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Klosterman at his upmost Klostermaniest

[ 167 ] April 24, 2012 |

This is more Scott’s beat than mine, but evidently Chuck Klosterman — the nitwit who couldn’t spend 30 minutes or so actually listening to a tUnE-yArDs album (“wow, their lyrics are hard to decipher, and Merrill Garbus was a puppeteer once, and she looks androgynous, and that makes me feel funny in my tummy”) — is now willing to engage in an entire evening of urban anthropology to discern the mystery of Creed and Nickelback. It’s not quite Slate-level cultural contrarianism, but there’s a root ancestor there somewhere.

The day before the New York show, Kroeger appeared on a Philadelphia radio station4 and was asked (of course) why people hate Nickelback so vehemently. “Because we’re not hipsters,” he replied. It’s a reasonable answer, but not really accurate — the only thing hipsters unilaterally loathe is other hipsters, so Nickelback’s shorthaired unhipness should theoretically play to their advantage. A better answer as to why people dislike Nickelback is tautological: They hate them because they hate them. Sometimes it’s fun to hate things arbitrarily, and Nickelback has become an acceptable thing to hate. They’re technically rich and technically famous, so they just have to absorb the denigration and insist they don’t care. They have good songs and they have bad songs, and the bad songs are bad enough to build an anti-Nickelback argument, assuming you feel like that’s important. But it’s never required. It’s not like anyone is going to contradict your thesis. There’s no risk in hating Nickelback, and hating something always feels better than feeling nothing at all.

Oh, sweet suckling Jesus, do fuck off now.

Comments (167)

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  1. Erik Loomis says:

    “They’re technically rich and technically famous, so they just have to absorb the denigration and insist they don’t care.”

    Thus why I hate Stevie Wonder and Led Zeppelin and REM and all the other rich and famous acts that I don’t hate.

    • actor212 says:

      How is one “technically rich and technically famous”? Isn’t that like being almost pregnant?

    • Walt says:

      I actually do hate Led Zeppelin. They’re the worst thing ever to happen.

      • rea says:

        What? Worse than, say, Milli Vanilli?

        • Milli Vanilli are not the worst thing ever either.

        • Malaclypse says:

          John Cougar Mellencamp, “Small Town” is, objectively, the worst thing ever.

          • Uncle Kvetch says:

            I always knew you were my kind of guy, Mal.

          • gmack says:

            I understand the sentiment, but it’s actually impossible for me to hate him. When I was growing up, folks from my small town actually put together a petition asking him to play a concert in our town. And he actually did it; he played two free concerts at a local gym. So I dislike the sentiment and I generally dislike the artist, but damn, I cannot refer to him as the worst thing ever.

            • Joseph Slater says:

              I grew up in a small town and therefore loathe the song “small town.” But I’ve come to think that Mellencamp is a much better human being than he is an artist.

              • gmack says:

                My sentiments exactly.

              • Jack & Diane says:

                Small Town is not really that objectionable especially since it was on an album with Rain on the Scarecrow and Face of the Nation. The song being latched onto as some type of anti-urban anthem is not Mellencamp’s fault. His songs about ‘rural America’ were often centered around dislocation caused by economic change and not narrow minded small town boosterism.

                Plus he actually moved back to Indiana and helped start FarmAid.

                • adolphus says:

                  This.

                  Plus why is it bad for JCM to boost small towns and good for others to promote cities? They are both perfectly good places to be proud to be from with both positive and negative aspects.

                  But we all agree suburbs suck, right? Yeah, I hate the suburbs. Except for the one I grew up in, it was okay. But the rest are mindless conformity farms.

                • witless chum says:

                  People who think small towns are perfectly good places mostly were raised in suburbs.

                  I did not care for growing up in a small (actually small, like 1,200 people) town and I don’t think I’ll ever willing live in one again.

                  I really like the song and Mellencamp, probably because I project my ambivalence onto Mellencamp and I’m a sucker for him and Bob Seger for whatever reason. Those guys are midwestern white person’s soul music.

              • Malaclypse says:

                I have no opinion of him as a person, but Jewel could, rightfully, consider that song insipid.

      • Erik Loomis says:

        I am now listening to Zeppelin III as a rebuttal.

