Salli Anttonen is a doctoral student researching the concept of authenticity in music. She wondered why so many music critics hate Nickelback. "They were a good case in point because they are so widely accused of lacking authenticity," she said.
The result of her research is the wonderfully titled paper, "'Hypocritical Bullshit Performed Through Gritted Teeth': Authenticity Discourses in Nickelback's Album Reviews in Finnish Media." It was published in Metal Music Studies, an academic journal that you now know exists.
One thing Anttonen noticed is that earlier reviews of the band were not as negative. The more successful the band became, the more critics delighted in hating on it.
"It became a phenomenon where the journalists were using the same [reasons] to bash them, and almost making an art out of ridiculing them," she said.
The reason, according to her, is that rock critics see themselves as the protectors and arbiters of authenticity and originality. Hating on Nickelback is a way to assert their authority. So the more success the band has on the charts, the more critics feel emboldened to dismiss Nickelback as inauthentic commercial crap.