2000s rock bands that looked like Nickelback (but better)

Do you remember when rock and roll ruled the airwaves?

I’m not talking about the Rolling Stones or Motley Crue. I’m talking about that clean modern rock of the early 2000s, when all the rock bands that appeared were just Nickelback carbon copies. Rock had long been headed in a more commercial direction, but the 2005s All the right reasons was a special kind of staple and propelled the genre into a bottomless pit from which it never quite crawled.



Burst by critics nationwide, rock and roll traditionalists used All the right reasons to mourn the death of their favorite genre, but regardless, the project went 7x platinum in Canada and dominated US radio for the entire year with songs like “Rockstar” and “Photograph.” The album was one of the best-selling projects of 2015, and equally stale acts followed in the footsteps of Nickelback, from Lifehouse and Rob Thomas to Trapt and a truly awful band called Silvertide.

But when Nickelback announced they would be releasing new music last Friday (they ended up releasing an awful cover of The Charlie Daniel’s Band’s “The Devil Went Down To Georgia”), the The Internet Roasted Them Nonstop, showing that we may have reached a milestone as a society and that the world’s most loved and hated band is nothing more than a meme in 2020.

Yet, what happened to those bands that followed Nickelback’s lead? Sure, they were all kinda lame, but a lot of them were Actually better than the false prophet whom they blindly followed. Here are some of those groups and what they’re up to now.

Girl

Remember when Chris Daughtry was the most talked about thing in music thanks to his surprise elimination from American Idol in 2006? He was a fan favorite, praised for his belting technique and surprisingly versatile range. A few hours after his dismissal from american idol, he was offered a leadership position in the Fuel, a then-relevant rock band. But Daughtry said no and charted her own course. He soon formed his own band and in 2006 Girl became one of the most talked about and fastest selling rock albums in recent memory.

The project’s first single “It’s Not Over” went platinum, plundered all radio stations, and landed two Grammy nominations for “Best Rock Song” and “Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group.” The album itself was one of the best-selling efforts of 2006, but critical response was mixed. Considered “commercial” and “generic”, Ken Barnes of USA today called them “FuelNickelStaindback”, a fair assessment in hindsight. Remember that weird song they made about serial child abductors?

The band’s second effort leave this town would be even more popular, with their rock ballad “Life After You” (a song Daughtry wrote with Chad Kroeger) dominating the charts once again and defining their legacy.

But slowly, the band’s popularity would disintegrate. Their third effort break the spell was their lowest album to date (despite being, in fact, one of their best releases), and so their follow-up strove to be an album of pure pop-rock ballads to rekindle their “Life After You” marching band. 2013 baptized, as a result, was the band’s most commendable effort, with gruesome tracks like “Battleships” and “Waiting For Superman” forever sealing their fate as a nerdy, dated rock act.

As corny as they were, they’re still better than Nickelback, because Daughtry can definitely sing.

3 doors down

Another early vanilla rock effort, the band’s 2000 debut The better life remains their best-selling record. It was one of the best-selling efforts of 2000 and was certified 6x platinum in the United States. This is because “Kryptonite” was unlike anything they had ever released before or would ever release again. With a touch of lo-fi, a bit of hazy psychedelia on the vocals, and a catchy chorus, the track remains a solid rock song.

But let’s be honest, chances are casual listeners knew that “Kryptonite” wasn’t quite as prolific as their corny magnum opus “Here Without You.” Released on their otherwise unmemorable second effort far from the sun, the rock ballad represented a Nickelback-like change from which the New York quartet would never recover. far from the sun was noticeably cleaner and more commercial than its predecessor, and “Here Without You” would become the perfect song to document the pent-up emotions of the early years.

Lyrics like “I’m here without you baby, but you’re still with me in my dreams, and tonight girl it’s only you and me”, would satirize the band for years to come. The group continues to make music (they just released their sixth album in 2016), but have since disbanded into a watered-down rock band with nothing new to say.

That said, “Kryptonite” still slams, which I can’t say for most of Nickelback’s discography.

Task

With a touch of post-grunge angst, Staind was roughly equivalent to a Nickelback with darker eyeliner.

