Jessica Lange, American Horror Story, Freak Show


Something happens about halfway through tonight's premiere of American Horror: Story Freak Show that will make you stop what you are doing—and kind of stop breathing for a moment.

It's not the most horrific picnic scene of all time. (But holy Jesus, brace yourself for that.)

Or the moment you see Twisty the Clown's face and can never go to a circus again. (Though really, we still aren't sleeping after that one.)

It's the moment that Jessica Lange, in the most ridiculous powder-blue suit, with the most unflattering powder-blue eyeshadow, starts singing…David Bowie's "Life on Mars." In a German accent.

You'll think: "What. Is. Happppennninnnng?!"

Sarah Paulson, American Horror Story Freak Show

Frank Ockenfels/FX

American Horror Story: Freak Show is, overall, a wild ride of fierce color and emotion—and scares that will give you nightmares—but truth told, it's the musical moments that are truly blowing me away this season (based on the episodes I've seen so far), and my favorite reason to watch. (Well, along with Sarah Paulson's mind-blowing work playing conjoined twins.)

Freak Show follows the last freak-show troupe in America in the 1950s, helmed by Elsa Mars (Jessica Lange), and creators Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk did something truly unique this season, as they present a "show within a show," which usually features some kind of crazy-cool (and crazy-weird!) musical number.

"We're doing a lot of great musical performances this year," Murphy tells me. "It's a very unusual thing that we're doing, but I'm really proud of it. We've done six musical numbers so far. They're all very odd and haunting and different, with artists that I adore."

Freak Show is set in the 50's, but the music is not, which gives the musical numbers a deliciously warped flavor and pop of unexpectedness.

"I really wanted to do an homage to my friend and idol Baz Luhrmann," Murphy explains, "who does such amazing things with music and period. We didn't want to do Happy Days, we didn't want to do all 50's music. So what we did was, we decided to do musical numbers when they're needed, not all the time, that feature artists who have identified as odd, different freaks, that felt like outcasts. We did Lana Del ReyKurt CobainDavid Bowie. People who I admire who really changed the landscape of music, based on them feeling like outsiders."

Spoiler Alert: It's Jessica Lange who sings Lana Del Rey and Murphy contends "it is truly something to behold." I mean. Duh.

"The idea was always that they could do songs that weren't of the time period as long as they were kind of songs by freaks," Falchuk adds. "They had to have that element to it."

If it sounds like American Horror Story is going full-on Glee, don't worry. Sue Sylvester won't be popping up in a track suit to try and take down the freak club. AHS and Glee still could not be more different in tone. But there is a Glee connection…

 "We had the Glee crew go down and shoot the musical numbers," Falchuk reveals. "Andrew Mitchell is the steady cam operator has probaby done 600 musical numbers, so we snuck him down. Why not? There's no one better."

Tweet me (@kristindsantos) or Facebook me to tell me what you think of the American Horror Story premiere tonight on FX. I'll be watching and tweeting along…If my fingers can move.


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