      • mark f says:

        I’m gonna toss in with Walt on this one.

      • Halloween Jack says:

        The failure of people in this subthread to identify “My Sharona” as the greatest abomination to be suffered by popular music, ever, shall be noted for future reference, come the revolution.

  2. I worked my way through that entire article and I’m still trying to figure out if Klosterman did it solely to try and figure out if he could admit to liking one of those two bands and still avoid being made fun of. It was an exercise in wanking off about the culture, about hipsters, and bands people don’t like for a reason.

    Critics like Klosterman refuse to acknowledge that “the people” know when something sucks. And just because a lot of people like something, that does not mean that it does not suck. Numbers don’t add up to anything anymore. There are a lot of people who prefer suckage to quality.

    So, yeah. I don’t think I’ll follow any more links to Grantland.

  3. actor212 says:

    I’m sorry, there’s a mystery about Creed and Nickleback?

    Cuz, SASQ– THEY SUCK!

    Or do they mean “how the hell did they get contracts?”

  4. david mizner says:

    I’ve seen so much post-modern – or to be generous, populist — cultural criticism that it might be more contrary at this point to say shitty bands are shitty.

    That said, Creed is trash I enjoy, a few songs anyway, whereas Nickelback is trash I can’t stand.

    • What’s the difference? Honest question.

      • redwoods says:

        JEEZUZ! No really, I’m pretty sure it’s Stapp’s Jesus-thing. Bum thing too, crap band shares the name of one of my favorite perfume companies.

    • Scott Lemieux says:

      As an Albertan, in a “death is not an option” game I would have to take Nickelback, who at least seem less pretentious, although I really can’t stand either even for a song at a time.

      • Rhino says:

        I dated a girl who previously dated the Chad. He treated her quite poorly, giving me additional reasons to hate nickelback.

        Aside from them sucking, that is.

  5. Colin says:

    Shouldn’t that be “Klostermaniacal?”

  6. Medrawt says:

    Oh, ffs. Rather than individually responding,

    Erik Loomis – Well, first of all, Led Zeppelin took a lot of denigration, particularly from Rolling Stone, when they were still a going concern, and Jimmy Page at least was pretty clearly sore about it. I doubt either Nickelback or Creed, however, will have the kind of critical adoration in hindsight that has accrued to LZ. But is it not a fact that rich and famous people get made fun of if they complain about them getting made fun of? Part of the game, which I don’t think is fair, is that you’re supposed to be stoic about that sort of thing.

    Warren Jason Street – I’m not sure how to resolve your statement that ” ‘the people’ know when something sucks” with your statement in the very next sentence that “just because a lot of people like something, that does not mean it doesn’t suck.” I mean, look, I know exactly what you’re saying, but putting the two next to each other and behaving as though this is some sort of airtight work of aesthetic reasoning is a little perplexing.

    Every once in a while I really like something Klosterman writes, and every once in a while I really hate something he writes, and this fell sort of in between, because he doesn’t really say anything about either band, when you get down to it. But he’s not wrong that it’s a little odd that one of the two or three most successful rock-qua-rock bands of the past decade is considered by everyone whose opinion “counts” to be eternally shitty, and maybe a better article on such a phenomenon would’ve had some interest. This isn’t actually always, or often, the case.

    But I’ve managed to squirrel myself into a position where I’m a curmudgeon about other people’s negative opinions, whereby I sort of share Klosterman’s bewilderment that people hate a band that’s so thoroughgoingly mediocre.

    • Incontinentia Buttocks says:

      I agree with Medrawt about Klosterman. At his best he can be very good (I liked Killing Yourself to Live quite a lot and the best parts of Sex & Drugs & Cocoa Puffs are terrific); at his worst, he’s terrible (there’s some truly idiotic handwaving about Premillennialism and the Left Behind books toward the end of S&D&CP that made me want to smash things).

      I don’t think it’s fair to call Klosterman a nitwit (I say this on the basis of the better parts of his output). But he’s capable of being very lazy and confusing his sometimes unenlightening inner monologue for the external world.

    • “I mean, look, I know exactly what you’re saying, but putting the two next to each other and behaving as though this is some sort of airtight work of aesthetic reasoning is a little perplexing.”

      Does Michael Jackson suck, musically?

