A Scientific Explanation for Why Everyone Hates Nickelback

Getty Images
Getty Images

Nickelback is a band that everyone loves to hate. Saying that someone likes the Canadian rockers is a terrible insult, even though the band manages to sell millions of albums around the world. What’s with all the shade? 

One Finnish researcher tried to get to the bottom of why music critics love to hate on Nickelback. Her study in Metal Music Studies, beautifully titled “‘Hypocritical Bullshit Performed Through Gritted Teeth’: Authenticity Discourses in Nickelback’s Album Reviews in Finnish Media,” argues that it’s a matter of authenticity. Critics don’t see Nickelback as genuine. 

Salli Anttonen of the University of Eastern Finland examined reviews from Finnish music media published between 2000 and 2014, finding that in many ways, the band has been stymied by its mainstream popularity.

Critics have attacked Nickelback for being too calculated in their artistic approach, she writes, citing some of the harsher reviews:

"Their songs are ‘optimally safe’, where ‘everything is up to par with the requirements of the genre’, and which create ‘an illusion of hard rock’ (Ojala 2002). The music is described as being ‘fake’ (Riikonen 2012), ‘forced’ (Hilden 2011) and ‘performed through gritted teeth’ (Riikonen 2012). Van der San (2011) claims that Nickelback is ‘calculatingly hit-focused’; Ojala accuses them of ‘laughing all the way to the bank’ (2003). Overall, the descriptions imply that the songs are not genuine self-expression written willingly, but instead forced and made for commercial reasons."

They’re also a little too similar to beloved bands like Nirvana, and they aren’t perceived as adding anything original to the formula, instead cranking out hits that might be described as grunge-light. “The hope and memory of grunge can be seen to be soiled in the worst kind of way in the hands of bands such as Nickelback, who represent everything grunge was against, not least of all commercialism,” Anttonen writes. The band’s very success undermines its ability to borrow from grunge and metal, because there’s nothing metal about a song your mom listens to on the radio—“horrifying radio rock,” as one critic called Nickelback in 2005. We might accept the mass appeal in a Katy Perry song, but people expect more artistic purity from non-mainstream genres like metal. 

Not to mention, they’re boring. The similarities between Nickelback and older bands makes their music predictable, and as such, bland. No one feels like Nickelback—or its members—are dangerous. When they try to be edgy, they come off as trying too hard. They may sing about drinking hard, but the public doesn’t see Nickelback’s members living the rock ’n’ roll lifestyle. (One critic blasted them for singing about drinking without ever drinking on stage.) This adds to the band’s image as “fake,” sanitized, and commercialized. 

And maybe, it’s because they appeal to women, a little. One critic’s review lists fans at a Nickelback concert as “panicky little girls, tough guys in print T-shirts and leather jackets bought from supermarkets, sturdy and bald men, and preteens with their parents,” Anttonen summarizes. As another Nickelback scholar has observed, “the teenage girl is the most contemptible fan of all, and the mere suggestion that a band is popular with ‘the girlies’ may suffice to conjure the whiff of artistic failure.” The band’s sentimental lyrics put them squarely in the “girly” camp—which critics dismiss as non-serious (see: Taylor Swift, One Direction, “crazy” female Beatles fans). 

This study is just focused on reviews in the Finnish press, but the anti-Nickelback quips don’t sound much different from any criticism in the U.S. In short, here is why you hate Nickelback, according to Anttonen: 

Nickelback is too much of everything to be enough of something. They follow genre expectations too well, which is seen as empty imitation, but also not well enough, which is read as commercial tactics and as a lack of a stable and sincere identity.

When you look at it that way, it’s hard not to feel bad for Chad Kroeger. 

[h/t Buzzfeed]

Does the Full Moon Really Make People Act Crazy?

iStock.com/voraorn
iStock.com/voraorn

Along with Mercury in retrograde, the full moon is a pretty popular scapegoat for bad luck and bizarre behavior. Encounter someone acting strangely? Blame it on the lunar phases! It's said that crime rates increase and emergency rooms are much busier during the full moon (though a 2004 study debunked this claim). Plus, there's that whole werewolf thing. Why would this be? The reasoning is that the Moon, which affects the ocean's tides, probably exerts a similar effect on us, because the human body is made mostly of water.

