Why does my favorite band suck?
April 5, 2013 8:42 PM   Subscribe

Um... I'm posting anonymously because I kinda really like Nickelback and Coldplay. Why is there so much vitriol against these bands here (and elsewhere)? -Special snowflake details inside-

Okay, I know musical tastes are subjective but I only started really listening to rock for the last 5 years or so (I'm 39). Growing up, young men of my complexion, in my neighborhood, strictly listened to Hip-Hop, R&B, Reggae and, of course, the occasional pop songs that were unavoidable at the time (80's). I liked Deep House too, which was a little odd to people, being that I was neither gay nor latino, but I digress... As a matter of course I avoided Heavy Metal and Hard Rock because it wasn't really safe for me to identify with the kids with the Iron Maiden t-shirts... Race Identity was so polarizing in my youth, and the music you liked mattered.

Fast-Forward to a few years ago, I decided to actively do something about the forced myopia of my upbringing and listen to everything that people liked. I also visited some of of the old taboo bands of the past and discovered that I dug some Metallica. But when it comes to modern music, it seems that everyone who is more well versed in the rock genre than I, hates Nickelback.

Normally I wouldn't care but I actually love a lot of the music that has been introduced to me on the Blue, and have a lot of respect for the tastes of specific members. All I see is negative comments with no explanation, I just need someone to explain the hate.
posted by anonymous to Media & Arts (84 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
 
Coldplay are one of the biggest bands in the world, so there's definitely people out there who like them! I think a lot of the hate is to do with the hipster cool thing, if it's mainstream and everyone likes them, they must be crap. MY favourite band is so obscure, I would never be a sheep like everyone else, I have unique tastes etc. Bagging a popular band is a way of saying you're above the masses. In a really douchebag pretentious way.
posted by Jubey at 8:59 PM on April 5, 2013 [15 favorites]


Music Fan Drops Dime on Nickelback Song Similarity: NPR
Mikey Smith, a 21-year-old college student and musician in Alberta, Canada, heard two of the band’s songs on the radio and immediately noticed something was strange.

“I kind of noticed, well, you can hum the melody of the other one over this one, and I wondered why this is,” Smith says. “So I tried to put them together, one on the left speaker, one on the right speaker. And it was actually ridiculous how similar they were.”

What Smith noticed was that Nickelback’s earlier hit song, “How You Remind Me,” sounded very similar to one of the band’s newest songs, “Someday.”
Aside from the generally snide blowback from a lot of music critics, same as happens with most any other Top 40 act, musicians I know have furthermore objected on the above grounds in my experience.
posted by carsonb at 9:00 PM on April 5, 2013 [8 favorites]


There is very little music that is commercially available today that is downright bad. There are bands that despite having large repertoires of solid music, still produce music with little differentiation in form, tone, and well... musicality.

In the case of Nickleback, it sounds like the lead singer is continually trying to drop a deuce. Many would argue that Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young and Mick Jagger also have voices that sound like their dropping deuces as well.

As for Coldplay, they ripped off a Joe Satriani song and failed to give him credit despite, well... the same riff being used. Beyond that the lead singer sounds like he's going to cry, or mate with a humpback whale. Radiohead sounded a lot like that, and maybe Bob Dylan and Tom Petty.

So the point I'm making is this, some people have heard the schtick before and the album of {your favorite artist here} was done better by one of these old timers that made the same mistake before, and the older artist also found a way to grow and change their music over time. Maybe Nickleback and Coldplay are both done muscially, but more than likely, they'll eventually be recognized for the skill that they do actually posess.

Remember, Dylan was hated when he left the folk scene and picked up an electric guitar. Check out the Newport Folk festival first and second set videos some time - it is amazing that a full on riot didn't actually take place.
posted by Nanukthedog at 9:02 PM on April 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


Haters gonna hate. This site is close to the razor's edge of people and their particular music tastes.

Some people like music for the message their preferences send to the world. I'm in with the cool crowd. Others like it because it sounds good to their ears.

Coldplay and Nickelback are fine bands that make good music. But they aren't "new", "hip" or "edgy."
posted by gjc at 9:02 PM on April 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Most people who hate Nickelback and Coldplay will happily tell you that both bands play uninspired, derivative, unoriginal, bland music with no distinguishing or redeeming qualities. It's standard inoffensive pop.
posted by erst at 9:02 PM on April 5, 2013 [30 favorites]


I'm a total record collecting snob and I just gotta say, you like what you like. Live it and be cool with it.

Hating Nickleback and Coldplay is really easy... so easy that it really doesn't reflect any good taste of the hater. Let's be honest, most public hate of music is really just trying project an image of some kind of cool. Human nature but annoying. I mean, I pretty much hate everything but I also laugh at myself a whole hell of a lot about it.

So why do I hate them? They're very middle of the road and tepid. So safe that there's nothing interesting. It's just... very very safe. But that's just my ear. I generally prefer my music to be loud, snotty, angry, and bouncy - so I'm not really their target audience.

Most of the hating I see, is from people who are too cool for very mainstream rock that just seems (to them) ultra commercial and "safe". They most likely want to feel like they have good taste, preferably approved by Pitchfork or KEXP or the like. In a lot of ways Nickleback (and Coldplay to a lesser extent) are the natural progression of mainstream rock without the usual periodic influence of fresh energy from the underground, that it's sort of dull.

The problem with this sort of hating hierarchy is that it's super alienating to those who like the popular mainstream bands, and it's sort of an invitation for somebody to hate on your taste. I know lots of people get pissed at me when I describe Arcade Fire as the Coldplay of indie rock... it's amusing. So I tend to restrict my hating for hate circles.

In closing, seriously... haters gotta hate but dig what you dig. That's what's important.
posted by kendrak at 9:05 PM on April 5, 2013 [6 favorites]


I think a lot of people like to kick around Nickelback mostly because of the singers voice - it's that clenched jaw, hyper-masculine, over-emoting growl-singing, and I think a lot of people just find it funny and easy to ridicule. It is definitely associated with a sort of anti-intellectualism that goes hand in hand with Vin Diesel action moves and stuff.

People will tell you how their songs all sound the same and blah blah blah (someone made a Youtube video about this a while back to "prove" it) but honestly, a lot of pop sounds the same and I don't think that has anything to do with it. I think a lot of people just see them as the epitome of nondescript, over-polished, over-sung 2000's radio rock. Also because it was really heavily overdone in the early 2000's with other bands like Creed and Puddle of Mudd, and some people thought it got trite really fast.

As for Coldplay, though, honestly? I think Coldplay was doing fine, had some tension straddling between indie-cred and indie-hate (Pitchfork would give them 5's and 6's...so they had to like some of their songs...). And then you know what happened? 40 Year Old Virgin came out. And then everyone decided they were "gay". I very seriously believe that movie was the catalyst for that hate-train.
posted by windbox at 9:08 PM on April 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


I think there are a few things at play in why Nickelback and Coldplay are hated.

Nickelback and Coldplay are much more commercially successful than the bands that they basically borrowed their styles from (Pearl Jam and Radiohead, respectively) in their early years. Furthermore they basically only took the most obvious things and got rid of anything remotely challenging or sophisticated about those bands. This is seen as crass commercialism.

Rock music is an old genre at this point, so there is a sense that unless there is a clear attempt at pushing things forward through being innovative in some ways is a waste of time.

There's kind of a holier than though attitude that runs through a lot of rock music whereby any success that isn't specifically related to how innovative or 'authentic' a band is seen as a bad thing. This attitude doesn't really exist in other genres of music like Hip Hop where you see artists actively trying to succeed in plain financial terms. It kind of came up in the 90s with Nirvana. In general, you don't really see this attitude as much for bands as much before Nirvana.

