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Nickelback: All The Right Reasons - Album Of The Week Club review

In which we ask our Album Of The Week regulars to put aside any hatin' business and give Nickelback's All The Right Reasons a fair crack of the whip

Nickelback: All The Right Reasons
(Image: © Rhino)
Nickelback: All The Right Reasons

(Image credit: Rhino)

Follow You Home
Fight for All the Wrong Reasons
Photograph
Animals
Savin' Me
Far Away
Next Contestant
Side of a Bullet
If Everyone Cared
Someone That You're With
Rockstar

It’s doubtful that Nickelback would be quite so reviled in certain quarters if they hadn’t sold 50 million albums, of which this 2005 set accounted for around 18 million. In 2012, The Black Keys’ drummer Patrick Carney stated: “Rock’n’roll is dying because people became OK with Nickelback being the biggest band in the world.” 

Not everyone is so dismissive. Fellow Canadian Devin Townsend wrote, "As you progress in any field, eventually the ‘lifers’ in a profession find they have a lot more in common than they may have anticipated. For years I was critical of Nickleback for a number of reasons, not the least of which jealousy and falling into the negative public sentiment.

“He [frontman Chad Kroeger] gets a ton of shit, but I have immense respect for the guy now. In fact, I've met very few brilliant people in this industry, but he’s one of them."

Sure, their brand of polished-up post-grunge never pushed any envelopes, but the gutsy riffs and ear-worm hooks of Follow You Home, Animal and The Next Contestant are undeniably hard to resist. 

All The Right Reasons was released in 2005 and hit the no.1 spot in Nickelback’s homeland of Canada, the US, UK, Germany, Australia and New Zealand. It’s sold more than 19 million copies around the world and spawned hit singles including PhotographRockstarSavin’ Me and Far Away.

“We are so proud of the fact that this album connected with people the way it has," says guitarist Ryan Peake said. "As an artist, you can only ever hope for something like that to happen.”

Every week, Album of the Week Club listens to and discusses the album in question, votes on how good it is, and publishes our findings, with the aim of giving people reliable reviews and the wider rock community the chance to contribute. 

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Other albums released in October 2005

  • Exodus - Shovel Headed Kill Machine
  • My Morning Jacket - Z
  • The Reverend Horton Heat - We Three Kings
  • Soulfly - Dark Ages
  • Roadrunner United - The All-Star Sessions
  • Jackson Browne - Solo Acoustic, Vol. 1
  • Paul Weller - As Is Now
  • Sevendust - Next Sevendust
  • Susan Tedeschi - Hope and Desire
  • Chris Rea - Blue Guitars
  • Primal Fear - Seven Seals
  • Sunn O))) - Black One
  • Brian Wilson - What I Really Want for Christmas
  • Fireball Ministry - Their Rock Is Not Our Rock
  • Rod Stewart - Thanks for the Memory: The Great American Songbook, Volume IV
  • Deep Purple - Rapture of the Deep
  • Aerosmith - Rockin' the Joint
  • Buckethead & Friends - Enter the Chicken
  • Blink-182 - Greatest Hits
  • Helloween - Keeper of the Seven Keys: The Legacy
  • Santana - All That I Am
  • TNT - All the Way to the Sun
  • Wolfmother - Wolfmother

What they said...

"Nickelback's fifth disc consists of eleven giant-chorused songs about prisons of the mind, wanting to be a rock star and how it's hard to up and leave when she's going down on you. The band's wordy hooks and big riffs are as meticulously arranged as a thousand-dollar Nativity scene, but – with the exception of the sleekly rocking Animals and some hope-and-faith platitudes – All the Right Reasons is so depressing, you're almost glad Kurt's not around to hear it." (Rolling Stone)

"In all this isn’t a great departure from the Nickelback of old, no progression other than in the ballad department and no great shocks. Nickelback do what they do best, producing music for the fans. In that respect this record has been made for all the right reasons. From a music point of view this is Nickelback’s strongest album to date." (Alternative Addiction

"Forget about the Darkness and the Electric Six. (If you haven't already.) For hard-rock ridiculousness, Nickelback is tough to beat. All the Right Reasons is another brash but sullen CD with more of the worst rock lyrics ever recorded: "Cause this was it, like flicking on a switch/It felt so good I almost drove into the ditch." The nostalgic ballad Photograph is a rising hit, but the band is more fun when it's going fast, and the singer Chad Kroeger is more funny when he's getting mad." (New York Times)

What you said...

