I Think Future Might Have The Same Formula For Success as Nickelback

In this article, I’ll be comparing Future to Nickelback. Take a deep breath, put down the Twitter fingers, and hit backspace on that hate comment. OK, let’s begin.

Nickelback is one of the most successful rock bands on the planet. Their third album went 8x platinum in their native Canada, making Drake’s Nothing Was the Same, which did about 1.7 million in sales, look like a flop. And even though Kanye seems like the overlord of the universe to us rap nerds, the most he’s ever done in album circulation was triple-platinum. Plus, the band’s lead singer has a net worth of $50 million, which outweighs the earnings of either member of Outkast, is more than double those of Nas, and matches Pitbull’s (which is why we named him one of the 10 Best Rappers to Go Into Business With).

Once upon a time, moons before Nickelback became the Internet’s most hated musical entity, the band operated on a formulaic songwriting strategy that gave way to their mass appeal. Frontman Chad Kroeger had it down to a science: by pulling ingredients from existing chart-toppers (i.e., Creed-style riff + 3 Doors Down-esque chorus) and melding those elements into broadly appealing summer anthems and love songs of their own, dude was able to secure Nickelback unthinkable success. He’s even admitted to homogeneity throughout the band’s catalogue. “If all hits sound the same, then sorry. When you are a band that has a distinct style, such as us or AC/DC, that happens. When you have a distinct style, you run the risk of sounding similar,” he told the Cleveland Free Times. “Similar,” though, is a reach when someone overlays two of your songs and you can hardly hear the difference.

Call it repetitive and regurgitated, but going off of industry stats, Nickelback was good at making what people wanted to hear.

And making what people want to hear—minus like, ultra-traditionalist hip-hop heads and moms in Arkansas—is exactly what makes Future’s model so successful. He tapped into our bizarre, altered-consciousness-obsessed culture, figured out exactly what we want, and poured it into our iTunes libraries, like lighter fluid fueling his flame. That “every Future song sounds the same” argument has a ton of truth to it, and there’s good reason. It’s what’s keeping him on top, so why stray from a proven formula?

Whether or not a life of switching lanes in a Grand Rapid and nights at Magic City is our reality, Future’s music offers an entrancing escape to his bizarre, lucid dystopia, and his timing couldn’t have been more seamless. Future came at the height of the styrofoam cup renaissance, where a song called “Trap Queen” could live at the top of a Billboard chart for twice as long as “All You Need Is Love,” and dreaded rappers in sweatpants are the new rockstars.

But even though Nickelback’s strategy was successful for a window in pop culture’s history, eventually, people caught on to their regurgitative habits. When the band’s originality was put into question, their so-called perfected formula was precisely what made them a vulnerable target for mockery. Insert Nickelback in Cards Against Humanity and losing a popularity contest to a pickle. (Y’all are some savages.)

It’s like this: if you eat the same cereal every morning, even if it’s your favorite, you’ll eventually get sick of its taste and want to switch it up. In the same regard, the recipe that got Future a collaborative mixtape with Drake, a chart-topping solo album, and a cult following will eventually expire, and the Future Era will be part of the past (ironically). Unless he can begin to innovate in his space and deliver us something unexpected of him, it seems inevitable that Future will follow in Nickelback’s faded footsteps.

Image: Nicholas Moore

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