      I would argue yes; virtually all of his music sucks. The commercial success of said music refutes me on that front. But I still maintain that it sucks and always will suck. This is the conundrum I cannot escape. Thank you for noticing. Throw me a lifeline, please!

      • Medrawt says:

        Well, I imagine there are a lot of people who agree with you about Creed and Nickelback who are going to disagree with you about Michael Jackson, which creates a second conundrum for you – is your appeal to the right kind of crowd re: Nickelback valid if you don’t want to appeal to their judgment re: Jackson? Or are you narrowing it down to the people who agree with you on both? Which is to say, your personal taste is just your personal taste, same as mine. Which is indifferent to grownup MJ, but celebrates “I Want You Back” as the greatest 2:30 or so in pop music history.

    • Ben says:

      Too bad you missed the Kinkade thread you would have loved that one

      • Western Dave says:

        Michael Jackson sucks? Dude, you need to listen to Off the Wall again. And this time get the stick out of your ass.

        • Ben says:

          Not sure why this is directed at me, but for the record:

          I think Michael Jackson and Quincy Jones made some phenomenal music together. And the first time I saw this I laughed my head off for ten straight minutes.

          • Halloween Jack says:

            A lot of Thriller is one song after another that repeats the same riff over and over until I want to take a power drill to my temple to make the pain go away, but “Billie Jean” is kind of brilliant.

        • You’re bringing up Off the Wall? After all we’ve been through, you’re going to throw that in my face?

          Jeebus.

          • Western Dave says:

            Sorry Ben, the target was Warren. And yes, Warren, Off the Wall is a great freakin’ album. And yes, it’s probably a better album than Thriller, particularly because on vinyl it had sides and that side A is phenomenal. Which doesn’t diminish Thriller any, except to say that Thriller is more a collection of great singles than an album.

  7. J. Otto Pohl says:

    Klosterman jumped the shark a long time ago.

  8. Walt says:

    The excerpted quote seems obviously right to me. If you’re more than a casual fan, part of music fandom is defined by who you hate. You can’t be a discerning consumer if you don’t hate the right things.

    • McAllen says:

      That’s true as far as it goes, but the fact that hating a certain band is considered a sign of how sophisticated a music fan you are doesn’t mean that the band doesn’t actually suck.

      • Walt says:

        This is true, but if you happen to like a band that everything thinks sucks, this doesn’t really say much about you. And yet people get outraged if you don’t hate the right things.

  9. calling all toasters says:

    the only thing hipsters unilaterally loathe is other hipsters

    So every hipster hates all the other hipsters, but none of the hated hipsters hate him/her? How is that supposed to work?

  10. Jim Lynch says:

    There’s much to recommend ignoring popular culture altogether.

  11. Malaclypse says:

    Internet tradition requires mentioning the Creed thread that ran for three years over at S,N.

  12. sleepyirv says:

    I will not read the article but for it to be pure unadulterated Klosterman it must contain four elements:
    1) It must be incredibly disingenuous.
    2) He must refuse to give a firm opinion on a minor matter that the review demands he has to have an opinion on.
    3) He reaches an insane conclusion on the human condition that proves Klosterman has never talked to another human being.
    4) He defends a shitty piece of pop culture.

    I’ll guess the fourth point was hit on the bullseye.

  13. mark f says:

    FWIW Klosterman’s tune-yards review was actually a copy-paste (with the details changed, obviously) of a review of his own Fargo Rock City.

    He’s still annoying.

    • Incontinentia Buttocks says:

      Hah! I hadn’t seen that, I actually think that was a pretty amusing move on Klosterman’s part (and I had found the tuneyards review very annoying before seeing this).

      • mark f says:

        Me too, even though my only exposure to tune-yards had been a couple of YouTube clips I hadn’t listened to more than a few times.

        I’m impressed by the stunt and by his grudge-holding, but I’m not sure what he was trying to say about tune-yards.

    • Daniel says:

      That review is riffing of Klosterman’s, not the other way around.

      • mark f says:

        Editor’s note: The following is a piece from way back in the TNI archives, Malcolm Harris writing about Chuck Klosterman in 2001. When we saw the similarities between Klosterman’s take-down of tUnE-yArDs and Harris’s article – well, we’re not accusing anyone of anything, we leave it to you to draw your own conclusions.

