If You Like Nickelback ... Check Out These Rockers

They Range From Current Bands to Classic Rock Legends

Nickelback has 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 frontman's 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 might just have stumbled upon your next favorite band.

Creedence Clearwater Revival

Wikimedia Commons

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 attempted with its earnest tunes. But on songs like “Have You Ever Seen the Rain?” and “Fortunate Son,” CCR also skillfully merged powerful melodies to socially conscious lyrics, proving early on in rock’s history that brains and hooks weren’t mutually exclusive.

Neil Young

Neil Young performing in 2012. Wikimedia Commons

Neil Young 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. 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.

ZZ Top

Wikimedia Commons

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 traffics 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 might have appealed to dudes, but his songs’ swagger lassoed the women as well.

John Mellencamp

John Cougar Mellencamp performing. Wikimedia Commons

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.

Soundgarden

soundgarden
Photo courtesy A&M

Soundgarden 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.

Pearl Jam

pearl jam
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.

Foo Fighters

foo fighters
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.

Seether

seether
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.

 

Shinedown

shinedown
Photo courtesy Atlantic.

Shinedown was 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 combines Southern rock influences like Lynyrd Skynyrd with the head-banging fervor of "Black Album"-era Metallica for a contemporary sound that’s loud and unforgiving. The cherry on top is Brent Smith’s stadium-huge voice.

Black Stone Cherry

black stone cherry
Photo courtesy Roadrunner.

An up-and-coming Southern rock band, Black Stone Cherry sing about everyday problems with humor and compassion. Moving from swampy, sweaty hard rock to piano ballads, the group – led by frontman Chris Robertson – flaunts its skill in several musical styles, and 2008’s ​"Folklore and Superstition," in particular, is a consistent pleasure.