Homophobic hatemongers the Westboro Baptist Church made headlines—sweet, delicious headlines—recently after their protests of a Panic! At The Disco concert prompted the band to make a donation to the Human Rights Campaign. This was after the church released a parody of Panic!’s song “I Write Sins Not Tragedies,” full of references to the burning hatred for America held by the church’s cruel, merciless god.
It turns out, though, that this wasn’t the WBC’s only instance of dabbling in the fine art of parody. In fact, the group has a Soundcloud account with more than a hundred songs tagged as “parodies” of pop music, ranging from takes on Bob Dylan to tries at Miley Cyrus. The songs are united by two features: They all have lyrics about how basic acceptance of human rights is a horrific sin, and they are all execrably done.
It’s hard to pick out the group’s worst efforts, because listening to any of these songs, which are full of not-work-safe bile, as well as painfully off-key singing, for more than a few seconds is an exercise in both spiritual and musical masochism. But any track in which they try to rap—like this ruining of “Nuthin But A ‘G’ Thang”—is a pretty solid bet. Oh, and the group also has a series of Christmas song parodies, showing that the writers have the same grasp of comedy and subtlety as early ‘90s Bart Simpson.
Why talk about this? Why not just ignore it? After all, the WBC are little more than real-life equivalents of Internet trolls, and rule one of keeping your cool is “Don’t Feed The Trolls.” If the WBC’s goal is to show that they’re “hip,” or that they have a sense of humor about themselves, they fail, over and over again.
But there’s something fascinating about the way these songs reveal a desperate need to belong to a culture that the group supposedly violently rejects. It’s impossible to parody a song without really engaging with it, whether that’s the inescapable “Let It Go,” or Mackelmore’s well-meaning pro-gay anthem “Same Love.” The rote, hateful lyrics seem almost like an excuse, a reason to use the church’s name to promote covers of songs that these people clearly secretly enjoy, even while their narrow-minded culture tells them they shouldn’t.
It’s also nice to have confirmation that we haven’t lost any mediocre-or-better artistic or comedic talents to the group’s screeching propaganda, because damn, the singing and writing on these songs is terrible.