Throughout my high school years, my primary source of income was working as a barista at coffee shops: first at Starbucks for a few years, and then Second Cup (the Canadian Starbucks) for another year. During my training at both locations, the supervisors told me that Nickelback came up with their band name after meeting at the Alberta location of each coffee shop and getting "back" a "nickel" any time they would order their $1.95 coffees. And that's all Nickelback ever really became to me, and most people: a goofy character in an anecdote that may or may not be true.
Nobody I knew ever truly "hated" Nickelback, because it would serve the same purpose as hating that weird neighbor in your subdivision who accidentally hit a dog and forced the city to install speed bumps (another childhood moment). They didn't mean to suck, they just tried their best and ended up sucking. Everyone can't be a winner. They weren't trendsetters, just trend hoppers, and to be mad at them is to be mad at the environment around them. I didn't even know that they were so viscerally despised until I started reading what music critics on the internet had to say about Chad Kroeger and his funky bunch. This was roughly around the time that "Photograph" came out. Which was a terrible song, but a song that only Nickelback could make in their own special, terribly mediocre way.
But now Nickelback has successfully embraced the hate and seems to be using it to trampoline ever higher into the realm of troll. That's the only way to explain their disco-themed video for "She Keeps Me Up" that looks like it's an audition to play in a Maroon 5 cover band. The video is full of secret venues, pretty women, and shiny suits, but everything seems to be covered in a thin layer of dirty glitter. It's purposefully cheesy, but anyone who has ever watched Much Music for more than an hour knows that purposefully cheesy Nickelback has absolutely nothing on super serious Nickelback. The videos they released prior to becoming targets were some of the most eye-rollingly serious videos to ever get put to music, and (perhaps thankfully) most of them have been forgotten. But fortunately, we've managed to compile a list of actual horrible Nickelback videos in the hopes of convincing you that "She Keeps Me Up" isn't really that bad.
You know how the movie Ghost with Patrick Swayze was incredibly heart-warming? Well Nickelback decided to distill the essence of that movie and then took a huge milky dump on it with their treatment for "Someday". The video starts with a woman reading a newspaper and then hysterically running away through a puddle of spilled milk. The man in the leather jacket runs after her as she gets in the car and drives away, throwing his hands up in defeat as he realizes he's not able to run as fast as a car. He continues to chase her for a few minutes while we cut away to Nickelback playing in what appears to be an unfinished apartment building or something. Then the woman's car get fucking t-boned by an 18-wheeler out of nowhere, and we discover that the man in the leather jacket was actually already dead! And now they can be together forever, as ghosts! Nobody really bothers explaining why the woman needed to read a newspaper to find out that the person she loved was dead, but since this is pre-Twitter we can only assume that this video was subtle propaganda promoting the print industry.
"How You Remind Me"
This video also deals with ghost women, leading me to believe that Chad Kroeger have a thing for spectres. We open on Kroeger sitting in a concrete room with nothing but his own goatee before a beautiful woman who looks like a Bratz doll comes out of the shower. Suddenly Kroeger's world goes from depressing Hudson Instagram filter to jovial Valencia one as the mystery woman approaches him and his sick goatee. This goes on for another few minutes until Kroeger finds the real Bratz woman, but then instead of finally holding her in his arms, he pushes her away! Holy plot twist Chadman!!
"If Everyone Cared"
Man if you thought glitz-pop Nickelback was terrible you're going to love super-serious Nickelback! The video opens up with the band setting up their instruments in a rented mansion and tuning their instruments—pretty basic stuff so far. Then, for no explained reason, we're forced to watch a Powerpoint slideshow about figures like Bob Geldof, Peter Benson, and Nelson Mandela. Now I'm all for music with a message, but I prefer that message to be intricately hidden within the song instead of delivered with a two-handed swing at the listener's head.
"Gotta Be Somebody"
Time to hang your hat up Neil deGrasse Tyson because Nickelback just beat you at your own game! I don't know how these guys got the budget to rent out both a rocket ship to travel the cosmos and an ancient coliseum to perform in, but this is right up there with Jay Z on a yacht for the "Big Pimpin" video as for as visual flexing goes. As the coliseum begins to crack down the middle, the band teleports to a wobbling bridge on the other side of the world, because apparently any form of architecture would rather crumble than play home to a Nickelback concert. But, in possibly the craziest scene in any music video ever, we see the band move to perform IN THE MIDDLE OF A FIELD OF CRASHED AIRLINERS. Has anyone ever asked Nickelback "where's the plane?" because I think they might have something to do with it.
For a song that's all about a photograph, this song suspiciously only has one shot of said photograph. The rest of the video has the band showing you the best sights Alberta has to offer. Namely a field, a junkyard, and a railroad track. Has there ever been anything more non-rock n' roll than admitting to the fact that you used to break into your high school? What could possibly be gained from a late night romp through an Albertan learning institution? You get to find out what the teachers lounge looks like? Rock on Kroeger!!
In what might be the least enthusiastic phone commercial ever, this video opens with a spouse filming their significant other while they sleep on a device that looks like it was groundbreaking back in 2001. The unhappy couple trope is strong in this video, but the reason for the wife being mad is because the husband has to leave bed to fight a fire. I imagine the conversation went something like, "I'm sorry I can't cuddle honey, but a dozen airplanes just fell out of the sky and Nickelback launched into a surprise concert in the middle of them." But the firefighter is actually on his way to battle a forrest fire, not a plane crash, and while he's in the brush his life is put in danger by a falling tree! The wife thinks her husband is dead when the phone rings, but miraculously he turns out to be alive when she arrives to meet him. Man, Nickelback sure loves killing off happy couples for some reason.
"If Today Was Your Last Day"
There's a lot happening in this video so try to keep up. It opens with two kids who look like they're about to run away and join ISIS stuffing backpacks and being up to no good. We know they're up to no good because they jump over a subway turnstile in slow motion and are weary of the police! Then another character, a prominent looking white man in a suit, enters a bag with a duffel bag full of money and demands it's filled up. But hold on a second! It turns out that the plot those menacing looking teenagers had hatched simply involves giving away jackets to the less fortunate, and raining down confetti—not terror—on the public. And the old guy with the duffel bag? He's giving away all of the money he robbed to the less fortunate. Man, after watching like six of these, I really miss simple disco themed videos with shiny suits.
"This Means War"
There's absolutely no plot to this video. It's just the band performing angrily in an empty space. Presumably at a Nickelback concert. Bring back shiny suit Nickelback!
All right! We're back to tormented relationship Nickelback videos! This one opens with a pregnant woman being wheeled down the hospital hallway while her husband holds her hand worriedly. Then we cut to Kroeger sitting backwards on a chair like a cool English high school teacher as he performs the song, because things are about to get serious. The mother dies during pregnancy, and the father is distraught upon bringing the baby home, presumably because he expected the mom to do all the hard work. He looks at a pamphlet for adoption and throws a tantrum in his kitchen, because raising kids is hard and sometimes you just want to not do things that are hard. But then, as he's changing the baby's diaper, his phone falls out of his pocket and he sees the video of his pregnant late wife. He sees the error of his ways, crumples the pamphlet, and presumably lives happily ever after as a single widower.
So which would you rather have, Noisey readers? Would you rather watch a video from the super serious Nickelback where someone (more often than not a woman) dies, or would you rather a super saccharine attempt at entertainment, like the one in the "She Keeps Me Up" video? Or would you rather never watch another Nickelback video in your life?
Slava Pastuk chooses that last option. Follow him on Twitter.