Opinion: Let people enjoy the music they like

People like me love Nickelback for All the Right Reasons, and people should be more accepting of different tastes in art.


Detroti Free Press

Nickleback lead singer Chad Kroeger performs during half time of the Thanksgiving Day game between the Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan, Thursday November 24, 2011. (Kirthmon F. Dozier/Detroit Free Press/MCT)

Jason O'Day, Columnist

I like a lot of things that other people love to hate: pineapple on pizza, Fox News, and most importantly — Nickelback.

To say Nickelback is the worst ignores the group’s greatest hits such as “Rockstar” and underrated classics such as “Lullaby.” It’s one of my favorite bands. I have enjoyed Nickelback’s music since I was a teenager, and it helped me through some tough times during that time period.

The music video for “Lullaby” is exceptional. It depicts a widowed husband’s struggles handling loss. He initially considers putting his newborn up for adoption, but then finds the strength to raise her on his own. I’m choking up a little bit just thinking about it.

A huge swath of internet and social-media users have made a hobby out of ripping Nickelback, in part because its radio-friendly hits were overplayed in the 2000s. Some of the memes are hilarious, such as the “Photograph” GIF, or the guy who showed up at 2016 GOP campaign events with a “Ted Cruz likes Nickelback” sign. Generally, though, I find it a cheap way for cynical people who don’t actually know that much about music to feign superior taste.

They remind me of the episode of “Family Guy” when Peter hears some political pundits repeatedly calling the Bush administration’s Middle East policies “shallow and pedantic” without making an argument. That night at dinner, Peter complained that his wife’s meatloaf was “shallow and pedantic.”

Most Nickelback haters do essentially the same thing with their empty derision, and probably couldn’t even name three of the band’s songs.

I’m not saying Nickelback is a sacred cow entitled to a shield from all criticism. I wouldn’t dare put the group in the same category of greatness as Motley Crüe or the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Nickelback lacks the vocal talent, originality, and artistic depth of the two aforementioned bands, but I still think it’s good. Critiques of music should be substantive, with thoughtful arguments to back them up. One BuzzFeed piece from 2016 argued that Nickelback’s second and third albums were decent and had originality, but as the band rose to stardom, its members essentially sold out to make cookie-cutter hits.

Sometimes, I enjoy the cheap appeal to nostalgia of a ballad such as “Photograph” that doesn’t require multiple listens to decipher, or reading some pretentious music reviewer’s take to find out what it really means.

The meaning of “Photograph” is simple and straightforward. The singer is reminiscing about where he went to school, where he grew up, and a fun memory. It’s easily relatable and makes me wish I could go back and relive my high-school days. Nickelback’s lyrics are catchy and down to earth. Not every song needs seven levels of artistic depth and subtlety to be enjoyable.

Cardi B is another musical phenomenon who, like Nickelback, takes a great deal of criticism from the internet meme-world. Personally I can’t stand her music, and I enjoy poking fun at it.

Having said that, no one should be embarrassed by their musical preferences — whether that includes Cardi B, Nickelback, or whoever else people enjoy.

Evaluating art is a subjective endeavor. To the music lovers of the world, put on your noise-canceling headphones to drown out the haters and enjoy whatever you want to. Denigrating the musical tastes of others does not make yours more sophisticated.

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.