrete example using something (Nickelback) that doesn’t matter and end with the question of what other more important things are subject to this issue.

  3. Anonymous says:

    How does one not read this post, I mean this is great. I agree Delaney that Nickelback one of those bands victim to becoming so popular soon enough everyone hates them because of their success. I mean another exam of this behavior can seen in the NFL and how fans treat Tom Brady, he is the greatest of all time, but do people want to see him lose. I love Nickelback’s music personally but, I definably cannot state that in public or I would be ridiculed. I mean I like Nickelback because they stay the same sound-wise while everyone else changes. I mean don’t get me wrong the jokes people make about Nickelback crack me up but, I do see now that people really just do because everyone else does. That is pretty eye opening, I wonder who really got the ball rolling on hating Nickelback so much but its impossible to know. I would never have thought to tie this topic with Tocqueville and his work, Great job.

  4. Anonymous says:

    As someone who went through middle school screaming the lyrics to Nickelback’s “Rockstar,” I knew I had to give this post a read. The mob mentality is incredibly dangerous. I have heard of many cases over the past few years where a mob mentality, through social media and the creation of memes, has caused innocent people to fall victim to relentless criticism based on the sole fact that, at the time, it was popular for people to attack them. I heard another story recently where Rhianna posted on Instagram asking her followers to delete the Snapchat app after a controversial add was posted about her on it. Her followers listened, and Snapchat lost $577 million in revenue. I have included a link below. The mob mentality does, in fact, have insane power, but will it ever go away?

    https://www.elle.com/culture/celebrities/a19454851/rihannas-instagram-snapchat-lost-577m/

  5. Anonymous says:

    Delaney,
    First off, this is a very entertaining blog/study connecting an intriguing pop culture phenomenon with one of our classic American political topics. One point I liked and agreed with is your connection to Tocqueville’s “tyranny of the majority” and how that idea has turned Nickelback into a cultural laughing stock. Once a large enough group decided that Nickelback was no longer cool and were to be subjected to constant ridicule, larger and larger cultural groups will feel pressured to buy in and go along with it. Unfortunately, this is how culture – and human nature in general – primarily functions. As I’ve understood, the propensity of humans to follow the crowd is an evolutionary development: in order to survive and remain safe, individuals felt it was best to follow the general consensus. As society modernized and real popular cultures arised, this idea followed it. Overall, great post; a great follow up to your previous post about Tom Brady!

  6. Anonymous says:

    I myself as an undercover Nickelback fan , couldn’t relate more. I never understood why the world seemingly despised Nickelback, but it always made me a little self-conscious listening to them in public. I can remember listening to them with the windows down, but when I rolled up to a stoplight, I would roll my windows down so nobody would hear my music. Anyways, I loved the comparison to tyranny of the majority and thought this was a perfect fit.

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