Rick Rohner: They are a great band. This album is their best. Don’t understand why people don’t like them when there is a lot of crappy bands and music out there. Listen to the crap on commercial radio stations that is played now. I’ll take Nickleback over that BS music that dominates the Grammys and airwaves. We need bands like Nickleback to keep rock music alive.

Chris Ottewell: Love their albums and they're great live. Not the best band in the world but don't deserve the hate. I don't understand people bitching about whether they like a particular band or artist. The great thing about music is the variety and what certain songs do for us as individuals. I personally can't stand hip hop but I don't write posts slagging it off - I just don't listen to it.

Charlie Allison: That first album was actually decent. Every album after that was exactly the same. Up-tempo songs are exactly the same, ballads are exactly the same. Part of it for me is Chad Kroeger's arrogance in thinking they are making new music when it's all the same. There are videos out there on YouTube that play songs over each other and the only thing different are the lyrics. I'm all for a band having a sound (AC/DC, anyone?) but copy and paste bands are just boring. I don't necessarily hate them, just don't need to hear more than that first album.

Mike Knoop: Well, I made I through my first Nickelback album. I didn't like it, but I didn't dislike it as much as I thought I would. Some of the riffs are quite good (Animals, Next Contestant, Someone That You're With, Side of a Bullet). Far Away is a genuinely enjoyable ballad.

Doing a little digging, my problems with Nickelback mostly stem from Chad Kroeger; front man, voice, and wordsmith of Nickelback.

Kroeger's Billy Goat Gruff voice sets me on edge as soon as he opens his mouth. To paraphrase Courtney Love, he sounds so sincere that he has to be fake. It reminds me of when Bruce Springsteen broke the bank with the sincerely earnest Born In The USA album, and every jingle, whether it was for a new car or a pizza parlour, was belted out like it contained the secret of life. I feel like Nickelback's A&R's man was whispering to Kroeger, "OK, what we need is one part Eddie Vedder mixed with two parts Scott Stapp, garnished with a little Toby Keith drawl for attitude."

I've been going on so much about lyrics lately that I'm craving a mostly instrumental or foreign language album so the lyrics don't get in the way of the music. Kroeger's lyrics are so full of resentment, self-loathing, and insecurity that they would make Morrissey blush. But at least Morrissey (begrudgingly) let us in on the joke. Kroeger seems to mean every jealous and angry word. Except for when it's a song like If Everyone Cared or Savin' Me, which seem to be there because the same A&R guy told Kroeger, "Message songs sell by the boatload."

I guess, for me, Nickelback is the third or fourth iteration of a formula that gets watered down with every successive decade. So, basically, I’m the old codger telling you, "My classic rock was better.” These sounds and sentiments were around in 1995, but they were done much better by the Smashing Pumpkins or Hole. In 1985, it would have been the Violent Femmes or the Replacements. Except for the car sex song Animals - that's classic Mötley Crüe through and through.

Paul Goldsmith: My kid introduced me to them but got this one on my own!! Its good! Rockstar is funny and worthy of a hit, the album is solid and always worth a play.

Eric Hall: I've loved this album ever since I first heard it. I've never understood the hate for them.

Lars S. Nedland: I like the track Side Of A Bullet, but the rest of the album is for me pretty forgettable. Their earlier albums are better.

Neil Coleman: There's a few quality songs on here but like most of their albums it gets let down with consistency. I was not a fan originally but saw them live and they were decent. I think the thing that ruins it is the obvious cheese songs which are designed for moneymaking market that will always alienate the typical rawk fan.

Michael Böcher: Nickelback‘s early albums are actually good. I remember Silver Side Up – I liked it a lot. Later works became more and more corporate rock and cheesy. The worst is the music that was produced by Mutt Lange. Nevertheless, I don‘t like the fashion to hate them. They are more than successful so at least they seem to be talented and know what people want. In a nutshell: hate is a strong word they don‘t deserve, and they have written a lot of great songs.