My opinion though is: Like what you like. Rock out to some Nickelback dude.
posted by dobie at 9:11 PM on April 5, 2013 [9 favorites]


This Reddit comment is a great explanation for all the Nickelback hate.
posted by Diskeater at 9:12 PM on April 5, 2013 [6 favorites]


While I agree that their music is bland, safe, tepid, repetitive, and all the rest of it, I think a large part of the hate is because these two bands are so massively successful in spite of that, and that just rubs people the wrong way. It's not that they're that awful, it's that their success entirely outstrips their talent in a lot of people's eyes.

EDIT

Also, this:

I'm posting anonymously because I kinda really like Nickelback and Coldplay

is just great. :-D
posted by Broseph at 9:13 PM on April 5, 2013 [8 favorites]


When I first started listening to rock music (I had a pretty sheltered childhood), I was really in to Coldplay. I got interested in their kind of music, and I looked up what bands influenced them (bands like Blur and Radiohead), so I started listening to their music. And when I started learning more about rock music, I learned a lot of stuff about music that made Coldplay seem elementary. I was probably a "hater" at that point. Then I looked up what bands influenced those influencers (stuff like the Smiths and the Pixies) and listened to their music. And so on.

Now I like a completely different genre - so different that "hating" Coldplay doesn't really make sense any more. It's just not my style of music. That's cool.

So I guess long story short is that taste is both a social and individual thing. Some person on Metafilter bags on shit I like almost every day, often in ways that make it seem like their opinion is the only "right" opinion. It used to make me feel sort of mad but it's a waste of time to try and get people like that to see your viewpoint. Enjoy the music you enjoy, and keep learning and exploring.
posted by muddgirl at 9:14 PM on April 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think there's an Emperor's-New-Clothes effect here, where it's "cool" to not like them, so people say they don't - or, Coldplay is mainstream and uncomplicated enough that you get into them when you're younger, but then you get older and you're supposed to be "cool". Or, they're a band someone does "outgrow."

Incidentally, though, you may appreciate this rather impassioned defense of Coldplay from fan David Tennant when he was on a British panel show a couple years back. (Why he also defends his love of breakfast cereal at the same time, I couldn't tell you.) Some of the other guests' banter following that may also illustrate the "it's cool to hate them" theory as well.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:15 PM on April 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


(Also, it makes a lot less sense to hate them now, but back in the day both those bands were played ALL the time on the radio. Like you couldn't go 2 seconds without hearing a Coldplay song. That sort of overexposure always leads to people getting extreme negative emotions about something no matter the quality. I'm sure this is also a phenomenon in hip-hop/rap.)
posted by muddgirl at 9:16 PM on April 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think that if you had been listening to rock music for 10 or 15 years, the first time you heard Nickelback you would find them derivative and boring. But since you haven't listened to as much of that type of music, it sounds fresh to you. Once you like it, listening to a thousand other albums probably won't make you unlike them, but you'd probably find a nickelback-esque album tiresome at that point.

I've only heard one Coldplay album, but it sounded lie a radio-friendly radiohead album, which I kind of liked.
posted by skewed at 9:19 PM on April 5, 2013 [7 favorites]


There's no downside to claiming to hate them, so it becomes the default position.
posted by 445supermag at 9:21 PM on April 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


Some Coldplay hate may be spillover hate for Gwyneth Paltrow.
posted by vespabelle at 9:26 PM on April 5, 2013 [13 favorites]


I won't comment on Coldplay because they're perfectly fine; I don't actively seek them out but I am not repulsed by them.

Nickelback lacks variety. This wouldn't bother me if they rocked. They do not rock; they plod loudly. This wouldn't bother me if they could occasionally reach some emotional resonance with me. They do not; they are whiny and self-absorbed.

I wouldn't say that I "hate" them; I don't think they're bad people or wish ill on them or anything. But they are tremendously overexposed. Every time they were played on the radio or at a public event or whatever is another time that someone else (who maybe did have variety or did rock) didn't get a shot at that same exposure.
posted by Jpfed at 9:28 PM on April 5, 2013 [5 favorites]


I dislike Coldplay because I find their music boring, and it kind of all sounds the same, and it doesn't have any meaning for me. It's like background music at Starbucks. Nothing wrong with it, it just doesn't speak to me in any way. Meanwhile I have trouble enough keeping up with the bands I actually enjoy.

Nickleback, to be honest, I couldn't identify any of their music. I knew I was supposed to hate them before I ever actually heard a Nickleback song. It's totally possible that if I heard their music without knowing what I was hearing, I would like it. I sort of doubt it, though.
posted by Sara C. at 9:28 PM on April 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


I also think Nanukthedog has a great point.

When I first heard Coldplay my thought was, "Why do they sound so much like Radiohead?" I think if you had never heard Radiohead, or heard Coldplay first, that wouldn't be as important to you.
posted by Sara C. at 9:31 PM on April 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't like those bands for two reasons: 1) everything I've heard them do sounds exactly like an older band that did it better; and 2) everything I've heard them do is completely without soul or emotion. It's like they don't actually care about making great music, they just care about selling albums and being famous rock stars.
posted by MexicanYenta at 9:42 PM on April 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


Random association about Nickleback that might illuminate how rock fandom works:

In the early-mid Oughts (2000's?) I was kind of into this bluegrassy alt-country band called Nickel Creek. They were just a sort of pretty, earnest, Dixie Chicks esque group but sort of more do-gooder and less of a sense of humor (also not all-female).

Then at some point, years later, possibly after Nickel Creek broke up and certainly after it was known that they were never going to be the hot new thing all over the radio, what I'll call the NickelBackLash started.

For a little while I was concerned that "Nickelback" = "Nickel Creek" and that I suddenly had found myself on the wrong side of a rock controversy. Nooo! I am not used to liking the band everyone thinks is lame! What does this say about me? Who am I? And who the fuck are these NickelBack people, anyway?

I googled and discovered that it wasn't the same band and I presumably had nothing to worry about. But I made sure not to listen to any Nickelback, just in case.

TL;DR: A lot of this stuff is about in-group identity and not so much about abstract quality. As somewhat of an outsider getting into rock music independent of all this tribal bullshit, you have the privilege of just liking what you like.
posted by Sara C. at 9:47 PM on April 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think it's just that they strike the sweet spot of a bland/annoying product, and exposure. It's not just one or the other. There's plenty of popular musicians that get more or less universal approval.

If you gave a bunch of people a compilation of the bands in question, they might have tepid reactions. If you then told them they're really really popular, and get lots and lots of airplay, the ensuing reactions would be a lot more vociferously negative.

Likewise, if these people kept seeing Coldplay/Nickelback videos on a muted TV, or saw them listed with great frequency on a radio airplay chart, that would be one thing. Actually finding out what they sound like: vociferously negative reaction.

I think the same principle applies to other media (eg, Avatar or Two and a Half Men).
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 9:53 PM on April 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


People like to feel superior, especially people who are insecure in other areas or lacking interpersonal skills. I do laugh at Nickelback jokes, but it's just a joke. You shouldn't take it personally. Lots of people don't judge others for what music they like. These people have real self esteem. Other people only have their music collection to hang their hat on or try to build an identity on.

And for what it's worth, I don't care about Coldplay for a really silly reason---the guy married Gwyneth Paltrow (who was amazing in Royal Tenenbaums but remains insufferable in interviews). See how little I care? I don't even have a real reason for disliking Coldplay. I'm not going to go listen to them. And I don't like Maroon 5 (Adam Levine is creepy and his speaking voice is weird and he might wear skinny jeans) but if this one song's on the radio I'll listen to it until Christina Aguilera pipes in.

