A Killer Playlist for Patrick Bateman
He specializes in murders and executions—that is, mergers and acquisitions. His suits are as sharp as his knives and his business cards are better than yours. He dabbles in cocaine and prostitutes. He is Patrick Bateman, our favorite American Psycho. We know he has a soft spot for ‘80s pop, but let’s take a deeper dive into his playlist.
“Psycho Killer” – Talking Heads
There are a limited number of songs that will take you into the mind of a serial killer, but this one is arguably the most famous. It’s also catchy as hell, with a tight, nervous energy. There’s something surreal about singing along to a chorus that is essentially telling a potential victim to “run run run run run run run away.”
“Eighties” – Killing Joke
American Psycho is notorious not only for its violent themes, but its portrayal of the materialist side of the 1980s, with a heavy dose of irony. This aggressive post-punk song, released in 1984, does the same. You know Bateman must get a kick out of the band’s name, as well as lyrics like:
“Eighties, I've got the best, I'll take all I can get
Eighties, I'm living for the eighties”
“All These Things That I’ve Done” – The Killers
Speaking of bands with murder-y names… When it comes to contemporary bands, Patrick would still prefer them to have a more ‘80s sound. Enter The Killers. Regardless of whether our fictional killer actually commits the atrocious acts he describes in great detail or imagines them, if he ever feels an ounce of remorse, this is one tune he might play.
“Over and again, last call for sin
While everyone's lost, the battle is won
With all these things that I've done”
“I Want A New Drug” – Huey Lewis
In American Psycho, Bateman himself praises this band, saying, “they really didn't come into their own, commercially or artistically, until their 1983 smash, Sports.” He cites this album as a “flawless masterpiece” with this song as the “album’s centerpiece” and contends it’s the best anti-drug song ever written. But considering Patrick’s use of illicit substances and his obvious mental… issues, perhaps it’s actually a subconscious cry for help.
“Son of Sam” – Elliott Smith
You can be sure Patrick will identify with songs about other serial killers. Especially ones that have an air of troubled confusion to them, like Smith’s melodic odes to one of America’s most notorious murderers:
“I may talk in my sleep tonight
Cos I don't know what I am
I'm a little like you
More like Son of Sam”
“One Moment in Time” – Whitney Houston
Another 80’s musical mainstay that is a favorite of Bateman’s. While the majority of Houston’s songs dealt with romantic relationships, she also sang of self-empowerment, most famously on “The Greatest Love of All.” However, this hit from 1988 has lyrics that speak more directly to his need to control his fate and achieve greatness.
“Land of Confusion” – Genesis
Another one of Bateman’s self-confessed favorites, from an album (Invisible Touch) which he calls, “an epic meditation on intangibility.” While the theme of this song is about the abuse of political power, it can be taken more broadly as applied to Patrick, particularly the opening lines:
“I must've dreamed a thousand dreams
Been haunted by a million screams”
“Evil” – Interpol
Okay, so maybe there are more songs about serial killers than we originally thought. This one is believed to be about Rosemary West, a serial killer who did her dirty deeds in the United Kingdom. Considering the song’s title and the fact that it’s by another band with a heavy 80s influence, you know Bateman must have an affinity for it.
“Murder by Numbers” – The Police
Need we say more? Yes? Well, okay. We’ll let the opening verse speak for itself:
“Once that you've decided on a killing,
First you make a stone of your heart.
And if you find that your hands are still willing,
Then you can turn a murder into art.”
Full playlist is below! What other gruesome tunes do you think Patrick Bateman would have in heavy rotation? Let us know on Twitter at @QuirkBooks!
Margarita writes upmarket fiction and is represented by Victoria Skurnick at Levine Greenberg Rostan. She also transcribes and pokes fun at her old journal entries at The Diary Project. When not wrangling her ever-growing book and movie collections or feeding squirrels and chipmunks, she dreams of the day time machines are built so that she can return to the 1980s. Follow her on Twitter at @damiella.