Rockstar by Nickelback is the song that I’m reviewing today. Why? I hear you ask. Rockstar is a song from way back in the old days. 2005 to be precise as a part of Nickelback’s fifth studio album All The Right Reasons. Rockstar was popular (very popular) at the time but it isn’t a song that stood the test of time in the same way as some other rock songs have. It has since faded into obscurity relatively speaking. It is however, one of Nickelback’s most popular and most successful songs and I dare say if you ask anyone who was around at that time if they remember the track, the answer will be yes.
That yes may be accompanied by a sigh or an eye role though because Rockstar is generally considered to be a bad song and that’s why we are here today. I’d argue that Rockstar is considered a poor piece of music not because of the content of its character, but because of guilt by association. I argue that it’s generally panned because of the fact that it’s a Nickelback song and like the mammoth This Is How You Remind Me that preceded it, Rockstar had a lot of airtime which compounded the problem as people may have got sick of it at the time.
I’m kind of coming at this like it’s a hypothesis but frankly, I know that the guilt by association has one hundred percent altered perception of this song. For example, a very well-known website that publishes reviews once refused to publish a positive Nickelback review stating to the journalist that their site doesn’t publish anything that has a positive take on Nickelback music. Or something like that. Well, that isn’t the case here.
I will only judge a song or an album by how good the music is. Nothing else will have an impact. Next, I’m going to push aside all the anti-Nickelback rhetoric and review Rockstar by Nickelback with fresh ears. Is this song deserving of its place on Wikipedia’s Music Considered The Worst page? Let’s find out.
Rockstar by Nickelback Review
I don’t want this to be a long article. I’m moving to a new house and I’m busy. Let’s break it down into a few areas that I feel are important starting with the overall subject matter of the song, and the lyrics.
Rockstar by Nickelback Subject matter and lyrics
The subject matter of Rockstar isn’t entirely unique but they put their own spin on the “I want this so bad” song and to be honest, I’m just glad to be listening to a “mainstream” song that’s not about who the protagonist is f******, who they want to f***, or who they just got finished f****** so a good start basically.
It’s kind of a novelty song that’s a little on the sarcastic side. They shoehorn in every stereotype they can and as intentionally over the top as possible but it’s layered too because, everything is sort of true so both the concept, and the lyrics themselves are quite clever.
I’m no lyrical expert but “i wanna be great like Elvis without the tassels hire eight bodyguards who love to best up ass holes”. I’d go as far as genius and “I’ll get washed up singers writing all my songs lip sync ‘em every night so I don’t get ‘em wrong”. Bet that bruised a few egos.
The lyrics tell you how you should take this song and that would be not too seriously. It’s a bit of fun. Almost satirical.
Closely related to the lyrics are the vocals and to be honest, there isn’t a great deal to talk about vocally. The main vocal performance is very Chad. They’re exactly what you’d expect although I guess one could argue that there isn’t a huge amount of emotion here but I guess it’s not a particularly emotional song and the pace is too moderate for a big and energetic display. Things do pick up in this regard in the chorus sections though.
I guess I’m rather neutral on my feelings toward the vocal performance but there is another positive worth mentioning and that’s the little injections of conversational backing vocals which sort of reminded me of that Shaggy song. You know? The one about it not being him?
Rockstar by Nickelback It’s very hooky
Rockstar, like many songs that do well commercially, is very hooky. The phrase ear worm is an understatement because that entire chorus is hard to shake off. It’s a nice hook to sing along with and for me at least, it never had that eventual nails on a chalk board factor where you can’t bear to hear it after so many listens but does the song lean too heavily on it?
I would ultimately say no because the lyrics from the verses are interesting and retain the attention but I could see why people would hold that argument because to be honest, the arrangement and instrumentation and even the vocal performance on paper don’t offer as much value as the theme, hook and lyrics. But, does that matter?
Arrangement and Instrumentation
The arrangement and Instrumentation of Rockstar by Nickelback is very, let’s say, minimal. It does what it needs to do but that’s it. It feels a little half arsed. There’s very little in the way of exploration and there’s absolutely zero content musically that makes this song stand out which is a stark contrast compared to what I talked about in the earlier section.
Now let’s just take a moment to flip that on its head. We will do this by linking back to our subject matter section.
Nowhere in these lyrics do we hear anything about becoming a rock star by writing amazing and innovative music that pushes boundaries and changes the landscape of rock forever. Quite the opposite.
One could therefore argue that our verse chorus verse chorus safe in the box track is actually quite appropriate.
Whether that was as intentional as the lyrics I don’t know, but for me, it kind of works a lot better than some nine-and-a-half-minute mental prog rock affair.
The acoustic guitar did sound nice to be fair but the other elements were inoffensive yes, but also on the bland side but to give credit, there is a dash of cool in there too which pops up every now and then. Nothing that warrants a shout out particularly though.
Oh, one more thing before we move on.
Where in the actual **** is the guitar solo?!
I guess we can come at this from two different angles. Firstly, we have the argument that I’ve touched on already. We want the fame and glory without actually doing much, so having a killer guitar solo in there perhaps wouldn’t work but then there’s the other side. This is a song about rock stars and wanting to be one. Like a fantasy. So surely, a killer guitar solo would be right at home. I’m leaning toward the second statement.
I’m not saying I’d want Eruption wedged in there or some Malmsteen mayhem causing cacophony of shred but I would love to hear how SOMETHING lead guitar based would have impacted the song. You could even have done this with a hint of irony too so yeah, I think the lack of guitar solo here does some harm and the inclusion of one could have negated previous criticism too.
On the plus side, no crappy fade out so plus a million points there.
Rockstar by Nickelback is a song with both positives and negatives and I think the positives outweigh the negatives both in terms of magnitude and quantity. Some may disagree with that but here’s the thing. There’s nothing in this piece of music that could justify the title of “bad song”. I think the general opinion on this song and to an extent, a lot of other Nickelback songs are simply caused by the “its Nickelback so it’s s***” factor. Kind of said this in the intro but, whatever.
Rockstar is a fun and lighthearted song that’s clever in some areas and slightly lacking in others but in my opinion, the short falls don’t ruin the emersion and the overall enjoyment I get from listening to it.
Do I want to hear this song every day? No. But I probably wouldn’t mind hearing it more often. It’s almost nostalgic for me at this point.
In closing, the vast majority of music reviewers are wrong and I’m right. Me thinks a few are guilty of jumping on the bandwagon and saying what they think will be popular. Luckily, I hate all of you so you got an honest review.
I haven’t done a great deal of review-based content here at Eat Sleep Guitar Repeat but there are a couple that you may find interesting.
Hello. My name is Ryan J Mellor and I play the guitar. I’m also the creator of Eat Sleep Guitar Repeat. I’ve ben a guitarist for many years and my guitar playing has been described as “above average”. My guitar and music knowledge is somewhat impressive but most importantly, I have a passion for creating great guitar and music related content.