have been one of the most popular bands of the 21st century, selling millions of albums and crossing over from their mainstream rock base to entice modern-rock listeners and pop fans as well. But their popularity is hardly unprecedented – in fact, Nickelback’s sound can be traced back to the early days of rock 'n' roll and extends to new groups following in Chad Kroeger's footsteps.
If you like Nickelback, you should check out these 10 similar artists who span 40 years of rock music. And don't worry if some of them don't sound familiar – you may just have stumbled upon your next favorite band.
Photo courtesy Fantasy.
Nickelback frontman Chad Kroeger has cited this definitive ‘60s American rock band as one of his influences, and it’s easy to see why. Creedence Clearwater Revival
leader John Fogerty wrote barebones songs that spoke with simple eloquence, something that Nickelback attempt with their earnest tunes. But on songs like “Have You Ever Seen the Rain?” and “Fortunate Son,” Creedence also skillfully merged powerful melodies to socially conscious lyrics, proving early on in rock’s history that brains and hooks weren’t mutually exclusive. Read more about Creedence Clearwater Revival
Photo courtesy Reprise.
has been making music since the late ‘60s, and he continues to wander all over the stylistic map. Whether he’s banging out stomping hard rock with his veteran backup band Crazy Horse or pulling out the acoustic guitar for a country album, Young pursues his muse with an integrity few artists can match. Neil Young’s scruffy authenticity made him an icon and a revered grandfather figure for the 1990s grunge movement, which helped set the stage for bands like Nickelback to break into the mainstream. Read more about Neil Young
Photo courtesy Warner Bros.
When ZZ Top
were celebrated as part of VH1’s 2007 Rock Honors, Nickelback performed the Texas trio’s “Sharp Dressed Man” during the broadcast. At first the similarities between the two groups might not be obvious, but ZZ Top traffic in the same no-bull hard rock that Nickelback popularized 20 years later. On hits like “Legs” and “La Grange,” frontman Billy Gibbons championed a man’s-man style of guitar-driven crunch that may have appealed to dudes, but his songs’ swagger lassoed the ladies as well. Read more about ZZ Top
Photo courtesy Island.
Nickelback’s common-man lyrical approach recalls the gritty Heartland rock of Indiana singer-songwriter John Mellencamp
. While he was groomed by label executives to be a pop star in the early 1980s, the feisty Mellencamp insisted on being his own man, focusing on a series of folk-tinged rock ‘n’ roll songs that dealt with rural small-town life in all its glory and difficulties. His mix of nostalgia and hard-earned wisdom make him a touchstone for any artist yearning to connect with regular people’s concerns. Read more about John Mellencamp
Photo courtesy A&M
tied Chris Cornell’s powerful voice to the quartet’s moody, surging hard rock, resulting in tunes that hit the listener on a visceral level. The immediacy of a Soundgarden song, no matter how complex its arrangement was, helped the group cross over to a larger audience, a lesson disciples like Nickelback surely took to heart. Read more about Soundgarden
Photo courtesy Epic.
The most popular of the grunge bands with the mainstream rock audience, Pearl Jam
shaped the musical landscape that would soon give birth to Nickelback. Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder sang about introspective topics in a voice no one could accuse of whininess – it was simply too emphatic and genuine to be dismissed so easily. And the band’s earnest, blunt music has reverberated far past the ‘90s mosh pits all the way to the current hard rock scene. Read more about Pearl Jam
Photo courtesy RCA.
If rock music has a modern-day “average Joe” – a guy in the mode of Bruce Springsteen
who seems like just a normal dude – it’s Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters
. His ordinariness is part of his charm, giving his band’s arena rock a common touch that bands like Nickelback have sought to claim as their own. The typical Foo Fighters song packs an emotional wallop, hanging large sentiments onto large radio-ready hooks. Read more about Foo Fighters
Photo courtesy Wind-Up.
This South African quartet started up around the same time as Nickelback, drawing from some of the same ‘90s grunge influences. Frontman Shaun Morgan specializes in full-throttled screams, and many of Seether’s songs deal with Morgan’s discontent with the world around him. If you like Nickelback but want to find a group with a more metal edge to them, check out Seether. Read my review of Seether's Finding Beauty in Negative Spaces
Photo courtesy Atlantic.
were just a competent hard rock band until 2008’s The Sound of Madness
, a confident collection of metal-tinged rockers and openhearted mid-tempo numbers. The Florida quintet combine Southern rock influences like Lynyrd Skynyrd with the head-banging fervor of Black Album
for a contemporary sound that’s loud and unforgiving. The cherry on top is Brent Smith’s stadium-huge voice. Read more about Shinedown
Photo courtesy Roadrunner.