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‘Silver Side Up’: How Nickelback Struck Post-Grunge Gold
In Depth

‘Silver Side Up’: How Nickelback Struck Post-Grunge Gold

Holding its own amid the garage-rock revival, the ‘Silver Side Up’ album turned Nickelback into global stars for the new millennium.


In 2001, Nickelback made the leap from cult act to global megastars off the back of their third album, Silver Side Up. Having grasped at the lower reaches of the US Billboard 200 with their first two records, Curb and The State, the group now found themselves topping the charts throughout Europe, the UK and their home country of Canada, and performing sold-out shows which proved their brand of post-grunge rock could hold its own against the garage-rock revival of the early 2000s. Undoubtedly, Silver Side Up’s success was thanks in no small part to its lead single, How You Remind Me – rivalled only by Rockstar in its claim to being Nickelback’s signature track – but the album has much more than just one tune to recommend it. Hidden inside is a plethora of punchy rock tracks that can stand tall among the best Nickelback songs of all time.

Listen to ‘Silver Side Up’ here.

The best post-grunge album ever made

With production from the late Rick Parashar (Pearl Jam, Alice In Chains), Silver Side Up strengthened Nickelback’s already established sound, adding sparse groove-metal elements which the group would further explore on 2005’s All The Right Reasons and, in more fully realised form, on 2008’s Dark Horse. In melding their twin influences of ZZ Top and Pantera on Silver Side Up, however, Nickelback struck gold for the first time, setting themselves up for the long-running career that earlier records suggested could be theirs.

Released on 11 September 2001, the album was up against stiff competition – not to mention major cultural shifts in the wake of 9/11. The White Stripes had recently released the all-conquering While Blood Cells; Tool had unveiled their progressive magnum opus, Lateralus; and The Strokes had sent the garage-rock revival into the stratosphere with their debut, Is This It. Upon closer inspection, however, these bands weren’t really competitors at all. For one, Nickelback, who had formed in 1995, had over half a decade’s experience under their belts, ensuring that they wouldn’t be cowed by the latest trends; and Silver Side Up isn’t anything like those other albums. Taken on its own merits, it’s arguably the best post-grunge record ever made.

Helping the grieving process

In fact, Nickelback were a little ahead of the curve here, paving the way for later genre high-water marks such as Jerry Cantell (of Alice In Chains)’s Degradation Trip (2002), Alter Bridge’s One Day Remains (2004) and Mark Tremonti (Creed, Alter Bridge)’s All I Was (2012). Silver Side Up also came perfectly timed for a world reeling from the events of 9/11, which led broadcasters and other media outlets to take a fierce position against dozens of albums and singles they perceived to be controversial at best, downright insensitive at worst. Among an urgent surge of patriotism in the US, many listeners found that songs such as How You Remind Me and Too Bad helped the grieving process, while Nickelback’s live shows doubled as cathartic experiences.

Though Parashar’s multi-platinum-selling production style gives Silver Side Up cohesion, there is a surprising amount of variety to the record. Opener Never Again explicitly deals with domestic violence, as Chad Kroeger itches to deliver comeuppance to the male abuser (“Kickin’ your ass would be a pleasure”) before the female victim takes matters into her own hands with a gun. It’s an all-too-real scenario, but also something that would have found a more natural home on a woke country album, not a hugely polished rock record made for radio. Released as a single, Never Again hit No.1 on the US Mainstream Rock chart – if raising awareness of the ongoing domestic-abuse problem is the bare minimum it ever does, it has done it well.

It takes a single album…

Elsewhere, songs such as Hollywood tackle a different social ill, as Nickelback take a fatalist look at drug addiction. Following straight after, Money Bought sees the group expressing disdain for materialism and the high life through what now appears to be a prelude to the tongue-in-cheek Rockstar. Arguably the strongest track on the album, it features plenty of touches to keep things interesting throughout, including a bluesy, metal-esque bridge. Coming just after Silver Side Up’s midway point, both songs are perfectly placed to start the transition between the album’s earlier classic-rock riffage and its closing ballad, Good Times Gone.

But Silver Side Up isn’t about transition as much as it’s about strife, adversity and, in true rock fashion, sticking it to The Man. It was successful because Nickelback are excellent at what they do, and not for one second do they pretend to be anything else. It only takes a single album to truly build a legacy – or keep an entire genre of music afloat when the sun seems to be setting for good. Silver Side Up stepped in and did both.

Check out our best Nickelback songs to find out where How You Remind Me ranks.

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