Everyone loves to hate Nickelback.
People love to come together over their hatred of Nickelback, even the same people who jammed out to Nickelback on an after school bus with fifteen other kids screaming, “I’ve been down, to the bottom of every bottle!” Like we had all even tasted alcohol, nonetheless seen the bottom of an empty bottle.
Hello. My name is Brittany and I am a Nickelback hypocrite.
High School was a whirlwind of boyfriends, breakups and books. Thinking back, you might wonder how you survived or think about the lessons you learned and naturally, a playlist flows into your head associated with pictures of faces, places and pain or joy. For me, “How You Remind Me” encompassed this whirlwind that was my life for a few short years and now continues to flood my memory when it pours out the speakers of the local dive bar I dance in when I’m feeling lonely.
I like that this song followed me into adulthood and that now I can relate when singing about the bottoms of bottles and broken hearts. It never fails when standing in a dingy room full of friends and drunken strangers that this song comes on. The initial reaction is an abundance of moans and groans. As I said, everyone loves to hate Nickelback.
I too, am guilty of this groan. I hear the words, “Never made it as a wise man,” and I smell the dirty leather and duct tape of school bus seats. I picture the face of a red-headed girl I no longer know sitting across from me singing so loudly that I can see the molars in the back of her mouth. I taste the dryness of peanut butter crackers I snagged from a vending machine before I got on the bus and I watch the crumbs fly out of my mouth and scream along to the words, “And this is how you remind me.”
School buses are disgusting, and so are most bars. I think about why people put themselves in the places that they do and why after all the groans, people realize that they know every single word to this song. By the end, after the intense and repetitive breakdown, you can see it on their faces and hear it in their voice; everyone is remembering the first time they heard this song and singing along, “This time I’m mistaken, for handing you a heart worth breaking!”
And now everyone has remembered having their heart broken and they are back to hating this song and it will end and the next time it comes on, the exact same thing will happen, on repeat, just like how I use to listen to this song, on repeat. And the next time I hear it, I think of a different time.
I remember the fog of an early morning in August. The rain had finally stopped but the roads were still harboring their touch. My Nickelback CD lived in the stereo of my tiny black truck and we drove to school together every day. Of course, I was listening to “How You Remind Me” and on that day I was nursing a wounded heart, so to no shock I found myself singing, “I said I love you and I swear I still do.”
I found that the winding wet roads of Kentucky do not care about your broken heart and aerodynamics can’t hear the angst in your teenage voice, so nothing was there to stop me from spinning out of control, emotionally and physically. When the truck finally stopped, I was staring into the depths of a grassy green ditch and somehow the music sounded quieter, but was still singing out to me, “Are we having fun yet?”
This was the moment that I broke up with Nickelback.
My beloved CD ended up back in it’s case, a makeshift coffin never to be opened again and buried somewhere within an old high school box. So when I find myself out, it’s almost as if I’m being haunted when the raspy voice of Chad Kroeger sounds through my ears, flooding my thoughts with school buses and ditches. It’s really a mixture of emotions, belonging and fear.
I think back to why everyone hates Nickelback. We all have our memories, whatever they may be: good or bad. We love to feel like we are a larger part of something, like we belong. So everyone will continue to groan and moan when they first hear “How You Remind Me” yet they will still sing along and everyone will still hate Nickelback.
B. Lorraine is a journalist in Louisville, Kentucky who enjoys forest bathing, her dog and writing creative nonfiction. Find her adventures on Instagram at @paws.across.ky
Artwork by: Scott Van Hoy