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Music by VICE

How Come Racists Make Such Catchy Pop Songs?

Turns out bigotry can, annoyingly, be really catchy.

by Aleks Eror
Oct 15 2012, 3:07pm

There's something about bigotry that tickles a really primordial part of the human psyche. Most of us try beat it into submission with industrial-sized servings of white, middle-class guilt, but there's always a little bit left that just won't go away.

It's that lingering bigotry that makes some people break into a cold sweat when they see a burka on a crowded tube carriage and makes others say dangerously ignorant shit like: "I'm cool with every race, except for Somalians… Somalians are dickheads". Right-wingers know that, so they prey on evolutionary anxieties, peddling broad values like national identity, family and freedom that tap into the electorate's sense of self. Basically, they're great at masquerading as populists. Liberals meanwhile intellectualize on policies that the unwashed masses don't understand, like market regulation.

That's how Republicans consistently convince poor people to vote against their own economic interests – eg. Liberals hate unborn babies, so a vote against them is a vote for Jesus, simplez!

This is also why they write some great pop hooks. Let me explain...

Skrewdriver: "Voice Of Britain"

For most people Skrewdriver are like a gateway spliff – one toke and you're living on the edge of civil society, stock-piling weapons for the coming race war...because nobody told you that if you want to stop immigrants from stealing your job you shouldn't have taken P.E. as your single GCSE.

While some bands go down the notoriety route, trying to prove they're the most hateful mahfuckas around, Skrewdriver hardly even use any bleeps. Nope, just three chords that burrow into your cerebrum like tiny gophers and anthems that make Ian Stuart the BNP's Bruce Springsteen.

Public Enemy (Paul Burnley) : "National Socialist"

Try and stop yourself from humming that in the shower tomorrow morning, I dare you.

Chelsea Shed: "Thru The Years"

Who's hiding under that cunning disguise? Why, it's that wily fox Paul Burnley again! Paul turned his back on "the struggle" in the late 90s following a beef with goose-steppin' terrorists, Combat 18, just before all terrorists, y'know, converted to Islam in time for September 11 right? Anyway, he now lives in the very white market town of Saffron Walden, making catchy sing-alongs with the local Chelsea supporters club, and, as you can see, civilian life hasn't dulled the catchiness of his bigotry.

SS Totenkopf: "Stand Proud"

The power of that growl will sweep you up in a nationalistic rapture, the subtle melody will echo to the depths of your soul and even if you block out the lyrics, your sub-conscious will get all misty-eyed to the passion in his voice and those universal themes of bravery and pride. See, SS Totenkopf are from that pop-churning sonic cheese factory, Sweden; so don't feel bad if this one hits you like ABBA in a Panzer. Actually do feel bad you monster...but still, it's mad catchy!

Aus Rotten: "No Justice, No Peace"

Now listen to the other side of the political spectrum. They're one of my favorite bands, but to most people this is the musical equivalent of chafing. There's no hook, no melody, you can't understand a word and the lyric sheet reads like a Chomsky thesis. In fact, if you changed the lyrics and played it to some southern Baptists you'd get doused with holy water and burnt at the stake.

And there lies the liberal problem; they try and reason with the logic they hope is hiding in people's minds, rather than taking the easy route and fuelling our not so hidden intolerances. After all, it's easier to play the villain than the protagonist, right?