Westboro Baptist Church, the homophobic and flat-out despicable group that pickets funerals of soldiers, among other events, is clearly hungry for attention for its hate speech. There's nothing funny about that -- and the recent federal ruling constraining the distance between funerals and the church's protests indicates that society agrees.
But the group's long-standing interest in pop music -- particularly tuneful protest of the world's sinfulness -- is so baroque and misguided as to be a little amusing. The church is planning, according to its website, to protest a concert by Lorde next week; they managed to get a response from Lady Gaga.
The songs the church produces are remarkably faithful to the source material while utterly hateful; it's as though Weird Al Yankovic were an anti-gay crusader. Last month, for instance, the church used the instrumental track from Katy Perry's hit single "Roar" to tell the story of the coming apocalypse that will destroy all unbelievers in Westboro's particular teachings.
The meaning of Lorde's "Royals" is subverted by WBC to the point where one doesn't need to wonder if they understood it. Lorde sings about how she and her friends will "never be royals," empowered and confident in the manner of delusional pop stars. The WBC singers sing about how they'll "ever be royals" and rule in heaven with Jesus ("caught up with him in the air") while you're in hell.
That's the thing about the Westboro Baptist Church: not merely are its views repulsive to right-thinking people, but they are perpetually getting the nuances wrong, too. The level of effort required to create a note-perfect parody of Gorillaz's 2005 single "Feel Good Inc" called "Fear God Inc," some nine years after Gorillaz made a splash, and presuming it could inspire fear or devotion rather than rolled eyes at the effort required, would be poignant if the Westboro sorts weren't so dreadful.
Their funeral protests are, fundamentally, trolling, getting attention by acting out in a horrific manner; their music reveals that more human and understandable impulse. They want people to like them.