Canadian pop-rock band Nickelback (made up of lead singer Chad Kroeger, guitarist Ryan Peake, bassist Mike Kroeger and current drummer Daniel Adair, who replaced Ryan Vikedal in 2005) are a band that formed in a world that wasn't ready for them.
Maybe not in terms of music, but on the 20th anniversary of Chad, Ryan, Mike and Daniel's album, Silver Side Up, it's never been more acceptable to enjoy the music you actually like (even if that music wholly sits within the 'mainstream') rather than pretending to only enjoy music that's considered acceptable by the tastemakers around you. Pop music has never been more forward-thinking and culturally significant and is now loved by audiences that when Silver Side Up was released would have turned their noses up at it, merely for the fact that it was pop music.
Since Nickelback formed in 1995, people have constantly made jokes about the band, many of whom haven't actually delved deep enough into their music to make such a judgment. We're here to tell you that Nickelback are good, actually, and that How You Remind Me holds up, even today.
Negative feedback is easier to give than positive feedback. It's one of the things that makes us human - people are happier to talk about things they don't like and find common ground with other people that way. There's a huge disconnect between the way the world views Nickelback and the way Canada views the band, with 69% of Canadians considering them a "national treasure". Just like negative feedback is easier to give than positive feedback, negativity is easier to embrace in music than positivity - and Nickelback are undoubtedly a band that embraces the brighter side of love.
Nickelback have never positioned themselves as anything other than fun. On Silver Side Up, the band's third album, as well as the one that properly introduced them to the world, the band doesn't pretend to be anything other than a few musicians having a fun time being in each other's presence. It was, and is, a refreshingly honest album that reminds people that music can serve different purposes. Are you going to sit there and listen to Silver Side Up, totally immersed in the music? Probably not. Is it meant for that? Almost definitely not. It's music that's meant to soundtrack the moments spent with others.
People also tend to look back at music from years gone by with an editorial eye. Ask anyone that's a bit older than you when the best music was made, and chances are you'll get an answer that roughly coincides with the time when they were most invested in it. At the time of its release, How You Remind Me was (mostly) embraced by both fans and critics alike, thanks to its catchy chorus, as well as the elements of grunge sprinkled throughout the track. It's hard to hold a band responsible for a track becoming "too" successful, which is where much of the ire towards the track stems from - it was inescapable on radio.
Where many artists embrace the abstract, Nickelback embrace the literal. Silver Side Up's Hollywood is a pretty earnest, if slightly heavy-handed, depiction of the realities of what life is like in Hollywood for those who are looking to become a movie star but aren't at that level yet. It's a heavy, sludgy track, and showcases that Nickelback are far more than the one-trick pony many have pegged them to me. The story is similar with How You Remind Me. It's a song that originates from an argument between Chad and his then-girlfriend and is a sarcastic look at relationships. As the story goes, it was a last-minute addition to Silver Side Up, and almost ended up being an album track. Of course, the song ended up being the lead single for Silver Side Up and has been one of the band's defining tracks ever since.
In 2021, music fans want more emotional vulnerability from artists than ever before. Listening to Silver Side Up, it's pretty evident that Nickelback were being as emotionally honest as possible, in a way that people didn't quite grasp. Is it blokey? Definitely. Is it insincere? Not at all. Chad confirms as much, when talking about How You Remind Me to Louder, saying, “Before How You Remind Me, I was hiding behind metaphors, I wasn’t saying what I wanted to say. And I think when the honesty came out people appreciated it. There is no sense of irony or conceit present on any of the 10 tracks on Silver Side Up, and despite their detractors, Nickelback have maintained a devoted fanbase, selling out shows wherever they play. Clearly, they must be doing something right.
Speaking about the 20th anniversary of the album, Chad says, “It’s hard to believe that Silver Side Up is 20 years old! For us, the album is filled with so many memories and moments that will last a lifetime. We were four guys from a small Canadian town, and never in our wildest dreams could we have imagined that this album would resonate with people around the world the way that it did, nor could we have predicted how profoundly our lives would change after its release – and that is something we will never forget. After 20 years, the songs don’t really feel like they belong to us anymore, but rather they belong to everyone that has embraced them and welcomed them into their lives and for that, we are eternally grateful.”
Maybe Nickelback wouldn't be critical darlings if they were forming in 2021, but that was never the intention. However, there's a reality that we all have to face at one point of our lives. Nickelback were never anywhere near as bad as we were made to believe, and if it's not like you to say sorry, then it's time to apologise.