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Home > Rock Ballads and Indie-Pop Tributes in American Horror Story

Rock Ballads and Indie-Pop Tributes in American Horror Story

American Horror Story Music

It’s Ryan Murphy’s world and we’re all just living in it

Once described as “too precocious for his own good” by a childhood therapist, Ryan Murphy is one of the queerest byproducts of the Hoosier State in decades. Steven Speilberg kick-started Murphy’s screenwriting career in California when he bought one of Murphy’s first scripts in the late nineties. He’s wasted no time showboating his creative genius since then. He quickly proved to be an apt producer with a finger on the pulse of American pop culture.

It may come as a surprise that the decorated Emmy veteran co-directed Glee before creating American Horror Story. It’s safe to say that Murphy rebranded for the better – in 2018, the TV tycoon signed a $300 million 5-year contract with Netflix. Rumor has it he has a series about the Menendez brothers slated for 2024.

Ahead of his time

Someone like Murphy has got to have some serious sagacity to achieve what he has in the entertainment industry. It takes more than good taste to pull off the settings he’s explored through the years. The risks he’s taken haven’t always been well received. The “Freak Show” season in particular is wildly underrated. 

It veers quite considerably from Murphy’s usual formula of death, sex, and mystery. “Freak Show” made a lot of people uncomfortable with its revolutionary typecasting, chronicling grossly untold experiences of Americans with disabilities in the 1950s. The season is distinctly provocative and unusually musical. It tackles themes audiences in 2014 may not have been ready for.

Bayou glamor in “Freakshow”

American Horror Story’s fourth season follows a transient band of misfits that are terrorized by an evil nepotism baby and his pet clown in Florida. Jessica Lange, Sarah Paulson, and Evan Peters bring the big top down in unique solos that come out of nowhere. Lange opens with a belting recital of David Bowie’s “Life On Mars” in an electric blue suit and matching eyeshadow. She summons a two-faced ghost in a feather boa and opera gloves with a sultry performance of Lana Del Rey’s “Gods and Monsters”. 

Sarah Paulson harmonizes with her second head in a throaty rendition of Fiona Apple’s “Criminal”. Evan Peters jams out a defiant cover of Kurt Cobain’s “Come As You Are”. More than anything, it’s a showcase of the incredible range of the total powerhouses Murphy has cast season after season. He decided to “feature artists who have been identified as odd, different freaks that felt like outcasts … People who I admire who really changed the landscape of music, based on them feeling like outsiders.” He chose to include songs that fit the theme rather than the time period in an homage to director Baz Luhrmann.


American Horror Story Music

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Stevie Nicks’ Witchy Reprise

Fleetwood Mac’s rock and roll enchantress makes appearances in two seasons of American Horror Story. Nicks plays herself in both cameos in a not-so-subtle nod to the rumors about her occult connections in the 70s. No one was surprised, although it’s better late than never.

She performs “The Seven Wonders” in “Coven” before the graduating cohort at Ms. Robichaux competes for the title of supreme. She sings “Gypsy” after superfan Misty Day (Lily Rabe) is retrieved from hell in “Apocalypse”. Apparently, Nicks never planned to be on screen – after the producers asked her to use her music in “Coven”, she watched the first few episodes and was completely won over. In her own words, she thought it was “weird and twisted and the strangest, oddest thing I have probably ever seen on television.”

The Number that Started It All

“Asylum” is kind of a downer. It was Jessica Lange’s idea to add the infamous “Name Game” sequence to lighten things up. Her character was a lounge singer before becoming a nun, so the daydream fits well into her downward spiral at Briarcliff. It features literal head-banging and very questionable dance moves in a fabulous furor that reproduces delusions of grandeur to their very core. The extra in a straight jacket is a nice touch. 

Enough talk. In an interview, Ryan Murphy once said, “Call me camp. Call me crazy. Call me wild. Call me extreme. Call me erratic. The one thing you can’t say is that I don’t try”. With a list of 44 credits on IMDB that’s only growing, the visionary’s fearless contributions to TV and film are sure to go down in history.


American Horror Story: Every musical performance from every season. Official Trailer.

Source: Dead Talk Live

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Avery Pearson has written long-form print pieces, thought leadership articles, and web copy for startups and nonprofits. Her work has been featured in Ocean News & Technology.