I don’t want to talk about Lana del Ray’s lips, chillwave or Drake’s feelings anymore. Those topics are all bookish and ultimately pointless, the kind of things debated by folks who enjoy nothing quite as much as the sound of their own voice, discussion points during shift breaks at the co-op or between courses at winter solstice parties. You know, nerd stuff.
No, today, I want to talk about [artist id="760446"]Nickelback[/artist], and their stupendous new single “Bottoms Up,” a song that is about nothing more than getting totally sh–faced, and one whose brilliance I am unapologetically in awe of.
To the uninitiated, “Bottoms Up” is one of two singles Nickelback released simultaneously last month, in the lead-up to their sure-to-be-massive Here and Now album. It is not the one that features lines like “Hand in hand forever/ That’s when we all win,” because that’s the bruising ballad “When We Stand Together.” It is very much the one about consuming every inebriating substance under the sun, a list that includes, but is not limited to: Jim Beam, Jack Daniel’s, Black-Tooth Grins — Dimebag certainly would’ve approved — 80-proof hooch and, of course, “straight gasoline.”
In other words, it is the kind of song a band like Nickelback (who, and take this however you wish, seem to write songs only as excuses to finance their latest Can-Am three wheeler) was practically placed on this earth to write. It is not, by any means, a smart song — it is a sublimely stupid one, in which frontman Chad Kroeger growls about wanting to “kick a hole in the sky” and rhymes “bar” with “fire” — mainly because he can — over a bed of snarling, skuzzy riffs and flammable solos (and drums that sound like they were lifted from Eddie Money). It seems destined to take its rightful place alongside tracks like AC/DC’s “You Shook Me All Night Long” or Ratt’s “Round and Round” on strip-club playlists all across this great land. It sounds like it was unearthed from a time capsule buried in 1999 (or 1984), which automatically makes it the most rock-and-roll song released this year.
So why is it brilliant? Well, several reasons spring to mind. For starters, there’s the chorus, which goes ” ‘NOTHER ROUND/ FILL ‘ER UP/ HAMMER DOWN/ GRAB A CUP/ BOTTOMS UP!” (CAPS mine, but, I mean, if it were possible to sing in ALL CAPS, Nickelback would certainly do it here.) It’s sort of ingenious in a totally not-genius way and will instantly worm its way into your brain. There are the reactions the song gets from folks I’ve played it for, which run the gamut from “Two minutes in and all I want to do is shotgun a beer” and “This should be the official song of being in a boat on a lake” to “It sounds like Slaughter.” There’s the fact that I’ve listened to it something like 467 times since I interviewed the band last week, and it’s made me want to do pushups, fight someone, put the hammer down and go to the bathroom. But most of all, it’s that its very existence proves that no one knows their audience quite like Nickelback.
Because unlike [artist id="1111141"]Coldplay[/artist], Linkin Park or Metallica — who are busy making electro albums , albums that reference the Bhagavad Gita and albums with Lou Reed, respectively — Nickelback know better than to mess with what got them here. “Bottoms Up” is an unabashed ode to boozing it up, keeping the good times rolling and setting things ablaze. It is precisely the kind of jam their fans want to hear them making, the soundtrack to Saturday night and a million tailgate extravaganzas. It is big and bold and brash and ballsy, because that’s exactly the kind of band Nickelback are. There will be no Rihanna cameos , thank you very much.
And I’m not just making this up, either. Kroeger told me as much when I sat down with him, admitting that “Bottoms Up” may very well be their masterwork.
“It’s a drinking anthem. I mean, it’s harder to write those songs than it is to write those social-awareness type songs — it really is. Some of the stuff’s got to be a little tongue-in-cheek. There’s got to be some clever stuff there, you know, and you’ve got to be descriptive. But when you get done listening to it, you need to have the feeling of just wanting to grab a bottle of Jack. And I think we got there, because we’d bring friends over all the time, and it was just like, ‘You are now a test subject! Hit play; turn it up nice and loud.’ And the song’s over, and they’d be like, ‘I want to drink. I want to drink something right now.‘ And we were like, ‘Yes!’ ”
Yes, indeed. Because listening to “Bottoms Up,” I am struck with no other notion quite as much as “I want to drink. I want to drink something right now,” which means that in every conceivable way, the song is a success. Forget LMFAO and all their DayGlo excess; Nickelback don’t need that crap to make a “Party Rock Anthem.” You may hate them, but you cannot discount their brilliance — not any more. “Bottoms Up” is the kind of slammer no other band is capable of making, mostly because the bands that were making them no longer walk this earth. It is a market-tested, precision-guided party, with no hangover in sight. Because NB are smart enough to leave the headaches to the brainy folks. They just wanna rock. And drink. A lot. Hammer down, now and forever.
What do you think of the Nickelback party-starter? Let us know in the comments!