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Nickelback: The band people hate just for the fun of it

Chad Kroeger, Mike Kroeger, Ryan Peake and Daniel Adair of Nickelback present an award at the 2011 American Music Awards in Los Angeles on Sunday, Nov. 20, 2011.

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

It has never been easier to hate Nickelback. Upset that they're performing at today's Detroit Lions game? Sign a petition. (About 55,000 haters have.) Want them replaced as the Grey Cup's halftime show this weekend? There's a petition for that too. Don't want them showing up in your browser? Employ Nickelblock.

"There's almost something fun about disliking Nickelback," says Sam Sutherland with Toronto-based AUX TV, which created the Nickelblock plug-in for Firefox and Google Chrome. "I think it bonds people."

It's a meme, a sort of pop cultural flu, says Robert Belton, a professor in the faculty of creative and critical studies at the University of British Columbia. "Someone somewhere said, 'Nickelback stinks,' and it was funny, so everybody else piled on, whether they actually think that or not."

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Well, not everyone has been piling on โ€“ the Canadian Football League petition only had 52 signatures as of Wednesday. But the Nickelbacklash in the U.S. certainly has some steam, and has grabbed the spotlight with an online petition that reads, in part: "Detroit is home to so many great musicians and they chose Nickelback?!?!?! Does anyone even like Nickelback? Is this some sort of ploy to get people to leave their seats during halftime to spend money on alcoholic beverages and concessions?"

In fact, the appearance kicks off the Nickelback Gives a Quarter Back for Education campaign โ€“ get it? quarterback? โ€“ where the band donates 25 cents (U.S.) for every person who pledges to volunteer as a reader, tutor or mentor with United Way.

"We would hope that various opinions about a rock band don't overshadow the fact that the band's generosity is helping to bring attention to this message," United Way's Sal Fabens offered.

Yes, the band is still playing in Detroit on U.S. Thanksgiving Day. And the CFL stands by its decision too: They're a Canadian band (from Alberta, and now living in the Vancouver area) with a huge following.

"Given that they've sold almost 50 million albums worldwide, I think we've got a really popular band on our hands," the CFL's Sara Moore said. "So I think I'll go with the 50 million albums and not the 50 people on the petition."

While the band did not respond to a request to speak to The Globe and Mail about their detractors (or their new album, Here and Now, which was released on Tuesday), they did show that they can laugh at themselves. In a Funny or Die video spoof that came out this week, the guys are grilled by a record company executive, trying to figure out why the band is so hated in the Motor City. "Could it be because you're Canadian?" he asks.

Are we having fun yet? Nickelback is. Here and Now was the top-selling album on iTunes on Tuesday and Wednesday.

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About the Author
Western Arts Correspondent

Marsha Lederman is the Western Arts Correspondent for The Globe and Mail, based in Vancouver. She covers the film and television industry, visual art, literature, music, theatre, dance, cultural policy, and other related areas. More

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