Formed in Springfield, Massachusetts in 1995, the band’s seven albums dabbled in nu-metal and grunge without ever losing that stripped-down commercial sound. “It’s Been Awhile” and “Outside”, the sweetest tracks from their 5x platinum second album Break the cycle, remain their most popular singles and transformed the band from a would-be metal band into post-grunge agonizing ballads.

“So Far Away”, another rock ballad, was by far the most popular single from the band’s fourth (and surprisingly heavy) album, 14 shades of gray; and Chapter V, the band’s popliest and most commercially accessible record, spawned three moderately successful singles, two of which were also ballads. As the band’s mainstream status slowly began to fade after Chapter V success, the band actually became some of their best music once the spotlight moved away.

2008 Illusion of progress was admired by critics for its versatility as it incorporated blues, country and a fresh optimism. “Above all, the music still packs just as much punch and more variety,” wrote The Boston Globe. “Stind occasionally deviates from its hard-hitting rock-metal ballads for tunes that suggest Pink Floyd…and even British band Oasis.”

The band’s last self-titled album was released on eve of an embarrassing breakup, but the record was obsessed with snapping necks, and was in turn the band’s heaviest record to date, devoid of any cheesy ballads, and indicative of just what a superb metal band they could have been if fame didn’t pack them.

That said, Aaron Lewis, who kills it now as a country singer, was always a much better songwriter than Chad Kroeger. Traversing topics like mental illness, addiction, fatherhood, and self-finding, Staind covered far darker topics than anything the suppressed 2000s were willing to discuss. Nerdy ballads aside, deep down, the quartet has always known how to really rock.

The dead man’s theory

It’s impossible to talk about Nickelback’s legacy without talking about TOAD. As the first band to sign to Chad Kroeger’s 604 Records label, Theory of a Deadman emerged with a self-titled debut album that sounded so much like Nickelback that people actually thought it was a side project by Chad Kroeger. It might as well have been the case, 6 of TOADS’ 10 early songs were written by Kroeger himself, and frontman Tyler Connolly had an equally gruff vocal style. “If we do it, we do it,” Connolly said. Oklahoma when asked if he thought his band sounded like Nickelback.

For their second effort, the band sought to stifle any comparisons with their label boss, and for Gasoline they collaborated with Ozzy Osbourne guitarist Zakk Wylde in hopes of distinguishing themselves and creating a concept record that “would involve several guest players of Wylde’s stature”. But once the musicians were assembled, the label “paid the bill”, hoping the sessions would create a “batch of new songs”. So TOAD went back to the drawing board.

Always, Gasoline was more multifaceted than its predecessor and incorporated blues and country with its commercial post-grunge sound, but the Nickelback comparisons remained. So for their third and heaviest album, TOAD pushed themselves creatively and created some memorable moments in the process.

“By the Way,” which actually featured backing vocals from Chris Daughtry, was surprisingly heavy and satisfying, but ballads like “All or Nothing” and “Not Meant to Be” still smack of Nickelback’s corny ethos. But then came “Hate My Life,” a disgruntled track about a blue-collar growl who hates, well, pretty much everything. The song was kitsch, but funny in a crude and misogynistic way. The single was moderately successful and the band stuck to their niche.

Their fourth effort, “The truth is…fully leaned into TOAD’s new aesthetic of being an angry white trash soundtrack. The album’s first single “Lowlife” is practically “Hate My Life” part 2, and the title track of the project is an ode to crazy ex-girlfriends who lie about everything, driven only by an eccentric ukulele. Of course, making white trash music meant you were inevitably going to be offensive:“I like her so much better when she’s on her knees,” Connolly sings on “B*tch Came Back.” “Cause when she’s in my face, that’s when I start to see / All my friends laughing thinking we’re wrong / Well she’s so dumb she sings with me.”

Of course, the atmosphere behind The truth is…never had any real staying power given his derogatory nature, and he fell into obscurity as quickly as he appeared. So TOAD returned to alternative metal in 2014 and released savages, their best and heaviest work. But the damage had already been done, and they looked and still looked like a rock act from yesteryear. So they went pop with the 2017s Wake-up call and have since continued on this path to create more inspiring tracks.

“I think the #MeToo movement is so big and powerful,” Connolly said. Popdust in an exclusive interview, “and it’s fantastic that women are gaining strength and [fighting] for equality. Being an all-male band, I think for us, that’s what we’re looking to do. For that sentiment alone, they remain exponentially better than the group that spawned them.

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