People are weird. Some stuff is just a joke. Don't worry about it.
posted by discopolo at 9:56 PM on April 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Entry #4 might interest you (it's only about Nickelback and why they get much undeserved hate).
posted by MinusCelsius at 9:59 PM on April 5, 2013


I liked early Coldplay and "Yellow" was the darling of alternative music stations all over in the year 2000. Then two things happened:
  1. Coldplay's music got really overplayed (for some of the "sweet spot" reasons mentioned above). Some artistic experiences get better with repetition. Listening to Coldplay is not one of those experiences. I don't think Parachutes is any worse than it was 13 years ago, but I just don't care to hear it again.
  2. Not only did their original work become less interesting over time through overplay, but their newer stuff was even more uninteresting and insipid to start with. X&Y is just crap. Viva la Vida is worse. And somehow I feel like the lyrics are clearer in the newer albums, which makes it so much easier to notice how banal they are. I don't really have an opinion on Nickelback's music. The Nickelback-sucks thing is basically a running gag in some parts of the Internet, and like many running gags it doesn't have to make sense.

posted by grouse at 10:08 PM on April 5, 2013 [6 favorites]


My biggest problem with Nickelback is that I've never found any aspect of any of their songs musically interesting whatsoever. I thought I heard something one time, but it turned out it was a Santana song with Chad Kroeger on vocals. The lyrics, which sometimes verge on disgusting, don't help either.

I don't mind Coldplay too much. They have a couple really wonderful songs, and a bunch of boring mediocre ones. It kind of evens out.
posted by Dismantled King at 10:13 PM on April 5, 2013


A good comparison to hip-hop might be

Coldplay : Rock :: Drake : Hip-Hop

Both are whiny, oversensitive, derivative, and extremely popular.

It's a little harder to come up with a good comparison for Nickelback. Maybe Will Smith circa Willennium? Will Smith was really popular among people who weren't really into hip-hop. Anyone knowledgeable about the genre found him too tame, too calculated.

It's not a perfect comparison. I actually like Will Smith more than I like Nickelback, but I think that's because Chad Kroeger isn't nearly as charming. And his lyrics are really insipid.

Don't underestimate how calculated they are. For some people, being a sellout is the worst thing a band can do. And Nickelback is as much a business as a band.

I think it's very understandable to like Coldplay and Nickelback, especially if you're just getting started in the rock genre. They can seem derivative, but since you didn't grow up listening to rock, they're fresh to your ears.
posted by mokin at 10:17 PM on April 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


There is a lot of gimmickry and cliché in pop and rock music. All successful bands know it and use it. Some bands dance around it and try to add something new to the style. Other bands just plow headlong into it, shamelessly, perfectly content to let the style define them. When the latter find huge commercial success, they become the natural counterexample for people who need to demonstrate their more refined tastes. I think Nickelback might be one of those bands, by design.

I don't care for Nickelback because the 90s rock style has just never really done it for me. I do like Coldplay, because I have a thing for extremely well crafted and exquisitely produced pop songs. The more insipid the better, really. (Unbreak my Heart, anyone? Just brilliant.)
posted by Balonious Assault at 10:21 PM on April 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


You are 39 years old. That's old enough to have angry teenagers of your own. A guy your age should like Coldplay and Nickelback; they're the epitome of Dad-rock.

Note: I'm only a few years behind you. I don't like either band, but that's because I'm deluding myself into thinking that I'm still with it.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 10:33 PM on April 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


I am really quite centrally in the mainstream on a number of matters and really do not like Nickleback. Coldplay-- I can see why people laugh at them but I have an album, too. Nickleback logic: the (to my ears-- desperate, cliched) 'masculine' growliness + the really terrible cringe-worthy lyrics (I think viewing them will suffice as explanation?) is why.

Re: all this-- people love to hate what is popular-- I mean, that is occasionally true but there are a range of popular musicians out there who do not have the degree of loathing that those bands get from some.

Re: the similarity to 2 and a Half Men-- I think you'll find a lot of people hate that for the very broad, puerile and sexist comedy. I think Nickelback are more defensible than that, but I do not like them.
posted by jojobobo at 10:34 PM on April 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


I believe for a lot of people it has nothing to do with being cool or because the sound is derivative because the whole sounding cool thing should long be over after high school and being derivative is the name of the game in the creative arts. Indeed, I'd say bands that play what's been done before very well are just as beloved as bands that may be seen as avant garde or "original".

I don't know much about Coldplay, I like one of their songs but Nickelback I thought were garbage from the first time I'd heard them and each time since. Reasons are varied but explaining why a person dislikes or likes a thing that another has a completely different opinion on is fairly pointless I think. What is dear to our hearts is dear to our hearts and the reasons are as varied as there are people in the world.

For me personally, I too find Nickelback to sound the same to a level that is annoying. I'll acknowledge that many bands have a sound, but I think that is more structural as well as the type of arrangements they make, but Nickelback stands out as truly a band that if you've heard one song, you've heard another. This may be an impression only but if you felt the same impression for some other band that would explain the "hate" for Nickelback that others have. I also feel the lyrics are horrible, which in and of itself is a bit funny to say since there are a ton of songs with horrible lyrics, but the combination of what I feel is bad music and lyrics really brings the lyrics to the forefront.

When I heard the Strokes first disc I had the instant feeling that here was a damn fine rock and roll band and I had the feeling that though I've heard music like this before, I also never heard this ever before. With Nickelback I had the instant feeling that here is a very awful band that will not stand the test of time and will not be a band respected by other musicians. Others no doubt think the Strokes are merely rip off artists that keep making the same song over and over. What can you do? You like what you like and don't like what you don't like. Trying to understand why others have a different opinion may be fruitless. If you just love listening to Nickelback, that others don't, really shouldn't matter.

One of my best friends loves Nickelback and asks me occasionally why I don't. All the explanations sound pointless because where music is involved, the explanations aren't going to be important and really, is there a need to understand the different take on something like a band? Is it really even possible?
posted by juiceCake at 10:45 PM on April 5, 2013


For some, to make music that is likeable is a compromise of a true artistic vision. To be anything less than a starving bohemian is to be a skilled mechanic, not a true artist. It is often forgotten that, for any music to get released in a commercial format (no matter how obscure) it has already had to go through many human filters to knock the raw edges off it.


This is related to the quest for authenticity in music fandom. One has to have gone to some pains for one's devotion. It's not enough to own the Yugoslavian bootleg of Bourbonese Qualk's first disc, for example, but one has to strive after the elusive test pressing on green bakelite thereof.


It's just all a load of dismal old wank, really.
posted by scruss at 10:53 PM on April 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


I read social psychology articles sometimes because I am just really interested in that kind of stuff, and I remember reading at one point that part of the cultural value of music, on a more subconscious level, is that it's a social signifier. The same way people drive a Prius and they don't THINK that they're doing it because they like what it says about their social conscience, but that really is the reason. Anyway, a lot of people's musical taste is on some level about what they want others to perceive about their sophistication and predilections.

A lot of people dislike Coldplay because lots and lots of people like them and it's not fashionable in the modern day to go with the crowd. I think that's why there's so many tons of people who like "Indie" music -- It can't really be that "Indie," though, if it's everyone's favorite music.

Anyway, here is my purely personal, non-academic take -- I have listened to lots of musical genres over the years, including lots of artsy fartsy stuff like Brian Eno or Spiritualized or whatever was cool and countercultural during those particular phases and I love all that music. But then I can listen the hell out of Justin Timberlake or most other vulgar radio music with total abandon and thoroughly enjoy it. I think most people can deep down, they just may not admit it very readily. I like Coldplay but don't like Nickelback because I find the vocal pitch whiny and unpalatable and some of the lyrics are terrible. There was a lyric of theirs where the song is this extended metaphor comparing a girl giving him a blowjob to driving a manual transmission car and at one point he says, "And I got my hand on the clutch and she got both hands on my geaaarrs!" and it makes me laugh because of the absurdity factor. But then, it just comes back to that social signifier thing. It's all so subjective.

Like what you like!
posted by mermily at 11:00 PM on April 5, 2013


Nickelback is that guy at work, the one who is not very good at his job and doesn't work very hard, but he's there most of the time and doesn't offend anyone, so he slowly moves up by dint of corporate inertia. He doesn't get promoted so much because he's great, but because the slot's there and eventually he's been there the longest so the guy is kinda due and so he moves up.