Elliot Brown: Amazes me this album is one of the 90-ish albums that went Diamond and they where still pumping singles out off it (and getting number 1s) two years later. I personally feel this is the last truly massive selling rock album. People often wonder who listens to Nickelback. The answer is everyone. I wouldn't say it's to my taste but they are an absolute machine. Just a shame that stigma stops them getting a festival slot over here at places like Download

Chris Webb: Y'know what? I'm in. Their stuff is usually pretty solid. They've become somewhat of an obvious target and after what, over five years (more?) of Nickelback jokes, the joke has worn really thin. Not the best band in the world, but they don't deserve the hate. And I really liked one of their early albums, The State.

John Edgar: I bought All The Right Reasons when it was initially released, and enjoyed it a lot. I never bought anything else by Nickelback, and I really don't know why. I'm certainly not a hater.

John Davidson: Nickelback are not cool . That’s the accepted wisdom on social media, but what do we care? We liked AC/DC before they were cool and still like bands that no one on earth outside a chosen few have even heard of.

Nickelback are phenomenally successful by the standards of a modern rock band, having done a Bon Jovi and broken out of the rock ghetto into the wider mainstream. As a consequence, many rock fans have a downer on them, but is it justified?

On the face of it it’s hard to understand why Nickelback achieved such success. They don’t have much going for them on the surface. They aren’t particularly fetching to look at (no JBJ to get the pulses racing), they don’t have a charismatic front man (no DLR, or Freddie), they don’t have an Angus or a Jimmy Page or a Slash on guitar and they aren’t rampaging bad boys that end up in the news (GN'R, Motley Crue).

Of the album itself, there are 11 tracks, with an average length of about four minutes. Any one of them could have been a single. There is minimal variety in pace and tone with about half the songs ripping along at a fair pace.

Musically their style is post-grunge, post-nu metal, glum rock, with an enormous amount of polish.

They sound like a hard rock band. The guitars crunch, the bass and drums hammer away and they deliver the odd hooky chorus. But they lack that something that marks the good from the great.

They never surprise the listener. There’s no danger, no sense of jeopardy and with the relentless downbeat singing, there’s not much punching the air either. If they don’t sound like they are having fun, how can we? Someone That You're With is played with enough gusto to overcome this, and Side Of A Bullet has a decent solo but it’s a rare treat. Rock Star has its tongue in its cheek and shows a sense of knowing they are chasing fame even though they are poking fun at wannabes.

Overall, the performances lack soul and the writing sounds crafted rather than artistic. Like it was grown in a lab rather than born free. There are flashes of humanity; Photograph sounds authentic (whether it is or isn’t I can’t say), but that’s about the best of it.

If one these songs came on the radio I’d listen to it and enjoy it well enough but a 42 minute album feels too long to spend in such pedestrian company.

Why are they so successful? They’re safe. Volvo rock. No-one is going to be offended or switch off and they have the manufactured sound that appeals to the Pop Idol generation or the quasi rock fans that liked Bon Jovi after New Jersey.

Or maybe they’re really good live. I’ll never know. 5/10

Gary Claydon: There is obviously a big market for what Nickelback produce (unless 50 people bought a million of their albums each!). Safe, predictable, unchallenging and that's absolutely fine if you like that sort of thing. Nickelback were custom-built for that exact market, for an audience that maybe likes the idea of hard rock but can't be bothered with the real thing. All The Right Reasons is done with their customary polish and competence. And sounds like all their other albums. Bland. Hate Nickelback? Nah. That would be pointless. If you don't like the show, don't buy a ticket. Are we having fun yet? Nope.

Brian Carr: For me, I think Nickleback suffers from a case of bad timing. If their music was released in the 80s when I was more receptive to “big dumb rock,” I may have loved them. Instead their output occurred during my music retail part two/radio employment years (roughly a 7-8 year span of time) where all newer rock bands sounded the same to me, and none of it was inspiring.

Now they’ve been chosen for this week’s Album of the Week and I had every intention of listening to the album. But we lost a legend on Tuesday and right now all I’m listening to is Van Halen. How am I supposed to interrupt such classic music to spin Nickleback? Bad timing for the Canadian band once again.

Happs Richards: There’s a lot of hate for the band, some of it I guess because “it’s cool to hate Nickelback”, the rest (and I fall into this camp) because they had all the potential to be something better than they actually are.

