5 Versace-worthy albums to play after you binge ‘American Crime Story’

5 Versace-worthy albums to play after you binge ‘American Crime Story’

May 07, 2018 | Music

The second season of Ryan Murphy’s American Crime Story concluded in March, but maybe you’re thinking about binge-watching all of it to catch up. Season 2 of the crime anthology centers around Andrew Cunanan, who murdered at least five people, including Italian fashion designer Gianni Versace, over a three-month period in 1997.

The show spans nearly a decade, so Murphy and his music supervisor, Amanda Krieg Thomas, turn to music to craft the time and place of the show. Music takes us into Cunanan’s mind, brings the audience into the gay club scene of the late 1980s and early 1990s or just gives the audience a nice Easter egg of a song title that mirrors the action of the scene.

So in honor of all things American Crime Story: Versace, we’ve compiled a list of five albums inspired by the season to add to your music rotation. Break out your Crosley turntable and dance along!

1. “Branigan” — Laura Branigan

This 1982 album made Laura Branigan a star, with the single “Gloria,” which stuck around the US Billboard Hot 100 for 36 weeks. The hit song is actually an English version of Umberto Tozzi’s hit song of the same title. “Gloria’s” pervasiveness in pop culture is put on display in American Crime Story, as Andrew Cunanan (played by Darren Criss) listens and belts along to it on the radio after switching it from a news report that discusses him as a prime suspect for several murders. The rest of the album is rounded out with a balance of '80s synth pop bangers (“Please Stay, Go Away”) and heartfelt ballads (“I Wish We Could Be Alone”). If you’re looking for a fun soundtrack for your road trips, give this album a spin.

2. “Voices Carry” — ’Til Tuesday

’Til Tuesday doesn’t have a song in American Crime Story … but lead singer Aimee Mann makes an appearance in the fourth episode. Playing an unnamed bar singer, Mann performs an acoustic, melancholic version of “Drive” by the Cars, usually a synth-heavy track. Compared with Lisa Branigan or other tracks used in American Crime Story, ’Til Tuesday veers more toward rock than pop in terms of bands from the '80s. The most popular track off the 1985 album is the title track, which peaked at number No. 8 on the Billboard singles chart. For a look into the seeds of Aimee Mann’s incredible songwriting talents, turn to her '80s roots.

3. “Chinese Wall” — Philip Bailey

In one of the most notable scenes of the series, Cunanan dances in a peach-colored Speedo to Phil Collins and Philip Bailey’s “Easy Lover,” as a man lays sprawled on a bed, his face duct-taped. “Easy Lover” was included on Philip Bailey’s (the lead singer of Earth, Wind, and Fire) third solo album, “Chinese Wall.” The rest of the album is filled with R&B dance tracks, each song letting Bailey’s four-octave vocal range (excuse me?!?) soar. Play the album when you need grooves of all tempos and moods — Philip has you covered.

4. “Infinity Within” — Deee-Lite

Finally, some music for the club! The seventh episode features the track, “Runaway,” which topped the Billboard dance chart in 1992. Deee-Lite’s second album, “Infinity Within” shows a shift to more politically minded songs, featuring tracks about sexual liberation (“Rubber Lover”), the importance of voting (“Vote, Baby, Vote”) and the global warming crisis (“I Had a Dream I Was Falling through a Hole in the Ozone Layer”). Transport to the early 1990s with some socially conscious dance tracks … you know you want to.

5. “Pump up the Jam” — Technotronic

In the fourth episode, Cunanan shouts to his hostage (and soon victim), David Madson, the lyrics to “Pump up the Jam,” the title track from Technotronic’s debut 1989 album. Criss’s performance of the lyrics takes an otherwise whimsical dance jam and turns it into a terrifying order. The album outside of American Crime Story’s context contains your fair share of quintessential 90s club tracks, performed with such energy from Ya Kid K’s vocals and Jo Bogaert’s beats. Get your body moving and get down to Technotronic’s grooves.

Jason Lee Menard
Jason Lee Menard

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