Astroknot (Level 13)

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Trends come and go in the music world, a lot tend to fade out just as quickly as they came (Kriss Kross and the majority of those late eighties early nineties hair metal bands for example) or go on seemingly forever, the Beatles being an exemplary case of longevity. Anyone who listens to the radio today may notice two examples of current trends, those being Lady GaGa and Nickelback. The former makes insanely good, catchy, and original music, while the latter constructs songs that are formulaic, generic, and sound far more like a youth garage band

LAdy GaGa

First always comes the genesis of the story. Lady GaGa, whose real name is Stefani Joanne Angelina Germotta, learned the piano at age four, wrote her first ballad at thirteen and within a year started performing at open mic nights. By seventeen had been one of twenty people to have early admission to New York University’s Tisch School of Arts, and a year later in 2008 was hired by Interscope music executive Vincent Herbert to be a music writer on her twentieth birthday. Her song “Telephone” for example was originally written for Britney Spears’ Circus album, but did not appear on the record, so Lady GaGa recorded her own version of it, and had Beyonce featured on it.


Nickelback features Chad Kroeger on vocals and guitar, his brother Mike on bass, Ryan Peake on guitar and vocals, and Ryan Vikedal currently on drums. They began around 1995 as a cover band in Hanna, Alberta Canada. Their name comes from Mike’s employment at Starbucks, where the popular item on the menu came to a $1.45, where people would just hand him a dollar fifty and he would have to give them a “nickel back”  for change. In 1996 Chad, Mike and their cousin who is no longer in the band started writing original music and lyrics with Ryan where they came up with their name. Within the following year they had enough songs for a seven song demo they entitled “Hesher” and started supporting it with live shows. And in 1997 Nickelback released their debut record “Curb” and pushed it with a non-stop touring attitude. It’s around this time the band had their original drummer leave the band and had a few people try to fill in until they got current drummer Ryan Vikedal in the band.

Poised in their respective places, both talents had a breakthrough. Lady GaGa dropped out of the New York school because she thought she could teach herself music better than anyone could teach it to her, and was signed to and dropped from Island Def Jam records before signing with Interscope. Writing all her own songs, her debut single “Just Dance” was the first of numerous number one singles.


Nickelback’s second CD released in 1999 (in Canada and 2000 in the US) under the bands own independent label, and the had a top twenty hit with the track “Leader of Men”. And after that success they were quickly signed to major recording label Roadrunner after touring for the album. Having wanted to be bigger in the United States Nickelback wrote and recorded their third album “Silver Side Up” containing the single “How You Remind Me”, which took off in both the US and Canada making it to number one on both rock charts.


Since you can’t please everyone with the music you make, no matter how hard you try, there will be people out there who will criticize your work. Lady GaGa might seem the easier of the two. Her alien and garish outfits, and some of  the things she says, like she doesn’t like to have sex because she’s afraid of losing her creativeness through her vagina during the process are two major faults. Except when you take two seconds to look and think about her and not just dismiss her as just another pop singer. First is her music education, learning piano at an early age, and being able to write pieces before being able to legally drive, being accepted into a music university early, dropping out and being signed to two major record labels before being able to buy alcohol, she’d have to have some kind of musical talent to do that. Another reason I’ve heard people give, is that Lady GaGa is just copying what Madonna did. Similar as they may be on an attempt to dismiss, I will say Madonna’s fashion was very influential, and her eighties “street urchin” look included fishnet gloves, series of bracelets and necklaces, and short skirts. Lady GaGa however doesn’t wear pants, and has worn a dress made of kermit the frogs. nothing that anyone would or should wear daily.


Nickelback however strong they came on the scene with “How You Remind Me” they shrink critically with every successive release, because every song seems more like the last. More generic and formulaic. They’ve been quoted as saying “We just like writing good songs with good melodies that you’ll sing at our shows and remember when you walk away”, except the lyrics don’t have any wit to them  like a good song from bands like Eve 6 do, nor do they have a rather strong storytelling aspect to them like Lady GaGa’s, or someone like Eminem do. In fact their is the controversy that the songs “How You Remind Me”, and “Someday” are structurally the same song, and there are some strong arguments for that.

Similar song, or are people just hearing things?

Personally speaking, and this is how I listen to music which might seem strange onto itself to some, but I never have that song stuck in my head that would drive me to that need to put on Nickelback. A few examples of this would be Alanis Morissette, she is my absolute favorite I’ve listened to all her songs possibly hundreds and some maybe a thousand times each, and there are still times when I get one of the early nineties pop songs stuck in my head for no good reason, and I’ll need to physically listen to that song to get that odd sort of craving to go away. Sometimes even a Lady GaGa song will do that, I don’t ever get that with Nickelback.

Despite Lady GaGa’s out of left field tangent like fashion and Nickleback’s seemingly clean cut “rock” attitude, I think Lady GaGa has much more music that will be around longer and hold up real well against the future.    
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