"I don't know if North America is on the edge of a revolution, but I wanted it to feel that way in the song, since it feels that way in so many other parts of the world. 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."
If you prefer to get your news in the medium of Nickelback, prepare to bone up on every sort-of-protest-related event of the past four years. In what Yahoo Music calls the Canadian band's "most poignant political song," frontman Chad Kroeger has delivered a stinging rebuke of Wall Street, government surveillance, and the (presumably) American education system. Oh, and the protests in Ferguson, MO, which may have inspired the song, although "there was rioting like crazy" isn't exactly the most sympathetic description of them. It might mean there's a revolution, or maybe it doesn't, but there are definitely revolutions probably happening somewhere, so who knows? A sample of the lyrics, which The Independent has printed in full:
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.
Yes, Nickelback is an easy target, and every band is allowed an awkwardly facile protest song — this is hardly the worst one out there. But the song and video are such an incredible combination that they become unintentionally sublime. Based on the fairly believable premise of Nickelback performing in a high school classroom, they're the id of the ill-informed, middle-of-the-road teenage activist who lives within at least some of us, without even the veneer of rebellious pop-punk to lend them legitimacy. The propaganda videos that were cliche decades ago, the inexplicable radiation hazard signs all over everything, the random Occupy Wall Street banners and Anonymous masks — they're a crash course in vague political symbolism, context-free expressions of the fact that you're mad about something, you're pretty sure it has to do with money and the government, and you fully plan on wearing a snarky t-shirt and some pins expressing your disapproval of it. All that's missing is WikiLeaks and Kim Dotcom.
It doesn't hurt that this song is incredibly, potently, nostalgic, because it sounds exactly like every other Nickelback song that was sandwiched between far better mainstream rock radio hits of the mid-'00s. If you'll excuse me, I have some American Idiot and Toxicity to queue up.