If there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s intolerance. Whether it be intolerance for other people or even for gluten (I’ve never met a gluten I didn’t like), blind prejudice really gets my goat. And in my goat-deprived state adrift in a sea of intolerance, I’ll admit that I get a little bit angry. I’m not proud of it. Hatred is often irrational and always ugly, it should be avoided at all costs. That is, with one exception – Nickelback.
For those of you who don’t know what a ‘Nickelback’ is, I can only say that I’m incredibly jealous and I’d like to join you in the blissful state of nirvana you so obviously inhabit. You don’t know how lucky you are. For others who might be tempted to rush to the defence of Canada’s premier exponents of Cro-Magnon sub-metal mullet rock – save your breath. When it comes to Nickelback, I am not for turning. I respond to them in the way others might to peanuts or Kryptonite.
Some people fall in love instantly. It took me a similar amount of time to decide that Nickelback was not for me. Put simply, I was under the impression that, as a species, we’d evolved beyond that kind of music. I’m not sure I can even put it into words – their songs rub me the wrong way and I’m horrified by the idea that they’re making any kind of physical contact. Imagine being yelled at by a drunk, dodgy uncle who sees himself as some kind of lothario but who, in reality, is an obnoxious, slightly overweight gutter-tramp that smells like shrimp paste. That’s Nickelback. I can barely say their name without feeling nauseous.
Recently, someone I know has started playing Nickelback. Not because she likes them (she doesn’t) but as an experiment conducted either in the name of science or, possibly, Satan. It’s hard to say. The objective is to see how long it takes for people to notice. It’s insidious and strikes when you least expect it. You can be standing in the kitchen having a perfectly lovely conversation when you’re suddenly gripped by a sense of terror as you realize the stereo has been commandeered and your ears are now being assaulted until they beg for mercy.
I’m all for practical jokes, so long as those jokes don’t involve Nickelback. My nephew went through a phase where he and his friends liked to install a ‘Nicholas Cage’ screen saver on any computer monitor they could get their hands on. Step away from your laptop to get a cup of tea and you’d return to be confronted by the smouldering intensity of the greatest actor of his generation named ‘Nicholas Cage’ staring back at you. There are computer shops in Melbourne that still have Nicholas Cage screen savers, thanks to my nephew.
But Nickelback is an entirely different proposition. Last week, I was wiping down the kitchen bench when the unmistakable aural stench that is ‘How You Remind Me’ tore the air apart. Immediately, I began feeling queasy, losing my sense of equilibrium. For me, the song really ought to be called ‘How You Remind Me To Cover My Ears Whenever This Awful Music Starts Playing.’ Within seconds, I was on the tiles, curled into the foetal position and begging for the madness to stop.
My hatred for this band knows no bounds, either in terms of time or depth. Formed in Alberta in 1995, they were originally a cover band called ‘Village Idiot’. It was one of those rare circumstances where the description on the tin perfectly matched the contents. But then they went and spoiled everything by changing their name to ‘Nickelback’ and selling about fifty million albums. That’s a lot of records. To the best of my knowledge, I’ve never met anyone who owns a Nickelback album. Either that says something about the company I keep or is proof that anyone who owns a Nickelback record is unlikely to admit it.
I blame myself. It’s possible that I’m being subjected to drive-by Nickelbacking because I taunted them in song. Recently, the local folk club had a ‘metals’ theme night. We wrote a song called ‘The Metal Song’ that listed tunes mentioning either ‘silver’ or ‘gold’ before declaring there was a metal we were avoiding because no one wanted to hear Nickelback. To date, that performance by ‘A Band of Rain’ has racked up an astonishing eight views on ‘YouTube’. Clearly, four of the eight people were Nickelback and they’re now hell-bent on revenge.
Perhaps they’re jealous. Whether they’re envious of the soaring melody, the biting lyrics or the fact that I now have ten monthly listeners on Spotify (meaning that I’m now only twelve million, eight hundred and seventy two thousand, six hundred and forty seven listeners behind them and closing in at a rapid pace) I simply couldn’t say. Or maybe they resent that ‘A Band of Rain’ is a much cooler name than ‘Nickelback’.
For now, I live in terror. At any moment, I could be walking around the house only to be hit with an unsolicited blast of ‘Rockstar’. I am tempted to started wearing noise cancelling headphones all the time, for my own protection. And if you think I’m being melodramatic and am making a lot of fuss about nothing, we’ll have to agree to disagree. Let’s blame ‘musical differences.’