The Rolling Stones, Queen, Kiss, Jay-Z, Foo Fighters, The Band, Beyonce, The Black Keys, Kanye West, Oasis, TLC, Janet Jackson, Beck, Katy Perry, Adele, Kanye West, Blink-182, Dave Matthews Band, Ludacris, Dr. Dre, Radiohead, R.E.M., Bob Seger, Blackstreet, The Strokes, Soundgarden, Brandy.
What do all these seemingly disparate musicians have in common?
None of these artists -- all of whom arguably dominated the pop music landscape at the height of their powers -- have shipped as many copies of an album as Nickelback did with their 2005 record, All The Right Reasons.
It went eight times platinum in the United States and is probably owned by every third or fourth person in Canada.
Think about that. More people own a copy of one Nickelback album than of any album ever made by the freaking Rolling Stones.
Nickelback has accomplished quite a feat. Universal experiences are considered an impossible thing to have in the age of the web, thanks to the ability to download all the music you'd like from any genre you love. Yet there's this band, seemingly universally reviled as the worst on the planet.
A well-supported petition was started to keep them from performing at the halftime show for the Thanksgiving Day NFL game in Detroit. Winnipeg campaigned to keep them from playing at the NHL's Faceoff event held in the city to begin the 2011-12 season. A Facebook campaign to get more people to "like" a random pickle than the band was a success.
There is no defense of Nickelback that will satisfy the unstoppable wave of Internet hatred against them.
So here goes nothing. I'm about to try. Tell my mom I love her.
Now, I'm not here to argue that Nickelback makes good music or even passable music. I'm just like you in that I think they are absolutely one of the worst things to ever gain a large swath of popularity in the largely torturous history of American pop music. They have rarely made a song that deviates from a formula of sexism, power chords and more sexism, with some good ol' boy drankin' mixed in for good measure.
Not only that, but they counter-balance those songs with treacly, insipid ballads that make me want to vomit on their mere entrance into my ear canals. Nickelback -- in my opinion -- sucks.
But they're undeniably brilliant, from a pure business perspective.
They've sold 50 million albums worldwide. That's almost three seasons worth of National Hockey League game attendees. They're not merely a Canada/Heartland phenomenon, either. Everytime they come to my neck of the woods -- Madison Square Garden and the Meadowlands -- the shows are consistently sold out. In a world where the old school way of making money in the music industry is supposedly dead, Nickelback is thriving and making cash hand over fist.
So it is time for someone to say it: The National Hockey League is also brilliant for partnering with them. Before the Stanley Cup Playoffs launched, the league and band entered into what was termed a "promotional partnership" that was meant to help out both sides. Among the highlights of this arrangement were, as per the league's press release:
... the integration of music from the band's multi-platinum selling seventh studio album, Here and Now, into 2012 Stanley Cup Conference Finals highlight reels and broadcast opens, bumpers and roll-outs for the NHL Network's signature show, "NHL TonightTM." The band will promote the NHL across its platforms, including Nickelback.com and its Twitter (@Nickelback) and Facebook (Facebook.com/Nickelback) pages.
Nickelback will be featured in 2012 NHL Awards promotional materials, including TV, print and radio ads, digital banners and email blasts. In addition, the band's Here and Now tour - its first North American arena tour in two years - will receive promotional support across the NHL's broadcast, online, mobile and social media platforms, including NHL NetworkTM, NHL.com, team websites, Twitter (@NHL) and Facebook (Facebook.com/NHL). NHL.com will offer exclusive Nickelback content, behind-the-scenes footage and interviews. The alliance will culminate with the band's performance at the 2012 NHL Awards, which is the centerpiece in a week-long celebration of activities surrounding the 2012 NHL Awards in Las Vegas.
All that and more has occurred. Every NBC broadcast of a Stanley Cup Playoff game has at some point featured a montage set to the band.
As you can imagine, the response has not been positive. Marek vs. Wyshynski asked its' listeners to come up with something worse than Nickelback as a theme for one of their episodes. ESPN posted a myriad of (largely) derisive reactions from Twitter over the decision. The self-explanatory website Hockeypunx.com wrote a post succinctly titled, "Dear NHL, Nickelback sucks."
I have a hard time getting worked up over it. Lord knows I like some music that admittedly has no merit -- have you ever heard the SoulDecision song, "Faded"? Yes you have, because you are a human being who was alive in the late 90's). Who am I to judge a multi-billion dollar corporate entity for partnering with a multi-million selling rock band? Besides, fight it harder than George Parros, the demographics of Nickelback and hockey fans match up way more than I bet most people would care to admit.
It's not like hockey and Nickelback are two camps that are diametrically opposed. There must be hundreds of thousands, even millions of hockey fans who get excited upon hearing the band at the rink or over highlights. Hockey players love Nickelback too. Whenever you read those brief bios of upcoming NHL Draft prospects, Nickelback is listed far more than you'd like to believe. Claude Giroux and Scott Hartnell were spotted shooting off a t-shirt gun at a recent concert in Philadelphia.
Lastly, the band seems to have a genuine affection for the sport, through videos they've posted about their love of the game throughout the post-season. Nickelback lead singer Chad Kroeger is known to attend Red Wings games at Joe Louis Arena with Kid Rock. The band agreed to have their names and music plastered all over a two-month long tournament for the least-watched of the four major sports. I'd guarantee they -- with the power of their record sales and live shows -- could have done a similar deal with any of the other, bigger leagues. But there's a clear love of hockey from Nickelback, and for that, you have to respect them.
That doesn't mean you have to respect their music, their aesthetics or their lyrics, but you can respect good business sense. Both the NHL and the World's Most Hated Band have shown that by partnering up for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Now, please tell me: Are they just using the same four songs over and over again during the playoffs, or are those the only four songs Nickelback has? I'm sorry for the closing cynicism, but I just wrote positively about Nickelback. I needed to wash off the filth. Get it off, get it off!