What if, instead of singing about her latest make-up or break up, Taylor Swift sang about Jesus?
The former teen country chart topper turned international pop megastar famously stated in her 2020 “Miss Americana” documentary, “I’m a Christian.” Some fans, however, have apparently decided that the best way to honor their own faith — and their devotion as Swifties — is to write parodies of her hits that don’t just hint at messages of faith, but that practically scream them.
And there aren’t just a few of these parodies. YouTube, TikTok and other video hosting sites are rife with them for users who know the right keywords. Occasional Christian musician and full-time high school teacher Chris Coffee recently fell down the rabbit hole of T-Swift Christian parodies.
“The most wonderful thing about the strange world of Christian-themed Taylor Swift parodies is the wide range of tones the parodies strike,” he said. “They all possess some level of cringe, but that’s inevitable in the world of Christian parody.”
The best parodies are the ones that actually recognize that they’re a joke, Coffee said, pointing to PUT IT OFF -Shake it off -christian parody. The video opens with a man and woman apparently in a couple’s counseling session with their pastors. After the pastor quotes scripture, the couple are told to “put it off” in regard to their bad habits before the song opens with the familiar Swift riff reworded, “I’m nothing a pain; I do nothing but complain; that’s what my husband say; we never go on dates; you get home from work too late; you know, that’s what my wife say.”
Being an evangelical parody, however, the song goes on to say that God offers the couple answers to their personal and marriage woes.
“The most palatable T-Swift parodies are at least self-aware enough to strike a tongue-in-cheek tone,” Coffee said. “Sure, you’ll feel some secondhand embarrassment, but at least the architects of the parody have the self-awareness to bring the audience in on the joke.”
In other instances, though, the videos don’t have as clear a wink-and-nod to the audience. While the composers and musical missionaries are obviously “extremely earnest and committed to their goal” of transforming Swift’s multiplatinum works into meaningful statements of faith, Coffee said, “Unsurprisingly, the attempts don’t translate very well; there’s no subtlety to be found, no sly winks at the audience, and often no discernible point — other than ‘make Taylor’s music Christian,’ I guess.”
The worst example of that class of parody, Coffee said, is You Need To Calm Down (Christian Version) – Taylor Swift parody/response, which not only borrows the music and melody but the actual title of T-Swift’s LGBTQ-friendly bop to apparently defend those who oppose people self-identifying as gay. Sitting in an office, the softly out-of-focus singer croons over an acoustic guitar, among other things: “You think you can understand why we say what we say; that this is all about hate; well you just don’t understand our worldview; ‘cause that could not be further from the truth; we’re just trying to speak the truth in love.”
Not all of the parodies are attempts to appropriate Swift’s music for a joke or some kind of social response, however.
“Occasionally, these parodies delve into the realm of the truly bizarre,” Coffee said. One such video, Taylor Swift – Look What You Made Me Do (CHRISTIAN PARODY), “cannot be described; it can only be experienced. It takes a deft hand to craft a parody this bad.”
The background of the video itself is just a single frame of Swift standing in front of the illuminated cross from her “Look What You Made Me Do” video. As the music begins, it sounds similar enough to the original that it’s surprising that a smolderingly venomous female voice doesn’t start singing; instead, it’s an — apparently to the ear — male voice speaking in a half-note flat monotone:
I don’t like the Satan’s lies;
don’t like your antichrist;
the archangel Gabriel, no, I don’t like them;
I don’t want to be a Jew,
and not a Buddhist, too;
they don’t love our Jesus.
It’s cool, because they’re wrong.
But I got smarter because I read the book of Jesus Christ.
I learned he rose up from the dead and he saves our lives.
He’s got a list of names of who is going to Heaven;
I check it once – and – I’m on it.
Oh, I love you Jesus Christ;
I love you Jesus Christ;
I really love our Lord and Savior who is Jesus.
“Hopefully, if Taylor ever stumbles across it on a late-night expedition through the bowels of YouTube, she will be flattered that her art inspired a parody so baffling and inscrutable,” Coffee said.
For those who are interested in more, Google provides 5.96 million hits for “Taylor Swift Christian parody.”