The lyrics to
were prophetic. "
While I wasn't lying on the floor, I was sitting at my desk, the rest was accurate. I couldn't take much more but I was determined to complete the task. I'd either emerge victorious or a broken man.
I'd ruined an otherwise pleasant day by listening to Nickelback. All of Nickelback. Not some Nickelback or a little Nickelback or the selected hits of Nickelback. All of Nickelback. The complete discography. The deep cuts.
All. Of. Nickelback.
Words fail to convey the enormity and full horror of this task so instead I'll let the numbers do the talking.
Nickelback has 18 years - years! - worth of material. During this time they have not been coasting. Their laurels, and Nickelback have acquired many laurels over the past 18 years including nine Grammy nominations, three American Music Awards, a People's Choice award and most bizarrely a World Music award, have not been rested on.
They've sold 50 million records worldwide making them one of the biggest bands in the world. Surprisingly they've never had a number one hit here but they have topped our album charts. Twice.
They've been busy is what I'm saying. Eight albums with a ninth due in a couple of months. It's called Feed the Machine, and I believe the irony of this title would not have occurred to the band. Strained earnestness represents a large chunk of their catalogue, self-awareness does not.
Combined these eight albums contain 88 tracks. The title track of the new one was released yesterday. This gives us a total of 89 Nickelback songs and I've now listened to them all.
On smash hit This is How You Remind Me the closing refrain repeatedly asks 'Are we having fun yet?' To which I can only reply, no. You know how time flies when you're having fun? Well, I just resorted to freaking maths to make my Nickelback time pass quicker...
The very next song, Woke Up This Morning, has a chorus that goes "I'm hating all of this" so you could say I find Nickelback very relatable. I was hating this. Very, very much.
Well, that was the big question. The reason for subjecting myself to this sonic torture. Nickelback are one of the most hated bands in the world. They didn't even release any music last year and still got dissed out hard.
Famously, a Canadian police department threatened to lock up drink-drivers and play Nickelback at them all night and a Finnish uni student's paper on the band went viral. It was titled; Hypocritical Bulls--t Performed Through Gritted Teeth: Authenticity Discourses in Nickelback's Album Reviews in Finnish Media. Ouch.
But also, accurate.
Having now listened to every one of their songs - including the new one - I can authoritatively state that Nickelback have 89 different titles for three songs.
Predominantly they stick to a mid-tempo rock chug that they occasionally speed up or slow down. Their songs are basically interchangeable. Lyrically, Nickelback are mostly concerned with boozing, sexing, angsting or healing either a) a broken heart or b) the world.
It really doesn't matter what the music's doing. Since 2001 vocalist/guitarist Chad Kruger has been plonking the same constipated melody atop of every flippin' song.
It's remarkable how steadfastly staid Nickelback have remained. How resistant to growth or experimentation they've been. They've released the same damn album since Silver Side Up.
That's of course when This is How You Remind Me, gave them mad success providing an exploitable template that they'd duplicate for the rest of time.
Still, plenty of the great bands have done that. AC/DC and The Ramones for example. The difference being that you always knew those guys meant it, man.
Nickelback don't seem to mean anything. Not even to themselves. Even on their first two albums Curb and The State they come across as phony baloney, delivering songs about blood stained guns, stealing gasoline and needing help to breathe while doing a straight-up Kurt Cobain impersonation.
It might be the wrong word, but these two early albums are their "best". Sure, they're unashamed grunge rip-offs that sanitise the best bits of Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Stone Temple Pilots while removing all traces of credibility, but there's a couple of decent-ish Seattle knock-offs on them. They're also not as bro, not as rock-clichéd or cringe-inducing as they'd quickly become and stay.
So, after listening to all eight albums and all 89 songs what did I learn? I'd wanted to discover if all the hate was justified. To find out if there was more to the band than I thought. To see if Nickelback had ever - at any point - been, ya know... good.