So yeah, I have this album – last one of theirs I bought – I don’t hate it. There were some real flashes of adequacy and it’s perfectly listenable. Some tracks such as Photograph, Fight For All The Wrong Reasons and Far Away I actually quite like, but the whole album just leaves me feeling a bit, “it’s ok, but.....”

Not classic rock or even a classic album, but worth a listen even if it’s only to confirm how you feel about the band rather than hating them for coolness’s sake.

Bill Griffin: So I listened to the first two tracks and thought they rocked pretty hard, then Photograph started and I thought, "This song doesn't belong on the album at all!" Then the rest of the album played and I thought, "Actually, the first two songs don't belong on this album." They are rather out of place; a bit of false advertising if you will. The rest of the album is nowhere near as heavy.

I still don't get the hostility though; I think this is competently played, inoffensive rock'n'roll. The lyrics? C'mon, I grew up on a steady diet of AC/DC and Ted Nugent (among others), both very popular acts. These lyrics are certainly no worse than Wang Dang, Sweet Poontang or Squealer.

Would I buy a Nickleback album? I like commercial rock as much as I like progressive rock, so maybe.

Marco LG: Haters gonna hate, but this album certainly doesn't deserve any hate. Having said that, I am afraid it also did nothing for me. The production is crisp, the music is engaging enough, but the echoes of all the radio-friendly rock hits of the previous two decades were too cringe worthy for me in the end.

Let's be clear, it's not a problem to sound like Bon Jovi or Brian Adams, they sold millions of records and people clearly relate to that music. It's just I grew out of Bon Jovi in the 90s and never liked more than a couple of Brian Adams's hits back in the 80s.

Each to their own, for me All the Right Reasons deserves at least a 5 for the production and the overall package. I will keep ignoring Nickelback like I always did, but at least now I can say why.

Carl Black: I'll come clean. When I got married to my beautiful wife we hired a disco/ DJ . We got some paper work to complete. First dance, second dance, 20 songs you definitely want played, songs you definitely DON'T want played. We duly completed the paperwork. On the songs we definitely didn't want played was a trio of offenders that were not invited to my wedding. ABBA, Motown and... no Nickelback. I stand by that call to this day. And then this club send a curve ball my way.

I've seen a few interviews with the band and they come across as decent human beings. They can play, no doubt. Sonically they sound great. I just don't believe them. It's cynical, calculated, and a safe unit shifter. Some ok tunes in here and some very, very bad ones.

I don't hate it. But it's not on my radar. No where near. It's like they are playing about with the music I love. And it makes my stomach turn. No thanks you. I'd like to have a beer with the band. But I'll not be listening to them again .

Nigel Lancashire: I listened to this earlier in the week - actually forgot and thought I still needed to hear it, until Spotify told me today that it was the last thing I played. Now that's what I call a completely forgettable album!

Bill Pratt: I would give it a solid 7. Listened to it quite a few times over the years. I never understood the hate for this band. At this point it’s kind of like a self-sustaining nuclear reaction. People hate on Nickelback because that’s what you do. Doesn’t have much to do with their music, which is quite good.

Billy Master: Just listened to my first Nickelback album. Whilst not finding it to be overly unique, I thought it listenable.

Reading a little about them, one of the many criticisms levelled at them seem to be their lyrics. Really? Have these people ever listened to post-Bon AC/DC?

So. Looking at their stats, I think that all of us, self appointed doyens of rock music, would have to concede (maybe grudgingly) that they are doing something right.

Jonathan Novajosky: There have been times where I wondered why this band was so hated. Are they actually the worst thing on earth? Let's find out. After listening to All The Right Reasons, I think I have a few ideas why. My number one complaint with Nickelback is that their singer sounds like he's trying too hard to get an "edgy" sound in his voice. He's really not bad at all, but it just comes off as annoying. The second reason – and this is a big one – is that the lyrics in these songs are horrendous. Actually laughably bad. Next Contestant and Photograph are prime examples. "Should I go back and try to graduate?" is facepalm worthy.

All in all, they just sound so bland to me and fall in the pit of forgettable early 2000's rock. Some of the slower songs here are a little catchy, and there's definitely worse artists out there, but I'm glad I can say now that I won't be accused of hating Nickelback without hearing one of their albums. 3/10.

Final Score: 4.91⁄10 (157 votes cast, with a total score of 771)

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