      • Jamie says:

        The editor’s note claims that it’s from 2001. Unless that’s part of the joke?? I don’t even know anymore.

        • Daniel says:

          That’s part of the joke (which is committed to so thoroughly I don’t blame anyone for being fooled). The language is clearly undiluted Klosterman and the formatting is clearly aping Grantland. Also, the footnote is a dead giveaway.

    • Jim says:

      I believe you have it backwards – I’m fairly confident that the New Inquiry hasn’t been around longer than 3 years, if that. I believe they took the Tuneyards review and subbed in appropriate pronouns etc. to comment on Fargo Rock City, not vice versa.

      If you can prove me wrong, I will pay you $10,000 (in scrip).

    • mark f says:

      Damn you, Jim and Daniel. And Malcolm Harris and Steve Himmer. And most especially, damn you, Chuck Klosterman. Damn you all to hell.

  14. vacuumslayer says:

    Nickelback is not the worst thing ever. They’re a study of mediocrity. Their songs range from mediocre to bad. There’s an inoffensive blandness to them that is in itself offensive.

    That being said, if someone admitted to liking one or two of their songs, I wouldn’t judge.

    • redwoods says:

      Both bands are. They sound exactly like every other band every white boy I knew was listening to in 1999. Tedious is a good word here, I think.

    • Halloween Jack says:

      Came here mostly to say this. I had to go to YouTube to see if there were any Nickelback songs that I’d recognize because I couldn’t think of any off the top of my head, and picked “Rockstar” at random, and yep, I remember hearing it at the sort of bar that you could play Nickelback at without getting glassware thrown at you (with the drink still in it) and not liking it or disliking it (and mostly not caring on account of being drunk). Making a big deal out of them one way or another (including Chuck’s contrariness) seems way more trouble than they’re worth unless you absolutely have to get your dudebro haterade on right fucking now, and it’s got nothing to do with me. Ditto for anything Creed-related; making fun of Scott Stapp after he fell for this epic punking actually kind of makes me feel sorry for him, sort of, just a little.

  15. LKS says:

    I always thought Nancy Sinatra was the worst thing that ever happened to pop music.

  16. SpectCon says:

    I don’t get your hate of Klosterman. I think he is by far the best observer and chronicler of my generation–those who grew up in 80′s. I imagine we’ll eventually produce better and more entertaining critics, but disliking him seems very hipster, sort of like disliking Nickleback. Taibbi is better, but he’s really a media and politics guy…

    Anyway, it’s hardly surprising a site titled in homage to a Warren Zevon song wouldn’t, generally speaking, get him. (I mean, all this attention to “The Band”???…wow…and I’ve owned a copy of “The Last Dance” for a decade.)

    If this blog would only stop trying so hard.

    • Heron says:

      I’m an 80s kid and I dislike Nickelback’s music. Also your use of “hipster” as an insult is pretty laughable. What are you even saying? What set of attributes and behaviors does “hipster” entail; beyond “things I don’t do in my life”, that is? I bet two years ago you were flinging around “emo” with the same sort of empty-headed, crowd-chasing abandon. Guess what; no amount of back-biting on your part is going to make cool, trend-setting people living fun lives any less culturally important, or you any less of a tool.

      As to Klosterman, I don’t really know who the guy is, but if a person with opinions as vapid as yours likes him, then I guess he probably isn’t that great.

    • redwoods says:

      Speaking of tedious…can you here the sound of my eyes rolling all the way over there? Seriously guy, they’re probably going to get stuck this way.

    • Hogan says:

      and I’ve owned a copy of “The Last Dance” for a decade.

      And yet you still don’t know the title.

    • Jay B. says:

      Christ, I grew up in the 80s, I’m 41, I have better taste than you, I hate Klosterman’s self-conscious contrarianism and don’t give that much of a shit about The Band — but dissing Zevon? Jesus what a wank. Smacks of effort. Almost like you are trying too hard.

    • Jason says:

      I think [Klosterman] is by far the best observer and chronicler of my generation–those who grew up in 80′s.

      How is it possible for anyone to believe this? Surely not even Klosterman does.