This belief that the Moon influences behavior is so widely held—reportedly, even 80 percent of nurses and 64 percent of doctors think it's true, according to a 1987 paper published in the Journal of Emergency Medicine [PDF]—that in 2012 a team of researchers at Université Laval's School of Psychology in Canada decided to find out if mental illness and the phases of the Moon are linked [PDF].

To test the theory, the researchers evaluated 771 patients who visited emergency rooms at two hospitals in Montreal between March 2005 and April 2008. The patients chosen complained of chest pains, which doctors could not determine a medical cause for the pains. Many of the patients suffered from panic attacks, anxiety and mood disorders, or suicidal thoughts.

When the researchers compared the time of the visits to the phases of the Moon, they found that there was no link between the incidence of psychological problems and the four lunar phases, with one exception—in the last lunar quarter, anxiety disorders were 32 percent less frequent. "This may be coincidental or due to factors we did not take into account," Dr. Geneviève Belleville, who directed the team of researchers, said. "But one thing is certain: we observed no full-moon or new-moon effect on psychological problems."

So rest easy (or maybe not): If people seem to act crazy during the full Moon, their behavior is likely pretty similar during the rest of the lunar cycle as well.

This story was updated in 2019.

NASA Reveals How Living in Space for a Year Affected Scott Kelly’s Poop

NASA, Getty Images
NASA, Getty Images

When you agree to be part of a yearlong space study, you forfeit some right to privacy. In astronaut Scott Kelly’s case, the changes his body endured while spending a year at the International Space Station (ISS) were carefully analyzed by NASA, then published in a scientific journal for all to see. Kelly submitted blood samples, saliva samples, and cheek swabs. Even his poop was subjected to scrutiny.

As PBS reports, Scott Kelly’s fecal samples revealed that his gut microbiome underwent significant but reversible changes during his time in orbit. In what was surely good news for both Kelly and NASA, his gut bacteria didn’t contain anything “alarming or scary,” according to geneticist Martha Hotz Vitaterna, and it returned to normal within six months of landing on Earth.

Even after being subjected to the challenging conditions of space, “Scott’s microbiome still looked like Scott’s microbiome, just with a space twist on it,” said Vitaterna, who was one of the study’s authors.

The fecal probe was one small part of a sweeping NASA study that was just published in the journal Science, more than three years after Kelly’s return. Dubbed the Twins Study, it hinged on the results of Kelly’s tests being compared with those of his identical twin, retired astronaut Mark Kelly, who remained on Earth as the control subject.

NASA’s goal was to gain insight into the hazards that astronauts could face on proposed long-term missions to the Moon and Mars. The agency has gone to great lengths to get this information, including offering to pay people $18,500 to stay in bed for two months in order to replicate the conditions of anti-gravity.

It also explains why NASA was willing to launch unmanned rockets into space to collect samples of Kelly’s poop. On four different occasions at the ISS, Kelly used cotton swabs to pick up poo particles. When the rockets arrived to drop off lab supplies, they returned to Earth with little tubes containing the swabs, which had to be frozen until all of the samples were collected. The process was tedious, and on one occasion, one of the SpaceX rockets exploded shortly after it launched in 2015.

The study also found that his telomeres, the caps at the ends of chromosomes, had lengthened in space, likely due to regular exercise and a proper diet, according to NASA. But when Kelly returned to Earth, they began to shorten and return to their pre-spaceflight length. Shorter telomeres have a correlation with aging and age-related diseases. “Although average telomere length, global gene expression, and microbiome changes returned to near preflight levels within six months after return to Earth, increased numbers of short telomeres were observed and expression of some genes was still disrupted,” researchers wrote.

Researchers say more studies will be needed before they send the first human to Mars. Check out NASA's video below to learn more about what they discovered.

[h/t PBS]

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