David Bowie has some pretty big, pretty extra-terrestrially bedazzled shoes to fill, but Jessica Lange did a pretty honorable job slipping into them on last night’s American Horror Story premiere.
Show creator Ryan Murphy has revealed that due to demand the track, which Lange performs as freak show proprietor Elsa Mars, will soon be available to download on iTunes. He has a little bit of experience in this arena, as any Glee fan will tell you.
He also hinted at other musical numbers we have to look forward to on this season of AHS. He said Jessica’s Lana Del Rey cover is, “something to behold,” and Kurt Cobain will be featured in a musical homage. We’ve also got it on good authority that Sarah Pauley will give us a mean Fiona Apple performance next week.
Here’s Jessica getting glammy to Bowie’s “Life on Mars”:
Flawless? Hardly. I know it’s heresy, but Jessica Lang a singer she is not. I wasn’t impressed at all with last nights episode. I hope the season gets better.
@redcarpet30: Not vocally flawless, but a flawless performance of character singing.
and some drag queen somewhere is already rehearsing this track to do this weekend.
It was a cute number. The YouTube videos introducing some of the actors cast as freaks was exponentially more interesting and touching than the opening episode. This was obvious and superficial. It lacked a “straight man,” someone who isn’t part of the freakiness. I could practically hear the director saying, “Ooh, that’s so weird!” It needs a sense of humor, too.
It was sucked into the story up to Jessica Lange’s musical number. Loved the set up as being a PERIOD piece set in the mid-1950’s rural Florida, but then she sang Bowie? Really? That anachronism really killed the show for me and I was hard pressed to get back into the earlier vibe. I get the aging Teutonic diva living her fantasy; LOVED that aspect of the character. Would LOVED to have heard her warble something that Garbo would have sung or something from Bertolt Brecht’s “Three Penny Opera”; that would have been in character… but a Bowie PRODUCTION NUMBER…
I felt like I went from growing drama to a bad riff of “Glee”.
@RIGay: Jesus christ, unbunch your panties for heaven’s sake. It was a terrific anachronistic choice and the weirdness of it worked very well with the “out of place” vibe of the show, and made the yearning of Lange’s character very poignant. It’s not because this series is set in a certain period that it has to frantically adhere to every aspect of it, and also it’s horror/fantasy; a lot of elements of reality are already up in the air, so why not musical numbers too? If this is all it takes to pull you out of a show, maybe you should stick to Modern Family or The Big Bang theory.
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly today, Ryan Murphy discussed his decision to include contemporary music in the series:
I thought I just don’t want to do ‘50s music and neither did Jessica. So we thought long and hard about that. I was very inspired with Baz Luhrmann. I love what he does with his movies like Great Gatsby and Moulin Rouge where you don’t play period stuff, you do stuff from all eras that fit the story. So we decided we only were going to highlight musical artists who at some point in their career had identified themselves as feeling like freaks or misfits or outcasts, which our people are going through. That’s why we do David Bowie, Fiona Apple, Lana Del Rey, Kurt Cobain. We do people who sort of have the same feelings as our characters do.
All TV requires the viewer to suspend reality to some degree. So what if the song is from the ’70s? It was perfect for that scene, and Jessica Lange’s “character” nailed it. Plus, it was a poignant part of the episode that revealed a lot about her character’s insecurity and delusion of being an actual star.
@Jamie: I haven’t seen the episode, but you nailed it as well as Jessica’s character. The performance was quite touching in that world weary way. And I can’t wait to hear what they do to a Lana Del Rey song.
What a season opener! Jessica Lange is wonderful in this role and I am loving her character. @redcarpet30: Her singing performance was just that, performance. Like Jamie said, @Jamie: I don’t care that the song was from the ’70s. The scene in the tent with Kathy Bate’s character reveals those insecurities and delusions.
Can’t agree; the number was a let down, much like the steaming pile of crap that was “Moulin Rouge”.
I loved the episode and the song, but didn’t recognize the song as Bowie, which may or may not have influenced my opinion. However, that approach has been used to great success many times. As mentioned, by Baz Luhrmann, as well as Sophia Coppola in Marie Antoinette.
The bigger question is whether the show will sustain last nights quality. I thought seasons 1 & 2 were brilliant, but I thought season 3 was a huge train wreck in terms of writing. Visually stunning, yes, but more like a cocaine comedown when it came to the story.
Lets hope they’re back on their game with this season!
I don’t know if there’s a connection or not, but Lang’s character is “Elsa Mars” so the song Life on Mars, may have some meaning.
I feel like we are missing piece here and we’ll learn more in coming episodes… The costume, make up, some of the body movements and camera work are all from Bowie’s “Life On Mars” video he shot at the time directed by Mick Rock. But, the hair, accent and vocal delivery where total method performance of Marlene Dietrich’s singing style when she used to do cabaret in her later career. My interest is piqued.
I thought it was great, and many may have noticed that the powder blue suit and eye makeup are nearly exactly the same as Bowie wore in the 1971 video of the song.
Also, the scene between Kathy Bates and Jessica Lange after the performance was heartbreakingly wonderful. You can see two actresses who respect and admire each other, and enjoy working together. I love Meryl Streep, but Lange has proven again and again that she is just as good. I thought her performance in “AHS: Asylum” was astounding, especially in the final episode. And besides, how will anyone ever hear “The Name Game” again and not think of Sister Jude?
They gave the tiniest lady the tiniest violin and for that, this is the best season.
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