  17. Dan Coyle says:

    Once again Klosterman proves with extreme predjuice Frank Zappa’s axiom that most rock criticism is people who can’t write writing for people who can’t read.

    Guys like Klosterman are why I stopped listening to popular music altogether.

  18. Heron says:

    I dislike Nickelback because, of the set of their songs which get played on the radio, they all sound the same, and all sound like Creed songs. Also, as a Texan Creed got ridiculously over-played in my town and Nickelback, by dint of sounding just like them, got similarly overplayed.

    Admittedly, I’m not the best guy to be talking about music -I don’t really listen to lyrics and only look them up if I really like a song or need to create an argument regarding it- but if a band can’t even be bothered to use a separate chord in each song, or use a different vocal style than over-wrought pleading in some of their songs, then I can’t be bothered to like it. Particularly if I have to deal with three years of their same-sounding songs getting played over and over again on the radio.

    • Kurzleg says:

      or use a different vocal style than over-wrought pleading in some of their songs

      This. I can’t comment on Nickelback because I seem to be one of the fortunate few who haven’t heard even one song by them. But as far as rock on the radio is concerned, the vocal style to which you refer has apparently become de rigeur in the same way that the growl pervades metal vocals. Beyond being less than pleasing to the ear, this type of “singing” is just flat-out boring.

  19. MikeJake says:

    I’ve always referred to Creed and Nickelback as “Construction Worker Rock,” because I spent a summer in college working as a construction laborer and a Creed or Nickelback song always seemed to be on the radio that the roofers and carpenters listened to.

    Drowning Pool is, of course, the prime exemplar of the Construction Worker Metal genre.

    • Don’t foret Stinkubus, who Klosterman also mentioned in passing.

      • witless chum says:

        As a one-time teenage metalhead, I’d rather listen to a whole Incubus record than one Nickelback/Creed tune. At least early on, Incubus were the weird hippies of nu metal so they were slightly less cookie cutter than the bands that burst onto the scene after Korn hit it big.

        I still listen to the first three Korn albums, because they actually had a fun sound with all the weird-sounding, funky guitars to go along with Jonathan Davis’ screaming. (Davis was reportedly the only one in the band that listened to much metal, the other guys were all into hip hop and old funk) The bands that followed mostly didn’t have those little different touches that Korn had. System of a Down is pretty good, too. “Chop Suey” was probably the catchiest metal song since “Enter Sandman” or so.

        • vacuumslayer says:

          I remember going thru a Korn phase.

          And, yeah, “Chop Suey” is a pretty great, gets-stuck-in-your-head song.

          • I too went through a Korn phase. I agree that they definitely had something different, and interesting (though I could understand why alot of people would hit their sound.) They were definitely way better than Coal Chamber, Limp Bizkit, Linkin Park and the rest of those Nu-Metal wankers. But beginning with the 3rd album I thought their sound started to be too produced-sounding and I probably was just outgrowing the genre. For 90′s heaviness, Tool and the Deftones are the only ones I still listen to (though in both cases I prefer the older material.)

            I actually thought Chop Suey paled in comparison to just about any song from the first album.

            • Erik Loomis says:

              “I too went through a Korn phase.”

              I would not admit this, even to stop an endless session of waterboarding.

            • vacuumslayer says:

              I think we had similar experiences with the genre. I remember it did start to wear not so well after awhile.

              “Chop Suey” is great, but it’s not my favorite from Toxicity. “Toxicity” and “Prison Song” are two faves, though I came to really like “Forest” after many listens.

            • witless chum says:

              Sepultura’s Chaos A.D. is probably my favorite 90s heaviness in retrospect. Very heavy and thundering, but with samba-influenced drums and some tribal-sounding flavorings.

              Tool was good, but not great for me. I still go back to Corrosion of Conformity’s 90s stuff a lot, too.

    • Henry Holland says:

      But CWR/M has always been around since Elvis, just in different forms, it’s just the music industry churning out clones of successful acts.

      How many Beatles and Stones clones were there in 1966? How many singers with an acoustic guitar picked up a harmonica and became Bob Dylan Part 2,373,292? Concept albums after Sgt. Peppers? Rootsy after Music From Big Pink? etc. etc.

