With Nickelback being in the news over copyright infringement by Donald Trump this week I figured now would be a good time to really take a deep dive into the band’s discography and let you know which album of theirs is… well… the best.
Stay with me here, okay?
Despite selling more than 50 million albums and being ranked as the most successful rock group of the 2000s by Billboard, the band which formed in Alberta in 1995 is still a popular punching bag in Canada.
People love to hate them but they’ve obviously resonated with a wide audience, leaving a lot of us wondering what we might be missing.
What I aim to do here is offer a service to those of you who are Nickelback-curious; I’d like to offer a jumping off point for you to experience their music.
Some things you should know about me before you proceed:
1. I was once a member of the esteemed Polaris Music Prize jury and was let go for reasons unknown to me [insert your joke here].
2. I didn’t go into this as a Nickelback fan. I listened to each of their nine albums for the first time this week, back-to-back, and took notes.
3. To say that I “researched” for this would be a charitable description of what I did; I decided to go in blind and simply go with my heart and let the music do the talking. I tried to be as open minded as I could. I don’t aim to judge you if you’re already a Nickelback fan.
Below is my ranking of the worst to best Nickelback albums.
#9. The State
Released in 1999
I feel like this album probably sucked to most true fans. It’s their second release and it strays pretty far from their first effort in terms of style.
While their previous album sounds 90s grungey (seriously, keep reading) this one has a decidedly odd twang to it. It’s hard to explain but even though they returned to a version of this twang in later albums, this one feels the least Nickelback of all 9 I listened to.
Oh, and the lyrics on this one are pretty terrible. I don’t know that even the most ardent fans would argue their lyrics are great but these ones were bad.
Skip this one.
8. No Fixed Address
Released in 2014
This is Nickelback’s second worst album if you look at all of its parts as a whole.
It feels a bit like a modern country album – which is very much what you would expect and hope for from the band – but its multiple ballads are where it starts to go off track.
You get past the ballads and then you discover there’s a track that has Flo Rida on it.
I’m not kidding. Flo Rida on a Nickelback track.
It’s really bad.
Skip this one too.
7. The Long Road
Released in 2003
I wouldn’t recommend the two albums above, but this one is not entirely terrible and might be worth a spin.
It’s their moodiest release, and the song “Feelin’ Way Too Damn Good” seems like a really great breakup song that you might want to get ridiculously drunk and cry to. If that’s your thing.
All of their albums seem to have one of these breakup songs but this is the best one I heard while on my journey through their collection.
6. All the Right Reasons
Released in 2005
This album is basically awful except for the song “Photograph” which is a definitive track for the band. It’s the reason I’m writing this in the first place.
If you’ve got this far I feel okay in letting you know that this song is really growing on me.
The album is in the number 6 slot because that single song redeems it.
5. Here and Now
Released in 2011
After a couple albums of pop this one seems to be a return to rock, while also being a fairly well balanced effort.
I feel like this is probably the one that true fans who gather around bonfires to drink beers out of red cups blast the most.
Also the album art has a photo of the Gastown steam clock, so that’s pretty good.
4. Feed the Machine
Released in 2017
This is Nickelback’s latest release and I feel like it’s probably the one that fans had been waiting for. Even the name seems to suggest they just wanted to make people happy by feeding them what they had come to expect.
It has a Faith No More vibe to it in a weird way, and while it’s not their best it ranks pretty well comparatively.
3. Dark Horse
Released in 2008
It kinda kills me to put this album in 3rd place but it seems to be more poppy than any of their others and I feel it’s got to be one of their most widely appealing.
It’s also got a 90s throwback vibe to it that gives it a sound close to their first album released in 1996, and I feel that longtime fans who are now in their 40s would embrace it.
I’m trying to put myself in the fans’ shoes here without letting on that I might be becoming one of them.
Again, I am so sorry for all of this.
Released in 1996
This was Nickelback’s first album and it has a decidedly Soundgarden vibe to it.
If you didn’t know any better this could be that 90s band that you owned one album of, and who never put another one out.
Except for one song – “Fly” – this entire thing is nearly unrecognizable as modern day Nickelback.
And I should probably have prefaced this article with the fact that these guys are really talented musicians. Even if you dislike the music you should know that they’re really good at playing their instruments. That shows in this first effort by them.
I may have tapped my foot a couple times listening to this album.
Again, I am so sorry to everyone who sat on the Polaris Music Prize jury with me.
1. Silver Side Up
Released in 2001
This is the Nickelback you know and hate (or love).
Every track begins with some sweet, sweet guitar action and if you were holding up a red cup earlier you’re now throwing it on the ground and dancing when this one comes on.
Not me. You.
They really seemed to come into their own on this one, and this album has what Apple Music Essentials considers to be their best as it’s the first on their playlist; “How You Remind Me”.
The reason that it’s first is that it’s a really good song (DID I JUST TYPE THAT).
I can totally picture people (other people, not me I swear) getting drunk and playing this entire album on their headphones really loud, rocking back and forth and finding comfort in the sweet, sweet embrace of Chad Kroeger’s voice.
Not me, of course.