THE PLAYLIST | American Psycho — An 80s Homage

“Did you know that Ted Bundy’s first dog was a collie named Lassie?” — Patrick Bateman

Do psychopaths have the best taste in music? Who knows, but it certainly seems the case when it comes to the movie adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis’s 1991 novel American Psycho. At the start of the century the controversial novel became an even more controversial movie starring Christian Bale as the twisted protagonist.

Both the movie and the novel are satirical stabs at the heart of eighties ‘yuppie’ culture in New York. Where the quality of a business card is a reflection of social status, and everyone is a wannabe Gordon Gekko (Wall Street).

American Psycho follows socialite and investment banker Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale). Bateman is a self-loathing fantasist who worships himself as much as the violence he wants to exact on those around him. In the movie, Bale is electrifying as the stereotypical narcissist, stalking a world of materialism. As the credits roll, American Psycho stays with you — did he really kill everybody? Or was it all in his head?

Crafting a playlist based on a movie which already has a soundtrack might seem a fruitless exercise, but a lot of the music featured in American Psycho did not appear on the album release. For example, the Huey Lewis & The News eighties classic ‘Hip To Be Square’ appears in a particularly violent scene. Huey and co. refused permission for the soundtrack, as did the late Whitney Houston and others. The controversial nature of American Psycho was something certain artists did not want to be associated with. But, strangely enough, they still allowed the use of their music in the movie.


With that in mind, this playlist makes up for these absences from the soundtrack release. Bateman is an anorak-style music lover, and these songs are an eighties time capsule.

#1. ‘Walking on Sunshine’ — Katrina & The Waves

Opening proceedings is the earworm of the decade, ‘Walking On Sunshine’, which Patrick listens to on his walkman — very eighties — as he arrives to work.

#2. ‘I Touch Roses’ — Book of Love

This 1986 classic by synth-act Book of Love plays as Patrick rides in the back of a taxi with Courtney Lawrence, one of his fiancee Evelyn’s closest friends, and the woman he is having an affair with.

#3. ‘Hip to Be Square’ — Huey Lewis & The News

“I think their undisputed masterpiece is ‘Hip To Be Square’, a song so catchy, most people probably don’t listen to the lyrics. But they should, because it’s not just about the pleasures of conformity and the importance of trends. It’s also a personal statement about the band itself. Hey, Paul!”

#4. ‘The Lady in Red’ — Chris de Burgh

The walkman returns as Patrick listens to this song in his office — until he’s interrupted by Jean who tells him a detective (Willam Dafoe) is here to see him.

#5. ‘If You Don’t Know Me by Now’ — Simply Red

The eighties calling card of Simply Red is heard after Bateman picks up Christie, and then takes her back to Paul Allen’s place.

#6. ‘In Too Deep’ — Genesis

“I’ve been a big Genesis fan ever since the release of their 1980 album, Duke. Before that, I really didn’t understand any of their work. Too artsy, too intellectual. It was on Duke where, uh, Phil Collins’ presence became more apparent. I think ‘Invisible Touch’ was the group’s undisputed masterpiece. It’s an epic meditation on intangibility.”

#7. ‘Sussudio’ — Phil Collins

“..But I also think Phil Collins works best within the confines of the group, than as a solo artist, and I stress the word artist. This is ‘Sussudio’, a great, great song, a personal favorite.”

#8. ‘Red Lights’ — Curiosity Killed the Cat

One of the more obscure tracks used in American Psycho, an album-only track by Curiosity Killed the Cat. It appears as Bateman spikes some wine with the contents of a drug capsule, prior to committing more violent acts.

#9. ‘Simply Irresistible’ — Robert Palmer

“I’m trying to listen to the new Robert Palmer tape, but Evelyn, my supposed fiancee, keeps buzzing in my ear.”

#10 ‘Greatest Love of All’ — Whitney Houston

“It’s hard to choose a favorite among so many great tracks, but ‘The Greatest Love of All’ is one of the best, most powerful songs ever written about self-preservation, dignity. Its universal message crosses all boundaries and instils one with the hope that it’s not too late to better ourselves.”

#11. ‘Psycho Killer’ — Talking Heads

Not in the film, not from the era, but an appropriate addition in the context of American Psycho. Any excuse to include a Talking Heads classic.


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