      The CWR/M of my day as a teenager in the late 70′s was the countless Zeppelin clones (see: the first two Heart albums; Van Halen); Seger, Nugent and George Thorogood and their working class rock and *shudder* The Eagles and the mellow rock horror they unleashed.

      I used to be a music snob, but these days, if someone, anyone gets some enjoyment out of Creed or Nickleback or whoever, good for them if it makes living in this nightmare of a world we humans have constructed for ourselves a little easier.

      • Uncle Kvetch says:

        I used to be a music snob, but these days, if someone, anyone gets some enjoyment out of Creed or Nickleback or whoever, good for them if it makes living in this nightmare of a world we humans have constructed for ourselves a little easier.

        I feel the same way…I think partly it’s the mellowing process of reaching middle age, but mostly it’s the sheer awesomeness of the Internet, which gives me access to a musical universe of my choosing and allows me to ignore everything else.

        When I was in my 20s, the bands I loved were nowhere to be found on the radio…and what was on the radio was, with a few notable exceptions, shit. That sucked. Now that I can listen to just about any radio station in the world, I really don’t have to give a damn whether Nickelback’s new song is getting played to death on the local rock station.

        Oh…and to my knowledge, I’ve never heard a Nickelback or Creed song in my life. I’m not bragging or anything…just pointing out that bad music really doesn’t get shoved down one’s throat in the same way it did in the pre-Internet days. You really can just tune it out.

        • Kurzleg says:

          Uncle – Doesn’t that beg the question as to why, if you could listen to any music anywhere these days, a band like Nickelback sells so well? Why don’t folks tune it out?

          • Uncle Kvetch says:

            Doesn’t that beg the question as to why, if you could listen to any music anywhere these days, a band like Nickelback sells so well?

            Dude, I was in the prime of my music snob days when hair metal was at its peak. I didn’t understand why so much horrible music could sell so well back then, and I still don’t understand it today.

            The whole point of my comment was that I no longer feel compelled to care when a shitty band sells a shitload of records.

            • witless chum says:

              You know what I really like? Early Motley Crue, before they could afford fancy production and it sounded a little punky. That’s all the best parts of hair metal right there.

            • Kurzleg says:

              I’m just expressing my puzzlement, that’s all.

              • njorl says:

                People who don’t care about things still buy them, and they tend to lean toward the bland – Budweiser, Wonderbread, USA Today. They also greatly outnumber the people who do care.

                • Kurzleg says:

                  This comment could easily apply to politics. Or, more precisely, engagement of the populace in democracy.

        • njorl says:

          After years of “Barney” and “Disney Singalong” CDs, I don’t have the energy to bother hating any music. To each his own, even to those who are wrong. I think I’ve even recovered from my BeeGee’s-induced post traumatic stress.

    • Brian O'Nolan says:

      Please share the other brilliant insights gained during your eight weeks of toil.

      • MikeJake says:

        More like 12 weeks.

        One other lesson I learned is that if I ever have a house built, I need to show up to the build site every couple of days to check on things, because the contractors absolutely don’t give a shit. In one house the contractors left the windows of a newly-finished basement open, and a heavy rain flooded it. Totally avoidable mishap, but they didn’t care.

        • njorl says:

          What I learned in my summer of working destruction was that I didn’t want to do physical labor for a living.

  20. That article was like warmed over, watered down mid 90′s Joe Queenan.

  21. George bush's feminism says:

    Just out of curiosity, why does Nickleback suck? I’ve only heard a few of their songs, but they just sound like generic rock to me. It seems like if you hated Nickleback because of their music, you’d have to hate most rock, too.

  22. BradP says:

    There are so many reasons to really dislike Nickleback:

    1. Their music is generally annoyingly bland, and symbolic of what has become an annoyingly bland and obsolete music industry. Once you get beaten over the head with the same song over and over, you begin to resent it. It may not be Nickleback’s fault that they were the biggest band of the “Let’s take everything interesting out of Pearl Jam and Alice In Chains and call it alternative rock” movement, but they are.

    2. Their music is always insultingly stupid and oftentimes very offensive. Can anyone on here honestly say that “Something In Your Mouth” is not an infuriating peice of trash?