I worked with a guy like this and it was absolutely infuriating because he wasn't good at his job. He was just there and his screwups were small and management shrugged because he'd been there forever and even if he wasn't great, he was there, so they'd just sort of let him float on by even though there were any number of people who would be infinitely better at his job. But they'd pissed off the wrong manager or they hadn't been there long enough or any number of small things that paled beside the safe, bland grey choice of this dude. You'd never get fired for promoting him and he'd never make you look bad, even if you would never especially look good for having him around.

If you don't care about music in a significant way, they're probably fine. If you care about music, particularly rock, you can name 10,000 bands that are better. They write better songs, they are better musicians, they are all better in some way, but they've never quite gotten over the top for a variety of reasons. What you're left with is Nickelback: bog-standard buttrock/dadrock that doesn't try too hard to do anything and offends nobody.

Coldplay is...you know how when you go out for Chinese, there's all these interesting and exotic dishes that sound good, but you always wind up ordering the same thing you always get? Or, alternate metaphor, if you live in a city with a big and exciting restaurant scene, you know how there's all those great restaurants around you but when you go out for a work lunch, you wind up at one of those places like Chili's or Applebee's where nothing is really great but everything is really inoffensive and there's a diverse enough menu that everyone can get something they like well enough?

That's Coldplay. They are precision-engineered to be a pop-rock band that appeals to the widest possible demographic without offending anyone, the rough edges and interesting bits precision-machined away to get a Totally Inoffensive Pop Record. They are the Applebee's of rock, not great but okay and you're not embarrassed to take your kids there so they are, of course, everywhere.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 11:06 PM on April 5, 2013 [25 favorites]


I just went and listened to a song from each ("Yellow" and "Photograph") to remind myself, and I didn't really like either of them. I liked Coldplay a little bit more. They both seem to me very boring and musically uninteresting, to the point where I doubt the musicians actually have music to play from, they just kind of vaguely play along with the singing guy. Maybe only writing one part is more cost effective? It sounds like music written solely to be used in boring ads for midrange cars, or consumer electronics.
posted by Kaleidoscope at 11:15 PM on April 5, 2013


I hear a lot of Nickelback and Coldplay as I go about my life, background music in all sorts of situations. Neither appeals to me; Nickelback is the opposite of memorable, Coldplay sets my teeth on edge like a venti caramel frappuchino with a shot of vanilla.

If I can hear either of them then I'm not listening to something more to my taste. After a decade of this I am no longer indifferent and actively dislike both.
posted by N-stoff at 11:34 PM on April 5, 2013


Lots and lots of people like Lady Gaga and Mad Men, but I don't think there a large number of people who dislike them solely because they're popular and mainstream. If you like what they offer in and of itself, well, you can't help what you like. But ubiquity can make you go from mere dislike to total despisement.

On the other hand, I think there are some things that people do shun solely because of ubiquity, like Apple or Nike (corporate policies aside). But they can because they don't consider those brands to be significantly better than the alternatives.
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 11:39 PM on April 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


Re: the similarity to 2 and a Half Men-- I think you'll find a lot of people hate that for the very broad, puerile and sexist comedy.

Hate to go for the obvious here, but I think that sums up Nickelback too (maybe even including the comedy part).
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 11:42 PM on April 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Besides many of the reasons mentioned above, I hate Coldplay because they think their political opinions are worth broadcasting to their fanbase. This would be OK if they had well-reasoned opinions, even if I disagreed. But when said opinions are inane drivel like "The world should just get together with a little more light and love, man" it makes me want to tear out my beard hair. I mean, seriously Coldplay? You thought that the world's problems are so easy to fix that all we needed was a little more "light and love," but somehow nobody stumbled across that solution yet?
posted by wolfdreams01 at 11:58 PM on April 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


They're on the air a lot, which tends to burn people out who still bother listening to radio. They're kind of vaguely boring and derivative, but that's just opinion, so ... if you like them, who cares? Who are you trying to impress?

Personally, I don't mind Nickelback, but I find Coldplay pretty bland. Thing is, I'd rather listen to music I actively like instead of music I just don't mind.

Then again, I'm not really the type to go around telling people that their favorite music sucks. Music enjoyment is way too subjective for that to be meaningful.
posted by asciident at 12:03 AM on April 6, 2013


In defense of Nickelback (from way above "Dropping a dime on Nickleback"), it's almost impossible not to repeat forms from song to song. Bob Dylan said all you need is three chords and the truth and you are a song writer. Three and four chord progressions are de rigeur and songs differ in keys, time signature, where in the chord progression you start, bridges, leads, intro/exit gimmicks, various flourishes, but modern rock and folk are structurally simple at their very root. Song-to-song similarity can be viewed as experiments in seeing which of two lyrics are better for the tunesmith, and instead of trashing one, publishing both. Unless the repertoire is all depressingly identical, repeats are inevitable.

Music is direct massage for your cerebral cortex. What you love, be it opera to grunge, is up to you. So much is available, you never have to listen twice to any song as long as you live, so to misquote Mary Oliver (poet), let your soft body love what it loves. Screw your critics. Your opinions are just as valid.
posted by FauxScot at 12:59 AM on April 6, 2013


If this helps, I've never consciously heard a Nickelback song in my life until ten minutes ago when I went onto YouTube and searched for them. I picked the first video of theirs that sprung up, Lullaby, and listened to it. Some thoughts that may enlighten you on why your favourite band sucks. Firstly I immediately hated the overly-dramatic, lonley and portentous piano chords which have been done a bazillion times before, made worse by the shots of wedding rings and clasped hands which cut to a woman's agonised face, obviously in labour and obviously setting out to emotionally manipulate me in the clumsiest, least subtle, most contrived way possible. Then a really basic, uncreative, so predictably repeated guitar chord change with percussion blatantly mimicking a beating heart. Marriage, youth, beauty, the blessings of childbirth, love, loss, pain. Its all there in the first twenty seconds of their song and video. Then I see the band themselves and instantly I irrationally hate the way they look, the singer with a douchebag goatee and haircut sitting on a chair spun the wrong way, singing earnestly about knowing feelings and making weird cliched emotive eyebrow and head movements. Goddam straight he knows feelings I'm told. And the rest of the band in a warehouse, dressed in black, lit by industrial lamps, their setting completely devoid of any originality, just rehashing a look that's been done to death for decades while they exchange meaningful glances as if concentrating on creating their art as they strike the same tired old chords. The video progresses, I begin to laugh at how bad it is, every emotional point hammered home, the doctor shaking his head, the close-up of an adoption leaflet, it's like a bad soap opera. And the lyrics sung over the same simple chord change and drums driving home the signposted message have been sung a million times before, darkness out of the light, having faith in you, making it through the night, taking the easy way out, giving it one more try etc Just vapid, empty, hackneyed lyric writing. Then I watched another video called Hero and it was pretty much the same. Then another called If Today Was Your Last Day and it was the same formula again. So three songs later, the first three songs I've ever heard this band sing, I can safely say your favourite band does indeed suck. For me anyway. It feels way too unthinkingly emotive, cliched, uninspiring, repetitive, derivative as all the while earnestly beating you about the ears with embracing the qualities that all Good People should be aspiring to, Love, Honesty, Growth, Strength, Fortitude, Friendship, Finding Hope In Suffering. It's the sort of music loads of people in my family might like, they have very mainstream outlooks (kids are a blessing, always do the right thing, go to church and listen to your elders), I can imagine broken hearted women wiping their tears and vowing never to love to fast too soon, I see tough, tattooed men setting their jaw as they face some new tribulation that they will battle through and learn from, at sunset, on 9/11. Tomorrow is a new day. Gak. I like my music to open new doors, musically and mentally, it should feel like an exploration of emotion and self and at the very least fire some new neurons. This Nickelback stuff is just like the musical equivalent of an Adam Sandler movie, probably best enjoyed when drunk and even then not so much. But if you like it then cool, don't let douchebags like me tell you any different! Now to go try out some Coldplay...
posted by Callicvol at 1:03 AM on April 6, 2013 [22 favorites]


I dislike Coldplay because of their blandness, their inoffensiveness. They take a style of music that I like and wring everything that's interesting out of it. Like Keane and Travis and all those late 90s English bands. As a friend on Twitter said "It's because they're beige and bland I hate them. Music should be about passion and soul. Coldplay have none." And this is nothing to do with hating them because they're popular, we hated them from the start (this same friend saw them before their first album was out).

