Photo by Ashford Stamper
After Westboro Baptist Church's big Radiohead protest last week, we talked tunes with the church's marketing guy, Steve "God Hates Fags" Drain. We realized early on in our chat that Drain was like the Alex Ross of the religious right—his music sensibility was surprisingly discerning. We couldn't pass up the opportunity to tap into some of his divine music criticism and share it with all of you. So, we sent him a few links to some of our favorite new music videos and asked him to evaluate these morally repugnant songs on spiritual and musical grounds. He had the awesome idea of rating the tracks with a nifty picket sign scale, one picket sign being the least morally bankrupt and five picket signs being the absolute worst.
Here is what the Kansas man of girth and taste had to say about popular songs:
IGGY AZALEA - MY WORLD
I don’t know what’s going on with her. I know we get desperate and we’re starved for music and performers, but damn. Back when I was a kid, we never saw who our rock and roll idols were unless they put themselves on the album cover. We didn’t care when we found out that Jeff Lynne is ugly as sin and Tom Petty was even uglier, because we liked their music first. Today, the music industry has gotten so that raw musical talent, composition, and singing skills often take the backseat. This isn't even well-produced. I could listen to a lot of songs that Dr. Dre produced, and it doesn’t matter if I don’t like the lyrics or the style of the rapping, because Dr. Dre knows how to put together a song. But with Iggy Azalea, I just don’t know what the attraction is. She’s not even good-looking. She’s a nasty-lookin’ thing. She has a radio face. She can’t even rap. There’s just nothing there.
Musical: 5 Picket Signs
Spiritual: 5 Picket Signs
GRIMES – OBLIVION
Musically, I would call this Flock of Seagulls meets Tiffany. I can tell she’s trying to be a little “cultural” and a little “underground.” Lyrically, it looks like somebody killed her lover and she feels really alone. She is playing around with some moral concepts here that aren't downright filthy, but it’s still morally bankrupt and not exciting enough to float my boat. And she’s Canadian. God hates Canada. Did you know that Canada actually has a law in the books called the “Fred Phelps Law"? They've banned us from preaching in the country. There was a guy named Svend Robinson, a legislator in Canada, who proposed the bill. After that guy introduced the legislation, he got arrested and convicted on shoplifting charges. He stole a diamond ring from a jewelry store. So yeah, there’s a little interesting side-note for you: God hates Canada.
Musical: 4 Picket Signs
Spiritual: 3 Picket Signs
ODD FUTURE – NY (NED FLANDER)
I’m gonna talk to you about some of the lyrics on this one. He says, “Now, I have famous friends who like coke and them drugs/dancing with me, Jerry Sandusky, and the Pope in the club.” It seems like he’s kind of mocking the Catholic pedophile monster, which you could research, by the way, on priestsrapeboys.com. But then he says, “Jerry's trying to get a tug but isn't paying enough/now, if he doubles it I'll tug it in the bathtub with bubbles.” Now the Bible verse that applies here is “fools make a mock at sin.” So, although at first he calls into question the moral position of the Catholic church and Sandusky and the pedophile rape machine and the Pope and stuff, he then makes a mock of that sin and acts like he would tug Jerry Sandusky if he got paid enough. That’s creepy, you know? A lot of little boys were raped by that dude. That’s creepy for a rap star to say, “I’d tug him if he paid me double.” Despite all the moral turpitude, it’s all about the Benjamins for these guys. That’s just creepy.
Musicality: 3 Picket Signs
Spirituality: 5 Picket Signs
USHER - CLIMAX
This guy is as talented as they come. He’s a soulful singer. It’s hard not to recognize that about him. The record is very minimalistic, very nice. Unfortunately, the message of this song is sad and fraught with moral problems. He’s singing about this relationship he’s had with this woman who was great, but the whole metaphor of “climax” is that it’s gotten as good as it’s going to get. So they’ve broken apart. From a scriptural perspective, the Bible says that the marriage bed is undefiled and honorable in all. That means that one man and one woman could do nothing that’s sinful. It also implies that all other romantic and sexual contexts are immoral. So I’m not saying anything on that front, because he could be singing about his wife. The problem is that now they’re no longer together. The Bible leaves no room for serial monogamy. Monogamy is one man, one woman, one lifetime. You don’t get to cast her off and go get another one. If she leaves you, it’s probably your fault. You probably treated her wrong or you didn’t love her the way you should have. And if you left her, again it’s your fault. You’re not supposed to leave your wife and you’re not supposed to let her leave you. If she’s your wife, go get her. Don’t let her stay away. I’m not trying to say that there aren't women in the world who aren't incorrigible and complete sluts, but what I’m saying is, generally speaking, if your wife leaves you it’s because you didn’t do her right.
Musicality: 1 Picket Sign
Spirituality: 3 Picket Signs
SPECTOR – CHEVY THUNDER
This song will end up being licensed by Chevrolet, but it will never be in a commercial for a Camaro, Corvette, or a Silverado Pickup. It’s going to be used for the rebirth of the Chevette. And the guitar lead here just sucks. It sounds like this guy just started playing. If someone wants to say that’s charming, then whatever. The story behind the tune is that the singer loves this girl but she doesn’t love him. This guy sounds like he’s gonna take the Chevy, drive as fast as he can, do a Thelma and Louise, and kill himself because the girl doesn’t love him enough. It reminds me of Proverb 31, which discusses getting a good woman. The verses say, “Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies." That’s a Hebrew-istic expression that means very, very valuable. This world is full of whores. I’d tell this guy not to cry about that girl. If she doesn’t love you and she’s not going to be true to you—move on. A contentious woman is a horrible thing for a man to have in his life. I'd say the good woman of proverb 31 is the model for all men to seek after.
Musicality: 4 Picket Sign
Spirituality: 3 Picket Signs
Illustrations by Michael Shaeffer
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