Man Sues Nickelback, Claims They Copied “Rockstar” From His Local Band
Nickelback are many things to many people: some think their music is bottom-level tripe and that frontman Chad Kroeger is a never-ending cringe case, while others find ol’ Chad an extremely generous gentleman and his brother (and bassist) Mike a devout metalhead. Beloved metal nerd hero Devin Townsend even called Chad a “functional genius“!
Now one man is calling the band something else entirely: a group of thieves.
Kirk Johnston, who once played in the band Snowblind Revival — they’re still active and have a whole 97 monthly listeners on Spotify — filed a suit against Nickelback alleging that the band stole his song “Rock Star” and turned it into their own mega-hit, “Rockstar.” Johnston claims the theft happened when Snowblind Revival sent their demo to several music companies around 2001, including Nickelback’s label, Roadrunner Records.
Johnston says that “a substantial amount of the music” was copied, including “the tempo, song form, melodic structure, harmonic structures, and lyrical themes.”
Nickelback, obviously, dispute that assertion, saying that the two songs “are not substantially similar to an ordinary observer.”
As an ordinary observer myself, I’m inclined to agree. Other than the general lyrical theme of wanting to be a rock star — not an uncommon one in songs throughout the eons — these songs are hardly alike. Even if you think Nickelback’s is terrible, Snowblind Revival’s is even more terrible.
But the suit meets the minimum threshold to proceed, according to Magistrate Judge Susan Hightower in her recommendation submitted to Judge Robert Pitman of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas on August 11. “Johnston has alleged facts sufficient to raise his right to relief above the speculative level, which is all that is required at the pleading stage,” she said, adding that it will be up to eventual jurors to decide if the songs are similar enough for Johnston to win the claim.
And thus Nickelback will need to spend tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars defending themselves from this ridiculous claim, because that’s how the U.S. legal system works. Yay America!
Have a listen to both songs below and see what you think.