But OTOH I like Mumford & Sons a lot, even though they are the Coldplay of their sub-genre, and most of my music friends hate them. (Similar to kendrak's mention of Arcade Fire). And if YOU like Coldplay, good for you. You're hearing something that I'm not, and that's great.
posted by Infinite Jest at 1:39 AM on April 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Hey anon, just forget about the hate and enjoy what you love. It's hip to be square!
posted by ouke at 3:17 AM on April 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm not familiar with Nickelback, Coldplay are competent but bland. Check out The Smiths or The Cure for older music of slightly similar style but that isn't bland.
posted by singingfish at 3:18 AM on April 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I remember seeing Coldplay on a very small stage at Glastonbury back in the early days (when Chris Martin had huge hair) and thinking they were fine, a perfectly OK English indie band wearing their influences (Smiths, REM, Radiohead) very much on their sleeves and making perfectly fine pop songs. Same as Doves or Travis or a whole bunch of nice middle class bands from the UK.

On stage Chris jokingly made the comment that in two years time they would be headlining the main stage and, to the astonishment of everyone I was with at least, that's exactly what happened after Yellow became a ridiculously huge hit.

I'm not sure why any music taps into the zeitgeist like that but clearly people love Coldplay passionately and there's no shame whatsoever for liking them, snobbery is distasteful at the best of times, music snobbery especially so.
posted by brilliantmistake at 3:22 AM on April 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't mind Coldplay, but Nickleback somehow became the world's most popular rock band without being very good at rock and roll. Other mainstream rock bands like The Black Keys, The White Stripes and Kings of Leon are or were good bands - they're energetic, their music is fun, and they paid their dues in the underground. Even U2 and Green Day, who get lots of hate, have many songs even music snobs love. Nickleback have none of them. Playing them just sucks the energy out of a room, unlike other dumb rock bands like AC/DC.

Basically, they're dumb but no fun.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 3:22 AM on April 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


Anyway, here is my purely personal, non-academic take -- I have listened to lots of musical genres over the years, including lots of artsy fartsy stuff like Brian Eno or Spiritualized or whatever was cool and countercultural during those particular phases and I love all that music.

Brian Eno produced a Coldplay album and it was pretty good.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 3:25 AM on April 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


While I agree that their music is bland, safe, tepid, repetitive, and all the rest of it, I think a large part of the hate is because these two bands are so massively successful in spite of that, and that just rubs people the wrong way. It's not that they're that awful, it's that their success entirely outstrips their talent in a lot of people's eyes.

This reminds me of what I think of as the Nickelback of the gaming world: Angry Birds. Like Nickelback, it's highly derivative of past work (Crush the Castle), the mechanics of it are vaguely distasteful to those who take the genre seriously (gameplay that seems based more on luck than skill), and its style and branding seem laser-calculated to achieve the broadest possible appeal (mean, mean birdies and colorful googly-eyed piggies!).

But despite (or because of) this blandness, the game has reached a preposterous level of commercial success, with T-shirts, Happy Meal toys, cereals, a theme park! It's totally out of proportion with the technical and creative merits of the game, especially when there are so many superior efforts that don't reach even a fraction of that success.

As for Coldplay, I think their similarity to Radiohead irritates fans of the latter, who are legion in the upper echelons of music criticism and/or snobbery. After tasting near-Nickelback levels of ubiquity and commercial success with "Creep" (and to a lesser extent The Bends), Radiohead ran headlong in the opposite direction, creating a soaring masterwork of modernist anxiety in OK Computer before diving into dissonant oceans of avant-garde electronica (Kid A) and dubstep rhythm (King of Limbs) at a time when that area of music was much less mainstream than today.

As they've blazed that trail, Coldplay seems to have made a habit of picking up the surface aspects -- OKC's spacey rock, Kid A's electronic vibes, the despondent tone of much of Yorke's songwriting -- rinsing them of anything cynical or uncomfortable or challenging, and successfully selling it to a more mainstream audience, to much greater commercial and popular success. Echoing the musical style of Radiohead while emulating the safe, iPod commercial-friendly blandness of latter-day U2, something that Radiohead actively tried to get away from. Or, as Coldplay frontman Chris Martin himself describes it: "a shit Radiohead" (though he's a little harsher on himself than I'd put it.)
posted by Rhaomi at 3:31 AM on April 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


only started really listening to rock for the last 5 years or so (I'm 39). 

A reason why you don't understand the dislike of Nickleback... Yet.

Music appreciation (like food) evolves over time. You begin to notice the unique, underlying elements that make the particular music piece or culinary dish so special. Your ear becomes "sharper" and more nuanced over time. With food, your palette becomes more appreciative because it can now pick up on the awesome subtleties of cuisine you may have once hated as a teenager.

As a result, when Nickleback hits your ears for the first time, you rightfully don't understand why everyone doesn't enjoy having this generous, never ending heaping of chicken nuggets and cotton candy.
posted by Kruger5 at 3:31 AM on April 6, 2013 [8 favorites]


To me, these bands are bad in different ways.

Nickelback had, as some people have pointed out, a few hits so similar they really pushed the limit of the chutzpacious. Their singer does the constipation thing without any apparent variety or nuance. Their lyrics tend to be muddy and vague in image (like most mainstream pop). I think Nickelback is mostly a victim of their own success, though. They were just too inescapable at one point. There's a lot worse out there, nonetheless.

Coldplay is self-consciously arty but not really arty at all. Their songs often have the beginnings of a good hook but almost never "go there". Emotional flatline. You end where you started. Chris Martin seems kind of annoying and is married to an actress and his child is named Apple. Coldplay songs/albums have over-the-top titles that don't belie the content they represent.
posted by threeants at 3:34 AM on April 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


I have nothing against Coldplay. Easy on the ears - inoffensive is really the perfect word to describe them. I like Viva La Vida for running.

Oh the other hand, I am one of those with an irrational hatred of Nickelback. For me, it's because their music and their image is so contrived, it seems like they were cobbled together entirely out of rock band cliches. They try so hard to be edgy and sexy, but they're too obvious about it, and their songs are completely devoid of any creativity or wit. Chad Kroeger overdoes the growly hardcore man voice and ends up sounding like he's taking one massive dump after another. Oh, and the lyrics! It pains me to hear them. Basically, Nickelback songs remind me of that guy in undergrad who was forever butting into conversations with "cool stories" that wound up being thinly veiled brags about banging really hot chicks or mildly illegal douchebaggery with his bros. If that guy kept a diary about his lame conquests, it would read like a set of Nickelback lyrics. This Buzzfeed article titled "14 Incredibly Sexy Nickelback Lyrics" pretty much says it all.

It hasn't helped that they've attained enormous commercial success - people always hate to see mediocrity being so handsomely rewarded while the bands they like better get less play. And now Chad Kroeger is engaged to Avril Lavigne, another manufactured farce of a rock "artist."

But hey, I adore Fleetwood Mac, and that's a band music snobs love to hate on. It doesn't lessen my enjoyment any! Keep rocking out to your Nickelback albums as long as it makes you happy.
posted by keep it under cover at 3:41 AM on April 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


On preview, what Callicvol has written deserves to be enshrined for hitting the nail of Nickleback analysis for current and all future generations gone awry.
posted by Kruger5 at 3:53 AM on April 6, 2013


For me, Coldplay and Nickelback are just boring. It's music that you move on FROM, not stay with. N-thing everything upthread as well. Their music always sounds the same, no matter if it's a new release or an older one. It's just not music you engage with, any more so than whatever is floating through a mall or on an elevator somewhere.

