In August 2020 a Facebook screenshot of a tweet contrasted a moral panic over Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s “WAP” with a claim that classical composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart wrote a song called “Lick My Ass”:
A screenshot showed the following tweet:
people are clutching their pearls over WAP like Mozart didn't write a song called "Lick My Ass"
— get a humidifier 💧 (@sopranohsnap) August 11, 2020
In the above tweet from August 11 2020, Twitter user @sopranosnap wrote:
people are clutching their pearls over WAP like Mozart didn’t write a song called “Lick My Ass”
Alongside the Facebook post, the user wrote:
To be fair the direct translation was lick me in the ass
Background of the Controversy and Ben Shapiro’s Involvement
With respect to “pearl clutching” over “WAP,” Cardi B herself tweeted a remix of pundit Ben Shapiro’s viral reading of the song’s lyrics:
— iamcardib (@iamcardib) August 10, 2020
As is often the case, Know Your Meme published a robust timeline of the controversy:
WAP, an acronym for “Wet Ass Pussy,” is a rap song by Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion. The song quickly gained mass notoriety for its very sexually explicit lyrics and music video, which features a cameo from Kylie Jenner, leading to condemnations from some critics and politicians as well as defenses from critics and fans.
Not long after the release, Shapiro’s reaction to the video and lyrics became a meme of its own:
On August 10th , Ben Shapiro read the lyrics mockingly on his show, censoring words like “pussy” as “P-word.” The video was reposted by @JasonSCampbell, gaining over 4,800 retweets and 8,000 likes in less than two hours (shown below).
Shapiro’s reaction near-instantly became the centerpiece of Twitter mocking; later on August 10 2020, he re-entered the conversation with input from his wife:
As I also discussed on the show, my only real concern is that the women involved — who apparently require a "bucket and a mop" — get the medical care they require. My doctor wife's differential diagnosis: bacterial vaginosis, yeast infection, or trichomonis.
— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) August 10, 2020
Ben, does your doctor wife tell you she can't get wet because she doesn't have these medical issues?
— Cody Johnston (@drmistercody) August 10, 2020
Imagining ben showing a doctor's note explaining why his wife never gets wet around him like he's trying to get out gym class
— ☃️🎁🎄A.S.S. Overseer🎄🎁☃️ (@ShyReplyGuy) August 10, 2020
BOTH ME AND MY WIFE AGREE THAT VAGINAS ARE SUPPOSED TO BE DRY.
— Ben Shapiro
— "Will Menaker has no space laser" Wokyleeks (@wokyleeks) August 10, 2020
Shapiro’s viral comments and subsequent commentary subsequently became representative of “pearl clutching” over “WAP” and its lyrics.
Mozart’s Lesser-Known Works
But did Mozart really write a song called “Lick My Ass” or “Lick Me in the Ass?”The claim itself wasn’t new, appearing on Reddit’s r/music in September 2017:
A 2014 article in Mental Floss specifically about Mozart’s dirty works explains that the song’s title has a slightly less bawdy connotation in context than its direct translation in 2020:
Mozart wrote this six-voice canon in 1782. It was likely a party piece for his friends. The title translates to “Lick me in the ass,” an old German idiom akin to the modern “Kiss my ass.” When Mozart’s publisher received the piece, he was shocked to see such bawdy language and bowdlerized the text to read, “Let us be glad!” (Which, I think, is the complete opposite of what this tune means.)
On music annotation site Genius.com, an entry for “Canon for 6 Voices in B-Flat Major: Leck mich im Arsch (Lick me in the ass)” reads:
Leck mich im Arsch g’schwindi, g’schwindi!
Leck im Arsch mich g’schwindi.
Leck mich, leck mich,
Lick me in the ass quickly, quickly!
Lick me in the ass quickly.
Lick me, lick me
The page includes a sanitized version of the composition, before moving to the more ribald iteration:
Leck mich im Arsch!
Götz von Berlichingen! Zweiter Akt;
Die Szene kennt ihr ja!
Rufen wir nur ganz summarisch:
Hier wird Mozart literarisch!
Kiss my arse!
Götz von Berlichingen! Second act;
You know the scene too well!
Let us now shout the summary:
Mozart here gets literary!
