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TBTS Reviews: Nickelback’s “This Afternoon” Video

June 21, 2010

Whither, Nickelback?

Maybe it’s time for a re-evaluation of Nickelback. While enjoying a half-decade’s worth of stadium-rocking success, critical praise continues to elude them. They put asses in seats and their records sell very well, but most music journalists would rather listen to Nickelback than….As TBTS’ beloved Spencer Pratt would put it: That’s the problem. Fewer bands inspire revulsion and strong negative sentiment than Nickelback.

Maybe the hate has gone too far. Maybe, much like Hootie and the Blowfish (their spiritual forebears) before them, they are just a group of regular guys–a competent bar-band–out to write some tunes and have some fun. Maybe spending time seething over their very existence or the dark roots of Chad Kroeger’s bleach-blond hair is time poorly spent.

Case in point: new video “This Afternoon.” The video opens with a spoiled brat barking orders at his friends as he pulls together a quintessential summer shindig (pool included). After making sure brews and babes are accounted for (just using the language central to this cliché), Spoiled Brat asks after the status of the party-defining third element: the music.

You know where this is going.

Good-natured victims Nickelback have been kidnapped and will be forced to play Spoiled Brat’s pool party, and he’s pissy about it. Hilarity, hijinx, and highness ensue. Along with a fair amount of semi-nudity. The lyrics are very literally about “hangin’ out this afternoon,” and they are repeated often so you will sing along, or at least remember what you heard. Hatred grew strong within me as I pondered this new offense.

This where my self-reflective tendencies kicked in. Well, what’s wrong with a good-time party song? Nickelback displays a sense of humor about their public perception in the Brat’s obvious disappointment, and they go on to deliver that good-timeyness in a relatively non-offensive way. Except for Hangin’ Chad’s new short hairdo, which somehow sucks even more than the old one. Don’t worry: he still bleaches it. Lady cops get half-nekkid and decide not to press charges. What’s not to love? Gone from Nickelback is the sex-crazed, faux-angstiness of old, replaced by sex-crazed party-rock.

Then it hit me. This sucks more than the old Nickelback because it reeks of the kind of feel-good, big-hook trendiness that Popmatters accuses of mainstream, contemporary country. Nickelback is going the “new classic rock” route, too, by switching too an even blander, more derivative rock-lite formula. This is bad, even for Nickelback, and only further deepens my distaste for their mindless, ambition-less non-rock. Think Buffet doing Pearl Jam karaoke. Or, worse, Creed. Watch for a chuckle, shiver and cringe, then move along.

Quite honestly, I thought I might be crazy when I realized I was even trying to view them with fresh eyes and maybe cut ’em a break. True to form, as the video played out, they justified every bit of my long-standing ire with their sloppy bid for “humble pie” heroism, their so-unclever-it’s-unclever regurge of many old vids, thinly retreaded themes, and utter lack of inspiration. They sucked for copying 90’s rock templates and they suck harder for trying to do the same with lamestream “country” trends in the ’10’s. What sucks the hardest–for even the most casually observant–is that this gambit is so transparent. Seriously: we are one generic fiddle draw, one goddamned silvery lap-steel’s obligatory meow away from Billy Turrdington Country on this one (it pains me to say it this way, as I usually love both instruments when used in a genuinely affecting way). The irony is that many of Currington, et al’s songs are designed to sound like recent/current, hard pop-rock or the 80’s hair metal whose succexcessess titillated and made for music-biz bank once-uponna. Ya know…bands kinda like Nickelback, minus the trappings of “alternative hard rock” like overly distorted guitar solos and…songs not about ribbons, flags, line dances, scrogging in the woods during a “holler” party, or old, rugged crosses. Watch as Pop eats itself,  right before our very eyes!

The critical re-evaluation of Nickelback: it’s worse than we thought. Don’t be fooled by this transparent attempt at crossing over into the new “classic” rock status. It’s pandering and much less fun than the old stuff it heavy-handedly copies. Other bands–current, canonized, Canadian–do it much better.

  1. PMcD permalink
    June 21, 2010 2:52 pm

    Wow, I just watched that video (ummm, thanks?) and it’s like they took everything that’s bad with pop and country and sandwiched it together to make one truly horrible song. I generally allow for the fact that everyone has their own taste when it comes to music, but not in this instance. Truly craptacular.

  2. Sean Gilroy permalink
    June 23, 2010 7:06 pm

    Jesus Christ, dude, you really had me scared there for a minute. Glad I read all the way to the end.

  3. August 5, 2010 9:57 pm

    Whatever, it’s the anthem of the century!!!

    • Matt Shorr permalink*
      August 6, 2010 1:35 pm

      Depending on how this century goes, you may unfortunately be correct.

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