Plus, Nickelback in particular lives in that (for me) horrible zone where their music does nothing but conjure up images of guys in khakis who live in the 'burbs and who go to PJ O'Pootertoots on Fridays to drool on girls who like flavored vodka. It is reminiscent of people who don't doubt or ask questions of their lives but just bump into you on the street buried in their iPhones.

Full disclosure: I'm 45 years old and was once a radio DJ with all the attendant snobbery that comes with.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 4:22 AM on April 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


The "boring" judgment does seem to be the most prevalent (with regard to Coldplay). As a data point, as I was driving home a bit ago from running an errand, BBC R4's "The Now Show" just had the line that one "may as well plug their headphones into a tin of beige paint" as listen.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 5:16 AM on April 6, 2013


The Business Week article Mokin linked to above is actually the key to all of this. Chad Kroeger has taken a leaf directly from the Gene Simmons book of rock band management and fashioned himself a li'l ole money making machine. He cares not for quality or cred- he is all about the benjamins. The music reflects that just as you would expect.

Just as there are many who decry KISS for their simple, 2 or 3 chord catalog, they figured out how to build a fan base they could rely on. Looks like Kroeger has done his homework in that regard.

However- he didn't pay attention to the full lesson. Or maybe he did, and recognized his own limitations. Because we can observe that it's still OK and sort of retro-self-deprecatingly cool to approve of KISS for the over-the-top, pure visual spectacle and- key word- originality- of their presentation (original in the mainstream, back in the day, but still).

KISS found their brand and never let up. They carved out a niche that will never be equaled, IMO. Simply put- for what they do, no one does it better than KISS. That, combined with Simmons' marketing genius, provides a concrete blueprint for the wannabe rock entrepreneur. KISS the brand will make money FOR EVER. Original fans pass it on to their own kids. Nostalgia will fill that tank till we are all dead and gone.

And the reason why KISS doesn't garner the widespread level of Nickelback hatred we see today? Few can dispute the fact that, at the end of the day, it is entertaining to experience a KISS show. It's one of those things that people at all levels say- "You gotta see KISS live, at least once!" I doubt anyone says that about Nickelcrack.

I doubt Kroeger cares about any of this. He prefers to not rock the boat (pun intended) and push the musical envelope, because that may put off his fan base. It's smart of choose not to alienate the hand that feeds you. He got most of it right in terms of making money. And that's OK. Kroeger's ego, unike Simmons's, finds that very likely this is more than enough. Simmons wants money but he also wants fame, adulation, "rock God" status, all of it and more. He is larger-than-life in anyone's book.

Kroeger would prefer, I think, to continue to "rock" blandly all the way to the bank for as long as possible.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 5:52 AM on April 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think a part of it is that a lot of us heard Nickleback at the time that there were five hundred other bands around doing the same thing, and just got royally sick of it. Plus, the singer guy just tries too hard. I'm always kind of like "come on, man, seriously?" Whenever I hear him cuz it seems so phony and obnoxious. I mean, I dunno. When I hear him I just want him to shut up. His singing makes me unhappy.

I think part of it too is that, well... you know when you're a teenager and you have a diary or a blog or you write poetry or whatever and, and you think it's really deep and tragic and meaningful and a soulful outpouring of emotion and intellect, and then you look back at it a few years later and it's overdramatic, trite, and derivative, and incredibly embarassing, and you didn't know a goddamn thing about tragedy or anger or depth or insight, and it was all based on ideas you had about those things from the media or wherever, and you just want to burn it and never think of it again? That's what Nickleback's music reminds me of. There's no substance and there's way too much form.

I don't really have an opinion about Coldplay.
posted by windykites at 6:05 AM on April 6, 2013 [6 favorites]


But like whatever you like man, when you're an adult you don't have to be cool. I like all kinds of terrible music.
posted by windykites at 6:11 AM on April 6, 2013


Coldplay makes me cringe because it's basically Radiohead with all the cleverness and experimentation taken out. I'm a fan of Radiohead, but not a fan of every single song, because sometimes they take a chance and it doesn't totally pan out for me. But that risk taking and experimentation is what makes them great - when they get it, they really, really get it, and then they grow as a band, and make better music.

Coldplay and Nickelback do not experiment, they do not take risks. Nothing new, no growth. Really, they don't make music. They make products, and that they are so successful is somewhat galling.

Of course, the upside of this is that you, as someone who has only been listening to music for five years, have all this amazing undiscovered stuff from like, the last sixty years, just waiting around to be discovered. Don't take the hate to heart - it's just like Ghostride said. Once you've found out there are other restaurants, you have all this awesome food to try out.
posted by Jilder at 6:13 AM on April 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think a lot of the Nickelback hatred is not specifically for Nickelback in itself, but for the entire bland corporate non-rocking lite rock genre they've come to represent. As an example: I have no particular animosity toward Nickelback - I don't like their stuff, but I don't want to remove my eardrums at the sound of them - but I have all sorts of hatred toward Train (of "Meet Virginia" and "Drops of Jupiter" and "Hey Soul Sister" fame). I hear Train way more often than Nickelback and I find their songs an order of magnitude worse in all dimensions. But people are always like "who's Train? oh yeah that song it sucks I guess" and shrug. I can think of several other similarly awful overexposed bands from the late 90s-00s who have been largely forgotten. But if you mention you hate Nickelback, people are like YEAH NICKELBACK SUX LOL. So instead of explaining my intense dislike of Train or whoever, it's easier to use Nickelback as shorthand for mainstream craprock.

Truth be told, I'm totally fine with mainstream, formulaic, written-by-committee music, as long as it's pleasant to listen to. My CD collection would make a music snob cry. But the mainstream stuff I don't like really gets to me, and it's all the worse because it's interspersed with the inoffensive nice stuff on the radio. (Part of why I hate Train so much is that the intro to one of their early songs sounded like a Coldplay song that was also popular at the time, and I'd always be like "Yes! It's that Coldplay song! Wait...NOOOOO!")
posted by Metroid Baby at 6:34 AM on April 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


If you want a super abstract top-down perspective, Bourdieu's idea of cultural capital and how class influences taste might work for you. It's outdated by now but it serves as a pretty good launching point for discussing Nickelback and Coldplay, both of which are popular and bland and don't serve very well as markers of identity. If the goal of exclusive and unique tastes is to make yourself distinctive from the masses and if the 'masses' to you means white, working/middle class American then these are the bands to hate.
posted by dubusadus at 6:37 AM on April 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


You mention that you've dug some Metallica lately. Well you know, despite being one of the most popular bands in the world, metal fans everywhere almost unilaterally despise everything they've made after (and often including) the Black Album. I'm not pointing this out to make you feel embarrassed about yet another band you thought was cool (something tells me the Nickleback/Coldplay fan didn't start with Ride the Lightning). Rather, I think it's a good example where, if you're new to metal, you can listen to Reload and think, "Wow, this music is actually cool! It's so heavy and interesting and different!" But after you explore more of the genre, you come back and notice just how many of the songs sound the same, and how annoying James Hetfield is, and how it's all just really mediocre in comparison.

So by all means, enjoy the music you enjoy, but I'd really encourage you to keep exploring now that you've got your feet wet. Nickleback and Coldplay and Metallica probably don't deserve all the hate they get, but they are far from the pinnacle of music.
posted by gueneverey at 7:13 AM on April 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


When Nickleback first started getting airplay where I live, maybe 2001ish?, I could hardly tell the difference between them, Creed, 3 Doors Down, Train, and all the rest of the post-grunge rock. I think as someone above said, it's less about them specifically than it is about where they fit into the bigger picture. Their sound was blah, and almost completely devoid of genuine emotion like all the other post-grunge commercial successes at the time. That made them accessible to a lot of people who may have had trouble with Nirvana and even Pearl Jam. In turn, that made them unappealing to those yearning for a unique sound to identify with. I was in high school at the time they first charted, and while people liked some pretty awful music back then, no one was actually a Nickleback fan, because liking Nickleback didn't mean anything. Those people are now 30ish, and still don't get the appeal.
posted by murfed13 at 7:19 AM on April 6, 2013


First, as others have said, love what you love.

