....with joy and gratitude.
As tensions mount once again in Ferguson in anticipation of the grand jury investigation into the killing of Michael Brown by yet-unpenalized police shooter Darren Wilson, we look to our nation's leaders for guidance, and find nothing, or worse. Then, we look to Nickelback, the Canadian taintwave alt-rockers often dismissed as "torturous," "how can that song still be on the radio," or "if grunge fell into a toxic waste dump and instead of dying it emerged with superpowers." In our time of need, it turns out to be Nickelback—their music not even of the American nation, but displaying an astonishing level of political empathy—delivering a much-needed call to action in their latest alt-radio smash.
The Riverfront Times alerts us about the intention behind Nickelback's "Edge of a Revolution," the lead single off the new album No Fixed Address. In a recent Yahoo! Music interview, Chad Kroeger explained his inspiration as such:
You turn on CNN and it's like, "Wow!" We'd have it on for 15 minutes and we'd have to shut it off because it was so depressing. The state of affairs in the world these days is so dismal. And I think that's where the song definitely came from. While we were working, the [shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri] was a major story and there was rioting like crazy. So it definitely felt like the seeds of revolution were being planted.
Was there rioting like crazy, Chad Kroeger? Or... never mind. I love it when music gets political, so let's take a closer look at the first two verses.
Head high, protest line/ "Freedom" scribbled on your sign/ Headline, New York Times/ Standing on the edge of a revolution
Hey, hey, just obey/ Your secret's safe with the NSA/ In God we trust or the CIA/ Standing on the edge of a revolution
That's powerful stuff. Sonically, this song is nihilistic and visceral, working its dark magic from the gut up. The melody line balances vulnerability and defiance—just like America—on top of a distorted, militant, leather-tough guitar riff that's as repetitive as the police killings it cries out against, as well as a bar-rock beat that suggests that Nickelback is bringing this protest to nothing less than a festival setting.
I can imagine the crowds gathered in a cloud of dust under the depthless navy summer sky at the Butterfinger TuneCorner MonsterJam Spectacular, screaming along to this song with their hands thrown in the air, calling out to their collective gods, which are Nickelback.
The video leaves even less to be desired. The band plays in a classroom setting, as frightening footage flashes over their unhinged live performance: images of bees, and smoke, and shattering skulls and mysterious numbers and the word Occupy skitter over their faces like tears from the tear gas delivered by an almost all-white police force to an almost all-black protest population, the latter of which must be stunned by Nickelback's display of support (and the canny subversion of having the in-class revolution led by a young white boy, thus signifying the meaninglessness of race in our world). The solidarity marshalled by the lead-up to the bridge is formidable:
We'll all be dead if this shit don't change/ Hey hey hey hey
And then the bridge itself:
What do we want? We want the change/ And how're we gonna get there? Revolution/ What do we want? We want the change/ Standing on the edge of a revolution
Wow. Just, wow. It's an incredible way to pay tribute to the unarmed black Americans are killed by police to the tune of one body every 56 hours. We will continue to look to Nickelback for strength and leadership in this troubling political time.