Friday, October 23, 2009

American Psycho: The Mix Tape

"Hit play baby!"

I watched American Psycho (2000) when it was on TV a few nights ago. It's a fun film, as far as over-the-top black comedies based on novels by Brett Easton Ellis go, with a number of great quotes - like Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale)'s Worst Pickup Line Ever ("You're a fucking ugly bitch. I want to stab you to death and then play with your blood" - c'mon, has this line ever worked, fellas?) - but what was most memorable to me wasn't all the severed heads in Bateman's fridge or all the bodies hanging on meat hooks in his closet. No, the most shocking aspect of the film (and book) was Patrick Bateman's music library: Phil Collins, Huey Lewis, and Whitney Houston. Yes, I know: surely this is tell-tale signs of a sick and twisted mind!

To see a video montage of all of Patrick Bateman's monologues about his favorite musical artists, click here.

And here, for all you text lovers, I give you the American Pyscho Mix Tape, a Populist Manifesto of Song:

1. Genesis - "Susudio"
(from the 1986 LP Invsible Touch)

Patrick Bateman: Do you like Phil Collins? 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 Phil Collins' presence became more apparent. I think Invisible Touch was the group's undisputed masterpiece. It's an epic meditation on intangibility. At the same time, it deepens and enriches the meaning of the preceding three albums. (Christy, take off your robe.) Listen to the brilliant ensemble playing of Banks, Collins and Rutherford. You can practically hear every nuance of every instrument. (Sabrina, remove your dress.) In terms of lyrical craftsmanship, the sheer songwriting, this album hits a new peak of professionalism. (Sabrina, why don't you, uh, dance a little.) Take the lyrics to "Land of Confusion." In this song, Phil Collins addresses the problems of abusive political authority. "In Too Deep" is the most moving pop song of the 1980s, about monogamy and commitment. The song is extremely uplifting. Their lyrics are as positive and affirmative as anything I've heard in rock. (Christy, get down on your knees so Sabrina can see your asshole.) Phil Collins' solo career seems to be more commercial and therefore more satisfying, in a narrower way. Especially songs like "In the Air Tonight" and "Against All Odds." (Sabrina, don't just stare at it, eat it.) 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.

2. Huey Lewis and The News - "Hip To Be Square"
(from the 1987 LP Fore)

Patrick Bateman: Do you like Huey Lewis and the News?
Paul Allen: They're OK.
Patrick Bateman: Their early work was a little too new wave for my tastes, but when Sports came out in '83, I think they really came into their own, commercial and artistically. The whole album has a clear, crisp sound, and a new sheen of consummate professionalism that really gives the songs a big boost. He's been compared to Elvis Costello, but I think Huey has a far much more bitter, cynical sense of humour.
Paul Allen: Hey Halberstram.
Patrick Bateman: Yes, Allen?
Paul Allen: Why are their copies of the style section all over the place, d-do you have a dog? A little chow or something?
Patrick Bateman: No, Allen.
Paul Allen: Is that a rain coat?
Patrick Bateman: Yes it is! In '87, Huey released this, Fore, their most accomplished album. 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.
[raises axe above head]
Patrick Bateman: Hey Paul!
[he bashes Allen in the head with the axe, and blood splatters over him]

3. Whitney Houston - "The Greatest Love of All"
(from the 1985 LP Whitney Houston)

Patrick Bateman: Did you know that Whitney Houston's debut LP, called simply Whitney Houston had 4 number one singles on it? Did you know that, Christie?
Elizabeth: [laughing] You actually listen to Whitney Houston? You own a Whitney Houston CD? More than one?
Patrick Bateman: 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 instills one with the hope that it's not too late to better ourselves. Since, Elizabeth, it's impossible in this world we live in to empathize with others, we can always empathize with ourselves. It's an important message, crucial really. And it's beautifully stated on the album.

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