I don't care for Nickelback, but I unashamedly love Coldplay.

My own dislike (or maybe apathy is a better word) for Nickelback was perfectly described by a friend of mine: the vocals sound like how I would sing if I were doing rock karaoke. It's hard for me to get past that. It's probably just how the guy sings, but there you go.

I think Coldplay hate has more to do with their sincerity, popularity and perceived blandness. I say "perceived" because I don't find them bland at all. Listening to any of their albums attentively reveals some beautifully layered and textured music. Despite their self-admitted U2 crush, they have a unique sound and viewpoint. But it's not my job to convince anyone to like what I like.
posted by The Deej at 7:29 AM on April 6, 2013


Robert Christgau on Coldplay's X&Y:

Tunewise, this is the craftiest of their well-crafted albums. Conceived as a boy group, showing girls who long to believe it that not every guy is a jock, a thug, a lothario, or a male-bonded mook, they might even have their uses. Conceived as a pop alternative to U2 and Radiohead, however, they're an argument for death metal. Precise, bland, and banal, their sensitivity emotionless and their musicality never surprising, they're the definition of a pleasant bore--easy to tune out, impossible to care for.[1]
posted by goethean at 7:37 AM on April 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I can't really speak about Nickelback as I'm not that familiar with them, but I can say something about why bands like Coldplay cause irritation in some people. Please note that I'm not saying this sort of criticism is fair or reasonable, just that it exists.

Some people who really enjoy rock and pop music feel that it should have a certain...edge. Passion. Roughness. Aggression. Or at least, they feel that rock music is better when it has these things. They like a certain undisciplined stroppiness in their music, a slightly off-the-leash exuberance. So when they hear a band like Coldplay, they hear a sort of sonic antithesis of the music they like best, because Coldplay are slick and professional and they use all these nice song-writing tricks that can be very effective but are also rather obviously contrived. Bands like Coldplay seem a bit too planned, a bit too clever, a bit too...safe. And so does their music.

It's really the same dynamic and conflict that separated the original punks from people who were into prog rock, Floyd, Genesis and so on. Or people who liked The Dictators rather than Boston. Some people want rawness and fire in their rock, others like it a little smoother and prettier. Some people like both, depending on mood, and this seems to me to be probably the healthiest approach although I must admit that personally I'm kinda more with the Coldplay haters than not. :-)
posted by Decani at 7:37 AM on April 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think some of the Coldplay hate has to do with them going downhill on their recent albums. Rush of Blood to the Head was great and everything after? Eh.
posted by bgal81 at 8:49 AM on April 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


To me, Nickelback represents the most insultingly dumb kind of machismo-- when I read their lyrics or watch them perform, my vagina immediately seals itself. I liked corny alt rock when I was younger but Nickelback always just seemed "rowdy" (triple air quotes) in the dumbest way. Also "because liking Nickelback didn't mean anything" is a good point. I guess what I really hated were how hard their lyrics were trying, like "damn, I am really a sexual guy, no really, listen to these sexual lyrics." NOT SEXY.

This isn't to say you shouldn't like them, I revisit the dumb rock and pop hits of my youth all the time and there are plenty that I would hate if they were charting today instead of ten years ago.

Coldplay, I like. Even Viva La Vida.
posted by stoneandstar at 9:58 AM on April 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


As a musician, I despise Nickleback for their lazy digitallly distorted guitars, dry drum sounds, cheap keyboards, and forced, unmusical wheedling as much as for their songwriting which is so uninspired as to be basically theft.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:03 AM on April 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


To be a bad musician you have to lack A. Talent (the raw ability to play complicated music) B. Creativity (the ability to find new techniques to make sounds or break new ground in composition or rhetorical device) or C. Style (the ability to adroitly combine sound and image in a way that taps into a rich Non-musical tradition or intriguing currently fashionable zeitgeist to please or challange a modern audience.)

Coldplay certainly has A and C. When people critique them they usually critique their lack of creativity or the fact that they dont like their expertly targeted Style.

Nickelback has neither A, B or C.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:06 AM on April 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


I like some early Coldplay, and I like some covers of songs of theirs. Nickleback I'm not sure I'd ever been able to recognize a song of theirs but I'm sure I've heard them. I stopped liking newer Coldplay because everything just started sounding safe, and just like U2. Who also had good songs very early in their career, and then became bland and boring. I think certain bands appeal to people because they aren't very edgy or experimental, and that turns off a very vocal bunch of people who like to describe at length why they hate them.

I start with the belief that no one is going to like the music I like, and frankly I couldn't care less because I have no pretensions to having exquisite musical taste. I'm always pleasantly surprised when people like something I'm listening to. It really doesn't matter what other people think- the coolest music people I know seriously like what they like, and don't care. Look at the huge variety of music sampled by hip-hop artists and electronic musicians. they're listening to all kinds of stuff and seeing the value in a bassline, or a bridge, or a horn section. If it sounds cool they use it without caring if it's fucking Coldplay, or whatever. It's a much more sophisticated way of listening to music than just saying "yuck, Billy Joel is so lame" or whatever.
posted by oneirodynia at 12:34 PM on April 6, 2013


Same reason MySpace changed the world. People love to talk about themselves, but if they talk about themselves directly, they will seem narcissistic. So they talk about themselves indirectly. "I hate Nickelback because they are simplistic. This, of course, means that my taste in music is meaningful." Same reason people wear band t-shirts. Same reason that dubstep nerds spend a lot of time and energy hating Skrillex.
posted by DJ Broken Record at 3:18 PM on April 6, 2013


Since song similarity has been brought up a few times, I'm surprised nobody's linked to the Bickelnack post. (That sounds like a joke, but the process and result is actually pretty interesting.)
posted by Su at 3:48 PM on April 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I love all kinds of music from (I think) every possible genre. All of it. And there are certain artists/groups within each genre that I can't abide. Sometimes that goes along with what other fans or the snobs think, sometimes it's contrary. And sometimes I really like something that I kind of expect the snobs to hate but then the usual genre fans hate, too. And while that surprises me a bit, it doesn't keep me from liking what I like or getting excited about it while I like it.

And that's how it should be, I think. Someone's gotta like the stuff lost between the cracks or out along the edges, and someone's gonna like the stuff heavily in a rut, and that's all ok...as long as it balances out. If I ONLY liked the mediocre/predictable/overplayed stuff, my brain just wouldn't be as interesting a place. But liking the middling stuff with the extreme or supreme? Perfect! So, on that, maybe go easy on yourself and don't give a rip about what other folks think.

More specifically, though, on your two bands, I have a point about Nickelback that I don't think has been made, and it is specifically why I don't like them: misogynistic lyrics. Pulled me right out of any possible ability to ever dig them on a "hey, that's just mindless fun!" level or anything other. Many of the people I know who despise Nickelback feel that way for the same reason.

For Coldplay, I was very slow to like them and was dubious of any talent they may have. But I do like some of their songs and I'm not in the least bit apologetic about it. Most of the people who have tried to ridicule me for this made points about "overplayed" and "trying too hard" or "Gwyneth Paltrow" and...whatever. They've got some good tunes that I like and I'm not going to feel bad about it.

Just like I don't get mad at people for not digging all the weird, unique, complex, crazy music I like, I don't let them chase me away* from the things that have given me some happy in this world.

