“Who Likes Nickelback? Nobody Except for Millions,” by Sara Germano and Nichole Hong. The Wall Street Journal, 1/16/2016.
You may have seen handheld signs at political rallies saying something like, “Trump Likes Nickelback.” Doesn’t sound like a complement. What does it mean?
Nickelback is a rock band, probably the most financially successful rock band ever, selling albums and filling arenas, but true aficionados consider them unoriginal and superficial. To accuse someone of liking Nickelback is to accuse them of trying to appear cool (or important) when they definitely are not, sort of like a dad when he meets the friends of his teenage daughter.
Nickelback is named after one of the members who worked at Starbucks and often gave customers a nickel back in change.
The phrase has become common, at least in some circles. Here is something you can try yourself: search Google for “Why does everyone . . .” and Google will suggest as a completion, “. . . hate Nickelback?”
Ouch, that’s harsh!
That’s as bad as the old joke, “Did you know ‘gullible’ is not in the dictionary?”
“Really?” some will reply, and actually go look it up. “Yes, yes, it’s here! I found it,” they will call out to everyone, who are rolling their eyes.