- Words by Mr Tom M Ford, Features Writer, MR PORTER
When not satisfying other desires, Patrick Bateman loves to talk commercial pop and rock. Entire chapters of Mr Bret Easton Ellis' American Psycho are devoted to the appraisal of 1980s hits, from the "blasting guitar" on Huey Lewis and the News' "Hip to be Square", to the nuances of empathy in Ms Whitney Houston's "Greatest Love of All". As the man tasked with producing a score for the American Psycho musical - which opens at London's Almeida Theatre in December - Mr Duncan Sheik understands this all too well. "Patrick's commentary in the book is hilarious," says the US-based composer. "Bret singled out the worst aspects of this music and turned it into a positive in Patrick's brain. He has all this incredibly dark stuff in his psyche, but his music taste is so vanilla."
Mr Sheik was fresh from bringing Broadway hit Spring Awakening to London when he was approached to work on the American Psycho adaptation in 2009. With more than 20 years' songwriting and composing experience, and a soft spot for the likes of Genesis (only the early stuff, mind), he was undoubtedly the man for the job. "The producers knew from my records that I was well versed in the music of this era," he says. "I had to deconstruct a lot of tracks and leave out some of the songs in the book as they didn't have the right energy. It's predominantly a dance score: the late 1980s seen through the lens of 2013."
Made up of the tunes that inspired him, and a few favourites from the book, check out Mr Sheik's take on the music of American Psycho, below.
Listen to Mr Sheik's playlist on Spotify
"True Faith"New order
"The musical's characters are in a nightclub when this track plays. We've done a remix so it's more like an early house track."
"Hungry Like the Wolf"duran duran
"We made a version of this called 'Killer Wolf', because it's used when Patrick goes to a nightclub and murders people. The lyric was a good template to start with."
"Hip to be Square"huey lewis and the news
"This is so connected to the story. With Patrick Bateman's monologue in the book you'd be shooting yourself in the foot to not use it."
"Everybody Wants to Rule the World"Tears for Fears
"This song was written as an ironic reference to Thatcher-era capitalism. Our American Psycho cast sings it unironically, so it's even funnier."
"In the Air Tonight"Phil Collins
"This is so recognisable, but in the production it's been done a cappella so it's spooky and emotional. It has a nice air of suspense."
"Don't You Want Me"The Human League
"This is a classic, but even in Patrick Bateman's time it would have been five or six years old, so we needed to update it."
"We didn't use this in the play but it's referenced in the book and would be a great track to use. It's cheesy but in a good way."
"Greatest Love of All"Whitney Houston
"This is another recognisable one in the book, but it wasn't high-energy enough for the adaptation. I can imagine this working in a totally macabre way."
MR PORTER is Production Sponsor of American Psycho: A New Musical Thriller, showing at the Almeida Theatre in London from 3 December 2013 to 25 January 2014. For more information, click here