* I do, however, take it seriously when it turns out musicians are being hateful or spreading destructive messages, and drop them quickly when I find that stuff out, so I guess that's one way I can be influenced to give up something I previously dug.
posted by batmonkey at 7:08 PM on April 6, 2013


I also think Nickelback are hated in come circles because they like to pretend they are bad ass hardcore motherfuckers. If you check Su's link (Bickelnack) you'll see the audience are doing the sign of the horns, which I honestly find comical.

I imagine Nickelback are liked by people who need a microscopic amount of hardcore-ness in their lives and don't mind the sappy lyrics, and for that they fit the bill; but the band themselves don't seem to realize that they are pretty mild and cheesy in the grand scheme of things. We are talking about a music scene where bands like Dying Fetus and Cannibal Corpse exist.

Just look at this video where they tried to play at a DEATH METAL festival in Portugal and the singer almost got knocked out. I am not saying I support that behavior (I really don't) but fuck me, we all know they willfully play what I can only call a travesty of rock to get massive amounts of money, and we can tolerate that; but when they start believing their own lie, they deserve major derision, the goofballs.

Also, that guy's voice makes me want to stab my ears, but that's just personal taste.
posted by Tarumba at 7:29 PM on April 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


1. People within their genre believe their talent to be disproportionate to their commercial success. This is why many things are hated.
2. They were in a position at some point in which people were forced to decide whether to tolerate them or hate them. If you find something tolerable, eventually steady exposure will increase your affection for it, but if it is not tolerable, one comes to despise it for existing.
3. Because those who are considered the most seminal or experimental or groundbreaking are so rarely commercially popular, some people associate commerce/popularity with being subpar. Additionally, many people appropriate the opinions of people they respect on topics of which they have no opinion and people will project their own assumption upon a thing in which they have no rational opinion to judge, and going into these assumptions takes too long.
4. Personally, I use to kind of like Coldplay and freely admitted it because I could give a crap what people think, until they were so prevalent it became unbearable to even deal with them. Nickleback I avoid because the only little tiny bit of it I consciously heard reminded me of Creed and I HATE Creed for many, many reasons I will not go into right now. Even writing that name has made me want to leave this computer immediately.

Knowing as little about both as is possible for me, I personally care for neither and there is so much much in the world I don't know yet, I prefer not to waste my time. Do I hate them? No, because I'd have to care about them in order to do that. I reflexively run from Nickleback but I could care less if Coldplay is on, but thankfully, I never have to deal with either to my knowledge.
posted by provoliminal at 7:33 PM on April 6, 2013


I just noticed from that NPR link from 2005: "He says he has dug further into Nickelback’s catalog of songs and found more common threads. In fact, he discovered striking similarities between Nickelback’s songs and those of fellow Canadian musician Avril Lavigne."

Bwhahahahaha, suddenly that explains a lot.

As for Coldplay, I can identify one song of theirs ("Yellow") and that's it. But I've always had a soft spot in my heart for Nickelback. Between the "How You Remind Me Of Someday" and the "oh, the PAIN!" vocal stylings, and the general ludicrous angstyness of them, I...just snicker a little in my heart every time I hear a Nickelback song, and I enjoy that.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:33 PM on April 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


People in this thread keep mentioning Nickleback's sleazy, sexist, mysogonistic lyrics. I like lots of bands with those qualities, from the Rolling Stones to A$AP Rocky. But those artists often get a pass from (male, admittedly) critics because the music and the singers are sleazy in a fun way. Mick Jagger is charismatic as hell, and that can excuse a lot. Nickleback don't have that charisma so they just sound creepy.

As for Coldplay, hearing 'Viva La Vida' sung at karaoke really sold me on them.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 11:36 PM on April 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I also think Nickelback are hated in come circles because they like to pretend they are bad ass hardcore motherfuckers.

Yes, this!! And their ideas about being badass are so hilariously juvenile. There's one song about getting a handjob in the car, where he sings that he "just got my license back." Then in the Photographs song, he sings about his "criminal record" saying that he only broke into his high school twice, but he must've done it way more times (oh my!) I mean really? Who's dumb enough to get caught twice breaking into a school and then brag about it? Who brags about getting their driver's license suspended? He has songs that are entirely about drinking lots and lots. These conceptions of badassery would be funny coming from a teenage boy band, but they're inexcusable coming from a middle-aged "hard rock" band.

I had a couple of friends who used to roll down the windows to their car and blast Nickelback, and they, like Nickelback, really believed that they looked like badass hardcore motherfuckers while they rocked out to "Burn It To The Ground" and "Rockstar". I never had the heart to tell them that no one would ever mistake them for anything other than ultravanilla suburban yuppies, not anymore than a couple of pimply-faced white teenagers blasting gangsta rap could pass as dangerous thugs to be reckoned with.
posted by keep it under cover at 2:47 AM on April 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


With Coldplay it's a combination of things - the bland, uninspired music which attempts at times to ape either Radiohead or A-Ha depending on which day of the week it is, but manage to do it without passion or style or heart.

Also, what does an ex-public school character with a film actress wife have in common with you or I? As Morrissey once said: "It says nothing to me about my life...".

On the plus side, they're not Snow Patrol.
posted by panboi at 10:11 AM on April 7, 2013


Also, what does an ex-public school character with a film actress wife have in common with you or I?

I'd assume this is also true of most popular musicians, though, no? Maybe not "ex-public school" in the British class sense, but generally they tend to have lives that are pretty different from the average person.

Looking at some of my favorites (these are the artists whose songs have the most plays in my iTunes):

Patti Smith: dated Robert Mapplethorpe before he came out as gay, was part of Andy Warhol's social circle. Collaborated on a play with Sam Shepard. (all of this before she was famous.)

Leonard Cohen: lived as a hermit on a Greek island writing poetry until someone convinced him to set it to music and record it.

Bob Dylan: where to even start

MIA: daughter of a Sri Lankan alleged terrorist.

Jay-Z: used to be a drug dealer.

Amadou & Mariam: blind musicians from Mali, so, basically the opposite of me, a typically-abled middle class white girl from the USA.

Though I do agree that a little bit of the antagonism towards Coldplay probably does come out of class consciousness and "don't you know that guy is just a posh wannabe married to a celebrity? who does he think he is?" I just don't think it's necessarily deserved, since a HUGE proportion of famous musicians have lives that are very much unlike the lives of normal middle class consumers.
posted by Sara C. at 10:32 AM on April 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


This is a good example of why people can't stand Nickelback:

How you remind me on the right speaker and Someday on the left. They are the same song. You have to sink pretty low to plagiarize yourself...!
posted by Tarumba at 2:55 PM on April 7, 2013


I'm black. Depending on my mood, I listen to reggae, house, rock, metal, post-punk and (non-Top 40 Pop) - I own a lot of hip/hop, but most of it is pre-1995. There was a time in my life where what other people thought mattered, but once I turned 13 or so, it didn't matter. Music is social...but I prefer it's personal appeal.

Addressing Coldplay/Nickelback:

I liked a lot of Coldplay's early EP's. I downloaded their first album a couple of months before it came out in the states, after hearing about them from some friends on the Firefly (Fans of Mark Eitzel/American Music Club) mailing list. I liked the sort of everyman/sad sack vibe to their songs. But after they suddenly became one of the biggest bands on the planet, I lost interest. I usually won't abandon a band after they become popular, but I really didn't feel their material was worth the mad props they were getting. And even though I own all but their latest album, I find each release successively less interesting.

As for Nickelback, I don't get them AT ALL. I find nothing compelling about them...it's like listening to a 'generic rock band' at a club in any small town on a Saturday night. And that's pretty much it.

If you dig Nickelback, that's cool. Life it too short to give a lot of thought to this. Lord knows, my love for Roth-era Van Halen would be called into question by some. However, if you want to broaden your horizons a bit, spend some time here - I've discovered more new and old music at ILM than anywhere else.
posted by black8 at 1:41 PM on April 8, 2013


They are both bland. Coldplay's inoffensively bland. Nickelback is so bland they're offensive.
posted by breakin' the law at 3:42 PM on April 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


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