    3. Chad Kroeger screams insincerity, and he can’t drowned that out with guitar amps.

    • witless chum says:

      All three are true. I don’t necessarily had that style. I’ve got albums by bands like Sponge (Molly and Wax Estatic) and Seven Mary Three (Rockcrown) that aren’t THAT different from NickleCreed, but they a.) weren’t anywhere near as overplayed when radio and MTV still existed in my world and b.) weren’t quite as bland. NickelCreed also seem to have this sorta plodding tempo that takes the fun out of that sort of music for me. Something like “16 Candles” by Sponge is at least up tempo and catchy.

      Seven Mary Three actually hit it big with hungerdungerdang-style hits like “Cumbersome” but quickly jerked their car into the ditch by making their followup album very countrified and laid back, with the hint of smile or two, mostly ditching the style they’d gotten famous with. It wasn’t a wise financial decision, but I still like Rockcrown a lot.

      My other big recommendation for mid-90s derivative alt rock is Paw’s Death to Traitors, if anyone wants to know. It’s pretty raw sounding and adds enough variety to Pearl Jam plus country to seem different to my ears.

      • witless chum says:

        Should say “I don’t necessarily hate that style.”

      • BradP says:

        Yeah. I have a certain affection for a lot of those “grunge” other guys. But when Silverchair or Seven Mary Three released a dumb song, it was more or less a cheesy knock-off, whereas Nickleback is aggressively (seemingly intentionally) stupid.

        My other big recommendation for mid-90s derivative alt rock is Paw’s Death to Traitors, if anyone wants to know. It’s pretty raw sounding and adds enough variety to Pearl Jam plus country to seem different to my ears.

        I will have to check it out. My rock tastes in high school and college really distilled into a love for alt-country.

  23. rea says:

    From the exalted perepctive of my 57 years, let me opine that there is a two-step process going on here:

    (1) Sturgeon’s law–90% of everything is crap.
    (2) The winnowing effect of time.

    A lot of the rock that I loved when I was 17 has not worn well. Some of it, though, still sounds pretty damn good. In the 2060s, people will still listen to the Beatles, but no one other than a few cultural historians will have heard of Herman’s Hermits.

  24. Atticus Dogsbbody says:

    Has Glen Reynolds given it and a “Heh!” yet?

  25. BradP says:

    A very important point to all those people who don’t think one should hate Nickleback because they are “mediocre”:

    While mediocrity may mean indistinguishable in some uses, the vapid mediocrity that Nickleback seems to strive for is possibly the worst quality music can have. Music is a connection, and it conveys content between the performer and the listener.

    The mediocrity Nickleback is hated for is akin to fraud, not inability.

  26. Halloween Jack says:

    The mediocrity Nickleback is hated for is akin to fraud, not inability.

    That word, it does not mean what you think it means. There’s no deception here; Nickelback delivers exactly what people are paying for, as far as I can tell.

    • BradP says:

      In my opinion they are making imitation music, as they have stripped the core out of it. Its calculated and contrived, and its entire purpose is as a marketing vehicle.

    • Uncle Kvetch says:

      That word, it does not mean what you think it means. There’s no deception here; Nickelback delivers exactly what people are paying for, as far as I can tell.

      I remember a John Lydon quote from the 80s where he implored all the silly little cows buying Duran Duran records to wake up to the fact that “these people are conning you.” What exactly was the nature of the “con,” I wondered?

      Ticketmaster tacking a $15 surcharge onto an already inflated ticket price in exchange for providing no service whatsoever…now that’s a con. But if the people want what Duran Duran (or Nickelback) are offering, where’s the rub?

      It’s the old false consciousness argument — a staple of the punk era. “You only think this is good music because you’ve been told it’s good. So you think you like it, but you really don’t like it, because no one could possibly like it, because it’s shit. You’re being lied to!”

      Sure, it’s all well and good to daydream about a world where children by the millions wait for Alex Chilton, but here on Earth, they camp out for Katy Perry tickets. Such is life.

      • vacuumslayer says:

        Oh dear. We’re not putting Nickelback and Duran Duran in the same category are we?

        Because Duran Duran actually had talent. I know this, being one of those cows who loved them.

        Duran Duran has historically lumped in with boy bands. Big problem with that–they wrote their own stuff (mostly) and played their own instruments (and well).