An undated, archived page on the site MozartForum.com delved into attempts to authenticate the works as those of Mozart. Two of three compositions were considered likelier to have been composed by Wenzel Trnka, leaving the composition here as the one Mozart’s widow described as “unruly”:
In 1799 Constanze Mozart sent Breitkopf & Härtel several manuscripts including a list of “songs”. Among this list of songs Item 21 reads “Three Canons Lek mich im Arsch”. Constanze included a note saying she would be sending the Canons later and that their texts would have to be altered because they were “unruly”. It is uncertain which canons she referred to but two were most likely–K231/382c, known by its incipit “Leck mich im Arsch” (Kiss my Ass) and K233/382e “Leck mir den Arsch fein recht schon sauber” (Kiss my ever so nice clean ass). The third was probably K234/384e “Bei der Hitz im Sommer ess ich” (In the heat of summer I eat). B & H published the 3 Canons with new texts: “Lasst froh uns seyn” (Lets be joyous), “Nichts labt mich mehr als Wien” (Nothing pleases me more than wine) and “Essen, Trinken, das erhalt den Leib” (Eating, drinking support love), only citing the first line of Mozart’s original text. Not only these three, but also six other canons were published by B & H with new suitable texts. However the other six texts are known to us from Mozart autographs, these first 3 canon texts have been lost to us. However a recently found set of the “Oeuvres Complettes” of Mozart’s from ca. 1804 gives all 9 original canon texts that B & H suppressed. The original texts are entered just below B & H’s printed words.
Albert Dunning in the Mozart-Jahrbuch and again in his NMA volume has questioned the authenticity of these 3 “Leck mich im Arsch” canons. Then in 1988 Wolfgang Plath established the music of K233 and K234 is most likely to be attributed to Wenzel Trnka (1739-1791), having been published before 1800 in “XII Canons for 3 Voices Composer Sig. Wenceslao Trnka”, and again later by Aloys Fuchs under Trnka’s name. Michael Ochs in a 1991 Mozart-Jahrbuch article hypothesized that Breitkopf & Härtel received the Mozart canon autographs from Constanze Mozart and made in-house copies of them; then on these copies were written the substitute texts, with a few modifications in the music to accommodate B & H’s new words. Even though this is very plausible, unfortunately there is no evidence of any in-house copies and no clue where the autographs went. Ochs reproduces the original text of Mozart’s for the canons as follows:
K233 “Leck mire den A..recht schon, fein sauber lecke ihn, fein sauber lecke, leck mire den A…Das ist ein fettigs Begehren, nur gut mit Butter geschmiert, den das Lecken der Braten mein tagliches Thun. Drei lecken mehr als Zweie, nur her, machet die Prob’ und leckt, leckt, leckt. Jeder leckt sein A…fur sich”.
Köchel [a catalog of Mozart’s compositions] had placed the “Leck mir Arsch” canons K231, 233 ,234 with the 1775 compositions, believing they fit well with Mozart’s letters from his Salzburg years that used toilet language. In K3 Einstein moved them to Mozart’s early Vienna years because of the “humorous social intercourse” which the texts reflect, renumbering them K382c,d and e. William Cowdery (1991) believes they might fit well with the similar obscene lyrics of the 1788 Canons. However Dunning pointed out that the earlier dated canons differ in their melodic flow from the Vienna Canons” of 1787 and 1788, even placing a slight doubt on their authenticity. Regarding the Canons K559 and K560a Dunn believes they may have been written as early as 1786, as Peyerl was still in Salzburg to at least mid December 1785; so the earliest Mozart could have met him in Vienna was at the very end of December 1785 and most likely 1786. Mozart then batch entered the 9 canons at one time in his work catalogue on September 2, 1788. However Alan Tyson’s NMA volume of watermarks places the Peyerl canon on a type of paper Mozart purchased after his return from Prague in December 1787 and predominately used in 1788, including all pages of K550 and K551, Symphonies #40 and #41.
A separate catalogue from 2006 mentions “Leck mich im Arsch” by name.
Finally, here’s the song:
Amidst controversy over Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s “WAP” (or “wet ass pussy”), a viral tweet asserted Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart “wrote a song” for which the title translated to “Lick My Ass.” Although Mozart’s papers and unpublished works are believed to have been sanitized in the immediate aftermath of his death at the age of 35, letters and other writings indicated he was known to have written the occasional ribald or filthy song.
As the Facebook poster noted, Mozart’s canon “Leck mich im Arsch” was more closely translated as “Lick me in the ass.” It was censored in or around 1799, but eventually located and added to his known works.