        Plus, they played good new wave pop stuff.

        Dudes who hate on Duran Duran? Fucking jealous wankers.

        • Uncle Kvetch says:

          VS, for the record: I really liked the first couple of Duran Duran albums myself, even while many of my favorite bands were slagging them off mercilessly as being everything wrong with pop music.

          • vacuumslayer says:

            Well, I’m sure that’s in large part due to the make-up of Duran Duran’s audience, which was 80% female. I notice it becomes it easy to dismiss a thing as inherently inferior when it has large female fanbase.

            And, honestly, if a person thinks Duran Duran thinks that they were everything that was wrong with pop music, I would submit that that person doesn’t know what pop music even IS. Hell, Duran Duran was everything that was RIGHT about pop music.

            Meh. What are you gonna do? Some people are dumb pretentious fucks who like talking out of their asses.

            • Uncle Kvetch says:

              Well, I’m sure that’s in large part due to the make-up of Duran Duran’s audience, which was 80% female. I notice it becomes it easy to dismiss a thing as inherently inferior when it has large female fanbase.

              Absolutely true.

        • GeoX says:

          Everything Duran Duran did up to and including “A View to a Kill” was awesome. Whenever I see people dismissing them for what are obviously self-conscious “coolness” reasons, I think, really? You’re still hung up about a band that had its heyday thirty years ago? Get the hell over it!

      • Hogan says:

        I remember a John Lydon quote from the 80s where he implored all the silly little cows buying Duran Duran records to wake up to the fact that “these people are conning you.”

        You might even call it “The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle.”

        • Uncle Kvetch says:

          You might even call it “The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle.”

          That’s the cherry on the sundae, Hogan — Lydon always delighted in treating the machine in which he was a willing cog as a giant fraud. Where he got off singling out Duran Duran as being any more fraudulent than the Pistols is a bit of a mystery.

        • Bill Murray says:

          Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?

      • Halloween Jack says:

        And, really, it’s the flipside of the old “Man, if you only listened to this… I mean, really listen to it…” thing. I’m guilty of it–I’ve told people that I genuinely feel sorry for them if they can’t hear the gorgeousness of Springsteen’s earlier work–but taking it that one step further and trying to invalidate someone’s experience of music that you don’t care for is kind of bogus. Even if it’s kind of vapid and paint-by-numbers, if it gets you all tingly in your down-there area, good for you. (The exception being “My Sharona”, because WTF, man, I don’t even.)

        • vacuumslayer says:

          I find nothing vapid or paint-by-numbers about Duran Duran, but mostly agree with the sentiment behind your post. Being a hedonist, I say grab pleasure where you can find it. Of course, I’d prefer it if everyone got “tingly” because of beautifully-crafted works of art, but that’s not always how it’s gonna shake out. Even with me.

        • BradP says:

          Even if it’s kind of vapid and paint-by-numbers, if it gets you all tingly in your down-there area, good for you. (The exception being “My Sharona”, because WTF, man, I don’t even.)

          Note: I was explaining why I hate Nickelback, not Nickelback’s fanbase.

    • I think this comes close to deception:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qs4tNeGyTyI

      I imagine few people are consciously asking for the same song recycled.

      • BradP says:

        Their songs sound the same so often because they are calculated to make sure nothing about the music screws with the millions of dollars of marketing they throw behind the “band”.

        Like I said, it isn’t music, its a marketing vehicle.

      • Halloween Jack says:

        This just in: Bo Diddley, career con man.

        • This just in: Bo Diddley was doing new things, as writer and player and bandleader and lyricist, even in the songs you think sound the same. Not for nothing is he considered an innovator. But yes, if you routinely play songs without chord changes, you might be unfairly lumped in with bands who recycle each and every chord change in verse, chorus, bridge and dynamics and maintaining the same tempo while adding different words. I await the “fresh new direction” reviews for the latest Nickelback album.

          • Halloween Jack says:

            Yeah, I wasn’t really saying that Bo Diddley was literally just the same as Nickelback. (Neither is John Fogerty, who was sued by his former record label for plagiarizing himself.)

  27. BradP says:

    Gotta say, every single thread about music blows up in every single direction. Perhaps it should be a more regular focus of this blog (which is named after a song)?

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